Not Want Real Democracy in Middle East: Chomsky
Visiting AUC for first time in 19 years, Noam Chomsky speaks of
potential Israel-Iran conflict and America's fear of democracy
in Middle East
By Randa Ali
October 25, 2012 "Ahram
- Hundreds filled the Ewart Memorial Hall at the American
University in Cairo (AUC) on Tuesday to attend a lecture by
prominent American political analyst and linguist Noam Chomsky
on his first visit to the university in 19 years.
“I can’t help but picture the world we live in, the one we’re
leaving to our grandchildren, and it is not a pretty picture,”
said Chomsky, 83, who arrived from Gaza on Monday.
During the lecture, called “Emerging World Order and the Arab
Spring," he spoke of the increasing threat of nuclear war and
Chomsky argued that the only way out of the nuclear crisis was
to embrace the initiative for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle
East, adding that Egypt had played a leading role in advocating
the initiative since 1995.
He further added that a conference was scheduled to be held in
January in Helsinki to look into ways of implementing a
nuclear-free zone in the region.
He argued that this initiative was blocked because of the
American insistence that Israel be excluded from the plan.
"Right now we should be thinking about the 50th anniversary of
the most dangerous moment in history," said Chomsky, reminding
the audience of the Cuban missile Crisis on 27 October 1962.
He said if it was not for the choice of Soviet leader Nikita
Khrushchev to back down and withdraw the missiles from Cuba a
nuclear war would have happened.
But the world cannot be assured of such sanity forever, he said.
He further denounced the portrayal of Israel's bombing of Iraq's
nuclear in 1981 as a parallel to a possible attack on Iran.
"It is rarely mentioned that this bombing did not stop the
nuclear programme but rather initiated it," he said.
Chomsky added that it was rarely mentioned that after the
Iran-Iraq war US President George H. Bush invited Iranian
scientists for advanced nuclear training.
Chomsky’s lecture was severely critical of US policies,
describing both Israel and the US as rogue states that do not
follow international norms because they are powerful enough to
"Iran must be denied nuclear weapons; that is the general
picture in the West," said Chomsky, emphasising that the picture
in the West is not the picture in the whole world.
“Unlike Iran, Israel refuses to allow inspections and still
hasn't signed the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty],” said Chomsky,
who rejected the discourse of Arab dictators that see Iran as a
threat, “When Israel is the real threat.”
"We saw the rest of the world recently at the NAM [Non-Aligned
Movement] in Tehran, where it vigorously reaffirmed Iran's right
to a nuclear energy programme."
Unless there is large-scale public pressure nothing will be
achieved, he said. However large scale-public pressure is
unlikely to take place because the issue is ignored in the
mainstream media, he added.
Speaking on the hypocrisy of the US administration towards
democracy in the Arab World, Chomsky gave an example of the US
and Israel’s punishment of Gaza “for using democracy” to elect a
Chomsky described the 2006 elections in Gaza as “the first real
free election in the Arab World.” However, because its results
did appeal to the US and Israel, a coup was attempted against
the elected government in 2007.
After Hamas succeeded in taking over the Gaza Strip, a blockade
was enforced on the enclave by both Egypt and Israel.
“The Western attitude towards democracy: It is fine as long as
its outcome is the one we want,” added Chomsky.
"For the West, the most important states are the oil
dictatorships. Their democratic uprisings were squashed with
"The US does not want policies in Arab countries which reflect
When asked about the situation in Syria, Chomsky said: "The
forces operating [there] are taking the country towards self
While Chomsky did not address the Arab Spring much in his
lecture he mentioned how fragile dictatorships are.
When people went to Tahrir Square, the regime quickly collapsed,
When asked about the possibility of social justice rising from
political Islam and the labour movement, Chomsky said he saw no
reason why political Islam should oppose the workers' struggle.
However, during an interview aired later with prominent TV
anchor Yosri Fouda, Chomsky said: “The hopes and aspirations of
the [Egyptian] revolution will not be satisfied by the current
He ended his talk at AUC by referring to Tahrir Square as a
Noam Chomsky is a Jewish-American philosopher and political
analyst, described as the "father of modern linguistics." His
books and lectures largely focus on supporting political
freedoms against imperialist powers throughout the world.
Chomsky is a professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics
and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
although he is a prominent critic of US politics and media. His
publications include some 100 books, the latest, published in
2012, are Occupy and Making the Future: Occupations,
Interventions, Empire and Resistance.
© 2010 Ahram Online
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