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Noam Chomsky

GB Geo-Blog

Noam Chomsky

Milos Jankovic, étudiant à la Maîtrise en affaires publiques et internationales du Collège Glendon, Université York, a eu l’occasion récemment de rencontrer le célèbre intellectuel public, Noam Chomsky. Je vous présente, suite à cette courte présentation, la première partie de l’entrevue effectuée par Milos (en anglais). En ce début de discussion, Chomsky met particulièrement l’accent sur la fin de la Guerre froide comme porte d’entrée pour comprendre cette longue période historique.

Milos est un grand admirateur de Chomsky. Ce fut tout un honneur pour lui de pouvoir le rencontrer. Selon ce que je comprends, il a simplement demandé la rencontre et on lui a accordée. Milos a pris l’avion pour Boston, à ses frais, pour cet entretien. J’ai dis à Milos que si Chomsky avait accepté de lui accorder l’entrevue, c’est qu’il était tout simplement épaté de son culot! Il paraît que le grand professeur a été particulièrement généreux de son temps et de sa personne. Milos a reçu à douze ans, comme cadeau de Noël de sa mère, un livre de Chomsky. J’admets volontier qu’à douze ans, je ne lisais pas Chomsky; je me concentrais plutôt sur les ‘Hardy Boys’, ou sur Bob Morane! Peu importe… Milos y a trouvé son compte et depuis il a lu l’ensemble de l’œuvre. Pour Milos, qui a de bien grandes aspirations, Noam Chomsky est source d’inspiration. Cette rencontre était, donc, tout à fait spéciale et Milos est rentré d’Harvard ravi.

À venir lors de ma prochaine intervention, quelques réflexions sur le concept de l’intellectuel public, et le reste de l’entrevue de Milos Jankevic avec Noam Chomsky.

MJ: Some label the Cold War, the ‘long peace’. Is peace, in your opinion, only achievable when two states, or two hegemonic superpowers, oppose each other?

NC: I think there is something to that thesis but not a lot, in my opinion. There is something to it in that the Soviet Union did have a deterrent effect. For example, right after the fall of the Soviet Union, the US invaded Panama, a couple of months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. And, it was a normal invasion, the kind of invasion the US carries out in the region, and in fact elsewhere all the time. A couple thousand people got killed according to Panamanian investigators. The US imposed a client-regime, and so on – familiar. But it was a little different in some ways. One way was pointed out by Elliott Abrams, who had been in the State Department before he was implicated in the Irancontra affair. And, he pointed out that this is the first time that the US had been able to carry out an intervention without any concern that there might be a Soviet reaction somewhere. So we are freer to use violence. In fact that had already been pointed out by others including Dimitri Simes, the strategic analyst and political scientist, writing in the New York Times, this was before the fall of the wall, he said that it was clear that the Soviet Union was in difficulty. He said if they disappear, it will be a great advantage for the West: we would be able to use our power more freely. That’s all correct. I doubt that Britain and the US would have put a half a million troops in the desert in Saudi Arabia to invade Iraq, if the Soviet Union was still there as a deterrent. So it did free up possibilities of intervention and invasion, in that respect, I think there is something to the thesis.

On the other hand, if you look back right through to the Cold War, there were constant aggressions, violence and subversion, all the time. In fact the worst crime of the post-Second World War period was clearly the US invasions of Indochina, it was during the Cold War. Millions of people killed, three societies practically destroyed. Rural Cambodia alone had as much bombing as all bombings in the Pacific during World War II. If you look at the history of the Cold War, not the rhetoric, but the actual events, what was happening was that the US was constantly intervening, overthrowing governments, invading and carrying out subversion within its own domains. And Russia was doing the same within its own domains. Now US domains were most of the world, the Russian domains were Eastern Europe. So there is asymmetry. But the policies were kind of similar, and furthermore, each one appealed to the opposing power as justification. So when the Russians invaded Hungary, it was portrayed as defense against Western European fascists, led by the US. When the US invaded Vietnam, it was to protect it from the Sino-Soviet conspiracy, or something like that.

What happened in 1990, I think, and this shows up in the documents, is that the policies continued, but the pretext changed. In fact, that’s pretty clear in the documentary record. Very few people look at what, I think, are some of the most important documents about the Cold War, namely the ones produced right as it ended. As soon as the Berlin Wall fell, the Bush administration, Bush I, who was then president, issued a new national security strategy and a budget, and they are quite interesting. Essentially, they say, okay, the Soviet Union is gone, from now on everything will be the same, but with new pretexts. So for example, they say we still need a huge military force, not because the Russians are coming, because they are not, but because of what they called the technological sophistication of third world powers. Fortunately, we have a disciplined intellectual class, and nobody laughed, but that’s why we needed it. They say we have to maintain what they called ‘the defence-industrial-base’, that’s a euphemism for high-tech industry like MIT, computers and the internet. So we have to maintain all of that, just because we need it, not because the Russians are coming. But the most interesting part, I think, was about the Middle East. They say we have to maintain intervention forces aimed at the Middle East. And then, in an interesting phrase, it says where the major threats to our interests could not have been laid at the Kremlin’s door, contrary to fifty years of lying. It wasn’t the Russians that we were defending the Middle East from, but domestic nationalism, and we have to continue with that. The danger is radical nationalism, independence in other words, that’s what we have to defend ourselves from. That’s a pretty good description of what happened.

Take NATO for example, I mean if you believe any of the propaganda in the preceding fifty years, then NATO should have disappeared. It was supposed to be there to defend yourself from the Russian

hordes: no Russian hordes, no NATO.

MJ: If I’m not mistaken, it was to keep the Russians out, the Germans down and the Americans in.

NC: Well from the United States’ point of view. And, it was not to keep the Germans down, but to keep Europe down. And that’s exactly what it’s for. Keep Europe down, by integrating them into a US-run global system.

MJ: So, it really is a duplicitous organization.

NC: And, that’s just what happened. NATO was expanded. It became the US global intervention force. Its mission now, officially, is to control the international energy system, pipelines, sea lanes, and so on. Okay, that’s pretty much what it was before, but now it’s official, and much broader. It’s an interesting story. Gorbachev thought he made a deal with the US, Bush and Baker, that NATO would not expand to the East, and it was a deal in words. But Gorbachev was naïve. When the US expanded into the East, he complained. And, the Bush administration and Clinton just laughed: they said, well it’s not on paper, if you want to believe in a gentleman’s agreement with us, it shows how dumb you are. You can’t trust our word; it wasn’t on paper, so it therefore didn’t exist.

The reaction to the collapse of the USSR actually gives you a lot of insight into the Cold War, and I presume that’s the reason why historians ignore it (except for the NATO deliberations, which have

been well-studied). It just tells you too much. If you look at the literature, there is very little on that transition. But that’s exactly what you should look at if you want to understand what the Cold War was about, because you have to see how they reacted to its end.

Caveat lector : Les opinions exprimées dans ce blogue sont strictement personnelles et ne reflètent pas nécessairement celles de Global Brief ou de l’École des affaires publiques et internationales de Glendon.


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