For reaction to the WikiLeaks documents, weíre joined now by
world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky, Professor
Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of over a hundred
books, including his latest, Hopes and Prospects.
Well, 40 years ago, Noam and the late historian
Howard Zinn helped
government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg edit and release the
Papers, the top-secret internal U.S. history of the Vietnam War.
Noam Chomsky joins us now from Boston.
Itís good to have you back again, Noam. Why donít we start there, before we
talk about WikiLeaks. What was your involvement with the Pentagon Papers? I
donít think most people know about this.
Dan and I were friends. Tony Russo also, who also prepared
them and helped leak them. And I got advanced copies from Dan and Tony, and
there were several people who were releasing them to the press. I was one of
them. And then I, along with Howard Zinn, as you mentioned, edited a volume
of essays in an index to the Papers.
So, explain, though, how it worked. And I always think this is
important, to tell this story, especially for young people. Dan Ellsberg,
Pentagon official, top-secret clearance, gets this U.S. involvement in
Vietnam history out of his safe. He xeroxes it. And then, how did you get
your hands on it? He just directly gave it to you?
From Dan and
- Dan Ellsberg and Tony Russo, who had done the xeroxing and the preparation of the material, yes, directly.
[inaudible] exactly did you edit?
Well, we didnít modify anything. The Papers were not edited.
Theyíre just in their original form. What Howard Zinn and I did was - they
came out in four volumes. We prepared a fifth volume, which is critical
essays by many scholars on the Papers, what they mean, their significance
and so on, and an index, which is almost indispensable for using them
seriously. Thatís the fifth volume in the Beacon Press series.
So you were then one of the first people to see the Pentagon
Outside of Dan Ellsberg and Tony Russo, yes. I mean, there
were some journalists who may have seen them. Iím not sure.
So, what are your thoughts today, as
- for example, we just
played this clip of New York Republican Congress member Peter King, who says
WikiLeaks should be declared a foreign terrorist organization?
I think thatís outlandish. The materials
- we should
understand - and the Pentagon Papers is another case in point - that one of the
major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its
own population. In the Pentagon Papers, for example, there was one volume,
the negotiations volume, which might have had bearing on ongoing activities,
and Dan Ellsberg withheld that.
That came out a little bit later. But if you
look at the Papers themselves, there are things that Americans should have
known that the government didnít want them to know. And as far as I can
tell, from what Iíve seen here, pretty much the same is true.
In fact, the
current leaks are - what Iíve seen, at least - primarily interesting because of
what they tell us about how the diplomatic service works.
The documentsí revelations about Iran come just as the Iranian
government has agreed to a new round of nuclear talks beginning next month.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cables
vindicate the Israeli position that Iran poses a nuclear threat. Netanyahu
"Our region has been hostage to a narrative that is the result
of 60 years of propaganda, which paints Israel as the greatest threat.
reality, leaders understand that that view is bankrupt. For the first time
in history, there is agreement that Iran is the threat. If leaders start
saying openly what they have long been saying behind closed doors, we can
make a real breakthrough on the road to peace," Netanyahu said.
Hillary Clinton also discussed Iran at her news conference in
This is what she said.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON:
I think that it should not be a surprise
to anyone that Iran is a source of great concern, not only in the United
States, that what comes through in every meeting that I have, anywhere in
the world, is a concern about Iranian actions and intentions.
anything, any of the comments that are being reported on allegedly from the
cables confirm the fact that Iran poses a very serious threat in the eyes of
many of her neighbors and a serious concern far beyond her region. That is
why the international community came together to pass the strongest possible
sanctions against Iran.
It did not happen because the United States went out
and said, "Please do this for us."
It happened because countries, once they
evaluated the evidence concerning Iranís actions and intentions, reached the
same conclusion that the United States reached, that we must do whatever we
can to muster the international community to take action to prevent Iran
from becoming a nuclear weapons state.
So, if anyone reading the stories
about these alleged cables thinks carefully, what they will conclude is that
the concern about Iran is well founded, widely shared, and will continue to
be at the source of the policy that we pursue with like-minded nations to
try to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
That was Secretary to Hillary Clinton yesterday at a news
I wanted to get your comment on Clinton, Netanyahuís comment,
and the fact that Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the King, whoís now getting back
surgery in the New York, called for the U.S. to attack Iran. Noam Chomsky?
