Fwd: Interview with Noam Chomsky
INTERVIEW by Mary Lou Findlay (MLF) with NOAM CHOMSKY
(NC) As It Happens, CBC RADIO April 16, 1999
MLF: Do you think that, by in large, you and we are getting a
reasonably accurate picture of what is going on in this war?
NC: Ithink the reporters on the ground, many of them, are producing
quite accurate stories: the way the framework and the interpretation
is another question, I mean inaccurate isn't the word for it, it
MLF: Well tell us about that.
NC: This is presented, well I haven't read the Canadian media, but
the United States and what I've seen of Europe, its presented as
humanitarian endeavor, and that is repeated over and over. Well,
anything is obvious, it's the opposite, it cannot possibly be
considered by a rational person as having humanitarian motives.
MLF: You don't believe that the reason for the NATO action was to
rescue the Kosovo Albanians from oppression?
NC: It is virtually inconceivable on rational grounds and there
simple reasons for that. One reason is simply Kosovo itself. Up
the US NATO bombing March 24th, there had been, according to NATO,
2000 people killed on all sides, and a couple of hundred thousand
refugees. Well, that's bad, that's an humanitarian crises,
unfortunately it's the kind you can find all over the world. For
example, it happens to be almost identical in numbers to
state department describes as the last year in Colombia: 300,000
refugees, 2 or 3 thousand people killed, overwhelming by the military
forces and the para military associates, who the US arms, in fact
arms are going up. That' s the way the US, Britain and other
countries act when there are humanitarian crises, namely they
escalate them. Now, what happened in Kosovo, well in fact the same
thing. There were options on March 23rd, they chose an option which,
predictably, changed the situation from a Colombia style crisis
maybe approaching a disaster, and that was a conscious choice.
effects ? Let me quote the US NATO commanding General, Wesley Clark:
two days after the bombing he said it was "entirely predictable"
the reaction of the Serb army on the ground would be exactly as
MLF: I must interject here and say that our own foreign Minister
has said nobody foresaw the scale of Milosevic response.
NC: That's ridiculous, maybe they didn't foresee the exact scale,
when you bomb people they don't throw flowers at you. They react
MLF: Let me ask you what you think the motive was the.
NC: One thing is that any kind of turbulence in the Balkans is what's
called in technical terms a crisis, that means it can harm the
interests of rich and powerful people. So if people are slaughtering
each other in Sierra Leone, Colombia Turkey or where ever, that
doesn't effect rich and powerful people very much, therefore they
glad either to just watch it, or even contribute to it, massively
in the case of Turkey or Colombia. But in the Balkans it's different,
it can effect European interests and therefore US interest, so
becomes a crisis, any kind of turbulence. Then you want to quiet
down. Well, how do you do it? The US flatly refuses to allow the
institutions of international order to be involved, so no UN, and
that's pretty explicit. So they have to turn to NATO. Well, NATO,
US dominates, so turn to force. So, why force? Well, several reasons,
and here I think Clinton, Blair and others have been pretty honest
about it. The point that they reiterate over and over is that it
necessary to establish the credibility of NATO. Now all we have
is translate from Newspeak, what does credibility of NATO mean?
mean, are they concerned with the credibility of Italy, or the
credibility of Belgium, obviously not. They are concerned with
credibility of the United States. Now what does the credibility
the United States mean?. Well, you know, ask any Mafia don, he'll
explain it. So, suppose some Mafia don is running some area in
Chicago, what does he mean by credibility? He means that you have
to show people that they better be obedient or else, that's
MLF: I want to ask you, to go back to the United Nations
for a moment though, because..., and if I may bring up the Canadian
arguments again, because Canada has long been a supporter, in fact,
of UN, of international law, in every instance I can think of except
this one. The argument our foreign minister and our Prime Minister
give now, and in fact all of Parliament, is that, yes but, the
now a helpless organization, it could do nothing to prevent
slaughters and massacres, therefore we had to do something, and,
there is the UN Human Rights Declaration that gave them
NC: Yah, well the UN Human Rights Declaration gives no
authorization. It is perfectly true that there is a tension between
the UN charter which bars the use of a threat or the use of force,
and the Universal Declaration which guarantees, theoretically,
rights of people against oppressive states. But Canada doesn't
at all about that, nothing. Canada has a horrible record in that
respect. For example, take Sorroto's Indonesia, which is a brutal,
murderous state. I think Canada was supporting it all the way
through, because it was making money out of it. And we can go around
the world, Canada strongly supported the US invasion of South
Vietnam, the whole of Indo-China. In fact Canada became the, per
capita, largest war exporter, trying to make as much money as it
could from the murder of people in Indo China. In fac t, I'd suggest
that you look back at that comment by a well known
Canadian diplomat, I think his name was John Hughes, some years
who defined what he called the Canadian idea, namely "we uphold
principles but we find a way around them". Well that's pretty
accurate, and Canada is not unique in this respect, maybe a little
MLF: So, Professor Chomsky, has this action done
any harm to the United Nations, and the advancement of international
law or was it already a moot thing.
