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Discourses on Iraq and the Middle East

05/04/2005 5:00 PM 1-190
Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor, MIT

Description: U.S. actions in Iraq get a thorough thrashing in this final chapter of the Reconstructing Iraq series. First, Yosef Jabareen sprints through editorial page cartoons from Arab print media, which represent the U.S. as immoral, abusive, greedy and above all, hegemonic. The drawings depict George Bush burning the world or swallowing up Arab nations, and a map of Iraq morphs into a division of the U.S. energy department. One cartoon shows the United Nations watching passively as the globe commits suicide. In these images, Arab leaders are corrupt puppets of U.S. policy and Iraqi insurgents are brutally oppressed heroes.

Noam Chomsky paints his own cynical picture of the conflict in Iraq. "The U.S. goal ' certainly had nothing to do with stopping atrocities," he says, and even less to do with advancing political freedom. "The U.S. promotes democracy when it's in our strategic and economic interests and opposes democracy when it's not." Chomsky continues, "It's almost inconceivable that the U.S. could permit a sovereign, democratic Iraq. The reasons are transparent." Iraq, he predicts, would form an alliance with Iran, helping foment Shiite rebellion in Saudi Arabia, leading to "a Shiite alliance controlling most of the world's energy." Even more worrisome, Iraq would "rearm and develop weapons of mass destruction as a deterrent." Chomsky notes, "The one thing the U.S. invasion taught everyone is you better have WMDs to protect yourself from U.S. attack." Poses Chomsky, "Would the U.S. sit by and allow this? '. The chances are zero." So contrary to our own "messianic vision" of implementing democracy, the U.S. will try to "run Iraq." Chomsky's alternative: pay Iraq billions in reparations for having supported Saddam Hussein, for years of painful sanctions, and hand the country over to the Iraqis as soon as possible.

About the Speaker(s): Noam Chomsky has written and lectured widely on linguistics, philosophy, intellectual history, international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. A brief sampling of his prolific work includes: The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory; Aspects of the Theory of Syntax; Language and Mind; American Power and the New Mandarins; Reflections on Language; Rules and Representations; Knowledge of Language; The Culture of Terrorism; Manufacturing Consent (with E.S. Herman); Understanding Power; Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance; and most recently, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World, (with David Barsamian). Chomsky received his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955. He joined the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1955 and in 1961 was appointed full professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics. During the years 1958 to 1959 Chomsky was in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. In the spring of 1969 he delivered the John Locke Lectures at Oxford; in January 1970 he delivered the Bertrand Russell Memorial Lecture at Cambridge University; in 1972, the Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, and in 1977, the Huizinga Lecture in Leiden, among many others. Chomsky has received honorary degrees from universities around the world, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science.

Host(s): School of Architecture and Planning, Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Tape #: T19965

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

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