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Chomsky Lectures on U.S. Foreign Policy

By Naveen Sunkavally
Staff Reporter

Institute Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy Noam Chomsky spoke to a packed crowd at the First Parish Church about U.S. involvement and militarism in the Middle East.

Chomsky was the inaugural speaker for the Cambridge Forum, a year-long series of public lectures held every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

The one-and-a-half hour forum was split into two parts. During the first half-hour Chomsky spoke of the history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East while comparing the peace process there with that which occurred in South Africa. In the remaining hour, audience members were permitted to make comments and ask questions.

The essential theme in Chomsky's speech was that the history of the U.S. role in the Middle East has been a consistent rejection of Palestinian rights and a partnership with Israel based on racist assumptions and the desire to divert oil profits from the Middle East to the United States.

Chomsky began his speech by discussing the peace process in South Africa and its efforts to eliminate apartheid. He then questioned why the peace process in South Africa, which he later characterized as "a dramatic victory for the human spirit", has not been as highly praised as the U.S.-led "peace process" in the Middle East.

Peace process questioned

Leaving this question open, Chomsky next "defined" the U.S. "peace process" in the Middle East. Chomsky cited numerous occurrences that he thought constituted U.S. hypocrisy in the Middle East.

He said that in examining documents more closely, it became more apparent to him that the United States was one of a few countries that had never fully accepted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular Article 13, which guarantees refugees' rights to leave or to return to their country.

Chomsky also felt there was an element of hypocrisy in the Oslo accords, which gave Israelis a "carte blanche" right to the territories, forcing Palestinians to accept "all legal rights of Israelis anywhere in the occupied territories."

Chomsky spoke of other examples that supported his beliefs, including an incident in February 1971 between President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and the United States whose true significance historians have "wiped out" from history. He stated that the U.S. has consistently and almost single-handedly voted against all U.N. resolutions that would grant Palestinian rights.

Chomsky concluded his speech by saying that "those who have force and violence at their hand get what they want, especially if they can control the information."

U.S.militarism discussed

During the question and answer period, Chomsky went on to say that the United States was supporting "apartheid" in Israel in order to funnel oil profits to itself, and that part of the reason apartheid was overcome in South Africa was the U.S. lack of capitalistic interests. "Capitalism is basically not racist," Chomsky said, "as long as it can exploit somebodylike interchangeable atoms."

Chomsky said that the "U.S. administration is the most extreme fundamentalist administration" and that before the Clinton administration, "never before has there been an administration to the right of the Israeli regime." Chomsky points to the Beirut bombing and U.S. initial assumptions about the identity of Oklahoma City bomber as evidence of a double-standard the public has for deeming an act terrorist.

Chomsky also stated that the American "population hasn't got a clue to what's going on. If [the American public] did [know], there might a shift in U.S. policy, as in South Africa," he said.