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Background:   Noam Chomsky, educator and liguist, has taught at MIT since 1955. A prolific author, Chomsky was an early and outspoken critic of the Viet Nam war and writes extensively on many political issues. He is also a prominent campaigner for human rights and a critic of the American political system.

[NOTE: Over time, links to more essays by Noam Chomsky will be added here.]

Posted October 30, 2003
“Bush Needs Fear for Reelection”

Posted December 3, 2002
Why Not Let Iran Institute Democracy in Iraq

Posted October 2, 2002
Chomsky on Iraq

Posted April 12, 2002
US-Israel-Palestine - observations by Noam Chomsky (summary)

Posted April 2, 2002
Znet Interview With Chomsky
In Depth Discussion on Israel/Palestine

(Noam Chomsky, April 2, 2002)
The prominent Israeli scholar Ze'ev Sternhell writes that the government "is no longer ashamed to speak of war when what they are really engaged in is colonial policing, which recalls the takeover by the white police of the poor neighborhoods of the blacks in South Africa during the apartheid era." . . . Peres comes close to Sharon as a war criminal. Furthermore, the prime responsibility lies in Washington, and has for 30 years. . . . There are many factors entering into US policies. Chief among them in this region of the world is control over the world's major energy resources. The US-Israel alliance took shape in that context. . . . The alliance became firm in 1967, when Israel performed an important service for US power by destroying the main forces of secular Arab nationalism, considered a very serious threat to US domination of the Gulf region. . . . Israel is virtually a US military base, closely integrated with the militarized US high-tech economy. . . . Within that persistent framework, the US naturally supports Israeli repression of the Palestinians and integration of the occupied territories . . . Bush planners continue to block steps towards diplomatic settlement, or even reduction of violence . . . The Arab summit led to general acceptance of the Saudi Arabian plan, which reiterated the basic principles of the long-standing international consensus: Israel should withdraw from the occupied territories in the context of a general peace agreement that would guarantee the right of every state in the region, including Israel and a new Palestinian State, to peace and security within recognized borders (the basic wording of UN 242, amplified to include a Palestinian state). . . . These are the basic terms of the Security Council resolution of January 1976 backed by virtually the entire world, including the leading Arab states, the PLO, Europe, the Soviet bloc, the non-aligned countries -- in fact, everyone who mattered. It was opposed by Israel and vetoed by the US . . . Until such elementary facts as these are permitted to enter into discussion, displacing the standard misrepresentation and deceit, discussion is mostly beside the point.

Posted March 26, 2002
Chomsky's Dýyarbakir Speech
(Noam Chomsky, Znet, March 25, 2002)
With regard to the concept of terrorism there are really two notions: one is the notion "terror," another is the notion "counter-terror." If you look in, for example, US Army manuals, they define "terror" and they define "counter-terror." And the interesting thing about the definitions is they are virtually identical. Terrorism turns out to be about the same as counter-terrorism. The main difference is who is the agent of the terrorist violence. If it's someone we don't like, it is terrorism. If it's someone we do like, including ourselves, it is counter-terrorism. But apart from that the definitions of the actions are about the same. . . . Another important difference between terrorism and counter-terrorism is that what is called "counter-terrorism" is usually carried out by states. It's the terrorism carried out by states. And states have resources that enable them to be far more violent and destructive than private terrorists. So the end result is that the terrorism of states far outweighs that of any other entity in the world. We constantly read that terrorism is the weapon of the weak. That is totally false, the exact opposite of truth. Like any other weapon, terrorism is used much more effectively by the strong, and in particular by more powerful states which are the leaders in terrorism throughout the world, except that they call it "counter-terrorism." . . . Oil was the primary reason for the concern over the Middle East. There is now a secondary reason, which is quite important. That's water, which is enormously important, and will be even more so in the future as water resources are being depleted. Here the role of Turkey becomes even more essential, because Turkey, and particularly the southeast region of Turkey, is the major source of water for the region. And control over water also provides what US planners 50 years ago called "veto power," just like control over oil. If you can terminate the flow of water to other countries, that will bring them into line. That's presumably a significant purpose of the dams and other projects: to ensure that control over water will be in hands of US clients, which will ensure control over the region and probably a veto power over recalcitrant elements.