That essentially reinforces what I said before, that the main
significance of the cables that have been released so far is what they tell
us about Western leadership. So, Hillary Clinton and Binyamin Netanyahu
surely know of the careful polls of Arab public opinion. The Brookings
Institute just a few months ago released extensive polls of what Arabs think
about Iran. And the results are rather striking.
They show that Arab opinion
does - holds that the major threat in the region is Israel, thatís 80 percent;
the second major threat is the United States, thatís 77 percent. Iran is
listed as a threat by 10 percent. With regard to nuclear weapons, rather
remarkably, a majority, in fact, 57 percent, say that the region will be - it
would have a positive effect in the region if Iran had nuclear weapons.
these are not small numbers. Eighty percent, 77 percent say that the U.S.
and Israel are the major threat. Ten percent say that Iran is the major
Now, this may not be reported in the newspapers here - it is in England
itís certainly familiar to the Israeli and the U.S. governments and to the
ambassadors. But there isnít a word about it anywhere. What that reveals is
the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership
and, of course, the Israeli political leadership. These things arenít even
to be mentioned. And this seeps its way all through the diplomatic service.
So the cables donít have any indication of that.
When they talk about Arabs, they mean the Arab dictators, not the
population, which is overwhelmingly opposed to the conclusions that the
analysts here, Clinton and the media, have drawn. Thereís also a minor
problem. Thatís the major problem. The minor problem is that we donít know
from the cables what the Arab leaders think and say.
We know what was
selected from the range of what they say. So thereís a filtering process. We
donít know how much it distorts the information. But thereís no question
that what is a radical distortion is - or not even a distortion, a reflection
of the concern that the dictators are what matter. The population doesnít
matter, even if itís overwhelmingly opposed to U.S. policy. This shows up
There are similar things elsewhere.
So, just keeping to this region, one of the most interesting cables was a
cable from the U.S. ambassador in Israel to Hillary Clinton, which described
the attack on Gaza, which we should call a U.S.-Israeli attack on Gaza,
December 2008. It states that - correctly, that there had been a truce.
does not add that during the truce, which was really not observed by Israel,
but during the truce, Hamas scrupulously observed it. According to the
Israeli government, not a single rocket was fired.
Thatís an omission. But
then comes a straight lie: it says that in December 2008, Hamas renewed
rocket firing, and therefore Israel had to attack in self-defense. Now, the
ambassador surely is aware - there must be somebody in the American embassy
who reads the Israeli press, the mainstream Israeli press, in which case the
embassy is surely aware that itís exactly the opposite: Hamas was calling
for a renewal of the ceasefire.
Israel considered the offer and rejected it,
preferring to bomb rather than to have security. Also omitted is that while
Israel never observed the ceasefire, it maintained the siege in violation of
the truce agreement.
On November 4th, the U.S. election, 2008, the Israeli
army entered Gaza, killed - invaded Gaza and killed half a dozen Hamas
militants, which did lead to an exchange of fire, in which all the
casualties, as usual, are Palestinian. Then in December, Hamas - when the
truce officially ended, Hamas called for renewing it. Israel refused, and
the U.S. and Israel chose to launch the war.
What the embassy reported is a
gross falsification and a very significant one, since it has to do with the
justification for this murderous attack, which means either the embassy
hasnít a clue whatís going on or else theyíre lying outright.
And the latest report that just came out from Oxfam, from
Amnesty International and other groups about the effects of the siege on
Gaza, whatís happening right now?
A siege is an act of war. If anyone insists on that, itís
Israel. Israel launched two wars, '56 and í67, in part on grounds that its
access to the outside world was very partially restricted. That very partial
siege they considered an act of war and so justification for - one of several
justifications for what they call "preventive" or, if you like, preemptive
war. So they understand that perfectly well, and the point is correct.
siege is a criminal act, in the first place. The Security Council has called
on Israel to lift it. Others have. It's designed to, as Israeli officials
have stated, to keep the people of Gaza to a minimal level of existence.
They donít want to kill them all off, because that wouldnít look good in
international opinion, but, as they put it, "to keep them on a diet."
