A BOOK REVIEW
Mr.Vijayraj J. Chavan
Title of the book:
Noam Chomsky- Power and Terror Post 9/11 talks and interviews
1. John Junkerman
2. Takai Masakazu
Natraj Publishers Dehradun
Year of publication:
Immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11 Noam Chomsky gave a great many public talks and countless interviews, many of them with the foreign media, who turned to him as one of the small handful of American intellectuals who stood opposed to the Bush administration’s aggressive military response to the attacks. Chomsky must have repeated a thousand times his argument that we cannot address terrorism of the weak against the powerful without also confronting “ the unmentionable but far more extreme terrorist of the powerful against the weak” he has supported his argument with historical case studies, documents and analysis.
The book is an interview of Noam Chomsky by the Japanese film maker John Junkerman after 9/11 attack on U.S.
Beginning with the fundamental principle that the exercise of violence against civilian population is terror, regardless of whether the perpetrators is an underground network of Muslim extremists or the most powerful state in the world. Chomsky in stark and uncompromising terms challenges the United States to apply to itself the moral standards it demands of others.
Power unless justified, is inherently illegitimate. The burden of proof is on those in authority to demonstrate why their elevated position is justified. If this burden can’t be met the authority in question should be dismantled. Authority for its own sake is inherently unjustified. He gives example of legitimate authority: It is that exerted by an adult to prevent a young child from wandering into traffic.
The editor themselves are Japanese independent film makers. They have the very basic idea of the history after world war-II and the U.S.-Vietnam war. Chomsky has stated that his “personal visions are fairly traditional anarchist ones, with origins in the enlightenment and classical liberalism” and he has praised libertarian socialism.
He has a very strong critism of the foreign policy the United States; specifically he claims double standards in a foreign policy preaching democracy and freedom for all.
About the mass media, he has argued “ In the United States it largely serves as a propaganda arm and U.S. corporations, with the three parties interwined through common interests.He has stated on numerous occasions that he does not believe any conspiracy theories related to the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. He stated in regards specifically to the theory that the U.S. government co-ordinated the attacks as being “Extremely Unlikely”
Noam Chomsky, a well known political thinker and activist, puts forth his ideas. The name Noam Chomsky possesses drawing power, and it is perhaps unsurprising that books that appear under his name are often composites of speeches, interviews and broadcasts that the outspoken MIT linguist has lacked the time to weave together himself into a structured work. Power and Terror is such a book.
Chomsky's argument is simple: September 11 was a horrible atrocity notable only for one fact: that the victims were those of an imperial power. Imperial powers are usually immune - no Chinese terrorists struck Japan while the latter committed atrocities in China in the 1930s, Chomsky reminds us. Pearl Harbor would militate against such a hasty judgement but there is no discussion of it, though Chomsky ranges far and wide in search of US criminality, past and present.
This book does not address - it was never Chomsky's intention that it should - the range of issues arising from September 11. It was first and foremost an act of mass terror in the service of a universal, totalitarian agenda against an ideological enemy. Chomsky discusses this no-where. "Islamism", "Islamist terrorism", "militant Islam" figure nowhere in this book's detailed index. For comparison, one need only imagine a book on Pearl Harbor that said nothing about Imperial Japan, its ideology or aims, which barely mentioned Japan at all, and which sought to explain the attack solely in terms of America's prior policies and one would have the measure of this work.
Rather than tell us anything about September 11, Chomsky opts for the more congenial task of telling us something he has done in a dozen books: expound his conspiracy theory of international relations. His argument is thus: great powers always encroach on the weak, no matter their character. Or rather, great powers are always characterized by brutal acquisitiveness. No exceptions to this mechanistic, undemonstrated rule appear permitted. It follows that international legal norms and bodies are collaborating in the triumph of the strong, except when they don't. Thus, Chomsky has oscillated over the years between describing the UN as a covert American agency when it blesses American efforts and as the font of international morality when it comes up with other ideas. These beliefs, which Chomsky calls facts, are under-girded by some gossamer social theory: for "almost any crime ...there's usually behind it elements of legitimacy" (p. 15). As more than one authority on terrorist movements has noted, this socio-economic explanation tends to burden victims with the responsibility for the crimes of perpetrators.
This book does not discuss an in-built deficiency in Chomsky's argument: if the US is the greatest criminal, and if for "almost any crime ...there's usually behind it elements of legitimacy" why is Chomsky uniquely unable to discover elements of legitimacy underlying US actions? His theory demands no less.
Readers who loathe the United States will find congenial Chomsky's emphatic repetition of allusions to the US being Nazi-like. Others will be disconcerted when he goes so far as to compare the US unfavourably to the Nazis in reference to the US bombing of North Korean dams in the Korean War (the Germans "were doing much less than that", p. 22). Chomsky addresses a question on this subject at one point. Queried that the Nazis were exceptional for pursuing genocide in Europe while America was pursuing no such thing in Vietnam, Chomsky backs off. "I'd never call what happened in Vietnam genocide. That's not the right term for it. I agree, it was totally different. I can't recall anyone suggesting otherwise" (p. 77). Readers will have to decide if this disclaimer in a book repeatedly asserting identity of acts between the US and the Nazis, whose most distinctive crimes were the Holocaust and other acts of genocide, is persuasive.Chomsky contends that the only matter of interest in the Israeli-Palestinian equation is that Palestinians are occupied by an Israel intent on removing them and capable of doing so only with US acquiescence. Readers who consult his earlier works will know, however, that Chomsky himself once opposed (1974), then supported (1983) then denounced (1999) steps taken in favour of a two-state solution - which proceeded, incidentally, with enthusiastic US support.Although his views are wildly popular in some quarters, Chomsky attributes an alleged absence of commentary similar to his own to an "incredible discipline" which he believes a totalitarian state would be unable to achieve (p. 19). But even if his international lecture trips did not win him saturation media attention, it takes little courage to make a career as a "dissident" in a democracy, especially when it propels fame and agreeable notoriety. The courage to speak truth belongs to Noam Chomsky. Far from asking questions people dare not ask, it is these days radical chic to repeat the questions - and answers - Chomsky offers.