Posted January 8, 2002
The War in Afghanistan: Excerpted from Lakdawala lecture, New Delhi (Noam Chomsky, ZNET, December 30, 2001)
“A detailed year-end review found that the U.S. war ‘has returned to power nearly all the same warlords who had misruled the country in the days before the Taliban’; some Afghans see the resulting situation as even ‘worse than it was before the Taliban came to power.’ . . . The return of warlordism is a dangerous sign, as was the announcement by the new Justice Minister that the basic structure of sharia law as instituted by the Taliban would remain in force, though ‘there will be some changes from the time of the Taliban. For example, the Taliban used to hang the victim's body in public for four days. We will only hang the body for a short time, say 15 minutes.’ Judge Ahamat Ullha Zarif added that some new location would be found for the regular public executions, not the Sports Stadium. ‘Adulterers, both male and female, would still be stoned to death, Zarif said, `but we will use only small stones',’ so that those who confess might be able to run away; others will be ‘stoned to death,’ as before. . . . As the year ended, desperate peasants, mostly women, were returning to the miserable labor of growing opium poppies so that their families can survive, reversing the Taliban ban. The UN had reported in October that poppy production had already ‘increased threefold in areas controlled by the Northern Alliance,’ whose warlords ‘have long been reputed to control much of the processing and smuggling of opium’ to Russia and the West, an estimated 75% of the world's heroin. . . . U.S. and British intellectual opinion, across the political spectrum, assured us that only radical extremists can doubt that ‘this is basically a just war.’ Those who disagree can therefore be dismissed, among them, for example, the 1000 Afghan leaders who met in Peshawar in late October in a U.S.-backed effort to lay the groundwork for a post-Taliban regime led by the exiled King. They bitterly condemned the U.S. war, which is ‘beating the donkey rather than the rider,’ one speaker said to unanimous agreement. . . . The U.S., [Afghan opposition leader] Abdul Haq said, ‘is trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world. They don't care about the suffering of the Afghans or how many people we will lose. And we don't like that. Because Afghans are now being made to suffer for these Arab fanatics, but we all know who brought these Arabs to Afghanistan in the 1980s, armed them and gave them a base. It was the Americans and the CIA. And the Americans who did this all got medals and good careers, while all these years Afghans suffered from these Arabs and their allies. Now, when America is attacked, instead of punishing the Americans who did this, it punishes the Afghans.’”

Posted December 25, 2001
Terrorism, weapon of the powerful, United States, Global Bully (Noam Chomsky, Le Monde Diplomatique, December 2001)
Let us start with Afghanistan, where seven or eight million people are on the verge of starvation, and surviving on international aid since way before 11 September. On 16 September the US demanded that Pakistan stop the truck convoys providing much of the food and supplies to Afghanistan's civilian population. As far as I can determine, there was no reaction to this in the US or Europe. . . . By October Western civilisation was resigned to the idea of the death of hundreds of thousands of Afghans. . . . To understand the origins of 11 September, we have to distinguish between the agents of the crime and the reservoir of sympathy, sometimes support, from which they draw, a reservoir that exists even among people who oppose both the criminals and their actions. Let us assume the crimes' perpetrators come from Bin Laden's network. Nobody knows about their origins better than the CIA, because it helped organise and nurture them. . . . These people are angry at the US because it supports authoritarian and brutal regimes (and is in its 35th year of supporting Israel's harsh military occupation), and because its policies devastate the civilian society of Iraq while strengthening Saddam Hussein. The New York Times asked "Why do they hate us?"; on the same day, the Wall Street Journal published a survey of bankers, professionals and international lawyers, who said they hate us because we are blocking democracy, preventing economic development, and supporting terrorist regimes. . . . To combat terrorism we must start by reducing the level of terror, rather than by escalating it. When the IRA detonates bombs in London, London does not destroy Boston, although it is the source of most of the IRA finance, nor does it wipe out West Belfast. The UK hunts the perpetrators, brings them to trial and looks for the reasons for the violence. . . . There is one easy way to reduce the level of terror: stop participating in it.”

Posted November 27, 2001
What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream (Noam Chomsky)
“There is another sector of the media, the elite media, sometimes called the agenda-setting media because they are the ones with the big resources, they set the framework in which everyone else operates. . . . The real mass media are basically trying to divert people. Let them do something else, but don’t bother us (us being the people who run the show). Let them get interested in professional sports, for example. Let everybody be crazed about professional sports or sex scandals or the personalities and their problems or something like that. Anything, as long as it isn’t serious. Of course, the serious stuff is for the big guys. ‘We’ take care of that. . . . If you go through a place like Harvard, most of what goes on there is teaching manners; how to behave like a member of the upper classes, how to think the right thoughts, and so on.”