The justification - this began very shortly after the official Israeli
withdrawal. There was an election in January 2006, actually the only free
election in the Arab world, carefully monitored, recognized to be free. But
it had a flaw: the wrong people won. And the U.S. - namely, Hamas, which the
U.S. didnít want and Israel didnít want. Instantly, within days, the U.S.
and Israel instituted harsh measures to punish the people of Gaza for voting
the wrong way in a free election.
The next step was that they, the U.S. and
Israel, sought to, along with the Palestinian Authority, try to carry out a
military coup in Gaza to overthrow the elected government. This failed. Hamas beat back the coup attempt. That was July 2007. At that point, the
siege got much harsher. In between, there were many acts of violence and
shellings, invasions and so on and so forth.
But the basic - Israel claims that when the truce was established in the
summer 2008, Israelís reason for not observing it, withdrawing the siege,
was that thereís an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was captured at the
border. And this is - you know, international commentary regards this as a
Well, whatever you think about it, capturing a soldier of an
attacking army - and the army was attacking Gaza - capturing a soldier of an
attacking army isnít anywhere near the level of crime of kidnapping
Just one day before the capture of Gilad Shalit at the border,
Israeli troops had entered Gaza, kidnapped two civilians, the Muamar
brothers, spirited them across the border. Theyíve disappeared somewhere in
Israelís prison system, which is - there are hundreds, maybe a thousand or so,
people sometimes there for years without charges. There are also secret
We donít know what happens there. This alone is a far worse crime
than the kidnapping of Shalit. And in fact, you could argue that there was a
reason why it was barely covered. Israel has been doing this for years, in
fact decades - kidnapping, capturing people, hijacking ships, killing people,
bringing them to Israel sometimes as hostages for many years. So itís
regular practice. But the - Israel can do what it likes.
But the reaction here
and in the rest of the world of regarding the Shalit kidnapping - not
kidnapping, you donít kidnap soldiers - the capture of a soldier as an
unspeakable crime, a justification for maintaining a murderous siege, thatís
Noam, so you have Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the
Children, eighteen other aid groups calling on Israel to unconditionally
lift the blockade of Gaza.
You have in the WikiLeaks release
diplomatic cable, provided to The Guardian by WikiLeaks, laying out, quote,
"national human intelligence collection directive" asking U.S. personnel to
obtain "details of travel plans such as routes and vehicles used by
Palestinian Authority leaders and HAMAS members."
The cable demands
"biographical, financial, biometric information on key PA and Hamas leaders
and representatives, to include the young huard inside Gaza, the West Bank
and outside," it says.
That should not come as much of a surprise. Contrary to the
image thatís portrayed here, the United States is not an honest broker.
a participant in - a direct, crucial participant in Israeli crimes, both in
the West Bank and in Gaza. The attack in Gaza was a clear case in point:
used American weapons, the U.S. blocked ceasefire efforts, gave diplomatic
The same is true of the daily ongoing crimes in the West Bank. We
shouldnít forget that. Actually, in Area C, the area of the West Bank that
Israel controls, conditions for Palestinians have been reported by Save the
Children to be worse than in Gaza. And again, this all takes place because
of - on the basis of crucial, decisive, U.S. military, diplomatic, economic
support, and also ideological support, meaning distorting the situation, as
is done again dramatically in the cables.
The siege itself is simply criminal. Itís not only blocking desperately
needed aid from coming in, it also drives Palestinians away from the border.
Gaza is a small place, heavily, densely overcrowded. And Israeli fire and
attacks drive Palestinians away from the arable land on the border and also
drive fishermen in from Gazan territorial waters.
Theyíre compelled by
Israeli gunboats - all illegal, of course - to fish right near the shore, where
fishing is almost impossible because Israel has destroyed the power systems
and sewage systems and the contamination is terrible.
This is just a
stranglehold to punish people for being there and for insisting on voting
the wrong way and for just refusing - Israel wants - they decided,
want this anymore. Letís just get rid of them."
We should also remember that U.S.-Israeli policy, since Oslo, since early
'90s, has been to separate Gaza from the West Bank.
Now that's in straight
violation of the Oslo agreements, but itís been carried out systematically,
and it has a big effect. It means almost half the Palestinian population
would be cut off from any possible political arrangement that would ever be
made. It also means that Palestine loses its access to the outside world.
