The Long, Steep Descent of Noam Chomsky

by A. Jay Adler on November 10, 2010
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“The explicit and declared motive of the [Afghanistan] war was to compel the Taliban to turn over to the United States, the people who they accused of having been involved in World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist acts. The Taliban…they requested evidence…and the Bush administration refused to provide any,” the 81-year-old senior academic made the remarks on Press TV’s program a Simple Question.

via PressTV – Chomsky: US-led Afghan war, criminal.

The descent, of course, has been a very long one, on this level dating back to rationalized denials of the Cambodian Killing Fields. They include, too, Chomsky’s rationalizations in behalf of Slobodan Milosevic and opposition to NATO action against him, toward questioning the reality of the Srebrenica massacre, and accusations that it is the U.S. that is the world’s leading terrorist state and that the U.S. was engaged in genocide in Afghanistan during 2001, all of which, in great filigrees of casuistical argument he later denies. The only development here is the appearance on Iran’s Press TV to defend the Taliban and accuse, in that venue, the U.S. once more of being criminal in its actions in Afghanistan, not the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. He is now fully the laughing stock that Ramsey Clark became.

A very small detail worth relishing is Chomsky’s characterization, elided from the transcript above, that the Taliban request for evidence from the U.S. was “natural.” We are all well aware that the culture of the Taliban is a culture of evidence and the” natural” warrants of reason. What a shock it must have been to their intellectual sensibilities not to be provided with any. How striking that Chomsky still desires to make this argument now, when Al-Qaeda’s role, on multiple levels, in terrorist war against the U.S. is beyond question by all but the fanatic and the delusional.

A mainstay of 9/11 disingenuousness is to continue to speak of response to warlike attack in the terms of judicial evidentiary review. On that point, let us consider that argument over the origination of a Final Solution to the Jewish Question has continued for decades after the Second World War ended, and that a copy of the minutes to the Wannsee conference was not discovered until two years after the end of the war.

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8 comments

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

miles September 16, 2011 at 9:07 am

“It boggles my mind that whatever people think our country did to the Muslim world, we deserved this kind of warfare.”…I don’t think any one stated that we deserved this kind of warfare….I don’t think anyone deserves this kind of warfare…this is revolution …. we like to think the last one was in 1776 ..never mind the profound poverty and hopelessness that are the basic facts of life for most in those oil drenched countries; and never mind that for these millions there is now a growing relationship between their sorrow and our contentment. For all th epoetry of freedom and democracy , there is no effort at all to crack through the much more vicious right‑wing Muslim tyrannies that our businessmen traffic with and our nation profits from every day. Who deserves that perpetual warfare?

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Miles July 11, 2011 at 8:30 am

Merilyn..If you have read Chomsky you would no that he hardly swallows the “radical left’s hatred”. If anything he is more critical of that segment than the right….and I can’t understand your claim that he “sides with the Taliban”, ( he called them “one of the most retrograde regimes in the world) and if that bothers one, you would have to be critical of the US government policy in the 80′s in Afghanistan and Pakistan when they embraced “the criminal entity that is the Taliban”. Chomsky is well aware of who the bad guys are….I mean just look at Libya…good grief , two years ago he was the darling of Sarcozy and he was a despot … forgiven of all sins by GW…. it’s the hypocrisy that kills me…and the hubris… “building relations in mideast countries”? What? Like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt??? Jordan??? Chomsky tells us time and time again with facts that are as precise as anyone’s that in time , if you ignore the rights of people (not governments) you will pay. And the US has paid dearly.

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Merilyn Jackson June 14, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Jay, Miles,

While I once had respect for Chomsky and still do for his academic work in linguistics, I never swallowed whole hog the radical left’s hatred, blame and suspicion of our government. I expect we are lied to even from the best of people and even with the best intentions, and often with the worst of outcomes. But I don’t see Chomsky’s siding with the Taliban AFTER Bin Laden and his ilk so gleefully took credit for 9/11, the USS Cole etc, as much different from right wing conspiracy theories. The problem is that’s what these are – theories, notions, beliefs – not facts. The moment I saw the second plane go into the tower, I screamed “Bin Laden” and know many also drew the same conclusion. Why is it so hard to believe his public assertions as to his bestial deeds? Why should we, as a nation, have to prove anything to the a criminal entity that is the Taliban? Who in their right mind does not see them as such?

There is much we do not, cannot know. That’s a fact. Of course we listen to the theories of the sage of the age, but we need not and ought not accept them without looking for other facts to support those theories.

I would not care to debate nor clean the clock of Mr. Chomsky because I think the poor dear’s clock has lost its hands and he can no longer tell what time it is, let alone who the bad guys are.

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miles tompkins June 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

J….don’t overload yourself with flattery…..I don’t think that Chomsky has ever “defended” the Taliban…certainly the US did…

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A. Jay Adler June 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Actually, Miles, I was thinking of Merilyn – she’d clean his clock. However, you seem oddly unclear about the meaning of “defend.” It doesn’t necessarily mean champion, in the sense of promoting the virtues of; it means, often, instead, “to drive danger or attack away from,” the way a defense attorney will. In that common sense, you miss once again that Chomsky is here defending the Taliban. And here he is, even more recently defending both the Taliban and al Qaeda.

when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know, because they were instantly dismissed) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence—which, as we soon learned, Washington didn’t have. Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that “we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.”

Nothing serious has been provided since. There is much talk of bin Laden’s “confession,” but that is rather like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon. He boasted of what he regarded as a great achievement.

Come to terms with it.

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Miles Tompkins May 31, 2011 at 6:00 am

He’d eat you all alive in a debate.

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A. Jay Adler May 31, 2011 at 8:49 am

Miles, of course you’re comment as well represents anything you actually, honestly know as much of what Chomsky says. Spoken like a true uncritical acolyte – as we note the context of the defense.

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Merilyn Jackson November 11, 2010 at 9:33 am

Oh Jay, do I ever admire you for taking this on! I have long thought Chomsky lost it somewhere along the line. Age? Senility? Who knows. But those I know who still listen to his opinions are marginal or radical and live in a cloud, to use your term, of 9/11 disingenuousness at best. It boggles my mind that whatever people think our country did to the Muslim world, we deserved this kind of warfare. In Bin Laden’s case, and his followers, it seems like transferred or mis-directed hatred of the father and the social inequities between the rich and the poor in oil-rich countries. But instead of demanding change in their own countries, they scapegoat the U.S. We have much to do in building better relations between ourselves and Middle East countries, but those who attack us do not win much support for that. Merilyn Jackson

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