Monday, 9 April 2012

The Flaw in Chomsky's Worldview

The flaw in most "anti-war" spokesmen as regards global politics comes with the idea that Western policy somehow is formed in isolation or that non aligned regimes somehow necessarily act better or more morally.

In this respect, notice can be taken of radical journalist John Pilger's laudatory backing for Hugo Chavez's Venezuela whilst ignoring his support for the tyrannies of Mugabe in Zimbabwe and Castro's Cuba.

As regards Chomsky, Gray ( who is himself an opponent of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) writes, in a review of Chomsky's latest work Making the Future,

For Chomsky, it seems there can be no place for error or mixed motives in American policies. The war was not a mistake that might have been avoided if its opponents had been better organised and more effective. Invading Iraq was just one more example of American imperialism, an expression of a regime that is quintessentially criminal and evil.

Reading these articles, published between April 2007 and October 2011, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that, for Chomsky, America is virtually the sole obstacle to peace in the world. Crimes committed by other powers are mentioned occasionally, but only in passing. Nowhere does he acknowledge the fact that many regions have intractable conflicts of their own, which will persist whatever the US does.

For Chomsky, conflict in the Middle East is exclusively the work of America and Israel. There is no struggle for hegemony between Saudi Arabia and Iran, or if any such struggle does exist it can be easily resolved so long as the US is ready to alter its policies. Again, unending war in Afghanistan does not reflect that unfortunate country's internal divisions and its long history as a focal point of geopolitical rivalry, which now includes a stalemate between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. War in Afghanistan could be ended very simply, if only the US withdrew its forces and brokered a grand diplomatic bargain.

The most formidible part of this demolition job of a much overrated thinker for thinking the world can be made better if only the US did not pursue the policies it did, as if China were not pursuing goals of Empire far more ruthlessly in Africa, for example, and that the US alone is uniquely responsible for global evil. Gray comments,

The picture Chomsky presents of the US is, in effect, a negative version of exceptionalism. For him as much as for the neocons, America is the centre of the world. Chomsky views global politics through the same Manichean lens: you are either for America or against it. The fact that much of humankind has aspirations that have nothing to do with America is not even considered. Anti-Americanism is fading along with American power, but Chomsky hasn't noticed.

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