Chomsky on the 2016 Elections:
'I Have Never Seen Such Lunatics in the Political
By Simone Chun
Professor Chomsky was interviewed in Boston
by the writer and activist Simone Chun for
the Hankyoreh newspaper.
Here is the English translation of the
interview, courtesy of Ms. Chun. She was
accompanied in her first meeting with Prof.
Chomsky in November 2015 (pictured) by
Christine Ahn, the founder of Women
Cross DMZ, which led a historic
march across the North-South Korean border last
May (full disclosure, Ms. Chun, Ms. Ahn and
myself are all affiliated with the Korea
Chun’s interview recently took place, at
Professor Chomsky’s office at MIT. Here is
Chun: Do you feel that there will be any significant
change in the foreign policy of the United States
after President Obama?
Republicans are elected, there could be major
changes that will be awful. I have never seen such
lunatics in the political system. For instance, Ted
Cruz’s response to terrorism is to carpet-bomb
you expect that Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy
would be different from President Obama’s?
Chomsky: Judging by the record, she is kind of
hawkish—much more militant than the centrist
democrats, including Obama. Take for instance Libya:
she was the one pressing the hardest for bombing,
and look at what happened. They not only destroyed
the country, but Libya has become the center
for jihad all over Africa and the Middle East. It’s
a total disaster in every respect, but it does not
matter. Look at the so-called global war on terror.
It started in 15 years ago with a small cell in a
tribal sector in Afghanistan. Now it is all over,
and you can understand why. It’s about comparative
advantage of force.
about Bernie Sanders–what do you think his foreign
policy will be?
is doing a lot better than I expected, but he
doesn’t have much to say about foreign policy. He is
a kind of New Deal Democrat and focuses primarily on
people in South Korea speculate that if Bernie
Sanders gets elected, he may take a
non-interventionist position towards foreign policy,
which would then give more power to South Korea’s
Chomsky: The dynamics could be different. His
emphasis on domestic policy might require an
aggressive foreign policy. In order to shore up
support for domestic policies, he may be forced to
attack somebody weak.
you believe that Americans would support another
Chomsky: The public is easily amenable to lies: the
more lies there are, the greater the support for
war. For instance, when the public was told that
Saddam Hussein would attack the U.S., this increased
support for the war.
you mean that the media fuels lies?
Chomsky: The media is uncritical, and their
so-called the concept of objectivity translates into
keeping everything within the Beltway. However, Iraq
was quite different. Here, there were flat-out lies,
and they sort of knew it. They were desperately
trying to make connections between Saddam Hussein
you think that the Iran nuclear deal is a good
don’t think that any deal was needed: Iran was not a
threat. Even if Iran were a threat, there was a very
easy way to handle it–by establishing a Middle East
Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, which is something that
nearly everyone in the world wants. Iran has been
calling for it for years, and the Arab countries
support it. Everyone except the United States and
Israel support it. The U.S. won’t allow it because
it means inspecting Israel’s nuclear weapons. The
U.S. has continued to block it, and in fact blocked
it again just a couple of days ago; it just wasn’t
widely reported. Iran’s nuclear program, as U.S.
intelligence points out, is deterrent, and the
bottom line is that the U.S. and Israel don’t want
Iran to have a deterrent. In any case, it is better
to have some deal than no deal, but it’s interesting
that Obama picked the day of implementing of Iran
deal to impose new sanctions on North Korea.
do you think that the same can be said about North
Chomsky: You can understand why. If North Korea
doesn’t have a deterrent, they will be wiped out.
is the most constructive way to address the nuclear
issue in the Korean peninsula?
2005, there was a very sensible deal between the
U.S. and North Korea. This deal would have settled
North Korea’s so-called nuclear threat, but was
subsequently undermined by George W. Bush, who
attacked North Korean banks in Macau and blocked the
North’s access to outside the world.
does the United States undermine efforts to reach an
agreement with North Korea?
don’t think that the United States cares. They just
assume that North Korea will soon have nuclear
you look at the record, the United States has done
very little to stop nuclear weapons. As soon as
George W. Bush was elected, he did everything to
encourage North Korea to act aggressively. In 2005
we were close to a deal, but North Korea has always
been a low priority issue for the United States. In
fact, look at the entire nuclear weapons strategy of
the United States: from the beginning, in the 1950s,
the United States didn’t worry much about a nuclear
threat. It would have been possible to enter into a
treaty with the one potential threat—the Soviet
Union—and block development of these weapons. At
that time, the Russians were way behind
technologically, and Stalin wanted a peace deal, but
the U.S. didn’t want to hear the USSR’s offer. The
implication is that the U.S. is ready to have a
terminal war at any time.
do you think about U.S. “Pivot to Asia” policy?
is aimed at China. China is already surrounded by
hostile powers such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan,
the Philippines, and Guam, but the United States
wants to build up more tension. For example, few
days ago, a B-52 nuclear bomber flew within a couple
of miles of China. It is very provocative. Nuclear
war ends everything, but the United States always
plays with fire.
do you think about Japan? Do you think Japan is
remilitarizing, and if so, does this pose a threat
to the region and the world?
Chomsky: Yes, Japan is trying very hard, but it is
not certain that it will succeed. Take for instance
Okinawa. There is no actual military purpose, but
the United States insists on maintaining a base
you know, part of my work centers on supporting
individual activists in South Korea who do not tend
to receive media attention. Your statements of
solidarity in support of them enable them to receive
much-needed attention by the Korean media. It has
been very effective.
hope that my support has been helpful. Is there any
hope or mood in Korea in support of Sunshine Policy?
Chun: It is
difficult due to the incumbent right-wing
Chomsky: How about South Korean public opinion?
you know, successive conservative governments have
obstructed engagement with the North, and this has
greatly deflated the public mood on the matter.
Opposition parties remain divided and ineffective,
and the current government exercises tight control
over the media and represses any activists who would
express criticism. South Korea appears to be heading
back to the authoritarianism of the 1960s and 1970s.
Chomsky: Part of the reason why the United States
doesn’t care about North Korea is that the North
Korean threat provides justification for the
right-wing conservative regime in the South.
many people argue that the biggest obstacle in
dealing with North Korea is South Korean right-wing
Chomsky: Relaxation with North Korea would mean
conservatives losing power in the South. That’s why,
for instance, we have to keep the war on terrorism.
Chun: Professor Chomsky, thank you again for your
time and your support.