Chomsky Interview (The Guardian)
John M Cox
coxj at email.unc.edu
Tue Feb 4 07:46:41 MST 2003
MIT professor, writer and activist
Tuesday February 4, 2003
There's never been a time that I can think of when there's been such
massive opposition to a war before it was even started. And the closer you
get to the region, the higher the opposition appears to be. In Turkey
polls indicated close to 90% opposition, in Europe it's quite substantial.
In the United States the figures you see in polls, however, are quite
misleading because since September there's been a drumbeat of propaganda
trying to bludgeon people into the belief that not only is Saddam a
terrible person but in fact he's going to come after us tomorrow unless we
stop him today. And that reaches people.
They have to terrify the population to feel there's some enormous threat
to their existence and carry out a miraculous, decisive and rapid victory
over this enormous foe and march on to the next one.
Remember the people now running the show in Washington are mostly recycled
Reaganites, essentially reliving the script of the 1980s. So one year it
was an airbase in Grenada which the Russians were going to use to bomb the
US. Nicaragua was "two days marching time from Texas". Nicaragua might
conquer us on its way to conquer the hemisphere. A national emergency was
called because of the threat posed to national security by Nicaragua.
I don't want to suggest that they have no reasons for wanting to take over
Iraq. Of course they do. Controlling Iraq will put the US in a very
powerful position to extend its domination of the major energy resources
of the world. That's not a small point.
North Korea is a different case. What they are demonstrating to the world
with great clarity is that if you want to deter US aggression you better
have weapons of mass destruction, or else a credible threat of terror.
That's a terrible lesson to teach, but it's exactly what's being taught.
In this particular case you can't predict what will happen once a war
starts. In the worst case it might be what the intelligence agencies and
the aid agencies are predicting - namely an increase in terror as
deterrence or revenge, and for the people of Iraq, who are barely on the
edge of survival, it could be the humanitarian catastrophe of which the
aid agencies and the UN have been warning.
On the other hand, it's possible it could be what the hawks in Washington
hope - a quick victory, no fighting to speak of, impose a new regime, give
it a democratic facade, make sure the US has big military bases there, and
effectively controls the oil.
The chances that they will allow anything approximating real democracy are
One major problem is that 60% of the population roughly is Shiite. If
there's any form of democratic government, they're going to have a say, in
fact a majority say, in what the government is. Well they are not
pro-Iranian but the chances are that a Shiite majority would join the rest
of the region in trying to improve relations with Iran and reduce the
levels of tension generally in the region by reintegrating Iran within it.
That's the last thing the US wants. Iran is its next target.
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