Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chomsky: At War With Asia

In an earlier post I mentioned that my introduction to Chomsky came not via linguistics, but through his book At War With Asia, discovered by accident in the Page House library at Caltech. The book had a striking cover image, shown below.

My reaction to the book was similar to that of this blogger:
... no Chomsky book affected me as much as At War With Asia. To me, it was the purest, most incandescent experience of receiving facts imbued with moral clarity arising out of a submerged moral outrage. Perhaps I was affected because during the events being described I was dealing with a bureaucracy intent to induct me into the US Army, to be fed into the meat grinder of the Vietnam War, for 1968 to 1970.

I have never read a clearer description of colonial management (how the “white men” controlled “the natives”) than Chomsky gives in At War With Asia. From it one understood how the British had ruled India, and it opened my eyes as to how the “white men” in the U.S. today rule “the natives” (the ethnic minorities and the low economic classes, including the “white trash”), by stoking inter-group tensions (between ethnic groups in the colonies of prior centuries, and between groups based on economic class, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in today’s “homeland”).

The greater part of At War With Asia deals with the massive and barbaric US aerial bombardment of northern Laos, in the Plain Of Jars. ... Chomsky’s focus and passion were so intense in this book, and yet the language is kept so reasoned and calm, that the effect on me was as if I suddenly awoke to the fact that while I was walking through a quiet summer scene, beneath me a raging magma chamber was expanding to explode. Were the subject matter less dire, I would say this book was pure poetry. In fact it was a restrained expression of a passionate — magmatic — compassion.

Chomsky is obviously a genius, a person born with great talent, and he is also a person of supreme dedication. ...
I also recommend the essay When Chomsky Wept, by Fred Branfman:
... we both had one of the most unique experiences of our lives — he on the back of my motorcycle, me driving him about the streets of Vientiane, as he sought to learn as much as he could about U.S. war-making in Laos, still at that point largely unknown to the world outside. It was only in the next month that Richard Nixon finally admitted for the first time that the U.S. had been bombing Laos for the previous six years, though he and Henry Kissinger continued to lie by claiming that the bombing was only striking military targets.

I have a number of particularly vivid memories of Noam from our week together. One was watching him read a newspaper. He would gaze at a page, seem to memorize it, and then a second later turn it and gaze at the next page. On one occasion I gave him a 500-page book to read on the war in Laos at about 10 at night, and met him the next morning at breakfast prior to our visit to political officer Jim Murphy at the U.S. Embassy. During the interview the issue of the number of North Vietnamese troops in Laos came up. The Embassy claimed that 50,000 had invaded Laos, when the evidence clearly showed there were no more than a few thousand. I almost fell off my chair when Noam quoted a footnote making that point, several hundred pages in, from the book I had given him the night before. I had heard the term “photographic memory” before. But I had never seen it so much in action, or put to such good use. (Interestingly enough, Jim showed Noam internal Embassy documents also confirming the lower number, which Noam later cited in his long chapter on Laos in “At War With Asia.”)

I was also struck by his self-deprecation. He had a near-aversion to talking about himself — contrary to most of the “Big Foot” journalists I had met. He had little interest in small talk, gossip or discussion of personalities, and was focused almost entirely on the issues at hand. He downplayed his linguistic work, saying it was unimportant compared to opposing the mass murder going on in Indochina. He had no interest whatsoever in checking out Vientiane’s notorious nightlife, tourist sites or relaxing by the pool. He was clearly driven, a man on a mission. He struck me as a genuine intellectual, a guy who lived in his head. And I could relate. I also lived in my head, and had a mission.

But what most struck me by far was what occurred when we traveled out to a camp that housed refugees from the Plain of Jars. I had taken dozens of journalists and other folks out to the camps at that point, and found that almost all were emotionally distanced from the refugees’ suffering. Whether CBS’s Bernard Kalb, NBC’s Welles Hangen, or the New York Times’ Sidney Schanberg, the journalists listened politely, asked questions, took notes and then went back to their hotels to file their stories. They showed little emotion or interest in what the villagers had been through other than what they needed to write their stories. Our talks in the car back to their hotels usually concerned either dinner that night or the next day’s events.

