Noam Chomsky Cont’d – Immigration And Arab Spring

On July 18, Democratic Perspective continued its interview with Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky by asking how we should deal with the fear of immigration.  He responded by saying, “We deal with it by a sympathetic understanding and education.  We can understand their problems and fears.  It’s been the same all through history.  The understanding that people have rights; that animals have rights; that nature has rights, that’s a gradually expanding sphere in human history and it has to go farther.”

On the Middle East and the so-called Arab Spring, Chomsky stated, “The US, historically, and indeed up to the present moment has been supporting dictatorships – blocking democracy and development.  We do so because we want to control their energy supplies.  Those are the words of the National Security Council from a report during the Eisenhower administration.”

“In the case of the Arab Spring,” he continued, “The US and its allies are terrified of it.  And there are good reasons.  To explain it, all you have to do is take a look at public opinion.  In Egypt, 90 percent think of the US as the main threat they face.  80 percent are so afraid of US policy they think the region would be safer if Iran had nuclear weapons.”

“If you look over the whole region,” Chomsky stated, “The numbers are not quite that high, but they’re relatively the same.  What it means is, if public opinion was affecting public policy, the US should be kicked out of there.  The policy President Obama has followed is our standard policy when a dictator is in trouble.  You support your favorite dictator as long as possible.  When it becomes impossible, then what you do is send the dictator off somewhere, issue ringing declarations about how much you love democracy and then try to preserve the same regime as much as possible.  And that’s exactly what’s happening in the Arab Spring.”

“If we think democracy is a good thing, we should have totally different policies,” Chomsky continued.  “That’s the government we’re talking about.  Not us.  There’s a huge gap between public opinion and public policy.”

In response to a question about the US politics drifting to the far right, Chomsky again cited public opinion studies, “If you follow public opinion studies, you find the drift is not very detectable.  Our population is strongly in favor of taxing the rich. The public option, which would’ve opened the opportunity for the US to have a sane health care program like other industrialized countries (which incidentally would’ve eliminated the deficit); most were in favor of it.” 

He did admit that there has been a shift on social issues which business doesn’t care much about.  “Propaganda and other devices stimulate them,” he said.  “You have to be careful when talking about policies and a drift to the right.  Reality is considerably nuanced.”

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