Where there is a will there is a way

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Noam Chomsky interviewed by RT - "It's about time for some protest"

Can I just say I love Noam Chomsky? He is for politics what David Suzuki is for the environment.

He is renowned in his field as well - a famous linguist. And a brave magic person.

Check out what he says about the Wall Street protest, Obama, other current political situations in this interview by RT's Marina Portnaya, which aired October 2, 2011:

Text from the interview:

Marina Portnaya: RT's sitting down with world-renowned scholar, linguist, author and MIT professor, Noam Chomsky. Professor Chomsky, thank-you very much for taking the time to speak with our team.

Noam Chomsky: Glad to be with you.

Marina Portnaya: The first issue I want to speak with you about is the recent clashes that have taken place on Wall Street between Americans who are turning out to demonstrate and police officers. From what I read you recently sent a message to support the activists of this group called Occupy Wall Street, you've called them courageous, and honourable; could you just talk to me about your take on Occupy Wall Street?

Noam Chomsky: Well, Wall Street is just a shorthand for the financial institutions. The banks are bigger and richer than before, corporate profits are reaching record levels, and for much of - and unemployment today is about the level of the Great Depression, real unemployment.

These people are saying 'Oh let's blame the corporates and the institutions behind them, so... fiscal policies like taxation, rules of corporate governance, deregulation and so on. It does set in motion a vicious cycle which is getting worse and worse, in New York, walk down the streets and you can see it, very serious poverty, on the other hand phenomenal wealth, right side by side, very much like a third world country. It's what you see if you go to sub-Saharan Africa, and while infrastructure is collapsing, schools are collapsing, and all of that increases the - it keeps the cycle going and in fact rising. Well, it's about time for some protest.
Marina Portnaya: What may be new, in the coming year, for the 2012 election is that many, including yourself, have speculated and assumed that the campaign spending for the US election in 2012 will exceed 1 billion dollars.

Noam Chomsky: For each candidate.
Marina Portnaya: For each candidate. That is a massive amount of money.

Noam Chomsky: It'll probably be much bigger than that. And where does that come from? Well, you know, basically alot of it comes from financial institutions. In fact if you look at the 2008 election, what's won Obama, what gave him the election was primarily financial institution contributions - they preferred him to McCain. They expected to be paid back, and they were. And the next one will be even worse, and certainly that's only a part of it. In parliamentary systems, including our own, up 'til maybe - 20 years ago, positions of influence in a functioning parliamentary system, let's say - chair of a committee, comes from - principally at least - from experience, seniority, legislative contributions and so on - that's gone. Now they're bought. If you want to become chair of a committee in the House of the Senate, you have to pay off the Party. You have to pay for it. And where to you get the money to pay for it? Same pockets. You know, so - provides even more influence to the already overwhelming influence of concentrated capital.

So it's harder and harder to distinguish between the elected officials and economic concentration - it never was easy to distinguish I should say, this is not something novel - but now it's reaching an extreme level.
Marina Portnaya: But what's left of America's democratic system if this is the process that has been cemented in place, I mean, what is really left if, if, from every angle there is these financial institutions?

Noam Chomsky: Well, just take a look at public opinion, they'll tell you. About two-thirds of the public thinks that the entire congress ought to be thrown out.
Marina Portnaya: But that doesn't mean that it's going to happen!

Noam Chomsky: No, but it means that the system isn't working; and the public knows it. The popularity of - favourability rating for congress is in the single digits, [for the] President, not much higher, and the same runs across all other institutions. It's a very widespread sense that everything is going wrong.

That tells you the democratic system is just not functioning. Now in fact, I don't want to suggest that this is totally new, so you, you go back a century, and you can still predict throughout all this period pretty well the outcome of elections by campaign funding. But there are degrees.

And now it's gotten extreme, the levels to which the US has departed from other capitalist societies are pretty remarkable.
Marina Portnaya: You released a book recently called "9/11, was there an alternative?" focusing on the US assassination of Osama Bin Laden and the continuity, you say, between George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Noam Chomsky: I'm telling you that Osama Bin Laden is an interesting case. It was done in such a way as to infuriate the Pakistanis, which is extremely dangerous - that's the most dangerous country in the world [if you]go into it, they have a professional army committed to the sovereignty of Pakistan, and Pakistanis were already oerwhelmingly anti-American; this shoots it through the stratosphere.

