Terror Is Not a High Priority in the World
The Tufts Daily, September 30, 2005
Nearly three years after his last appearance on the Hill, Noam Chomsky was back Thursday night to talk about the failures of U.S. foreign policy, including what he called the "grotesque" situation in Iraq.
Chomsky, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguistics and philosophy professor outspoken on social and political issues, addressed a packed room in Pearson 104.
Students lined the aisles and in some cases sat behind the podium. Just before Chomsky entered the room, one of the organizers said the speech might be given in Cohen Auditorium - prompting many students to leave the room only to wind up missing the speech.
The four major crises facing the world, Chomsky said, are: nuclear war, environmental disaster, the indifference of the superpowers to the first two problems, and the failure of the superpowers to make amends for past mistakes.
But Chomsky spent most of his 90-minute speech and hour-long question-and-answer session on Iraq, Iran and the War on Terror.
The press is unable to communicate the scale of destruction in Iraq, Chomsky said, because reporters are confined to the safety zones around the capital.
The destruction of a foreign country is not a new phenomenon in U.S. foreign policy, he added. Chomsky mentioned the history of U.S. involvement in Iraq and Iran, including aiding Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein during his war with Iran from 1980 to 1988.
"Bush, Blair, Powell and Rice bitterly denounce Saddam for crimes in the 1980s," Chomsky said, referring to the President, the British Prime Minister, and the two most recent American Secretaries of State. "What is missing is [Saddam] committed those crimes with our help."
Chomsky also said the sanctions imposed on Iraq during the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton Administrations led to the death of hundreds of thousands of children. The United States has a "standard operating procedure to put sanctions on the government and arm the militia," he said.
"We also should be paying reparations to Iran and Iraq for 50 years of torture," Chomsky said.
When he spoke in Cohen Auditorium on Nov. 18, 2002 - as the likelihood of a war in Iraq grew - Chomsky said the George W. Bush Administration did not want to address the root causes of terrorism, only to promote an "unending war."
He echoed a similar sentiment Thursday evening. "One reasonable conclusion: terror is not a high priority in the world," he said. "Securing gas and resource is."
The war in Iraq has caused more terrorism and the Bush Administration knew that would happen, Chomsky said.
The speech also addressed the current U.S. nuclear dilemma with Iran. At a United Nations meeting earlier this month, the Iranian president declared his intention to give nuclear technology to other Muslim countries.
The U.S. strategy of preventive attack on Iraq set a dangerous precedent for rogue states, Chomsky said. "If Iran were to adopt U.S. and British standards, Iran would develop nuclear weapons and carry out terrorists attacks in the U.S.," he said.
Following his prepared speech, so many students lined up to ask question that Chomsky had to turn to a moderator to pick questioners.
American political institutions encourage a foreign policy directed at securing resources, he said. The Democratic and Republican Parties are "far to the right of the American population," Chomsky said.
The government is largely influenced by corporations, he said, and the public rarely knows the stances of candidates.
Under corporate influence, even democratic "governments typically want to control their own population" Chomsky said. "They don't want democracy."
News and information about foreign policy must be carefully scrutinized for accuracy, he said. "The people at the wrong end of the club typically have a clearer view of the world."