Gaza should have and can have airports and seaports. And the West Bank,
whatís being left - I mean, right now Israel has taken over about 40 percent
of the West Bank. Obamaís latest offers granted even more, and theyíre
certainly planning to take more. And whatís left is just cantonized. Itís
what the planner,
Ariel Sharon, called Bantustans. And theyíre imprisoned,
too, as Israel takes over the Jordan Valley, drives Palestinians out. So,
these are all crimes of a piece.
The Gaza siege is particularly grotesque because of the conditions under
which people are forced to live. I mean, if a young person in Gaza, a
student in Gaza, letís say, wants to study in a West Bank university, they
canít do it. If a person in Gaza needs advanced medical training, treatment
from an East Jerusalem hospital where the training is available, they canít
go. Medicines are held back.
I mean, itís a scandalous crime all around
What do you think the United States should do in this case?
What the United States should do is very simple: it should
join the world. I mean, there are negotiations going on, supposedly. Theyíre
presented here as - the standard picture is the U.S. is an honest broker
trying to bring together two recalcitrant opponents - Israel, Palestinian
Authority. Thatís just a charade.
I mean, if there were serious negotiations, they would be organized by some
neutral party, and the U.S. and Israel would be on one side, and the world
would be on the other side. And that is not an exaggeration. It shouldnít be
a secret that there has long been an overwhelming international consensus on
a diplomatic political solution. Everyone knows the basic outline. Some
details, you can argue about. And it includes everyone except the United
States and Israel.
The U.S. has been blocking it for 35 years, with
occasional departures, brief ones. It includes the Arab League. It includes
the Organization of Islamic States, which happens to include Iran. It
includes every relevant actor except the United States and Israel, the two rejectionist states.
So if there were to be negotiations that were serious,
thatís the way they would be organized. The actual negotiations barely reach
the level of comedy. The issue thatís being debated is a footnote, minor
footnote: expansion of settlements.
Of course itís illegal. In fact,
everything that Israel is doing in the West Bank and Gaza is illegal. Thatís
been - it hasnít even been controversial since 1967 -
Noam, we have to break, but
- when Israelís own highest legal - yes.
Weíre going to come back to this in a minute. Noam Chomsky,
author and Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT, as we talk about WikiLeaks
and the state of the world today. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.
Our guest is Noam Chomsky, world-renowned dissident, author of
more than a hundred books, speaking to us from Boston.
Noam, you wrote a piece after the midterm elections called "Outrage
Misguided." I want to read for you now what Sarah Palin tweeted, the former
Alaskan governor, of course, and Republication vice-presidential nominee.
This is what she tweeted about WikiLeaks. Rather, she put it on Facebook.
ďFirst and foremost, what steps were taken to stop WikiLeaks
director Julian Assange from distributing this highly sensitive classified
material especially after he had already published material not once but
twice in the previous months? Assange is not a 'journalist,' any more than
the 'editor' of the al Qaedaís new English-language magazine Inspire is a
He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His
past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100
Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency
we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?Ē
Noam Chomsky, your response?
Thatís pretty much what I would expect Sarah Palin to say. I
donít know how much she understands, but I think we should pay attention to
what we learn from the leaks. What we learn, for example, is the kinds of
things Iíve said.
The most - perhaps the most dramatic revelation is the - Iíve
already mentioned - the bitter hatred of democracy that is revealed both by
the U.S. government - Hillary Clinton, others - and also by the diplomatic
To tell the world, to tell - theyíre talking to each other
- to pretend
to each other that the Arab world regards Iran as the major threat and wants
the U.S. to bomb Iran is extremely revealing, when they know that
approximately 80 percent of Arab opinion regards the U.S. and Israel as the
major threat, 10 percent regard Iran as the major threat, and a majority, 57
percent, think the region would be better off with Iranian nuclear weapons
as a kind of deterrent.
That doesnít even enter. All that enters is what
they claim has been said by Arab dictators, brutal Arab dictators. Thatís
How representative this is of what they say, we donít know, because we donít
know what the filtering is. But thatís a minor point. The major point is
that the population is irrelevant. All that matters is the opinions of the
dictators that we support. And if they were to back us, thatís the Arab
world. Thatís a very revealing picture of the mentality of U.S. political
leadership, and presumably elite opinion.
