Noam Chomsky

Jill Taylor Bussiere jdt at
Sun Sep 23 19:37:37 EDT 2001

A portion of an interview with Noam Chomsky, who has been following US foreign policy for decades now, and has written several books on them.  His most recent book is on Palestine.  The rest of the interview can be found at:  It is incredibly good - and helps anyone seeking to understand what is going on in the region, and what is going on with the US response.


12) Is the nation's so-called war on terrorism winnable? If yes, how? If no, then what should the Bush administration do to prevent attacks like the ones that struck New York and Washington?

I will not elaborate here, but if we want to consider this question seriously, we should recognize that in much of the world the US is regarded as a leading terrorist state, and with good reason. We might bear in mind, for example, that the US was condemned by the World Court for "unlawful use of force" (international terrorism) and then vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on all states (meaning the US) to adhere to international law. Only one of countless examples.

But to keep to the narrow question -- the terrorism of others directed against us -- we know quite well how the problem should be addressed, if we want to reduce the threat rather than escalate it. When IRA bombs were set off in London, there was no call to bomb the US, the source of most of the financial support for the IRA. Rather, efforts were made to deal with what lay behind the resort to terror. When a federal building was blown up in Oklahoma City, there were calls for bombing the Middle East, and it probably would have happened if the source turned out to be there. When it was found to be a militia-based bombing, there was no call to obliterate Montana and Idaho. Rather, there was a search for the perpetrator, who was found, brought to court and sentenced, and there were efforts to understand the grievances that lie behind such crimes and to address the problems. Just about every crime -- whether a robbery in the streets or colossal atrocities -- has reasons, and commonly we find that some of them are serious and should be addressed.

That is the course one follows if the intention is to reduce the probability of further atrocities. There is another course: react with extreme violence, and expect to escalate the cycle of violence, leading to still further atrocities such as the one that is inciting the call for revenge. The dynamic is very familiar
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