This was a review of a video interview given by Noam Chomsky to Democracy Now! You can see the interview for yourself at http://www.democracynow.org/2006/3/31/stream.
After listening to this interview and reading the transcript, I was able to see that neither Mr. Chomsky nor the show where he was being interviewed could be remotely considered objective. Mr. Chomsky repeated assertions that he claims as fact which are completely ridiculous, unsubstantiated, and false. The show Democracy Now! is certainly not an objective forum, either. Their choice of material for the first break is certainly indicative of their political bias, in both the song chosen and the signs depicted in the protest. One of the signs depicted says “The Bush Family: Why Birth Control is So Important,” which shows a perfect example of ignorant and hateful attacks that have no place in a meaningful or logical discussion.
Mr. Chomsky claimed that the United States harbors terrorists, and then gave Orlando Bosch and Posada Carriles as specific examples. At the time of this interview, Posada Carriles was imprisoned in an American jail in New Mexico. 1 Accusing a country of harboring a terrorist when that terrorist is currently imprisoned by said country is absolutely absurd. in In 2007, he was granted bail by an immigration judge, but that move was opposed by federal authorities, who said he was “’an admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks,’ a flight risk and a danger to the community.”2 This event merely demonstrates that the United States has an independent judiciary that does not simply rubber-stamp the White House’s decisions, and shows that Mr. Posada is receiving due process of law, an important characteristic of a non-failing state. 3 Mr. Posada is currently under federal indictment and will be tried this year. 4
Mr. Chomsky claimed that there as “Virtually no support for it [the Iraq War] anywhere, except the U.S. and Britain and a couple of other places.” While it is true that many countries opposed the Iraq war, to call the forty nine different countries that supported the invasion 5 “a couple of other places” is simply dishonest. 5
Mr. Chomsky said that “the war itself was perhaps one of the greatest military catastrophes in history.” The total number of coalition deaths in Iraq now rests at 4,736, 6 which puts it at 19% of the casualties of the American revolution, 23% of the War of 1812, 35% of the Mexican-American War, 0.7% of the Civil War, 4% of World War I, 1% of World War II, 13% of the Korean War, and 8.1% of the Vietnam War. While any loss of life is tragic, to call it “one of the greatest military catastrophes in history” is misleading and absurd.
Referring to Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Florida, he claimed that it was “completely unprovoked” and that “there was no threat from England. England didn’t do a thing.” I have no doubt that the atrocities Mr. Chomsky referenced took place, but similar atrocities were also committed by the Indians; that being said, there was provocation, and England was a very real threat to America at this time. The war of 1812 ended in 1814, the memory of the Fort Mims massacre was fresh; and in 1815, the British authorities turned over a fort near the Georgia border to the former slaves that had fought for the British crown. This fort attracted other runaway slaves, and fired on and killed American sailors attempting to obtain drinking water while carrying supplies to another fort. 8 In addition, the Seminole Indians had been armed by the British forces and encouraged to attack American settlements during the War of 1812. The invasion of 1817 by General Jackson was authorized only after Seminoles slaughtered Lt. Scott, his soldiers, and the women and children that were with him. 9 Considering that the British had been in open warfare with the United States only 3 years earlier, had armed slaves and Indians, and given them a fort, it was not unreasonable for the Americans to see an “English threat.” I am sure the Americans were not guiltless; our treatment of the Indians was appalling, to be sure, but Mr. Chomsky’s characterization of these events is simply not correct.
The only point on which I could agree with Mr. Chomsky, when he explained that a truly democratic Iraq is not likely to be an ally of the United States. He said that “It would almost surely strengthen its already developed relations with Shiite Iran right next door. Any degree of Iraqi autonomy stimulates autonomy pressures across the border in Saudi Arabia, where there’s a substantial Shiite population.” I have no doubt that this is true, and I think it is very important for us to remember that just because countries become democracies does not mean that they will always be friends to America. Hamas was elected to power in Gaza in a free democratic election, after all.
1. Democracy Now, “Cuban Militant Posada Carriles Released from New Mexico Jail,” http://www.democracynow.org/2007/4/23/cuban_militant_posada_carriles_released_from (accessed September 16, 2010).
2. Carol J. Williams, “Cuban militant’s release draws fire,” Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2007, http://articles.latimes.com/2007/apr/20/world/fg-posada20 (accessed September 16, 2010).
3. Fund for Peace, “Failed States Index: Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread Violation of Human Rights,” http://www.fundforpeace.org/web/content/fsi/fsi_9.htm (Accessed September 16, 2010).
4. Chuck Strouse, “Cuban killer Luis Posada Carriles goes on trial,” Miami New Times, February 25, 2010, http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2010-02-25/news/cuban-killer-luis-posada-carriles-goes-on-trial/ (accessed September 16, 2010).
5. The White House, “Operation Iraqi Freedom Coalition Members,” March 27, 2003, http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030327-10.html (Accessed September 16, 2010).
6. CNN, “Home and Away: Iraq and Afghanistan War Casualties,” updated September 16,2010, http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/war.casualties/index.html (Accessed September 16, 2010).
7. Military Factory, “American War Deaths Through History,” http://www.militaryfactory.com/american_war_deaths.asp (accessed September 16, 2010).
8. University of South Florida Africana Heritage Project, “Black Seminoles, Maroons and Freedom Seekers in Florida, Part 2: The Beginning of Troubled Times,” http://www.africanaheritage.com/Angola_Sarazota_NegroFort.asp (accessed September 16, 2010).
9. Exploresouthernhistory.com, “Scott’s Massacre,” http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/scottsmassacre1.html (accessed September 16, 2010).