Judging by the commentary thatís
appeared here, thatís the way itís been presented in the press, as well.
Your piece -
It doesnít matter with the Arabs believe. Yeah, sorry.
Your piece, "Outrage Misguided," back to the midterm elections
and what weíre going to see now - can you talk about the Tea Party movement?
Well, the Tea Party movement itself is maybe 15, 20 percent of
the electorate. Itís relatively affluent, white, nativist. You know, it has
rather traditional nativist streaks to it. But what is much more important,
I think, is the - is its outrage. I mean, over half the population says they
more or less support it or support its message.
And what people are thinking
is extremely interesting. I mean, overwhelmingly, polls reveal that people
are extremely bitter, angry, hostile, opposed to everything.
The primary cause undoubtedly is the economic disaster. Itís not just a
financial catastrophe, itís an economic disaster. I mean, in manufacturing
industry, for example, unemployment levels are at the level of the Great
Depression. And unlike the Great Depression, those jobs are not coming back.
U.S. owners and managers have long ago made the decision that they can make
more profit with complicated financial deals than by production.
finance - this goes back to the '70s, mainly Reagan escalated it, and
onward - Clinton, too.
The economy has been financialized. Financial
institutions have grown enormously in their share of corporate profits. It
may be something like a third or something like that today. At the same
time, correspondingly, production has been exported. So you buy some
electronic device from China. China is an assembly plant for a Northeast
Asian production center.
The parts and components come from the more
advanced countries, and from the United States, and the technology. So, yes,
thatís a cheap place to assemble things, sell them back here. And it's, you
know, rather similar in Mexico, Vietnam and so on. Thatís the way to make
It destroys the society here, but thatís not the concern of the ownership
class and the managerial class. Their concern is profit. Thatís what drives
the economy. And the rest of it is a fallout. People are extremely bitter
about it but donít seem to understand it. So, the same people who are a
majority, who say that Wall Street is to blame for the current crisis, are
Both parties are deep in the pockets of Wall Street, but
the Republicans much more so than the Democrats.
And the same is true on
issue after issue. So the antagonism to everyone is extremely high.
Actually, antagonism - they donít like - population doesnít like Democrats, but
they hate Republicans even more. Theyíre against big business.
against government. Theyíre against Congress. Theyíre against science.
We only have 30 seconds, Noam. Noam, we only have 30 seconds. I
wanted ask if you were President Obamaís top adviser, what would you tell
him to do right now?
I would tell him to do what FDR did when big business was
opposed to him: help, organize, stimulate public opposition and put through
a serious populist program, which can be done.
Stimulate the economy. Donít
give away everything to financiers. Push through real health reform.
health reform that was pushed through may be a slight improvement, but it
leaves the major problem untouched. If youíre worried about the deficit, pay
attention to the fact that itís almost all attributable to military spending
and the totally dysfunctional health program.
Weíre going to leave it there, but weíll continue the
conversation after and post it online at democracynow.org.
Noam, youíre continuing your
prescription, your advice that you would give to President
Well, the economy is a disaster. There is 10 percent
official unemployment, probably twice that much actual unemployment.
Many people unemployed for years. This is a huge human tragedy, but itís
also an economic tragedy. These are unused resources, which could be
producing to make the things that this country needs. I mean, the United
States is becoming a kind of a third world country.
You take a - the other day, I took a train from Boston to New York.
Thatís, you know, the star of the trains of Amtrak, train system. I
mean, it took about maybe 20 minutes less than the train that my wife
and I took 60 years ago from Boston to New York. In any European
country, any industrial country, it would have taken half the time.
Plenty of non-industrial countries. Spain is not a super-rich country.
Itís just introducing a 200-mile-an-hour new railway. And this is just
The United States desperately needs many things: decent infrastructure,
a decent educational system, much more pay and support for teachers, all
kinds of things. And the policies that are being carried out are
designed to enrich primarily financial institutions. And remember that
many of the major corporations like, say, GE and GM are also financial
institutions. Itís a large part of their activity. Itís very unclear
that these financial shenanigans do anything for the economy.
some economists finally, mainstream ones, finally beginning to raise
this question. They may harm it, in fact. But what they do is enrich
rich people, and thatís where policies are directed to.
