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Chomsky Discusses Terrorism

By Maral Shamloo


Institute Professor Noam A. Chomsky delivered a critical analysis of America’s “War Against Terrorism” to a packed 26-100, as well as 3 full over-flow rooms.

Chomsky’s talk last night focused on the September 11 disaster and its implications within and outside the U.S., raising questions about what the origins of the crime were and what policy options the Unites States has.

He expressed his astonishment at the reaction of people in U.S. and Europe over the situation in Afghanistan. “Seven to eight million people are on the urge of starvation in Afghanistan now,” he said, “but there has been no reaction to the stopping of food delivery trucks through Pakistan since the bombings have started.

“This is a silent genocide,” he continued, “but what is more disturbing is that even in a society of elite, which we are part of, this is considered normal.”

He called the September 11 disaster “a historic event,” not because of its scale but because of the nature of the event itself. “This is the first time since 1814 where a national territory of United States is being attacked,” he said. “The guns have always been directed the other way.”

Referring to military attacks by the United States on Nicaragua, he addressed the issue of definition of terrorism.

“Nicaragua took the case to several courts, but the U.S. simply dismissed all the verdicts,” he said. “This is a good evidence that the world is ruled by force.”

He added that this is sadly the culture in which we live, one in which violence works. “Terrorism is not a weapon of the weak, it’s a weapon for those who are against us, whoever ‘us’ might be.”

Chomsky said the U.S. government is unable to accept most of the currently existing definitions for terrorism because the consequences would be unacceptable; many of the policies maintained by the United States would fall into that category, he said.

When challenged by a member of the audience about blaming America for what is happening in Afghanistan, he answered, “I am blaming you and me, because we are the people who can do something about it, not an entity called America.” These comments were greatly praised by the audiences’ applause.

Pointing out that no convincing evidence has been presented to the public, he said, “there is a possibility that Osama bin Laden was not involved at all. In fact, this is not that illogical at all if we think about how a person in a cave in Afghanistan without any equipment could organize such a complicated series of operations.”

When asked by a member of audience whether he though the Taliban’s offer to hand bin Laden to a third country was a ruse, he said, “Certainly American government doesn’t think it’s a ruse if they are refusing it!”

Chomsky pointed out that although most of the people in the Middle East and Islamic countries strongly disagree with Bin Laden’s terrorist actions, they certainly recognize and agree with some of his reasons for hating the United States. “They see America responsible for the death of thousands of Iraqis, for the suffering of Palestinians and for the policies which prevent economic development in these countries,” he said.

He added that the view given to the public is completely different. “We are hated because we are the champions of capitalism, individualism and democracy, notions that should become natural everywhere,” Chomsky said.

Discussing the policy options to attack the problem, Chomsky suggested that the reasons for such actions need to be investigated and dealt with appropriately.

“You need evidence for accusing anybody, even Osama bin Laden, and that’s what Taliban has been asking for before they can hand him over.”

“The only way we can put a permanent end to terrorism is to stop participating in it,” he said.