I was thus stunned when, as I was translating Noam’s questions and the refugees’ answers, I suddenly saw him break down and begin weeping. I was struck not only that most of the others I had taken out to the camps had been so defended against what was, after all, this most natural, human response. It was that Noam himself had seemed so intellectual to me, to so live in a world of ideas, words and concepts, had so rarely expressed any feelings about anything. I realized at that moment that I was seeing into his soul. And the visual image of him weeping in that camp has stayed with me ever since. When I think of Noam this is what I see.

One of the reasons his reaction so struck me was that he did not know those Laotians. It was relatively easy for me, having lived among them and loved people like Paw Thou so much, to commit to trying to stop the bombing. But I have stood in awe not only of Noam, but of the many thousands of Americans who spent so many years of their lives trying to stop the killing of Indochinese they did not know in a war they never saw.

As we drove back from the camp that day, he remained quiet, still shaken by what he had learned. He had written extensively of U.S. war-making in Indochina before this. But this was the first time he had met its victims face-to-face. And in the silence, an unspoken bond that we have never discussed was forged between us. ...
Let me qualify this post by noting that some of Chomsky's writing on other topics seems simply crazy to me. But on Vietnam and Laos he was right.


Neil L. said...

Interesting and compelling post. Thanks for the comments and insights. When you say that "Chomsky's writing on other topics seems simply crazy to me," why not be specific?

stevesailer said...

Chomsky is a great man.

Hacienda said...

Chomsky was right about Vietnam and Laos. You can also add to that list- Korea, the Philippines, Latin America, the Westward expansion across the continent, etc.

Here's Twilight Zone episode about white people in the 1950s. LOL.

ben_g said...

Would a hidden war be possible in 2013? Now it seems like they have to lie about the reasons for it rather than just not tell us about it.

disqus_D7NqXgXcHt said...

Is that the same Chomsky who likes Pol Pot?

Diogenes said...

"stoking inter-group tensions...between groups based on economic class"

that's exactly what the "white men" don't want, isn't it? or are the rich "patsies"? if so for whom?

Diogenes said...

"You can also add to that list- Korea"

how? would leaving korea alone have turned out better? some indians even claim the raj ruined their country. my guess is it would have been even worse without it.

Diogenes said...

"they" lie to themselves about the reasons.

5371 said...

Yeah, be a good little bot cranking out your talking points on cue.

Hacienda said...

Who knows? Some things are a waste of time to think about.

I like the present configuration of S.Korea. Not the configuration of Korea overall.

Hard to see how British Raj is net positive. Looks like it's up to America, Canada, Australia, NZealand to pick up the pieces. Good luck trying!

Pincher Martin said...

You just gave a categorically negative judgment about most of U.S. foreign policy over the last two centuries while casting out a non sequitur aspersion against "white people in the 1950s." And when questioned about a detail in your comment, you now say some things are a waste of time to think about?

Apparently for you, they are. I suggest you stop thinking about them altogether.

Pincher Martin said...

Chomsky's views on SE Asia are tripe.

You didn't like the war in Vietnam or the secret bombing of Cambodia? I get it.

Perhaps you think the entire Cold War was unnecessary or misconceived? I don't get this, but I would listen to a good argument.

And I don't blame anyone for feeling anti-interventionist after the last decade of foreign policy debacles.

But why would anyone with an IQ above their body temperature have to lean intellectually on a Pol Pot sympathizer whose sole gift at foreign policy analysis was to always blame the U.S.?

Is that where moral clarity comes from? By decontextualizing U.S. foreign policy so that every U.S. action seems unnecessary or unprovoked, and pacifism finally becomes the only alternative to weeping at the consequences of your actions (while never bothering to care about the consequences of your non action)?

Hacienda said...

Okay. But calculus solutions will seem like non-sequitors to those who haven't gone beyond Algebra 2.

