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  •  I have seen Noam Chomsky speak three times. (26+ / 0-)

    On the second of those occasions I made a point of asking him a question that might produce a concise answer. This is because most of the questions he gets are designed to show erudition on the part of the questioner but leave little room for a focused answer.

    Anyway my question was along the line of, "You have talked a lot about what you don't like. Could you talk a little bit about what you do like, and if by some chance you were appointed Secretary of State tomorrow what would you do to forward those."

    His answer was surprising and immediate. Again I paraphrase, "It would be impossible for me to become Secretary of State as I do not have the interests of the elites at heart but if it happened then the first thing I would do is to appoint a commission to investigate the war crimes I would inevitably commit merely by virtue of holding that office."

    That last bit was the only thing he said that made the local paper the next day and it illustrates the challenges we face. Perfection is far beyond our reach and power politics, the only effective kind, is not a clean game. All we can hope for is to do as best we can and have faith that by so doing that the future is better.

    •  Heh. I think that's pretty concise. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RanDomino

      Being in the USG is a crime.  It has no basis, and it helps nobody, and makes sure that nobody can be helped, but you can't make it any shorter than that.  

      In the eighties, Bob Dole said something to the effect of "Newt's all for new ideas. He doesn't HAVE any. He's just FOR them". Listen five minutes to Newt and you'll see it's still true.

      by Inland on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:33:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Argh! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      evergreen2, BoxNDox, Radical def
      His answer was surprising and immediate. Again I paraphrase, "It would be impossible for me to become Secretary of State as I do not have the interests of the elites at heart but if it happened then the first thing I would do is to appoint a commission to investigate the war crimes I would inevitably commit merely by virtue of holding that office."

      This gets at the heart of what I find so frustrating about leftist critique. First they criticize people for not trying to change things, then, when you do try to change things, you get called a sellout and a pawn of larger interests.

      Chomsky, by his answer, reveals a belief that the nature of power is inherently corrupting and therefore only immoral people should seek it. But then he and others criticize moral people for not working harder to change things. Is there a fundamental blind spot in some people's thought processes that prevents them from understanding that making changes requires power?

    •  selective concern about war crimes (0+ / 0-)

      Nice sentiment, but see my comment below about the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Turns out that if you're Serbia, Chomsky doesn't give a shit about your war crimes. He only cares to blast NATO for preventing you from conducting more. It's downright bizarre.

      •  IIRC his observation (0+ / 0-)

        is that the KLA was a Western-manufactured terrorist organization made of gangsters, and notes that the Serbian killing of KLA thugs in basically defensive actions was pointed to as "massacres" by Western media.  Also, he points out that the large-scale population transfers and refugee crisis didn't start until after the NATO bombing began, and was largely caused by it.  It was, as usual, a manufactured crisis.

        •  NATO bombs did not cause the refugee crisis (0+ / 0-)

          "he points out that the large-scale population transfers and refugee crisis didn't start until after the NATO bombing began"

          Large-scale, perhaps, but Serbs started expelling Kosovar Albanians from their homes in the spring of 1998, more than a year before the NATO bombings.

          "and was largely caused by it."

          That's a croc of shit. It was even dispelled formally by a scientific report commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences. They looked at three hypotheses:

          1) refugees were leaving on their own
          2) the NATO bombs were turning people into refugees
          3) the Serbs were expelling people, and using the NATO bombings as cover

          Unless you're blinded by some serious bias, the first two are obviously nonsense.

          Were the 100,000 dead Bosnian civilians manufactured, too?

          •  What's obviously nonsense (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DrReason

            about bombs turning people into refugees?  If the area where you're living is being bombed, you leave!

            Large-scale, perhaps

            That's what I'm pretty sure Chomsky contends: There were some unwanted departures (people who were forced out for one reason or another) but they weren't large-scale until after the bombing started.  It could be that the Serbs were expelling people (which, not to make excuses, would make sense; war obviously drives people toward ultra-nationalism and makes existing nationalists bolder) and using the bombing as a cover or excuse, but then why was there bombing in the first place if there wasn't already ethnic cleansing?  It's the same logic as Iraq: The war created the very problem (terrorism in Iraq, ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia) that it was supposed to combat, and then when that problem appeared as a result of the war, it was claimed as an ex post facto justification!

            •  you have history backwards (0+ / 0-)

              1) Serb soldiers and paramilitaries moved into Kosovo during 1998 and 1999.
              2) NATO started bombing them in 1999, because they were there massacring people, just as they had done in Bosnia earlier in that decade.

              The massacre in Racak, for example (Kosovar Albanian civilians killed by Serbs), happened in January 1999. This couldn't possibly have been caused by NATO, which only started bombing several months later.

              1) Serbian ultranationalism goes back to the early 1900's.
              2) Serbian ultranationalism fueled the rapid extermination of Serbia's Jews during WWII; most were dead by 1941, far earlier than anywhere else in the Balkans, because of a push by the government and the Serbian Orthodox church to collaborate with the Nazis.
              2) Serbian ultanationalism fueled Serbian aggression in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995.
              3) WWII and the Bosnian War come well before NATO's bombs in 1999.

              If you want to learn something, read Noel Malcolm's book about the history of Kosovo, or Serbia's Secret War. Just the preface of the paperback edition of Malcolm's books dispells your myth about NATO's bombs causing the refugee crisis. In reprisal for KLA actions against Serb police and military targets, the Serbs overwhelmingly targeted civilians. The refugees themselves overwhelmingly claimed that they had been driven out by Serb soldiers and paramilitaries, but obviously, Noam Chomsky knows better.

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