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Should Noam Chomsky Reset His Compass?

by William Hughes Wednesday, May. 24, 2006 at 2:10 PM

Noam Chomsky was interviewed for the 2005 book, “Imperial Ambitions.” In it, he addressed the Iraqi War, but he failed to take on the hawkish Neocons. Chomsky said the war was about the “control of oil.” He also ignored the influential Israeli Lobby’s role in agitating for the conflict. In the introduction, a colleague said that he “misses nothing.” Question: How can that be true, if Chomsky missed the six ton elephant in the room - the Israeli Lobby?

    Should Noam Chom...
imperial-ambitions.jpg, image/jpeg, 480x640

“Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you.” - Mark Twain

Recently I read the book: “Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/II World,” (2005, Metropolitan Books),” which contains interviews by David Barsamian with Noam Chomsky on a wide range of issues, including the Iraqi War. I was deeply disappointed with it. Not because there wasn’t a lot of solid analysis in it. There was. My misgivings dealt with what was left out of the paperback. If the comedian Stephen Colbert could take on the hawkish Neocon William Kristol and his warmongering Project for the New American Century (PNAC)-a group which Kristol cofounded-why couldn’t the leading Guru of the Left, also do so? In addition, Chomsky failed to mention either the repulsive Kristol or the PNAC.

Another thing missing: In Chomsky’s book, the word, “Zionism,” only appears once, and that is on p. 173, where he admitted that in his youth, during his Philadelphia salad days, he was “very involved in the Zionist Movement.” I also noticed that the enormously powerful Israeli Lobby wasn’t worth a cite at all in this paperback. Yet, we now know, thanks to the prestigious Harvard Study, that the Israeli Lobby, for over 40 years has exercised “unmatched power,” which was not in the national interest, over the foreign policy of the U.S. (1) Yet, Chomsky ignored this group completely! Why? Is this the same Chomsky, that Barsamian solemnly tells us, “sets the compass headings and describes the topography”? Barsamian goes on to say, “It is up to us to navigate the terrain...He [Chomsky] has an extraordinary power to distill and synthesize reams of information. And he misses nothing. ”Really? Misses nothing! How can that be true if Chomsky missed that six ton elephant in the room of American politics: the Israeli Lobby?

When asked why the U.S. invaded Iraq, Chomsky said, at p. 6, it was about “the control of oil.” Later on in the book, Chomsky cites Chalmers Johnson’s tome, “Sorrows of Empire,” but he doesn’t tell the readers that Johnson believed that the Iraqi War was the result of the confluence of three special interests: “Big Oil,” the Military Industrial Complex and the Israeli Lobby. Now, despite everything we know about Israel’s role and the role of the Israeli Lobby in pushing for the Iraqi War, Chomsky insisted on stating, at p. 8, “As far as Israel is concerned, Iraq has never been much of an issue. They consider it a kind of a pushover.” If the Zionists considered Iraq a “pushover,” then why didn’t they invade it? Isn’t this the same Israel that invaded Lebanon, in 1982?

Although Chomsky co-wrote a book, called “Manufacturing Consent,” about how the Establishment shapes the opinion of the masses, he didn’t think about using that same kind of keen analysis in this book. In particular, with respect 9/11-neither here nor in his earlier book, entitled, “9/11,” did Chomsky touch on the powerful idea that the power brokers both cause and interpret what’s going on in a way that supports their agenda. This leads me to wonder: Was 9/11, too, manufactured? Did the Bush-Cheney Gang know it was coming and let it happen? Or, was it Machiavellian plot put into play by sinister intelligence agencies looking for a pretext to set the U.S. up to demonize Islam, attack Iraq and turn this country into a police state? Chomsky declines to open up that kind of necessary inquiry.

Chomsky talks a lot about “Propaganda,” but he doesn’t tell us who owns the biggest stake in the U.S. media market. He also make a big fuss over how corporate interests prevail over social concerns. Yet, he doesn’t inform the readers the means by which the corporations, incluging huge multinationals, exercise their massive control. If you search the index of this book, you will not find any groups, for instance, such as: The Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Club of Rome or the Bilderbergers. (2)

On p. 28, Chomsky admits that Israel is a “superpower,” possessing “hundreds of nuclear weapons and massive armed forces.” Then, he cleverly puts it all back on the U.S., labeling Israel - just “an offshore U.S. military base.” Now, that’s interesting, too, especially when you consider that this so-called “offshore U.S. military base” deliberately attacked the USS Liberty, on June 8, 1967, killing 34 members of its crew; bulldozed to death Olympia,WA peace activist, Rachel Corrie, in 2003; let loose that traitor Jonathan Pollard to steal our most sensitive military secrets; and since 1948, has extracted over 0 billion in aid from our national treasury. If a Mafia Boss had to pay tribute of 0 billion to someone, would he still be considered the Boss?

