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Here's a few excerpts from an interview with Chomsky. He's really in top form here.
Radio B92, Belgrade
Q: Why do you think these attacks happened?
To answer the question we must first identify the perpetrators
of the crimes. It is generally assumed, plausibly, that their
origin is the Middle East region, and that the attacks probably
trace back to the Osama Bin Laden network, a widespread and
complex organization, doubtless inspired by Bin Laden but not
necessarily acting under his control. Let us assume that this
is true. Then to answer your question a sensible person would
try to ascertain Bin Laden's views, and the sentiments of the
large reservoir of supporters he has throughout the region.
About all of this, we have a great deal of information. Bin
Laden has been interviewed extensively over the years by
highly reliable Middle East specialists, notably the most
eminent correspondent in the region, Robert Fisk (London
_Independent_), who has intimate knowledge of the entire
region and direct experience over decades. A Saudi Arabian
millionaire, Bin Laden became a militant Islamic leader in
the war to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. He was one
of the many religious fundamentalist extremists recruited,
armed, and financed by the CIA and their allies in Pakistani
intelligence to cause maximal harm to the Russians -- quite
possibly delaying their withdrawal, many analysts suspect --
though whether he personally happened to have direct contact
with the CIA is unclear, and not particularly important. Not
surprisingly, the CIA preferred the most fanatic and cruel
fighters they could mobilize. The end result was to "destroy
a moderate regime and create a fanatical one, from groups
recklessly financed by the Americans" (_London Times_ cor-
respondent Simon Jenkins, also a specialist on the region).
These "Afghanis" as they are called (many, like Bin Laden,
not from Afghanistan) carried out terror operations across
the border in Russia, but they terminated these after
Bin Laden and his "Afghanis" turned against the US in
1990 when they established permanent bases in Saudi
Arabia -- from his point of view, a counterpart to the Russian
occupation of Afghanistan, but far more significant because
of Saudi Arabia's special status as the guardian of the holiest
Bin Laden is also bitterly opposed to the corrupt and
repressive regimes of the region, which he regards as "un-
Islamic," including the Saudi Arabian regime, the most
extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime in the world, apart
from the Taliban, and a close US ally since its origins.
Bin Laden despises the US for its support of these regimes.
Like others in the region, he is also outraged by long-
standing US support for Israel's brutal military occupation,
now in its 35th year: Washington's decisive diplomatic,
military, and economic intervention in support of the
killings, the harsh and destructive siege over many years,
the daily humiliation to which Palestinians are subjected,
the expanding settlements designed to break the occupied
territories into Bantustan-like cantons and take control
of the resources, the gross violation of the Geneva
Conventions, and other actions that are recognized as
crimes throughout most of the world, apart from the US,
which has prime responsibility for them. And like others,
he contrasts Washington's dedicated support for these
crimes with the decade-long US-British assault against
the civilian population of Iraq, which has devastated
the society and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths
while strengthening Saddam Hussein -- who was a favored
friend and ally of the US and Britain right through his
worst atrocities, including the gassing of the Kurds,
as people of the region also remember well, even if
Westerners prefer to forget the facts. These sentiments
are very widely shared.
The U.S., and much of the West, prefers a more comforting
story. To quote the lead analysis in the _New York Times_
(Sept. 16), the perpetrators acted out of "hatred for the
values cherished in the West as freedom, tolerance,
prosperity, religious pluralism and universal suffrage."
U.S. actions are irrelevant, and therefore need not even be
mentioned (Serge Schmemann). This is a convenient picture,
and the general stance is not unfamiliar in intellectual
history; in fact, it is close to the norm. It happens to be
completely at variance with everything we know, but has all
the merits of self-adulation and uncritical support for power.
Q: After the first shock, came fear of what the U.S. answer is
going to be. Are you afraid, too?
Every sane person should be afraid of the likely reaction --
the one that has already been announced, the one that probably
answers Bin Laden's prayers. It is highly likely to escalate
the cycle of violence, in the familiar way, but in this case
on a far greater scale.
The U.S. has already demanded that Pakistan terminate the food
and other supplies that are keeping at least some of the
starving and suffering people of Afghanistan alive. If that
demand is implemented, unknown numbers of people who have not
the remotest connection to terrorism will die, possibly millions.
Let me repeat: the U.S. has demanded that Pakistan kill possibly
millions of people who are themselves victims of the Taliban.
This has nothing to do even with revenge. It is at a far lower
moral level even than that. The significance is heightened by the
fact that this is mentioned in passing, with no comment, and
probably will hardly be noticed. We can learn a great deal about
the moral level of the reigning intellectual culture of the West
by observing the reaction to this demand.
If Pakistan does not agree to this and other U.S. demands, it
may come under direct attack as well -- with unknown consequences.
If Pakistan does submit to U.S. demands, it is not impossible that
the government will be overthrown by forces much like the Taliban
-- who in this case will have nuclear weapons. That could have an
effect throughout the region, including the oil producing states.
At this point we are considering the possibility of a war that
may destroy much of human society.
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