Noam Chomsky's take on Afghanistan.

Noam Chomsky's take on Afghanistan.

Noam Chomsky's take on Afghanistan.

Arts and arguments in the news.
Nov. 27 2001 6:25 PM

Chomsky Speak

In Pakistan to promote the view that the United States sponsors terrorism, Professor Noam Chomsky  told an audience of 1,500 people that the 1998 bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory (wrongly believed by the CIA to be an al-Qaida chemical weapons plant) may have resulted in the deaths of several thousand people. (Other reports say that one or maybe two people died at the factory after it was hit by U.S. cruise missiles.) This instance of U.S. terrorism, Chomsky says, is an indication of what will happen in Afghanistan. "Coalition forces [meaning American and British forces together with their proxy, the Northern Alliance] are making plans to further destroy the hunger-stricken country. The consequences of their crimes will never be known and they are quite confident about that. And that is the enormous outcome of the crime of the powerful …"

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Chomsky is famous for his analysis of U.S. government actions and the language used by officials to blind the citizenry from the truth, yet in this speech the MIT professor comes close to adopting the language of distortion he abhors. Chomsky implies that the Afghan famine is a result of U.S. and British military action, although an Afghan farmer might say that a lack of rain in recent years as well as the Taliban regime were more directly responsible for the dearth. Moroever, and contrary to what Chomsky says, the United States and its allies are not planning to "further destroy" Afghanistan, although they do hope to destroy the Taliban, whose willful destruction of their own country has created a humanitarian calamity. Finally, what truth is there in Chomsky's remark that the "consequences of their crimes will never be known and they are quite confident about that"? The implication is that the Americans and the British are getting away with murder in Afghanistan, but if the consequences of previous American actions have been revealed, and Chomsky offers some examples in the very same speech, why is he so sure that the consequences of these so-called "crimes" will remain a mystery? What's so special about Afghanistan? Of course, you could also be led to believe that no "crimes" have taken place in Afghanistan, in which case there will be different consequences.