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Nov 292013
An interview titled “All superpowers feel exceptional, inflate security myth for ‘frightened population’ ” (https://chomsky.info/interviews/20131010.htm; obtained on 10-27-2013) in which Noam Chomsky was interviewed by Anissa Naouai for RT was published on October 10, 2013. Here is an excerpt:

“RT: Doesn’t the US take it a step further with exceptionalism?

NC: Only because the US is more powerful. If you go back a hundred years British and French exceptionalism was far more powerful. The US had the same doctrine but what really mattered for the world was the major imperial powers. And in Russia’s domains it was Russia that was exceptional. Try to find an exception. So the exceptionalism is kind of interesting in that it seems to be without exception. Everybody accepts it, and of course it’s ludicrous in each case.

RT: I’d like to ask you about Syria. They’ve just begun to dismantle their chemical arsenal. The US now seemingly agrees with Russia that perhaps military intervention is not the best way, although it seems to be dragging its feet on Syria policy. Do you expect provocations from the armed rebels in terms of trying to hamper this step to disarm?

NC: There are many armed rebel groups and they’re kind of unpredictable. A lot of them are fighting each other and a lot of them are local. Some of them are even pushing for autonomy, like in the Kurdish area the armed rebels are really pressing for Kurdish autonomy and there’s also all sorts of others. There are also secular democratic elements, they’re personally the kind of people I’d like to see take over but the dynamics of armed conflict are that the harshest and most brutal elements on all sides tend to come to the fore. That’s almost inevitable so one may like them, as I do, but I don’t think their prospects are very good. I don’t think what they will do is predictable.

Actually it’s fine to get rid of Syrian chemical weapons, that’s great, but it’s not what the policy ought to be. When President Obama and the press and so on talk about the chemical weapons convention they crucially misstate it, purposefully. What’s stated is that the chemical weapons convention bans the use of chemical weapons, it’s only part of the story. The convention bans the production, storage, or use of chemical weapons. Now production and storage can’t be mentioned because if you mention them you’ve got to dismantle Israel’s chemical weapons therefore that can’t be mentioned. But this is a perfect opportunity to move to eliminate chemical weapons from the region, not just from Syria but remove them from the region.

Israel is the only country with a massive nuclear capacity in the region. So there’s a broader issue which goes back to the question of a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East, which the US has been blocking for the same reason. So this is a partial solution, it’s good in itself but very partial. The broader opportunities are not being pursued and not even being discussed outside of really marginal areas.

RT: Recent information released by whistleblower Edward Snowden stirred up a whole lot of scandal across the globe. Some see him as a villain, others as a hero. The US wants to try him while other people are calling for him to receive the highest human rights prizes. What do you think of him?

NC: I think he performed the responsibility of an honest citizen. Let the population know what your elected representatives are doing, the same for Bradley Chelsea Manning. Let people know what your government is doing. Those who want him hanged as a traitor, etc. what they say is he harmed security.

There are two problems with that defense. One is that when a government or others related to its claim security, it literally carries no information. The reason is it’s predictable. No matter what any state does, no matter how awful it’s going to say it’s necessary for security. A message that is completely predictable is completely uninformative. So first it’s uninformative. We can however look and see what the claim of security amounts to and here it’s pretty easy in a society like the United States, precisely because it is a very free and open society, maybe the most in the world.

So we have a huge record of declassified documents going way back that were classified for security reasons but are now available, a huge array of them, we can study them and ask to what extent was security relevant. I’ve done a lot of work on this and others can do it to and there’s a conclusion security is almost always relevant but its security of the government from its own population. That’s the security concern.

The genuine security, like the security of the population from attack, is a very low concern. You can see this in state policy as well, there’s no time to go through it, but if you run through the record of state policy from the very beginning up until the present the security of the population is not a very high priority. The United States is not alone in this, that’s pretty common.”


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Louis DeCola, Jr.  © 2013                                    The Hygiology Post ®