Jeffrey Blankfort, a gutsy critic of Chomsky’s selective moralizing, particularly when it comes to his making excuses for Israel, said that because the Neocons and the Israeli Lobby have “paid no price for it [the Iraqi warmongering]...they are prepared to do the same with Iran.” (3) On Iran, Chomsky, at p. 8, said, “But Iran is a different story. Iran is a much more serious military and economic force. And for years Israel has been pressing the United States to take on Iran. Iran is ‘too big’ for Israel to attack so they want the ‘big boys’ to do it.” Now, let’s get this straight. Israel, “a superpower,” according to Chomsky, which possesses tons of “nuclear weapons,” (but is only as an “offshore” military base for America), wants the U.S. to take Iran down because it’s “too big” for it to pull off. What a stretch this one is! How about if the inverse is true? Chomsky is big on utilizing the inverse concept in the book. Try this: Israel, the real Boss, who has extracted 0 billion from our treasury, wants its lackey, the U.S. to do its dirty work for it and attack Iran? What about that scenario, Chomsky?

Talking about Israel’s nuclear weapons. There was one U.S. president who dared to oppose its nuclear weapon schemes. His name was John Fitzgerald Kennedy. We all know what happened to him in Dallas, Texas. In fact, the author Stephen Green wrote: “Perhaps the most significant development in 1963 for the Israeli nuclear weapons program... occurred on November 22 on a plane flying from Dallas to Washington, D.C. Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States, following the assassination of JFK. In the early years of the Johnson Administration, the Israeli nuclear weapons program was referred to in Washington as the ‘delicate topic.’ Lyndon Johnson’s White House’s,” contrary to JFK’s, “saw no Dimona, [Israel’s Los Alamos], heard no Dimona, and spoke no Dimona when the reactor went critical in early 1964.” Green also emphasized that under the reign of LBJ, a rabid Zionist partisan, U.S. military aid to Israel also dramatically increased, reaching by then unprecedented levels of freebees, and that even more importantly, as corroborated by the scholarly Harvard Study, “Israel steadily began to act in ways that ignored U.S. national security interests.” (4) Chomsky, however, claims that Israel is merely an “offshore U.S. military base.”

Chomsky also tried to smear our martyred president, JFK, for supposedly wanting to escalate the Vietnam War. The truth is that Kennedy wanted a withdrawal of U.S. troops, whether military conditions allowed it or not, and issued, on Oct. 11, 1963, “NSAM 263” to that effect. Johnson, with strong ties to the Military Industrial Complex, immediately reversed that policy after taking power. The author Peter Dale Scott, in his book, “Deep Politics and the Death of JFK,” took Chomsky to task for his badly-flawed analysis of JFK’s intentions, calling it, a theory that “assumes the continuity of a mind-set that he is trying to prove.”

Another topic in this book, which I found irritating, dealt also with the issue of Iraq. Chomsky pontificated, at p. 2, “The new doctrine was not one of preemptive war...The U.S. will rule the world by force, and if there is any challenge to its domination...[it] will have the right to destroy that challenge before it becomes a threat. That’s preventive war, not preemptive war.” Well, I’m sure that Paul Wolfowitz, the prime architect of the “Preemption Doctrine,” along with Dick Cheney, another flaming Neocon, are going to feel off the hook after reading that one. Chomsky said the “preventive war” idea goes back to diplomat Dean Acheson, in 1963, which is of course, far removed from those crafty Neocons.

In another odd twist, Chomsky quotes a poll that was taken in Iraq where Iraqis were asked, why they thought their country was invaded. Seventy percent, at p. 79, said, “The goal was to take over Iraq’s resources and to reorganize the Middle East. They agreed with Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz...” Now, here was a point in the book, where Chomsky could have easily added his critical position, and elaborated on the Neocons’, Israel’s and the Israeli Lobby’s roles in agitating for the war against Iraq. But, the man who “misses nothing,” let it pass by. Ask yourself, “Why?”

Despite all of the above, I’m recommending this book. It has plenty of wisdom from the iconic Chomsky on matters, like: Regime Change; a new vision for the future; the need for dedicated activism; the Cult of Ronald Reagan; and rebutting the attacks on the Labor Movement, Social Security and the proposals for a Universal Health Care System. It’s only on the subjects of Israel and JFK, where Chomsky’s advice, at p. 32, needs to be strictly followed. He said that one is mandated in combatting propaganda to use common sense and to ask, “Where is the evidence?”



2. “Conspirators’ Hierarchy: The Story of the Committee of 300,” by Dr. John Coleman.


For more perspective on Chomsky's theories, check out these critical two pieces: and

4. Stephen Green’s “Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel.”

© William Hughes 2006.

William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘’No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at

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