In the latest collection of the Chomsky/Barsamian interviews the reader is once again treated to clear analysis of the current policies and practices of the US government and their implications abroad. Chomsky continues to hammer home the point that while their are nuances in the Bush regime, the current policy is consistent with the decades long strategies that the US has engaged in around the globe. In the very first interview Barsamian asks Chomsky if the Bush administration is substantively different from previous ones? Chomsky quickly points out that the liberal Kennedy administration architect Dean Acheson said that “no legal issue arises if the US responds to any challenge to its power, position, and prestige.”
Another amazing thing about the analysis that Chomsky brings to the table is that it is not dispassionate. For example, when talking about the US military attacks on Falluja where the hospital was bombed and then occupied, Chomsky points out that this is a violation of the Geneva Convention. Then he says “the entire political leadership (of the US) should face the death penalty under US law for these actions. They’re all eligible for the death penalty, according to the War Crimes Act passed by the 1996 Republican Congress.” Much of Chomsky’s discourse and analysis leads readers to the conclusion that the US government isn’t just making mistakes like Vietnam or Iraq, rather that it is the intention, the policy, of US administrations to engage in criminal behavior in service to empire.
Another element in the interviews by Barsamian, host of the radio program Alternative Radio, is that Chomsky shares the differences between US audiences and those around the global when he speaks. A common response from audiences in the US during the Q & A is “What should I do?” Chomsky says that this is not a question he gets asked abroad. He says “when I go to Turkey or Colombia, or Brazil, they don’t ask you ‘What should I do?’ They tell you what they’re doing….It is only the highly privileged cultures like ours that people ask this question.” Chomsky tells readers that people in the US need to come to terms with the fact that we are not a beacon to the world and that what we have in the US are failed democratic institutions. These institutions look nice on paper but they are essentially ineffective when it comes to meaningful change. The last Presidential Elections are just the most recent example of that in Chomsky’s mind. People put a tremendous amount of energy into attempting to elect a candidate (Kerry) that didn’t really represent the interests of those who voted for him. Chomsky believes we have to look beyond the quick fix solutions of elections and demonstrations to building social movements that not only challenge power structures, but construct alternative realities. A good book to get you to see how are actions are influenced by our analysis.
Noam Chomsky with David Barsamian, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World, (Metropolitan Books, 2005).