The army is bitterly angry, not only at the invasion of the country and the murder of someone on their soil but also that they're being pressured, forced, to take part in an American war in Afghanistan. Some of the not-so conservative military analysts who wrote about the Bin Laden assassination, I quoted some of them, pointed out quite accurately that a shift between Bush's policies and Obama's on this, Bush - Bush's policy was to kidnap people, whatever they thought about them, they'd tak'em to Guantanimo or Abu Graib or some other torture chamber, and they'll try to extract some information out of them - we know what that was like, I don't have to describe it - Obama's policy is just to kill them. They're killing them all over the world - that's targeted assassination campaigns, you don't have to kidnap and torture them, just kill them, and the Bin Laden assassination was a case in point.

It's hard to remember, but there used to be a system of justice in the West, which said if a person is a suspect, until he's proven guilty, until then - he's a suspect - he's innocent until proven guilty. Well, that's gone. Now you just kill them if you think they're guilty. So he was apprehended - no resistance, he was alone, with his wife, no defence, nothing - highly trained commandos could certainly have apprehended him. They didn't, they were under orders to murder and then toss his body into the ocean - acts that are almost designed in such a way as to increase anger and hatred throughout the Muslim world, in fact, among anyone who's got their eyes open.
Marina Portnaya: You talk about the Obama administration and how the US actions right now could be infuriating the Muslim world, the Arab world. The Obama administration has supported the Tunisians, has supported the Egyptians, has supported the Libyans, and the so-called Arab Spring. The Palestinians have officially submitted an application for UN membership and statehood. The US says that they will cast a veto against it if they have to because they believe that direct negotiation should take place between Palestine and Israel before there's an independent Palestine.

Noam Chomsky: Well, first of all I have to make a qualification: the United States and its Western allies did not support the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, they opposed them - they backed the dictator - and Tunisia was mostly France, that's their colony, (?)'s colony - the United States and Birming(?), they supported the dictator's until the last minute, and when the army turned against them and it was no longer possible to support them, then they said, 'Ok, democracy is wonderful", and then they moved to try to ensure that the regimes would stay pretty much as they were,that's why it's a very old pattern.

But putting that aside, it's true that the United States announced that it would cast a veto, for about 35 years the United States and Israel have been rejecting a political settlement that is supported by virtually the entire world: the Arab League, the organization of Islamic States which includes Iran, Hamas supports it; almost no relevant party disagrees with it except that the United States and Israel won't let it happen.
Marina Portnaya: How about the fact that Egypt right now, and Turkey, have really severed their relationship with Israel?

Noam Chomsky: See that's an effect of the Arab Spring. What's happened, there are changes in the world, what's happening is, Israel is getting far more isolated, meaning the US is getting far more isolated - for example a couple of months ago there was a meeting of the oligarchs, the people who pretty much own the economy - they warned the government that they better accept something like this resolution, because otherwise Israel will be as they put it, South-Africanized, even more isolated, boycotts, refusal to load ships and so on, their economy will collapse. Now it's interesting that Israel is reacting pretty much as South Africa did - and if you look back at the history, by about 1960 - we have the records, the South African foreign minister called in the American embassador, described this to him, and said We don't really care as long as you got this, because you're the one vote that matters. And that's how it worked out. Right through the 1980s, the UN embargo, corporations were pulling out, sanctions all over, boycotts, they were doing fine, the gan administration was backing them. And as long as the US was supporting them, nothing happened. Then the US withdrew support, and almost instantly apartheid collapsed.
Marina Portnaya: So you're saying it's in Israel's best interest, and possibly the US's to allow this Palestinian UN membership and statehood...considering the change in landscape?

Noam Chomsky: For 35 years..nnw that it's been for almost 40 years, there's a choice between security and expansion - a very clear choice. Now Israel is like other states, preferring it...since the early '70s, it had a choice between security and expansion- can have peace, but not with expansion into the territories, which incidentally is recognised to be criminal by everyone, including Israel. They can get away with it as long as the most powerful state in the world backs them - and as long as Europe goes along.

Europe is remarkably cowardly - they don't like this, but they don't like to step on the toenails of the master, so they go along - so as you notice the quartet has backed the United States, Tony Blair - you know....I don't have to comment on him, they might as well have picked George Bush to bring the message, 'do what the United States tells you, stop this nonsense about statehood and go back to negotiations'. But that where we now stand. It's up to the people in the advanced industrial countries to compel their governments to go along with the world.

Marina Portnaya: Professor Chomsky, thank-you very much for your time.

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