I recommend you see the entire TZ episode. Ironically titles "It's a Good Life." I realize a tiny snippet is not enough to get much meaning from it. Think of it as Zen moment.

In my eyes, the episode is about white political/economic/racial/science totalitarianism. Not hard to see for non-whites. Apparently nearly impossible to see for whites such as yourself. No big deal. We are in the age of po mo. Detroit, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris, Rome, etc. We taking over. Not Chinese, not blacks, not Indians, not Jews. ALL of US at once. LOL. F+ck you.

Scharlach said...

I don't think the first 3 cities or the 6th city in your list quite make the point you're trying to make (I've lived in two of them). On a larger note, it seems like your sense of history (and Chomsky's) is narrow in scope. White Europeans in the 19th and 20th centuries simply did what many other races and empires have been doing for thousands of years. Genghis Khan? The Crow-Creek Massacre? The Caliphate? The Caribs? The Japanese? Hell, even the Aztecs left a genetic fingerprint on the weaker tribes they conquered and from whom they demanded tribute ( Why is your moralistic ire only directed at one group but not the others?

I think our host is smart enough to know this history, which is why his post's tone is suggestive of the tragedy not only of recent war but the general violence of humanity writ large. Hacienda, your tone, on the other hand, is suggestive of a thinly veiled anti-white bitterness and jealousy.

Scharlach said...

Generative linguistics has gone well past the point of diminishing returns. Language clearly has structure, and Chomsky's early work pioneered an excellent paradigm for studying that structure. But the obsessive search for "Universal Grammar" has led the field into a veritable hall of mirrors.

Hacienda said...

I'm well aware of the bloody history of Mongoloids. My good friend Nietszche thought Europe's signal achievement was the vanquishment of the hunter/nomad states. But Nietszche didn't live through the 20th C either. That makes my friend something of a retard.

For me, the West only makes sense as a multi-culti civilization. Anything else makes no sense to me. No bitterness or jealousy, just having a lot of fun at whitey expense. Justice and just desserts. There should be TV shows, Broadway musicals etc about this. But there isn't. Oriental courtesy. It's just the way it works.

Diogenes said...

"just deserts" you mean.

Diogenes said...

yeah. there's an accessible book about how chomsky's idea is just wrong. i picked it up at my public library. it might have been this that led me to it and everett's book.

my one course in generative, transformational grammar led me to believe chomsky was just good at publicity. it used to be every school taught sentence diagramming and for latin not just english.

Diogenes said...

there are only two ways to get oneself known as a public intellectual. 1. as ideologists, apologist, etc. 2. say things no one else says, the more outrageous the better. but either way you have to be consistent and make good arguments. if chomsky were "fair and balanced" he'd get no attention at all.

Diogenes said...

"But on Vietnam and Laos he was right."

i've never heard him mention that the war was easily winnable, but for the pretense of defending s vietnam. this is the understanding which has been repeated to me many times by the one vet i know. in Errol Morris's movie mcnamara still says the domino theory was the reason for it, and lbj certainly didn't pursue it for political gain. how many were killed on the other side is irrelevant if one believes that without containment the whole world would turn red.

vietnam is like hiroshima. had the horror of the bomb had gone unknown how much more horrible would have been its eventual use? and, of course, the firebombings killed just as many.

Pincher Martin said...

"Okay. But calculus solutions will seem like non-sequitors to those who haven't gone beyond Algebra 2."

But to those who question a point about your math, the proper response isn't "Some things are a waste of time to think about." unless, of course, you're an idiot, in which case it may be the only answer you have available.

"In my eyes, the episode is about white political/economic/racial/science totalitarianism. Not hard to see for non-whites. Apparently nearly impossible to see for whites such as yourself. No big deal. We are in the age of po mo. Detroit, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris, Rome, etc. We taking over. Not Chinese, not blacks, not Indians, not Jews. ALL of US at once. LOL. F+ck you."

Good luck with that. Perhaps after you're installed as Minister of Propaganda for the new anti-white regime, you can use Twilight Zone episodes for training purposes. And after that, try to work on getting a girlfriend.

Scharlach said...

