The rest of the interview is basically Chomsky's justification for not giving much of a damn about 9/11 - read it if you want, but not right after you eat.
...it is clear by around 1970, certainly by the time the Pentagon Papers came out, the primary concern was the one that shows up in virtually all intervention: Guatemala, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Chile, just about everywhere you look at. The concern is independent nationalism which is unacceptable in itself because it extricates some part of the world that the US wants to dominate. And it has an extra danger if it is likely to be successful in terms that are likely to be meaningful to others who are suffering from the same conditions.
Chomsky would have us believe that the people of Nicaragua, Cuba, and Vietnam wanted to live under Marxist dictatorships. You'll certainly won't find a more freedom-loving bunch than Ho Chi Minh, Daniel Ortega, and Fidel Castro, those icons of independent nationalism. You'll find no hint in the above paragraph of the Cold War and our desire to halt the expansion of the Soviet bloc.
The US and England and the rest were just content to see Vietnam destroyed. That was much worse than anything happening in Iraq. It looked at that point as if they would conquer Vietnam. The Tet Offensive [a major national offensive by anti-US Vietnamese forces in early 1968] made it clear it was going to be a long war. At that point the business world turned against the war and decided this is just not worth it. They said we have already achieved the main objectives and Vietnam is not going to undergo successful independent development. It will be lucky if it survives. So it is pointless; why waste the money on it. The main goal had been achieved by the early seventies.
So you see, Timmy, the big bad wolf blew down the houses of the little small country, and pretended that the war had been lost and it was a complete disaster, but in reality, the wolf had merely achieved his goals under a satisfactory timetable. Anybody know when visiting hours are over at the asylum? I'd hate to keep Noam up past his bedtime.
The Second World War was fought in the Pacific phase to prevent Japan from establishing a new order in Asia in which it would be the center. And it would be an independent force in world affairs. Well in the 1950s the US was not prepared to lose the Second World War and so it took a nuanced position.
And to think there are those who accuse Chomsky of being an America-hater. This is truly childish...Pearl Harbor was just a friendly invitation for a cup of tea, I guess. Outlandish comes to mind.
[Chomsky goes into a long diatribe here about how Iraq is all about oil (of course!). We can safely skip this nonsense, except to note in passing that he accuses the sanctions of killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Chomsky is widely known in Leftist circles as a meticulous researcher, but this is yet another example of his habit of throwing out remarkable statistics that no one but he has ever heard of. When challenged, his source is invariably some small circulation 'Progressive' magazine.]
...[there was] every possible reason for it [the Iraq invasion] to succeed, but somehow they have managed to turn it into an unbelievable catastrophe. [London Independent Middle-east correspondent] Bob Fisk has been describing it all along. About a year ago I happened to meet a friend who I can't identity but who is a high official in one of the major relief organizations. He has experience all over the world and has worked in the most horrible places. His description of Iraq was that he had simply never seen such a combination of arrogance, ignorance and incompetence.
He mentioned Fisk! In a fisking! Is this worth double points? Oh, and what was I just saying about Chomsky's dubious sources? A friend who I can't identify...how convenient. I'll let you guys in on a secret. A friend who I can't identify (oh, what the hell, it's my beagle) has more sense than this MIT professor.
[Now comes another long, boring digression on this history of 'insurgencies', interrupted by the assertion that the U.S. will never allow a sovereign Iraq and the incredible statement that an independent Iraq would probably develop WMDs to counter Israel's! And I know about Israel's nuclear program, but this is a bit much.]
Now we get to the meat of the matter:
Q: Let me ask you about some of the criticism that has come your way from the left since 9/11. You've been accused, notably by Christopher Hitchens and by others, including the Independent's Johann Hari, of making excuses for Islamic fascism and of drawing 'moral equivalency' in your discussions of 9/11 and US crimes. How do you respond?
A: Can they give a source? I don't care what sort of ranting and tantrums people have. If they refer to something, fine. The phrase moral equivalence is used only by totalitarians.
This is infuriating, and shame on the interviewer for letting him get away with such shamelessness. The source, Chomsky, is your own words on the very day after the attacks! I quote, verbatim:
The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example, Clinton's bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people (no one knows, because the US blocked an inquiry at the UN and no one cares to pursue it). Not to speak of much worse cases, which easily come to mind. But that this was a horrendous crime is not in doubt. The primary victims, as usual, were working people: janitors, secretaries, firemen, etc. It is likely to prove to be a crushing blow to Palestinians and other poor and oppressed people. It is also likely to lead to harsh security controls, with many possible ramifications for undermining civil liberties and internal freedom.
The great Hitchens, among others, has justly accused this pathetic 'intellectual' of moral equivalence for the passage above and many others like it. I will only note here that: (1) the accusation that the Sudan bombing killed 'untold numbers' has long been disproven, (2) Chomsky asserts that worse cases than 9/11 easily come to mind (this on September 12th, 2001, mind you!), and (3) Chomsky expresses no sympathy whatsoever for his own nation in the very shadow of its darkest hour, but immediately thinks of what a crushing blow this will be to the Palestinians! If I edited a dictionary, and was asked to furnish an example of 'moral equivalency', I would quote the passage above.
The first indication that you are dealing with a 'Progressive' is the loving devotion to Uncle Noam. Unfortunately far too many mistake his fairy tales for the truth. My own personal test for an America-hater is not, as Chomsky and his followers suggest, whether that person disagrees with this or any administration on a specific policy. My criteria is two-fold:
- The America-hater has an alternative history of U.S. foreign policy ready at hand at all times. This alternate history is short on facts, long on speculation, and like all conspiracy theories, fits the chaotic events of many decades and various leaders into a cohesive whole, as if life were merely a script written by 'them', whoever they are.
- The America-hater has one overriding principle when discussing any issue: if it's good for America, it's bad for the world.
I don't think anyone can reasonably doubt that these criteria fit Chomsky like a glove.