Miscellaneous quotes from Noam Chomsky
A selection of short quotes, most with references.

Terrorism Works (Noam Chomsky, Al-Ahram Weekly and Media Monitors Network)
“By far the most important question that we must ask ourselves after 11 September is what is happening right now? Implicit in this question is the question of what we can do about it. . . . It looks like what is happening is some sort of silent genocide. It also gives a good deal of insight into the elite culture, the culture that we are part of. It indicates that whatever will happen, we do not know, but plans are being made and programmes implemented on the assumption that they may lead to the death of several million people in the next couple of weeks. Very casually, with no comment, no particular thought about it. That is just kind of normal, here and in a good part of Europe. Not in the rest of the world, though. In fact, not even in much of Europe. . . . What is the ‘war against terrorism’? The war against terrorism has been described in high places as a struggle against a plague, a cancer which is spread by barbarians, by ‘depraved opponents of civilisation itself.’ . . . I am quoting President Reagan and his secretary of state. . . . The Reagan administration responded to this ‘plague spread by depraved opponents of civilisation itself’ by creating an extraordinary international terrorist network, totally unprecedented in scale, which carried out massive atrocities all over the world. . . . It [the U.S.] now stands as the only state on record which has been condemned both by the World Court for international terrorism and has vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on states to observe international law. . . . The following year Nicaragua took its case again to the General Assembly. This time the US could only rally Israel to the cause, so two votes opposed observing international law. At that point, Nicaragua had exhausted all available legal measures, concluding that they do not work in a world that is ruled by force. . . . Terrorism, on the other hand does work, and is the weapon of the strong. It is a very serious analytic error to say, as is commonly done, that terrorism is the weapon of the weak. Like other means of violence, it is primarily a weapon of the strong -- overwhelmingly, in fact. It is held to be a weapon of the weak because the strong also control the doctrinal systems and their terror does not count as terror.”


Posted November 20, 2001

    Deluded and manipulated by the system.

    We're not analyzing the media on Mars or in the eighteenth century or something  like that. We're dealing with real human beings now who are suffering and dying and being tortured and starving because of policies that we are involved in, we  as citizens of democratic societies are directly involved in and are  responsible for, and what the media are doing is ensuring that we do not act on our responsibilities, and that the interests of power are served, not the needs  of the suffering people, and not even the needs of the American people who  would be horrified if they realized the blood that's dripping from their hands because of the way they are allowing themselves to be deluded and manipulated  by the system.

    —Noam Chomsky

Posted October 30, 2001
An Evening With Noam Chomsky, “The New War Against Terror” (October 18, 2001 - Transcribed from audio recorded at The Technology & Culture Forum at MIT)
fter the first week of bombing, the New York Times reported on a back page inside a column on something else, that by the arithmetic of the United Nations there will soon be 7.5 million Afghans in acute need of even a loaf of bread and there are only a few weeks left before the harsh winter will make deliveries to many areas totally impossible. . . .Which tells us that Western civilization is anticipating the slaughter of, well do the arithmetic, 3-4 million people or something like that. . . .And if you look at the coalition that is being formed against terror it tells you a lot more. A leading member of the coalition is Russia which is delighted to have the United States support its murderous terrorist war in Chechnya instead of occasionally criticizing it in the background. China is joining enthusiastically. It’s delighted to have support for the atrocities it’s carrying out in western China against, what it called, Muslim secessionists. . . .Now we can run through the list, the list of the states that have joined the coalition against terror is quite impressive. They have a characteristic in common. They are certainly among the leading terrorist states in the world. And they happen to be led by the world champion. . . .We certainly want to reduce the level of terror, certainly not escalate it. There is one easy way to do that and therefore it is never discussed. Namely stop participating in it. That would automatically reduce the level of terror enormously. But that you can’t discuss.”

Posted October 16, 2001
Reaction to the War
”It is impossible to estimate how many miserable and innocent Afghans have already died as an immediate consequence of the threat of bombing and the closing of the Pakistan border that the US demanded at once (if we can believe the NY Times), and the failure to provide food, as could have been done from the first day, not only by air drops -- nothing has hindered that -- but also by truck convoy, as the international relief efforts demonstrated when they began.”

