March 22, 2006

Chomsky Calls for Iraqi Reparations

by Margot Edelman
Famed linguist and provocative public intellectual Noam Chomsky criticized the Iraq War at an Institute of Politics (IOP) policy group yesterday, calling the occupation a bungled version of Nazi Germany in Vichy France.

“America had endless resources to rebuild the place,” he said. “But instead they have created a catastrophe. Take the Nazis. They had no problem running occupied territories.”

Speaking extemporaneously to a group of 15 students, the MIT professor said that America should immediately withdraw from Iraq and pay the nation reparations.

“We owe them for the invasion and for 10 years of sanctions that devastated a society and strengthened a tyrant,” he said.

He argued that the impetus behind the Iraq invasion was not to promote democracy, as the Bush administration claimed. Chomsky instead said that the American government ordered an invasion of Iraq in order to maintain its hegemony against China and to establish a U.S.-friendly puppet government.

“The U.S. wants a clan state like El Salvador,” Chomsky said. “You can call it democracy if you want. People are brainwashed enough to agree.”

A soft-spoken Chomsky drew comparisons between Second World War Germany and Japan and the American forces.

“If the Germans had taken a poll in Vichy France, I doubt that 87 percent of them would have wanted the Germans to leave,” Chomsky said, in reference to a recent poll that found almost 90 percent of Iraqis support American withdrawal.

The vice president of the IOP student advisory committee, Ari S. Ruben ’08, said that while he respected Chomsky’s intellect, he disagreed with his world view.

“It is not wrong for the U.S. to promote democracy around the world,” he said. “I would have liked for him to say what the U.S. should have done about Saddam Hussein’s atrocities and persistent threat.”

But Rami R. Sarafa ’07, co-chair of the Iraq Reconstruction policy group, praised Chomsky for his analysis.

“His perspective on the issue was akin to a typical Iraqi, rather than an American who’s looking in, who’s fed various media sources,” Sarafa said.

Deena S. Shakir ’08, also a co-chair, said that Chomsky’s ideas will help guide the group’s proposals for governance in Iraq.

“He described a harsh reality about Iraq’s future,” she said. “We have to consider this and reconcile our own formation of policy with the terrible reality of the country’s future.”


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