Dr. Noam Chomsky harshly criticized the war in Iraq and the Bush administration’s foreign policy last night, to a crowd of 1,000 members of the Boston College community.
Chomsky, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguistics professor who has been a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam War and has written well over 100 books on the subject, spoke on ‘Iraq and the Imperial Vision.’ Chomsky said the United States has become the world’s ‘leading pariah state,’ and people around the world see it as the greatest threat to world peace. He cited a recent Gallup poll that said only 10 percent of people around the world support a war fought without UN approval and led by a coalition of the willing ‘meaning Bush and Blair,’ he said.
According to Chomsky, the war in Iraq is not a ‘pre-emptive war,’ which would address a real and immediate threat to our nation’s security. Rather, it is a preventative war, he said, dealing with nations that may someday threaten our nation.
Under this policy, ‘we will decide who is a threat,’ Chomsky said, ‘and we will destroy them.’
He said Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein’s regime is a threat to America is a ‘flood of outright lies,’ part of a propaganda campaign to ‘push the panic button,’ convince the American public that the country is in imminent danger and keep the Bush administration in power. He compared this tactic to strategies used by the Republican Party during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
Chomsky also expressed concerns that the Bush administration’s war in Iraq is endemic of the country’s future foreign policy. He said that Iran and the Andes region of South America are possible future targets of United States-led ‘regime change.’
The BC College Republicans had planned a walkout during Chomsky’s lecture, but the school’s administration convinced them to voice their dissent through pointed questions after the lecture, according to Ravi Kalwani, director of social action in BC’s Undergraduate Government.
BC dean of student development Robert Sherwood addressed any possible controversy before the lecture, telling the crowd that ‘as a guest of the university, [Dr. Chomsky] has a right to be heard without disruption’ and asking spectators to be respectful.
The question and answer session allowed students a chance to ask Chomsky about specific issues related to the war in Iraq.
Comparing Hussein and Adolf Hitler, Chomsky said ‘both were supported by the U.S. and Britain’ as long as the dictators had beneficial effects on the U.S. economy.
‘People in power cared nothing about their crimes,’ Chomsky said. ‘They cared about the interests they served.’
Chomsky said he did not think America was any more violent than any other country, and America is actually less violent than it was 40 years ago. He cited the violent nature of Vietnam protests compared to protests against this war.
‘Being violent is not in your genes it’s a cultural pattern,’ he said.
A representative from the College Republicans asked if the anti-war sentiment in Europe was based on anti-war propaganda from European governments.
Chomsky said the protests are ‘not because of what [Europeans] see in the media [they’re] because they see what’s going on.’
Spectators filled bleachers that ran the length of a packed gym and spilled onto the floor. Chomsky spoke from the center of the gym’s basketball court, at a podium in front of a black backdrop. Between the lecture and the question and answer session, one of the event organizers announced that the lecture was not held in the university’s larger available forum because it asserted such an event would be a ‘security threat,’ drawing hisses from the crowd.
The lecture was presented by the UGBC and BC’s Global Justice Project. According to Kalwani, the event was planned in November, and it is merely coincidence that Chomsky’s lecture coincided with the outbreak of war.