No, I still think your "justice" just sounds an awful lot like bitterness and jealousy. Or spite. I get it that you're mad that your home country is Westernized. I'd be mad, too, if someone tried to Easternize my country. But I'd deal with it by trying to fight the enemy in my homeland. You've (I'm assuming) chosen the spite-filled choice to come here, Westernize yourself even more, then bitch about it to whoever will listen for the rest of your life. Eastern cultures are pretty awesome, in my opinion. You display a womanly lack of pride in yourself and your culture to use this "evil white man has oppressed us" rhetoric. Again, if I were in your shoes, I would at least have enough pride in my heritage to fight back, not whine about how unfair the whole thing is. By whining about oppression and justice, unfairness or whatever, you're basically admitting that, yes, the White Man's culture is more powerful and successful than my own. Is that what you believe? Is that whence the bitterness and jealousy come? There's no call for it. The West is waning. Odds are, East Asians will be home to the next world super powers (look at China being all colonial in Africa!). Better get used to it, and start acting like a man from a culture worthy of dominance.

Hacienda said...

I'm not mad about S.Korea's state. I am mad that there are so many whites who still insist on trying box non-whites into their tiny preconceived notions. But you are right. Whites are now such a small minority of world population. Inflated as they are by poofter internet, etc. I should not let it bother me. I should ignore you.

Pincher Martin said...

Why should we care how Chomsky ranks as a public intellectual? I didn't know this discussion was being framed as a popularity contest; I thought it was about the quality of Chomsky's ideas and his moral clarity.

I can think of several public intellectuals, however, who don't fit the criteria you give: Judge Richard Posner, David Brooks, Ian Buruma, James Fallows, Carl Sagan, James Q. Wilson, Paul Krugman, Jared Diamond, Malcolm Gladwell, Bjorn Lomborg, Thomas Friedman, Francis Fukuyama, Steve Pinker, Fareed Zakaria, Larry Summers, Amartya Sen, etc. Some of these men (e.g., Krugman) are dyspeptic or partisan. Other men (e.g., Friedman) are so dull and uninformed that I wonder why anyone reads them at all. But their views are neither outrageous nor consistently ideological.

But regardless of how you feel about the quality of the thinkers I've listed, no one can read that list of names I provided above and think he needs to adhere to your criteria to get the public's attention and sell his books.

Chomsky primarily gets attention from the uninformed public on the left side of the political spectrum - and the further to the left, the more attention he gets. The people who write about foreign affairs on a regular basis ignore Chomsky for the most part. And I doubt anyone outside of a tiny audience of readers would've cared about Chomsky's foreign policy views if he hadn't first made his name in linguistics.

Hacienda said...

Don't put words in people's mouths. I said your preconceptions.

Richard Seiter said...

Hmm... "Why are you mad about white people's pre-conceptions?" seems like a pretty fair restatement of "I am mad that there are so many whites who still insist on trying box non-whites into their tiny preconceived notions." (no "your" in that quote) Or did you have something else in mind?

Scharlach said...

And, of course, we all know that no Korean fits Filipinos and South Asians into any kind of boxes!

Google "X racism against Y" and plug in any ethnic groups you like, you'll find partisan whining. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, Hacienda, I'm saying everyone does it, which more or less undermines the entire premise of the whining. Be thankful we're civilized, you and I, and not taking out our ethnic tensions on each other like they do in Sudan or being so weak and parochial as to let an outsider stoke the tensions (c.f., Steve's post above). That in and of itself should give us a lot of common ground.

Richard Seiter said...

No need to be insulting (perhaps you are used to being the smartest one in the room, I know I'm not in this group of blog posters and commenters and I'm pretty sure you're not either). Please do go more slowly and step by step. I want to see how you get from "so many whites" to "your".

Hacienda said...

Okay. The first statement I clearly state that the object of my mad are those who still limit and box in nonwhites in predjucial terms. IOW, it's limited to a specific kind of white person. And the person- not an act or a concept. More specifically that person being Scharlach and other whites like Scharlach.

