"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Andrew Sullivan

Wrote this in response to the discussion on 'real-time'.



In your discussion about Noam Chomsky's remarks on "real-time" you consistantly misrepresented almost everything he said, in the knowledge he was unable to respond. You said, according to the transcript (http://www.safesearching.com/billmaher
/print/t_hbo_realtime_110504.htm), "What?! He thinks that in discussion of Saddam Hussein he should raise the issue of Nuremberg trials for the United States? Well, yes. Welcome to the world view of the far left, in which the United States is the source of evil and Saddam Hussein is actually a source of good." Here you make a hugely loaded accusation aganist Mr.Chomsky, by misrepresenting his statement in the extreme. In no way did he intimate that Saddam Hussain was a force for good (and for the record, he also didn't represent the US as a force for evil, comparative or otherwise). How you translated his remarks, "the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein" (historically accurate, see: http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/press.htm) and "the first Bush Administration authorized Saddam to crush a Shiite uprising which probably would have overthrown him" into [Chomsky] "support[s] tyranny and dictatorships" even taking into account Prof. Chomsky has descibed Saddam as a 'despotic dictator' and in this very interview he refers to him as a 'brutal monster'. How you mis-represent him is beyond comprehension and given the public way you did, borders on slander. In actuality Mr.Chomsky says only minutes before said "It's certainly true that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein" something you on the right (left/right, left/ left etc) have referred to, adnauseum, since the "end" of the "war". Your surprise at his mentioning the the Nuremberg trials is astounding. Even elementary logic (which i'm sure you are capable of grasping considering your completion of a PhD in Political Science) would follow that if one (whether it be a state of person) commits war crimes then they are subject to international law, given the fact that the "war" was illegal (see: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0305-01.htm) I can only infer that you believe America is not subject to international law and therefore a higher power, the global law enforcer (for whose benefit is simple to deduce) perhaps. You also say that Mr.Chomsky "disagreed with removing one of the most disgusting tyrants in human history" which is easily refuted by looking back to his earlier statement, possibly his oposition to the "war" is for other much less easily moralistic reasons which I won't represent in my own words, as his words are much less ambiguous and much more revealing (see: http://www.zmag.org/CrisesCurEvts/Iraq/noam_chomsky.htm). You continue with "he doesn't have a right to besmirch freedom and democracy in the world and support tyranny and dictatorships" and therefore not surprisingly contiune your slating of Mr.Chomsky with totally fabricated statements. In no way does anything he says show support for "tyranny and dictatorship" and this should not have even been entertained by the host. If "that aggression, invasion is the supreme international crime, which includes within it all subsequent crimes" and "enormous casualty lists which may be in the range of 100,000" (I will address these figures later), "the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein" (remember this support was during Saddam's worst attrocities, including the gassing of his own people, actively supported by the US) are actions of "freedom and democracy in the world" then I think we should change the literal meaning of these words in the dictionary. Your asertion that "If the United States wanted to invade and get oil supplies, we could invade and control purely the oil fields" while at first sight sounds logically possible, considering the US's overwhelming military capacity and the relative inadequacies (read, uselessness) of Iraqi military. Extended thought (by that, I mean several seconds) leads one to conclude subsequent unrest in the region, not to mention fear and paranoia would pose this, hopefully "off the cuff" statement, useless. Without wanting to waste any more of your time, could you provide references for Mr.Chomsky's "support [for] the Soviet Union, as Chomsky did for so long, who've supported tyranny in all sorts of places." You continue with "he claimed 100,000 dead in Iraq. No one believes that", "it [referring, I presume, to the Lancet report] is absolutely riddled with exaggeration", "We have a very good idea that it isn't anywhere near that amount." These remarks are all completely hollow, they show a total disregard for the report, showing that you probably dissmissed it out of hand without any effort to examine it in some sort of detail (see: http://image.thelancet.com/extras/04cmt384web.pdf). Considering it is one of the few, independent or otherwise, studies into the number of deaths caused by the US and the coalition of the willing in Iraq. If the number provided by the report is, I'm assuming, to high for your taste, would the lower, but less easily dissmissed number presented by www.iraqbodycount.net of over 14,000 civillians more acceptable to you? Considering that the forces of "freedom and democracy" have seemingly not bothered to keep a record of civillian deaths, and who have failed to provide a conclusive account of coalition troops dead (including those dying off the battle field due to injuries, suicide etc). Therefore those who were sent to fight a "war" for the purpose of defending their country from an imminent threat (known at the time to be false and since then admitted to be false by the US president) are not even given the respect of being counted and instead flown home in secrecy. Today in Britain (presumably another centre of "freedom and democracy") 11 representatives of "Military Families Against the War" a group made up of families who have either lost relatives serving in Iraq or are presently serving in the Black Watch have been refused permission to hold a minutes silence outside Downing Street as a protest aganist the war. If this is your "freedom and democracy" you can keep it. But it is not your right to force it on other people and other countries.

In closing, I'd like to know if you, as you assert Mr.Chomsky does ("His speaking fees? He draws crowds of thousands across the world, denigrating the United States for huge speaking fees."), make thousands by erupting in these false, mis-representative, straw man arguments whether in print or spoken word. Consdering the popularity of your blog, your postion, as that of one who either turns a blind eye to social injustice around the world or supports them. Finally, if you really think Professor Chomsky says what he says, or more accurately reveals what he reveals becase it is lucrative, do you not think it would have served him better to have "stuck with" linguistics. Leaving him with the obvious benefit of not being publicly abused by you and many others "[chomsky]the most poisonous intellectual in America."

Yours Sincerely,