I thought one of the most interesting points made in this book is that Saddam was made by the Bush family. All throughout the 1980's, Saddam was the U.S. pet to defend against a supposedly dangerous Iran. During this time, he used poison gas on the Kurds. The Republican administration then in power said nothing about it at all. It's so ironic that the current Bush keeps bringing up the point of gas attacks against the Kurds, when it was an American supported and supplied Saddam who did it, and at the time it wasn't considered worth mentioning. It only got brought up after Saddam refused to play the game. It's ironic that our worst enemies are our own creations.
I found this book to be very insightful. As some of the negative reviews have said, this is not really Chomsky's book, but edited together from various speeches and interviews that he has done. Even though this is the case, I think it is very readable, and it contains a lot of information that is useful and thought-provoking. Check it out The book is worth reading just for the one chapter whose title I've mentioned above. There are dozens of books out which mindlessly repeat George W. Bush's absurd view that 9/11 happened because Muslims "hate the freedoms" of the West. Chomsky points out that the real reason for anti-US emotion is its corporate-interest led foreign policy, which has propped up the world's most awful dictators and despots (including Saddam Hussein, the Taliban and the Saudi royal family).
No shock to those familiar with Chomsky's writing/lecturing. Power and terror exposes the other 50% of the story conveniently omitted by American media. It sheds clear light on the 'good guy' stance the US government insists it is taking and has historically taken. Chomsky is one of the names that is a must read for everyone. Unfortunately, the comfort of ignorance and blind patriotism will leave him unread by many, and even worse: thought of as an un-American traitor, sympathetic to terrorism.
Power and terror reminds us that terrorism has been going on for quite some time now, and is only so highly mentioned today due to the fact that our governmental misdeeds have finally come back around to cause suffering at home. For the 1st time, Americans are made the victims of terror, and this is one book that will help us understand why Americans are the targets of such hatred and violence. This is a quick read and one that is worth the few hours or so that it takes to read the entire book. Mr Chomsky gets his points across directly and clearly. He is able to show why we are having problems in the Middle east, why the people there do not trust us and why we are taking the action that we have taken. I would have liked a few more footnotes. He mentions a few things that he assumes the read is already aware of; however, it would have been nice to have a few more details. This is a very good book in setting the record straight. Once you have finished this book please get another one of his and go through it. Everything that he writes (or says since most of this one is from various talks that he has given in 2002) is very "matter of fact" and to the point. It really makes you think. Power and Terror is a brief, but packed overview of U.S. and world power politics. Once again, Chomsky highlights the major issues and struggles of our times, referencing official sources, bringing out historical trends and applying massive amounts of common sense to cut through the rhetoric and the false dichotomies that so often pass for official debate. This is no holds barred classic Chomsky, an especially important contribution to the literature of the anti-war movement at this time. I consider this book to be much more detailed and better organized and more cohesive than "9-11." If you know who Noam Chomsky is, you don't need me to explain his politics here. If you have not yet read Noam Chomsky, there is no better place to start than with this book. This book is NOT for those that the truth makes them uneasy. Nor for the ones that deceiving themselves is easier .Perhaps, more comfortable. Noam Chomsky will stir your soul into righteous indignation .This book is for those that are totally ready to see the truth, not only of how and when we've been lied to ; but how we're continued to be fooled. Not one, can come out feeling pure and victorious after reading this book . Something will be ripped from you. And that something is the MYTH. In my case the "admiration and awe" I had of one time President Jimmy Carter, was totally demolished.I had put him in the line of Saints.In either case, read this book if you want to see the real face, behind the mask that is made of centuries and centuries of layers of lies. After reading this book you'll know the truth, but victorious you will never feel again when you hear of "rumors of wars" , or of ongoing wars. You will learn that there's not one government in the face of Earth that is benevolent. And they will do anything to keep their power. And of course the most powerful ones will fight even harder .
Quotes from Power and Terror by Noam Chomsky: "The United States is carrying out something called a "peace process." A peace process, by definition, means whatever the United States is doing. For the last thirty years, the peace process has been the United States undermining peace. Does anybody know about this? No. I mean, if I talk about it to an educated audience, an academic audience, nobody will even know what I'm talking about. It can't be. How can the United States be undermining peace?" Q: You've said that we as citizens should not speak truth to power but, instead, to people. Shouldn't we do both? Could you speak more on this subject?
CHOMSKY: This is a reference to about the only thing on which I find I disagree with my Quaker friends. On every practical activity I usually agree with them, but I do disagree with them about their slogan of speaking truth to power. First of all, power already knows the truth. They don't need to hear it from us. Secondly, it's a waste of time. Furthermore, it's the wrong audience. You have to speak truth to the people who will dismantle and overthrow and constrain power. Furthermore, I don't like the phrase "speak truth to." We don't know the truth. At least I don't. We should join with the kind of people who are willing to commit themselves to overthrow power, and listen to them. They often know a lot more than we do. And join with them to carry out the right kinds of activities. Should you also speak truth to power? If you feel like it, but I don't see a lot of point. I'm not interested in telling the people around Bush what they already know