In Scharlach's rephrasing I am mad about white people's pre-conceptions. IOW, a general concept, removed from person. Impersonalized and abstracted. Scharlach's goes on imply there is an equivalence of preconception's and then divorces that preconception from anything concrete. Removes the preconception from content. Just an abstract "we all have preconceptions" so leave it be. It gives the appearance that Scharlach is taking the higher road.

Does that make sense? Do you want further exegesis?

Richard Seiter said...

Let's go back to your original text: "I am mad that there are so many whites who still insist on trying box non-whites into their tiny preconceived notions."

If you really want to do a rigorous step by step analysis please start from there. What I see is:
1. "I am mad that there are so many whites who still insist on trying box non-whites into their tiny preconceived notions."
2. I am mad that there are so many whites who still insist on trying to box (corrected grammar mistake) non-whites into their preconceptions.
3. I am mad at at least one preconception many ("so many") whites hold. (why would trying to box non-whites into the preconception matter to you otherwise?)
Leading to Scharbach's:
4. "Why are you mad about white people's pre-conceptions?"
which IMHO is a reasonable question/restatement given that you have indicated being mad about at least one preconception held by many whites. I of course can not claim this is how Scharbach reasoned, just that the conclusion seems reasonable to me.

And to be blunt, your reasoning does not make sense to me and I don't think the problem is on my end. Your original statement is vague as to whether it is specific or general (I would argue "so many" makes it general, but agree that is arguable. Please keep in mind I can only respond to what you wrote/write, not what was in your mind when you wrote it). As far as divorcing preconception from concrete, what in your original statement was concrete?

If you could attempt to explain more thoroughly with clarity that might be helpful. Please don't confuse obfuscation and bullying (or unsuccessful attempts to do so ;-) with intelligence.

Scharlach said...

Hacienda: I am mad that there are so many whites who still insist on trying box non-whites into their tiny preconceived notions.

Me:Why are you mad about white people's pre-conceptions?

Richard Seiter, your reasoning is exactly my reasoning.

Note that Hacienda immediately followed his original statement with this: But you are right. Whites are now such a small minority of world population. This lent further warrant to my belief that he was talking about whites in general, especially in light of his posts that started this whole thing, in which he wrote the following:

"No bitterness or jealousy, just having a lot of fun at whitey expense."

"Here's Twilight Zone episode about white people in the 1950s."

"In my eyes, the episode is about white political/economic/racial/science totalitarianism. Not hard to see for non-whites."

The entire discussion is one of white/non-white.

Anyway, none of this has any bearing on the discussion regarding my claim that every race/ethnicity is guilty of xenophobia, which is not at all surprising given humanity's history. Hacienda is just trying to divert attention from the fact that someone called him out on his womanly whining. He's not sure how to respond to the challenge.

Note that the "specific kind of white person" who gets him mad is the one who "limits and boxes in nonwhites in predjucial terms." He then says that I'm that kind of white person, even though I have not said a single thing to box in anyone. My first post claimed that empire and bloodshed are all-too human, not just a "white European" problem like Hacienda was implying. (If anything, this is a move toward universality, not toward putting anyone in a box.) My next posts were about Hacienda himself, claiming that he was a whiner, and asking why he seems so bitter towards whites. This was obviously a challenge to Hacienda's motives, not an attempt to box him in to a stereotype. (Now, I did praise East Asian culture; if praise is "putting East Asians" in a box, so be it.) Then the convo devolved into this nonsense. So, again, I'm not sure where I earned the title "THAT kind of white person" who limits and boxes in nonwhites. (That I'm Hispanic would probably come as quite a shock to Hacienda.)

Note also that Hacienda obviously knows that I'm right about my main claim, which is why he has gone from a wholesale broadside against "white political/economic/racial/science totalitarianism" and European foreign policy to a slight expression of anger at " whites who still insist on trying box non-whites into their tiny preconceived notions." But the question still remains: why do such whites bother him so much? They don't affect him at all, except in a psychological sense. Maybe this is all about Hacienda's narcissism?

Hacienda said...

