Perhaps the most shattering lesson from [the] powerful inquiry [of Edward S. Herman and David Peterson in The Politics of Genocide] is that the end of the Cold War opened the way to an era of virtual Holocaust denial. As the authors put it, more temperately, “During the past several decades, the word ‘genocide’ has increased in frequency of use and recklessness of application, so much so that the crime of the 20th Century for which the term originally was coined often appears debased.” Current usage, they show, is an insult to the memory of victims of the Nazis
Jean Bricmont’s concept “humanitarian imperialism” succinctly captures a dilemma that has faced Western leaders and the Western intellectual community since the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the origins of the Cold War, there was a reflexive justification for every resort to force and terror, subversion and economic strangulation: the acts were undertaken in defense against what John F. Kennedy called “the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy” based in the Kremlin (or sometimes in Beijing), a force of unmitigated evil dedicated to extending its brutal sway over the entire world. The formula covered just about every imaginable case of intervention, no matter what the facts might be. But with the Soviet Union gone, either the policies would have to change, or new justifications would have to be devised. It became clear very quickly which course would be followed, casting new light on what had come before, and on the institutional basis of policy
Noam Chomsky is an Institute Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His most recent books are Interventions (City Lights, 2007), Failed States (Metropolitan Books, 2007), and Inside Lebanon: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky (Monthly Review Press, 2007). Gabriel Matthew Schivone is an editor of Days Beyond Recall: Alternative Media and Literary Journal and winner of the 2007 Frederica Hearst Prize for Lyrical Poetry.This article is based on an interview conducted by telephone and e-mail November 27, 2007–February 11, 2008. The interviewer thanks Mary Elizabeth Barnes for help with editing and transcribing this interview…
egrettably, there are all too many candidates that qualify as imminent and very serious crises. Several should be high on everyone’s agenda of concern, because they pose literal threats to human survival: the increasing likelihood of a terminal nuclear war, and environmental disaster, which may not be too far removed. However, I would like to focus on narrower issues, those that are of greatest concern in the West right now. I will be speaking primarily of the United States, which I know best, and it is the most important case because of its enormous power. But as far as I can ascertain, Europe is not very different
David Barsamian: What are the regional implications of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq?
Noam Chomsky: I think not only the region but the world in general perceives it correctly as a kind of an easy test case to try to establish a norm for use of military force, which was declared in general terms last September. Last September, the National Security Strategy of the United States of America was issued. It presented a somewhat novel and unusually extreme doctrine on the use of force in the world. And it’s hard not to notice that the drumbeat for war in Iraq coincided with that. It also coincided with the onset of the congressional campaign. All these are tied together
There is rage, anger and bewilderment in the U.S. since the September 11 events. There have been murders, attacks on mosques, and even a Sikh temple. The University of Colorado, which is located here in Boulder, a town which has a liberal reputation, has graffiti saying, “Go home, Arabs, Bomb Afghanistan, and Go Home, Sand Niggers.” What’s your perspective on what has evolved since the terrorist attacks?