Chomsky~ The Current Crisis in the Middle East (MIT Lecture 2006-09-21)
ABOUT THE LECTURE:
True to form, Noam Chomsky makes a sweeping and copiously detailedindictment of U.S. Middle East policy, brooking no contrary oralternate views. His history-filled lecture (interrupted by occasionalapplause) focuses on four crises, involving the Palestinians, theLebanon invasion, the Iraq war and the “impending catastrophe in Iran.”
While to many the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel seemshopeless, “degenerating to tribal warfare, an endless cycle of revengeand fanaticism,” says Chomsky, a “very clear solution” has longexisted: For years, UN resolutions have proposed recognizing the rightsof all states in the region to live in peace and security, and calledfor the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Chomsky saysthat while Arab states have supported these ideas, the U.S. and Israelhave deliberately undermined and opposed them. The “threat of peace hasarisen constantly,” says Chomsky, but U.S.-Israeli “rejectionism” hasblocked all efforts and led to “continued theft of lands” and a“weakening of the Palestinian collective.”
Chomsky calls the Israeli rationale for attacking Lebanon “pure cynicalfarce.” The claim that Hizbollah’s capture of an Israeli soldiernecessitated a savage assault flies in the face of Israel’sdecades-long practice of kidnapping Lebanese civilians, says Chomsky.Israel, with U.S. collusion, he continues, did as much damage againstthe Lebanese infrastructure as possible before a ceasefire wasaccepted. Israeli rockets destroyed a fuel storage tank, creating agiant oil spill that has poisoned the coast line up to Syria.
With respect to Iraq, Chomsky believes the invading armies areobligated “to pay massive reparations for crimes of aggression,” andthat the people responsible for the extreme crimes” should be put ontrial. The prospect of “a sovereign Iraq would be a completenightmare,” given the nation’s increasing solidarity with Shiite alliesin oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Iran. Since “controlling the world’senergy resources has been a prime objective” of U.S. foreign policy formuch of the last century, serious withdrawal plans seem pretty remoteto Chomsky.
Finally, Chomsky scoffs at the Bush Administration’s “willingness” tonegotiate with Iran about its nuclear ambitions, since a U.S.precondition for talks requires no uranium enrichment, and the U.S.“refuses to withdraw threats of attack.” Chomsky claims that U.S.threats are real, with recent deployment of U.S. air power in the area.The impact of such threats harms Iranian democracy reformers, “who arecomplaining bitterly,” and further blackens the U.S. reputation in theworld, where we are perceived as a peace-threatening “lawless anddangerous rogue state.”