ZNet Commentary: 09.30.01 Chomsky Interview – Part 1

There has been an immense movement of troops and extreme use of military rhetoric, up to comments about terminating governments, etc.
Yet, to many people there appears to be considerable restraint…what happened?

Michael Albert: There has been an immense movement of troops and extreme use of
military rhetoric, up to comments about terminating governments, etc. Yet, to many people there appears to be considerable restraint…what happened?

Noam Chomsky: From the first days after the attack, the Bush administration has been
warned by NATO leaders, specialists on the region, and presumably its own intelligence agencies (not to speak of many people like you and me) that if they react with a massive assault that kills many innocent people, that will be answering bin Laden’s most fervent prayers. They
will be falling into a "diabolical trap," as the French foreign minister put it.

That would be true — perhaps even more so — if they happen to kill bin Laden, still without having provided credible evidence of his
involvement in the crimes of Sept. 11.

He would then be perceived as a martyr even among the enormous majority of Muslims who deplore those crimes, as bin Laden himself has done, for what it is worth, denying any
involvement in the crimes or even knowledge of them, and condemning "the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans" as an act that "Islam strictly forbids…even in the course of a battle" (BBC, Sept. 29).

His voice will continue to resound on tens of thousands of cassettes already circulating throughout the Muslim world, and in many
interviews, including the last few days.

An assault that kills innocent Afghans — not Taliban, but their terrorized victims — would be
virtually a call for new recruits to the horrendous cause of the bin Laden network and other graduates of the terrorist networks set up by
the CIA and its associates 20 years ago to fight a Holy War against the Russians, meanwhile following their own agenda, from the time they
assassinated President Sadat of Egypt in 1981, murdering one of the most enthusiastic of the creators of the "Afghanis" — mostly recruits from extremist radical Islamist elements around the world who were recruited to fight in Afghanistan.

After a little while, the message apparently got through to the Bush administration, which has — wisely from their point of view — chosen to follow a different course.

However, "restraint" seems to me a questionable word. On Sept. 16, the New York Times reported that "Washington has also demanded [from Pakistan] a cutoff of fuel supplies,…and the elimination of truck convoys that provide much of the food and other supplies to
Afghanistan’s civilian population. "

Astonishingly, that report elicited no detectable reaction in the West, a grim reminder of the nature of the Western civilization that leaders and elite commentators claim to uphold, yet another lesson that is not lost among those who have been at
the wrong end of the guns and whips for centuries.

In the following days, those demands were implemented. On Sept. 27, the same NYT
correspondent reported that officials in Pakistan "said today that they would not relent in their decision to seal off the country’s 1,400- mile
border with Afghanistan, a move requested by the Bush administration because, the officials said, they wanted to be sure that none of Mr. bin
Laden’s men were hiding among the huge tide of refugees" (John Burns, Islamabad).

According to the world’s leading newspaper, then, Washington demanded that Pakistan slaughter massive numbers of Afghans, millions of them already on the brink of starvation, by cutting off the limited sustenance that was keeping them alive.

Almost all aid missions withdrew or were expelled under the threat of bombing. Huge numbers of miserable people have been fleeing to the borders in terror, after Washington’s threat to bomb the shreds of existence remaining in Afghanistan, and to convert the Northern Alliance into a heavily armed military force that will, perhaps, be unleashed to renew the atrocities that tore the
country apart and led much of the population to welcome the Taliban when they drove out the murderous warring factions that Washington and Moscow now hope to exploit for their own purposes.

When they reach the sealed borders, refugees are trapped to die in silence. Only a trickle can
escape through remote mountain passes. How many have already succumbed we cannot guess, and few seem to care. Apart from the relief agencies, I have seen no attempt even to guess.

Within a few weeks the harsh winter will arrive. There are some reporters and aid workers in the refugee camps across the borders. What they describe is horrifying enough, but they know, and we know, that they are seeing the lucky ones, the few who were able to escape — and who express their hopes that "even the cruel Americans must feel some pity for our ruined country," and relent in this savage silent genocide (Boston Globe, Sept. 27, p. 1).

Perhaps the most apt description was given by the wonderful and courageous Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy, referring to Operation Infinite Justice proclaimed by the Bush Administration: "Witness the infinite justice of the new century. Civilians starving to death while they’re waiting to be killed" (Guardian, Sept. 29).

[ also see related links:

Osama bin Laden 101: Understanding bin Laden – http://theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1500

First hand Reportage from Afghanistan: 5.5 Million Starving – http://theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1483

Noam Chomsky On the Bombings – http://theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1474 ]

Author: Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert

News Service: Znet

URL: http://www.zmag.org/albintchom.htm