An alternative would be to stimulate the economy. There is no - demand is
very low. Business - the corporations have money coming out of their ears,
their huge profits. But they donít want to spend it, donít want to
Theyíd rather profit from it. Financial institutions donít
produce anything. They just shift money around and make money from
various deals. The public is some consumer demand, but itís very slight.
We have to remember that there was an $8 trillion housing bubble that
burst, destroying the assets for most people.
Theyíre desperately trying
to keep a little to save themselves. The only source of demand right now
would be government spending. It doesnít even have to affect the
deficit, can be carried out by borrowing by
the Fed, which sends
interest right back to the Treasury. If anyone cares about the deficit,
which is actually a minor issue, I think, that should be the major
There should be massive infrastructure spending. There should be
spending on things - simple things like weatherization. I mean, we should
have a substantial program to reduce the very severe threat of global
Thatís unfortunately unlikely with the new Republican
legislators and with the effects of the massive corporate propaganda to
try to convince people that itís a liberal hoax. The latest polls show
about maybe a third of Americans think that - believe in anthropogenic
global warming, you know, human contribution to global warming.
I mean, thatís almost a death knell for the
species. If the U.S. doesnít do anything, nobody else will. We now have
chairs going into the -
Noam, what do you think of
Nations climate change summit
thatís taking place in Cancķn?
Well, the Copenhagen summit was a disaster. Nothing
happened. This one, Cancķn, has set its sights much lower, in the hope
of at least achieving 'something.' But letís say they achieve all their
goals, which is very unlikely. Itíll still be a toothpick on a mountain.
There are much more serious problems behind it.
Weíre now facing a situation where the House, relevant House
committees - science, technology, energy and so on - are being taken over by
climate change deniers.
In fact, one of them recently said,
have to worry about it, because God will take care of it."
know, this is - itís unbelievable that this is happening in the richest,
most powerful country in the world. Thatís one major area where there
should be substantial changes and improvements. If not, thereís not
going to be anything much more to talk about in a generation or two.
Others include just reconstructing the economy here so that people get
back to work, that they can produce things that the country needs, that
they can live decent lives. All of that can be done.
The resources are
there; the policies arenít.
Noam, you know, when you look at the new Congress - Iím
reading from The New Yorker,
"Darrell Issa, a Republican representative
from California, is one of the richest men in Congress. He made his
money selling car alarms, which is interesting, because he has twice
been accused of auto theft. ([Issa has] said that he had a 'colorful
Now, with the Republicans about to take control of the House, Issa is poised to become [the chairman] of the Oversight Committee.
post comes with wide-ranging subpoena powers, and Issa has already
indicated how he plans to wield them. He is not, he assured a group of
Pennsylvania Republicans over the summer, interested in digging around
for the sort of information that might embarrass his
[he said,] 'I won't use it to have corporate
America live in fear.í
Instead, he wants to go where he sees the real
malfeasance. He wants to investigate climate scientists.
At the top of
his list are the long-suffering researchers whose e-mails were hacked
last year from the computer system of Britainís University of East
Anglia. Though their work has been the subject of three separate 'Climategate'
inquiries - all of which found that allegations of data manipulation
were unfounded - Issa isnít satisfied.
[He said recently,] íWeíre going to want
to have a do-over.í"
Yeah. Thatís part of the massive offensive, basically a
And they havenít been quiet about it, like the
Chamber of Commerce, biggest business lobby, American Petroleum
Institute and others have said quite publicly that theyíre carrying out
a massive, what they call "educational campaign" to convince the
population that global warming isnít real.
And itís having an effect.
You can see it even in the way the media present it. So you read, say, a
New York Times discussion of climate change. They have to be objective,
present both sides, so one side is 98 percent of qualified scientists,
and the other side is Issa and Senator Inhofe and a couple of climate
There, notice, also missing is a third side, namely, a
very substantial number of leading scientists who say that the consensus
is nowhere near alarmist enough, that in fact the situation is much
worse. Well, you know, the United States is now - it has been dragging its
feet on this for a long time, and itís now much worse.
