Hastings: Where do you see Iraq heading right now?
Chomsky: Well, it's extremely difficult to talk about this
because of a very rigid doctrine that prevails in the United
States and Britain which prevents us from looking at the
situation realistically. The doctrine, to oversimplify, is that
we have to believe the United States would have so-called
liberated Iraq even if its main products were lettuce and
pickles and [the] main energy resource of the world were in
central Africa. Anyone who doesn't accept that is dismissed as a
conspiracy theorist or a lunatic or something. But anyone with a
functioning brain knows that that's not true—as all Iraqis do,
for example. The United States invaded Iraq because its major
resource is oil. And it gives the United States, to quote [Zbigniew]
Brzezinski, "critical leverage" over its competitors, Europe and
Japan. That's a policy that goes way back to the second world
war. That's the fundamental reason for invading Iraq, not
Once we recognize that, we're able to begin talking about where
Iraq is going. For example, there's a lot of talk about the
United States bringing [about] a sovereign independent Iraq.
That can't possibly be true. All you have to do is ask yourself
what the policies would be in a more-or-less democratic Iraq. We
know what they're likely to be. A democratic Iraq will have a
Shiite majority, [with] close links to Iran. Furthermore, it's
right across the border from Saudi Arabia, where there's a
Shiite population which has been brutally repressed by the
U.S.-backed fundamentalist tyranny. If there are any moves
toward sovereignty in Shiite Iraq, or at least some sort of
freedom, there are going to be effects across the border. That
happens to be where most of Saudi Arabia's oil is. So you can
see the ultimate nightmare developing from Washington's point of
You were involved in the antiwar movement in the 1960s. What
do you think of the Vietnam-Iraq analogy?
I think there is no analogy whatsoever. That analogy is
based on a misunderstanding of Iraq, and a misunderstanding of
Vietnam. The misunderstanding of Iraq I've already described.
The misunderstanding of Vietnam had to do with the war aims. The
United States went to war in Vietnam for a very good reason.
They were afraid Vietnam would be a successful model of
independent development and that would have a virus
effect—infect others who might try to follow the same course.
There was a very simple war aim—destroy Vietnam. And they did
it. The United States basically achieved its war aims in Vietnam
by . It's called a loss, a defeat, because they didn't
achieve the maximal aims, the maximal aims being turning it into
something like the Philippines. They didn't do that. [But] they
did achieve the major aims. It was possible to destroy Vietnam
and leave. You can't destroy Iraq and leave. It's inconceivable.
Was the antiwar movement more successful in the '60s than it
I think it's the other way around. The United States
attacked Vietnam in 1962. It took years before any protest
developed. Iraq is the first time in hundreds of years of
European and American history that a war was massively protested
before it was launched. There was huge protest in February 2003.
It had never happened in the history of the West.
Where do you put George W. Bush in the pantheon of American
He's more or less a symbol, but I think the people around
him are the most dangerous administration in American history. I
think they're driving the world to destruction. There are two
major threats that face the world, threats of the destruction of
the species, and they're not a joke. One of them is nuclear war,
and the other is environmental catastrophe, and they are driving
toward destruction in both domains. They're compelling
competitors to escalate their own offensive military
capacity—Russia, China, now Iran. That means putting their
offensive nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert.
The Bush administration has succeeded in making the United
States one of the most feared and hated countries in the world.
The talent of these guys is unbelievable. They have even
succeeded at alienating Canada. I mean, that takes genius,