On Libya and the Unfolding Crises, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Stephen Shalom and Michael Albert


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Noam Chomsky interviewed by Stephen Shalom and Michael Albert
ZNet, March 30, 2011

1. What are US motives in international relations most broadly? That is, what are the over arching motives and themes one can pretty much always find informing US policy choices, no matter where in the world we are discussing? What are the somewhat more specific but still over arching motives and themes for US policy in Middle East and the Arab world? Finally, what do you think are the more proximate aims of US policy in the current situation in Libya?

A useful way to approach the question is to ask what US motives are not. There are some good ways to find out. One is to read the professional literature on international relations: quite commonly, its account of policy is what policy is not, an interesting topic that I won’t pursue.

Another method, quite relevant now, is to listen to political leaders and commentators. Suppose they say that the motive for a military action is humanitarian. In itself, that carries no information: virtually every resort to force is justified in those terms, even by the worst monsters — who may, irrelevantly, even convince themselves of the truth of what they are saying. Hitler, for example, may have believed that he was taking over parts of Czechoslovakia to end ethnic conflict and bring its people the benefits of an advanced civilization, and that he invaded Poland to end the “wild terror” of the Poles. Japanese fascists rampaging in China probably did believe that they were selflessly laboring to create an “earthly paradise” and to protect the suffering population from “Chinese bandits.” Even Obama may have believed what he said in his presidential address on March 28 about the humanitarian motives for the Libyan intervention. Same holds of commentators.


via On Libya and the Unfolding Crises, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Stephen Shalom and Michael Albert


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Michel Chossudovsky: Operation Libya: Insurrection and Military Intervention

The Euro-US War on Libya: Official Lies and Misconceptions of Critics by James Petras and Robin E. Abaya

NATO Wages War On Third Continent by Rick Rozoff

From the Gulf War to the War on North Africa: On the True Meaning of Democracy by Cynthia McKinney

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3 thoughts on “On Libya and the Unfolding Crises, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Stephen Shalom and Michael Albert

  1. Pingback: Libya and the World of Oil by Noam Chomsky | Dandelion Salad

  2. I rarely comment on Chomsky’s or other articles. However, I find it important to do so in this case. Along with his great intellectual contributions, Chomsky has been making some great blunders, some of which he has corrected subsequently. Chomsky’s interview is not posted in full on the Dandelionsalad. However, I read it on the ZNet. I tried to post the following comment there but it could not be posted, as they have made it difficult and cumbersome to post comments there. It is so much easier on the Dandelionsalad.

    Chomsky is using the same terminology about Gadhafi being a “dictator” that the mainstream media and Western governments are using, without mentioning or citing the specific facts of the political economy of Libya, within which, free education and free medical care are the substantial and legal rights of all Libyans. In the Green Book, Gadhafi also writes about the right of all human beings to own their own houses, and according to some published information in this regard, all Libyans have been provided with their own houses. If that is dictatorship, then probably everyone should have it. Libyans have incomparably superior economic democracy than in the US, the most boastful citadel of capitalist democracy, which is engulfed in the swamp of a prolonged and all-round structural economic, political, cultural, and social crisis. The more it tries to extricate itself from it, the deeper it sinks. With close to $14 trillion national debt; more than 50 million of its citizens without health insurance (according to a recent Harvard Medical School Study, 45,000 Americans die every year because of lack of health insurance and medical treatment); 20 percent unemployment; 43 million so poor that they cannot even feed themselves and have to depend on food stamps to survive; 22 percent poverty and hunger rate in the children; 3 million suffering the horrors of homelessness; the greatest inequality of wealth and income in the industrialized world (according to a recent publication, relative inequality in the US is greater than even in Egypt. It certainly is much greater than in Libya.); and systematic state violations of domestic and international laws and its own constitution; application of draconian laws and practices, like the Patriot Act; prolonged incarcerations without judicial trials; international tortures and kidnappings; putting around half a million of its citizens and residents on the “No Fly List”, without even informing them that they are on it; widespread espionage and violations of the privacy of its own citizens; systematic firing of people from their jobs because of minor political dissent; widespread racist discrimination and injustice against the minorities, etc. etc., US and its intellectuals-who need to address these problems in their own country-are in no position to advise or assist other nations in the solution of their economic, social, or political problems, or to preach them about democracy, freedom, lawfulness, and human rights. One would have to be robotically deluded, dishonest, callous, shameless, or a psychopath, or both, to do that. As is obvious, there is no dearth of such beings in the US. In fact, it is a requirement for success throughout the various institutions of this society that deal with the international as well as domestic affairs.

    Why did the interviewers and Chomsky totally exclude these most important and substantial facts from the interview? Is it ignorance or deliberate undermining of the substantial issues, and restricting discourse to only subjective, idealistic, and positivistic-analytic realm, which is free from the need to relate to the objective politico-economic facts and reality? This interview is not an isolated case. Almost all the other ZNet articles and writers are also infected with similar biases, flaws, and deficiencies. There seems to be censorship of articles that do not follow the ZNet Party-line. Also, ZNet and other so-called “leftist” Western “intellectuals” restrict democracy only to its Western capitalist forms and do not even bother to inform themselves on alternative forms of democracy, like the innovative form that it took in Libya after the 1969 Revolution.

    Chomsky’s approach to invasion of Libya is similar to that of Afghanistan, in which, in spite of his opposition to the invasion, he had stated that it was good that the Taliban were overthrown by the invaders, even though, he would have preferred that Afghans themselves had done it (Chomsky interview-U.S. intervention from Afghanistan to Iraq, International Socialist Review Issue 25, September–October 2002). But Taliban were popular at that time and are now even more popular there. It was impossible to replace them democratically or otherwise. They could only be overthrown by the kind of imperialist invasion that actually took place. Now, the puppets of imperialism are heading the government there, do not have control over much of the country, except in the capital, and even there they are in the process of losing it. Corruption, cronyism, warlordism, crime, war and destruction of lives and property, opium and heroin production and smuggling etc. have all multiplied. So, was the overthrow of Taliban government by the invaders a good thing or bad? Chomsky has been proven completely wrong in this connection. In Libya, the situation is even more complex, as the main mobs and leaders of the rebellion are being controlled by the CIA, MI6, and other imperialist masters. So, if the current Libyan leadership and government are replaced by them, it would be an incomparably worse development.

    Following are links to some articles that include such facts and analyze the Libyan politico-economic system, and its invasion by Western imperialism, far more concretely and accurately.



  3. Pingback: Creative-i : Libya Newslinks 31 March – 1 April 2011

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