I mean, there was just recently - a couple days ago, there was a report of
an analysis of green technology production. It turns out China is in the
lead, Germany is next, Spain is high up there. The United States is one
of the lowest. In fact, investment from the United States in green
technology is higher in China - I think twice as high in China - than in the
United States - than it is in the United States and Europe combined.
mean, these are real social pathologies, exacerbated by the latest
election, but just one aspect of where policy is going totally in the
wrong direction, where there are significant alternatives, and if
theyíre not pursued, there could be real disaster, and maybe not too far
Iíd like to switch gears for a minute, Noam Chomsky, and
talk about the elections in Haiti that just took place.
"Elections," you should put in quotation marks. If we had
elections in the United States in which the Democratic and Republican
parties were barred and their political leaders were exiled to South
Africa and not allowed to return to the United States, we wouldnít
consider them serious elections. But thatís exactly what happened in
The major political party is barred. As we know, the United
States and France essentially invaded Haiti in 2004, kidnapped the
president, sent him off to Central Africa. His party is now banned.
analysts assume that, as in the past, if it was allowed to run, it would
probably win the election. President - or former President Aristide is, by
all information available, the most popular political figure in Haiti.
Not only is he not allowed to run, by essentially the U.S., but not
allowed to return.
Theyíve been trying to keep him out of the
hemisphere. Canít go back to Haiti, but the U.S. has been trying to keep
him out of the hemisphere altogether. Whatís taken place is a kind of a
charade. I mean, itís not nothing. You know, Haitians are trying to
express themselves. We should respect that.
But the major choices that
they might have are barred by foreign power, U.S. power, and France,
which is the second of the two historic torturers of Haiti.
Honduras. Actually, interestingly, in these cables that
have come out through the
WikiLeaks release is a U.S. diplomatic cable
from 2008 that says exactly what the U.S. government would not say
publicly, that the coup against Manuel Zelaya was outright illegal.
response, Noam Chomsky?
Yeah, thatís right. This is an analysis by the embassy in
Honduras, Tegucigalpa, saying that theyíve done a careful analysis of
the legal and constitutional backgrounds and conclude - you can read their
summary, which is a conclusion - that there is no doubt that the coup was
illegal and unconstitutional.
The government of Washington, as you point
out, wouldnít say that. And in fact, after some dithering, Obama finally
essentially recognized the legitimacy of the coup. He supported the
election taking place under the coup regime, which most of Latin America
and Europe refused to recognize at all.
But the U.S. did it.
the U.S. ambassador publicly accused the Latin Americans who wouldnít go
along as being seduced by magic realism, you know, GarcŪa MŠrquezís
novels or something, just a statement of contempt. They should go along
with us and support the military coup, which is illegal and
And has many effects. One effect was that it preserves
for the United States a major air base, the Palmerola Air Base, one of
the last ones remaining in Latin America. Weíve been kicked out of all
Noam, I have two questions, and we only have two minutes
left. One is about North Korea. The WikiLeaks documents show Chinese
diplomats saying that Chinese officials increasingly doubt the
usefulness of neighboring North Korea and would support reunification.
The significance of this?
Iím very skeptical about that statement. There is no
indication that China would be willing to have U.S. troops on its
border, and thatís the very likely outcome of a reunified Korea. Theyíve
been bitterly objecting to U.S. naval maneuvers in the Yellow Sea, not
far from their coast, what they call their economic territorial waters,
and expanding U.S. military forces near their borders is the last thing
They may feel - I donít know - that North Korea simply is
unviable, and it will have to collapse, and thatís a terrible problem
for them from many points of view. That I donít know. But Iím pretty
skeptical about that leak.
Finally, Noam, your latest book,
Hopes and Prospects, what
gives you hope?
Well, the "hopes" part of that book is mostly about South
America, where there really have been significant, dramatic changes in
the past decade. For the first time in 500 years, the South American
countries have been moving towards integration, which is a prerequisite
for independence, and have begun to face some of their really desperate
A huge disparity between islands of extreme wealth
and massive poverty - a number of the countries, including the leading
one, Brazil, have chipped away at that.
We have ten seconds.
And Bolivia has been quite dramatic with the takeover by
the indigenous population in a major democratic election. These are
Noam Chomsky, thanks so much for being with us. Oh, by the
way, happy birthday, pre-birthday.
Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at MIT, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, author of over a hundred books, his latest
called Hopes and Prospects.