NC: Of course it has. You could argue that since the United States,
the leading power in the world, has brazen contempt for international
law, it doesn't mean much, but there is no doubt that this act
another blow against a rather fragile system of world order. But
that's, in a way, you could argue, the least of it. I mean it has
been of extreme harm to the people of Kosovo, that is obvious.
undermined, and maybe permanently destroyed, a courageous and
promising democratic movement in Belgrade, which was the best hope
getting rid of Milosevic. And it has caused considerable disruption
and danger in surrounding areas, including the Yugoslavia republic
Montenegro and also Macedonia and may spread worse.
MLF: Let me ask you a questions about our
perceptions, rhetoric and manipulation then, because our opinion
polls right now tell us that the majority of Americans and Canadians
support this action and as far as I can tell they are doing it
because they believe it is the right thing to do, that it was the
humanitarian thing to do, that they are saving people.
NC: That's right, if you are told over and over again, morning
night, with close to 100% unanimity, thundering at you "we are
this to save lives" you might tend to believe these absurd claims,
although you know a moments reflection should demonstrate their
MLF: Do you think that people are also effected by,... you
see the interviews with refugees, including the people who were
supposedly bombed by NATO by mistake, who say, well it was a tragedy
of course but we don't care, tell NATO to keep on, we are with
NATO's doing the right thing.
NC: Sure, I mean there are many people
around the world who think you ought to bomb Washington.
MLF: But these are the victims who are saying carry on.
NC: Sure, the victims say it, I mean the victims in Turkey would
delighted if the US would stop arming the Turkish government and
would bomb Anchora..
MLF: But, they have lost, as you just said... they are all refugees
now and they are still saying it is the right thing to do.
NC: When you are a refugee, what you hate is the person who drove
out with a gun. Look, if people sitting in Toronto can't think
through the fact that the US, Canadian, British actions escalated
atrocities, predictably, if they can't think though it, how do
expect a refugee on the ground to think about it.
MLF: There isn't unanimity in Congress about this, there is near
unanimity in the Canadian parliament, if what your are saying is
correct, how is it that everyone is so misled, so wooly headed
NC: Not misled. I think the facts that I just described are
quite plain. Why are they misled; well, for one thing, because
live in highly indoctrinated societies, with an intellectual class
that is extremely subordinate to power, and since they are totally
bombarded with propaganda about how its not our fault if the
consequence of actions is an escalation of atrocities, they don't
think about it.
MLF: Would you have done anything, or what would you
NC: On March 23rd? Well, there were three choices. One
was to act in such a way as to escalate the atrocities, that's
one that was chosen. A second choice was do nothing. A third choice
is to act as to mitigate the atrocities. Now if you can't think
any way to mitigate atrocities the best choice was to do nothing.
Now, was there any way to mitigate the atrocities? Well, I suppose
there were diplomatic options that were open,;the Serbian parliament
passed a resolution on March 23rd, the day before the bombing,
which it said that they would not accept a NATO force, (hardly
surprising, Canada wouldn't accept a Warsaw pact force) but they
proposed that there be a move toward autonomy for Kosovo, and
that. After that, there should be an international force.
that an acceptable offer? We don't know, because the US wouldn't
pay any attention to it. But pursuing that offer, thought the
mechanisms of world order such as the UN Security Council or neutral
countries like India or others, pursing that would certainly have
been better than doing nothing and vastly better than acting to
escalate the atrocities.
MLF: What do we do now?
NC: If a doctor is giving you medicine which is killing you, the
first thing we would do is stop giving you the medicine,
more of it. So the first thing we ought to do is stop doing what
harming the situation, the second thing we should do is hand over
diplomacy and negotiations to some credible source, so hand it
to the Security Council, to neutral countries, maybe India, South
Africa, Scandinavian countries, any one who hasn't completely
discredited themselves, have them undertake diplomatic initiatives,
and see if there is a way to resolve the distinction between, for
example, the Serbian parliament proposal and the NATO proposal.
MLF: Do you think we are likely to do any of that?
NC: The US and Canada? Very unlikely, because these are "jingoist"
countries, which are highly subordinate to power and where people
don't stop to think through the consequences of what they are doing,,
MLF: NATO, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary
next week and they are all congratulating themselves on having
a new role.
NC: Yes, they have found a new role and a very ugly role,
a role which has sharply escalated atrocities, exactly as they
predicted, and caused extreme damage elsewhere, including the
democratic movement in Belgrade, let alone world order. So if they
want to celebrate that, fine, I'm not going to be celebrating.
MLF: Professor Chomsky, I thank you very much for talking to us
Montenet.org: Kao sto
zna veliki broj citalaca koji su nam se javljali, komentari citalaca su
dobrodosli. Montenet.org ne prezentuje vecinu komentara koje su licne
prirode. Medjutim, ukoliko neko zeli da komentarise ili sugerise teme koje
bi mogle biti od interesa citaocima, Monenet.org ce ih okaciti na "http://www.montenet.org/home/letters.htm"
po redu u kojem stizu. Mozda je jos jednostavnije ako oni koji hoce da
posalju komentar dvostruko pritisnu misa na rijec 'comments',
a ukoliko hoce da vide komentare pritisnu misa na rijec 'published'
koje se nalaze na dno svake stranice Montenet.org. Alternativno, komentari
se mogu poslati na e-mail adresu email@example.com.