Posted October 9, 2001
Composite of interviews with Chomsky

“Such terrorist atrocities are a gift to the harshest and most repressive elements on all sides, and are sure to be exploited -- already have been in fact -- to accelerate the agenda of militarization, regimentation, reversal of social democratic programs, transfer of wealth to narrow sectors, and undermining democracy in any meaningful form. But that will not happen without resistance, and I doubt that it will succeed, except in the short term.” [FULL TEXT]

Chatting With Chomsky (from MSNBC)

“We should look very carefully at this anti-terrorism coalition and who is joining it and why. Russia is happily joining the international coalition because it is delighted to have U.S. support for the horrendous atrocities it is carrying out in its war against Chechnya. It describes that as an anti-terrorist war. In fact it is a murderous terrorist war itself. They'd love to have the United States support it. China is very happy to join because it wants U.S. support for its wars in western China against Muslim groups who, in fact, were part of the coalition in Afghanistan 20 years ago and are now fighting for their rights in China, and China wants to suppress them brutally and would love to have the United States supporting that. . . . And if you look around the world, those who are happily joining the coalition are doing it for reasons that should send shivers up their spine.” [FULL TEXT]

The following essays were posted on or before October 3, 2001.

Interview with Chomsky on ZNet

“The UN estimates that some 7-8 million [in Afghanistan] are at risk of imminent starvation. The NY Times reports in a small item (Sept. 25) that nearly six million Afghans depend on food aid from the UN, as well as 3.5 million in refugee camps outside, many of whom fled just before the borders were sealed. The item reported that some food is being sent, to the camps across the border. If people in Washington and the editorial offices have even a single gray cell functioning, they realize that they must present themselves as humanitarians seeking to avert the awesome tragedy that followed at once from the threat of bombing and military attack and the sealing of the borders they demanded.”

“The Reagan administration came into office 20 years ago declaring that its leading concern would be to eradicate the plague of international terrorism, a cancer that is destroying civilization. They cured the plague by establishing an international terrorist network of extraordinary scale, with consequences that are -- or should be -- well-known in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere -- while using the pretexts, as you say, to carry out programs that were of considerable harm to the domestic population, and that even threaten human survival.” [FULL TEXT]

Why Did This Happen?

The U.S. has already demanded that Pakistan terminate the food and other supplies that are keeping at least some of the starving and suffering people of Afghanistan alive. If that demand is implemented, unknown numbers of people who have not the remotest connection to terrorism will die, possibly millions. Let me repeat: the U.S. has demanded that Pakistan kill possibly millions of people who are themselves victims of the Taliban. This has nothing to do even with revenge. It is at a far lower moral level even than that. The significance is heightened by the fact that this is mentioned in passing, with no comment, and probably will hardly be noticed. We can learn a great deal about the moral level of the reigning intellectual culture of the West by observing the reaction to this demand. I think we can be reasonably confident that if the American population had the slightest idea of what is being done in their name, they would be utterly appalled. [FULL TEXT]

On the Bombings

The events reveal, dramatically, the foolishness of the project of "missile defense." As has been obvious all along, and pointed out repeatedly by strategic analysts, if anyone wants to cause immense damage in the US, including weapons of mass destruction, they are highly unlikely to launch a missile attack, thus guaranteeing their immediate destruction. There are innumerable easier ways that are basically unstoppable. [FULL TEXT]

Neocolonial Invitation to a Tribal War

Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2001

"What we feared has come true," Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling writes in Israel's leading newspaper. Jews and Palestinians are "regressing to superstitious tribalism.... War appears an unavoidable fate," an "evil colonial" war. This prospect is likely if the U.S. grants tacit authorization, with grim consequences that may reverberate far beyond. [FULL TEXT]

Prospects for Peace in the Middle East

The University of Toledo, March 4, 2001

The prevailing doctrine is that we should focus laser-like on the crimes of others and lament them, and we should ignore or deny our own. Or more accurately, we should structure the way we view things so as to dismiss the possibility of looking into the mirror-shape discourse so the question of our own responsibilities can't even arise, or more accurately, can arise only in one connection-namely the connection of how we should react to the crimes of others. [FULL TEXT]

Noam Chomsky on Intellectuals Speaking Out

It also seems beyond controversy that moral responsibilities are greater to the extent that people “have the resources, the training, the facilities and opportunities to speak and act effectively.”

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