I thought I was pretty thorough in my previous explanation. To add the my case that the statement was an expression of anger directed at Scharlach, I finished off with "I should ignore you (Scharlach)".

The important distinction is not the specificity of the comment. But that it was directed at Scharlach.
If you care too, reread my last post. It might be clearer with that in mind.

Hacienda said...

And yes, I know I make a lot of typos. Please ignore them as the meaning is still clear. Plus often my typos add unintended double entendres that I often find interesting.

Richard Seiter said...

You may consider your response thorough, but I think it's hard to call it clear. Let's try a simple one (I am not trying to be insulting, I am curious if we can actually communicate successfully). How do you reconcile these two statements of yours:
"I am mad that there are so many whites who still insist on trying box non-whites into their tiny preconceived notions."
"I said your preconceptions."

P.S. Fair enough on the typos (you'll note I corrected mine on Scharlach's name, and almost made another just now...). But the grammatical shortcuts make some of your reasoning harder to understand IMHO.

Hacienda said...


Little lady, lay off. Hispanics famously aren't renowned for reasoning abilities outside of verbose Quixotic displays of grandiosity. You don't want to add to that impression. That you're Hispanic doesn't surprise me in the least. Surprise!

What exactly your main claim that I know you're right about? Refresh me, please. And again stop putting thoughts in my head, words in my mouth. Generally attributing things to me that aren't there.

Hacienda said...

Scharlach observed that I was anti-white and jealous of whites. I denied it. Now I can see
how my posts could be interpreted that way. BTW, it's common for white hispanics (don't know
if Scharlach is one) from my experience in Los Angeles to attribute negative commentary about
whites as arising from jealously or anti-white sentiment. Especially if from a Mongoloid, mestizo, or
non-white generally. Maybe something that you encountered and recognize or simply never noticed.

Anyway, despite my denial. Scharlach repeated her belief that I was anti-white and questioned
my masculinity. This is another common ploy with white Hispanics in Los Angeles and just about anywhere.To question the masculinity of Asians when they need to gain status in some way.

Anyway things did devolve from there. But I stand by my commentary. I feel that I may be explaining things
to a naif in you. Not to be condescending, of course.

Richard Seiter said...

I'll assume by your lack of response to my question you can't reconcile those two statements of yours and I'll note that the second was made as explicitly applicable to the first responding to someone else's criticism of your original statement.
It's good that you noticed how your posts could be interpreted as anti-white. I think people (of all races including white) protesting against the racism of whites against others (and there is plenty of that to protest) come across that way all too often (and this throws gasoline on the fire). I actually think realizing the universality (seeming? does anyone have any good exceptions that stand close examination?) of racism in human cultures is an important part of the racism conversation that is too often absent.

I really have trouble listening to your protestations of the bad behavior of others when you seem to have no hesitation in throwing the first stone.

Hacienda said...

Okay Richard. You get last word. I've got things to attend to.

Scharlach said...

Stop trying to fit us Messicans into your pre-conceived little box!

Diogenes said...

i think randians would do well to read the social animal and gladwell on chris langan.

but if one believes, as i do, that the range of acceptable opinion is too narrow as a result of ideology then there's the people above and the "loonies" and nothing in between. what the range of publicly expressed opinion is and what the range of opinion is are confused by most.

Diogenes said...

"But as I pointed out, there are quite a few public intellectuals who don't fit your model at all."

right. for me those people are ideologists/apologists. for all of them things are fairly close to the way they should be, it's just a matter of tinkering.

the very fact that you would label anything steve has ever said as extremist proves my point. the acceptable public discourse is taken for the possible discourse.

people listen to three things: what they agree with already, the official story, and what is entertaining.

a short list of widespread yet unacceptable opinion:
1. pro-eugenics
2. anti-immigration, nationalist
3. any idea which can be labeled marxist
4. anti-free trade
5. any concern expressed over the gross over-representation of jews among the world elite

" Chomsky's a favorite among uninformed America haters who like to get their hate unalloyed."

proves my point.

Pincher Martin said...

