Monday, July 21, 2014

Noam Chomsky: Obama is like a "Nazi general"

Noam Chomsky

To the radical left, the United States is the bad guy. On Alternet Noam Chomsky, after making some good points about Orwell and a free press, compares President Obama to a Nazi general:

There's actually an interesting essay by---Orwell, which is not very well known because it wasn't published. It's the introduction to Animal Farm. In the introduction, he addresses himself to the people of England and he says, you shouldn't feel too self-righteous reading this satire of the totalitarian enemy, because in free England ideas can be suppressed without the use of force. And he doesn't say much about it. He actually has two sentences. He says one reason is the press "is owned by wealthy men" who have every reason not to want certain ideas to be expressed.

But the second reason, and the more important one in my view, is a good education, so that if you've gone to all the good schools, you know, Oxford, Cambridge, and so on, you have instilled into you the understanding that there are certain things it wouldn't do to say---and I don't think he went far enough: wouldn't do to think. And that's very broad among the educated classes. That's why overwhelmingly they tend to support state power and state violence, and maybe with some qualifications, like, say, Obama is regarded as a critic of the invasion of Iraq. Why? Because he thought it was a strategic blunder. That puts him on the same moral level as some Nazi general who thought that the second front was a strategic blunder---you should knock off England first. That's called criticism [emphasis added].

Obama made his opposition to invading Iraq clear over the years. This speech from way back in 2002 is typical. Once he became president, he presided over our withdrawal from Iraq. How that makes him anything like a Nazi general is hard to figure.

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At 7:58 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

As a draft resister in 1964, I used to agree with Chomsky that the US was the bad guy in international affairs, since US invasions of both Cuba and Vietnam were big issues then. Invading Iraq was a big mistake, but otherwise I don't think the US is the Great Satan of late. Maybe I think that just because I'm older, but I think it's because the world---and US policy, especially under President Obama---has also changed for the better.

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Tom D. said...

I think you miss Chomsky's point.

The comparison to a Nazi general comes from the failure to criticize war on a MORAL level -- only the strategic level (we Nazis were wrong to open up a second front -- strategic, but we Nazis weren't wrong to begin the war in the first place -- moral).

To my knowledge, Obama has never criticized the invasion of Iraq as being immoral -- only something current inconvenient for U.S. interests (i.e. it diverts attention from Afghanistan -- our second front).

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Obama's moral criticism of the invasion of Iraq is implicit throughout his 2002 speech I linked: "I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars."

And this:

"You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil...Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair."

He didn't use the word "moral," but clearly his liberal moral values are the basis for his opposition to that war, along with its stupidity.

Chomsky's view is that US foreign policy is essentially immoral, like the German foreign policy during World War II.


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