"for me those people are ideologists/apologists. for all of them things are fairly close to the way they should be, it's just a matter of tinkering."

I can't agree with this description of all the public intellectuals I listed (Steven Pinker is an ideologist/apologist?) but let's for the moment assume you're right. You're still judging these intellectuals by your own ideological standard that assumes something more than "tinkering" is necessary on the subjects they write about.

Perhaps for some subjects, subtle shifts in the conventional wisdom are illuminating and intellectually profitable. Bold declamations against the conventional wisdom become a little dull after you get out of school, which perhaps explains why so many stark ideologues (Chomsky, Rand, etc.) mostly have students and obsessives for acolytes.

"people listen to three things: what they agree with already, the official story, and what is entertaining."

That's not always true. There's a small but important class of intellectuals who are empirically minded. That is, they listen to and consider arguments that they either had not considered before or even previously disputed, and they modify their beliefs when they see enough evidence to warrant such a change.

Are these a majority of public intellectuals? Absolutely not. But they are an important component of the class.

Diego Delgado said...

You mean the same Chomsky was condemning Pol Pot while the US was supporting him and aiding his fight against the Vietnamese?

Diego Delgado said...

Chomsky never supported Pol Pot, the US did however. The "Chomsky supported Pol Pot" is an internet meme with no basis in reality that was spread by a number of right wing blogs.

Kissinger: "You should also tell the Cambodians that we will be friends
with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won't let that stand in our
way. We are prepared to improve relations with them."

"I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot" - Brzezinski

Pincher Martin said...

"Chomsky never supported Pol Pot, the US did however."

Your link does not live up to the billing you want to give it. A couple of stray diplomatic comments doesn't equal a policy of support.

Kissinger's comment is little more than an indirect plea for better relations in order to box North Vietnam (and the Soviet Union) in. This kind of amoral geopolitical maneuvering is typical and not indicative of anything beyond an immediate short-term common interest. By this logic, the U.S. also supported Stalin and Mao.

Brzezinski's comment is even less direct. Surely the reason he encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot was because he knew they already would and that the U.S. could not. In fact, the second quote links to a diplomatic record that shows Kissinger saying quite clearly that the U.S. will have to rely on Thailand and China to support Pol Pot because we find him too odious, even worse than the North Vietnamese.

"The "Chomsky supported Pol Pot" is an internet meme with no basis in reality that was spread by a number of right wing blogs."

That's true only if you ignore Chomsky's own writings, as reported by William Shawcross and others. Tell me, is William Shawcross a right wing blogger or indeed a right winger of any variety?

Diego Delgado said...

Interesting the lengths you're willing to go to justify supporting genocide. Unequivocal comments of support are simply "amoral geopolitical maneuvering" (try and work in more euphemisms to cover war crimes), whereas Chomsky's condemnation of Pol Pot, perverted and taken out of context, must clearly and only be an example of support.

Pincher Martin said...

You're being disingenuous. As I've already pointed out, there's nothing unequivocal about those comments. Here is Kissinger, for example, in the second link:

"The Chinese want to use Cambodia to balance off Vietnam and are keeping troops in connection with road building in the north. We don't like Cambodia, for the government in many ways is worse than Vietnam, but we would like it to remain independent. We don't discourage Thailand or China from drawing closer to Cambodia."

Wow, that's really unequivocal.

Compare that to Chomsky praising the Khmer Rouge by giving a very favorable picture of their policies, questioning the reliability of refugee reports about the genocide, and, finally, laying any blame for mistakes by the Khmer Rouge on America. That last bit is a typical Chomskytie touch. If someone in the world is being murdered, America must be to blame.

Chomsky's most prominent and informed critic at the time was not a right wing blogger, but William Shawcross, a man who was a ferocious critic of U.S. policy in SE Asia.


You're also changing the subject to pursue a straw man. No one claimed that U.S. foreign policy is routinely moralistic. The discussion was primarily about Chomsky. I don't blame you for wanting to change the subject, since you're obviously ill-prepared to defend the one that was being discussed, but it's really bad form.

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