The Fifth Freedom
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Stephen Marshall
Guerrilla News Network, November, 2001
Stephen Marshall: Hi Noam.

Noam Chomsky: Hello. What are we going to be talking about today?

Well. I’d like to begin with a brief discussion about your work in linguistics and how that developed into a major concentration on U.S. foreign policy. I’d like to then move on to the subject of the current conflict, looking at it from the perspective that is presented in The Culture of Terrorism. And then I want to focus on stuff like the Fifth Freedom and your opinion about how the Bush Administration is handling the retaliations. Is that cool?

Sounds great.

Ok. Maybe we’ll just start with the fact that your original scholastic focus was in the field of linguistics. Some people might actually be surprised to hear that. I wanted to ask you if there is a connection between the study of language and that of political systems. How should we look at language in our political studies?

Well, my professional field happens to be linguistics and I’ve been in it since I was 17 years old. But it has basically nothing to do with my interests in international affairs and social and economic issues, which actually preceded it from childhood. Just parallel lives.

There are certainly questions about the use of language, that’s a very important question but you don’t have to be a professional linguist to say anything about those. Those are just common sense.

Take, say, a word like ‘terrorism,’ for example. Like most terms of political discourse it has two meanings: there’s a literal meaning and if you want to know what that is you can look up the official U.S. code or army manuals, they’ll tell you what terrorism is. And it’s what you would think, terrorism is "the calculated use of violence against civilians to intimidate, induce fear, often to kill, for some political, religious, or other end."

That’s terrorism, according to its official definition.

But that definition can’t be used. Because if that definition is used, you get all the wrong consequences. For one thing, that definition turns out to be almost the same as the definition of official U.S. policy. Except, when it’s U.S. policy, it’s called ‘counter-insurgency’ or ‘low-intensity conflict’ or some other name. But, in fact, if you look at the definition, it’s essentially terrorism. In fact, almost a paraphrase. Furthermore, if you apply the literal definition, you conclude that the U.S. is a leading terrorist state because it engages in these practices all the time. It’s the only state, in fact, which has been condemned by the World Court and the Security Council for terrorism, in this sense. And the same is true of its allies. So, right now, they’re putting together what they call a ‘coalition against terror’, for the ‘war on terror’, and if you run down the list, every one of them is a leading terrorist state.

So obviously you can’t use that definition.

So therefore, there’s a propagandistic definition which is the one actually used and in that definition terrorism is "terrorism which is directed against the United States or its allies and carried out by enemies." Well, that’s the propagandistic use and, if you read the newspapers and the scholarly literature, they’re always using that use. And that’s not just the U.S. Every country does that, even the worst killers, the worst mass murderers do it. Take the Nazis, they were combating an occupied Europe. They combated what they called terrorism, namely partisan resistance, which often was, in fact, terrorism in the technical sense.

Resistance usually is.

The American Revolution is a good example - plenty of terrorism. So, the Nazis were combating terrorism and they called what they were doing, which was extraordinarily brutal, ‘counter-terrorism’. And the U.S. basically agreed with them. The U.S. Army, after the war, made extensive use of Nazi training manuals… did studies which did careful analysis of them, thinking what was right, what was wrong - meaning did it work or didn’t it work - essentially accepting the same framework, and, furthermore, immediately started carrying out the same actions against, pretty much, the same enemies. The U.S. Army manuals, on what is called ‘counter-terrorism', drew from German manuals and even involved the high German officers—Wehrmacht officers – who were used as consultants. And, in every other state, it’s the same. The terrorism they don’t like is called ‘terrorism’ and the terrorism they do like, because they carry it out or their allies carry it out, is called ‘counter-terrorism’.

Well, this all has to do with the use of language. But you certainly don’t have to be a professional linguist to see this. This just requires having ordinary intelligence and looking at the facts. And the same is true throughout, I mean the terms that are used are twisted in ways to satisfy the needs of whoever’s using them, which turns out mostly to be concentrated power centers, state or private, and that’s true wherever you look.

And that’s a serious issue. So you can look at the use of language and propaganda and ideology and schools and so on, but it’s really just common sense.

In many of your writings, you have discussed the notion of state deception, especially when it comes to historical revision. Something happened one night during a news broadcast that made me question how immediate the revision is becoming. I was watching CNN after Bush’s address to Congress, and they were discussing Bush’s use of the word ‘crusade’. And there was an advisor or policy analyst who came on and said: "It’s unfortunate that Bush and his speechwriters didn’t understand the implications of a word like crusade." And I was shocked. I mean, do you believe that George Bush’s speechwriters would not understand the implications of a word like ‘crusade’ to the Islamic people and, conversely, aren’t words like those used to incite or trigger responses?

Well, you’re right to emphasize George Bush’s speechwriters because he probably doesn’t even know what he’s saying. But the speechwriters picked the word ‘crusade’, and you can understand it. In English, the term ‘crusade’ is used quite generally. A crusade against something just means a struggle against it. But in the Islamic world it has a different meaning, it refers to the crusades, which were an extremely brutal and violent invasion of their land by Christian fundamentalist fanatics who left a horrendous trail of bloodshed.

And that’s part of their history.

It’s usually the victims who remember the history, not the perpetrators. So the use of the word ‘crusade’ in the Islamic world carries many strong memories and associations and Bush’s speechwriters hadn’t thought about it. So they withdrew the word 'crusade'. That’s happened a couple of times already.

The first operation against Afghanistan was called ‘Infinite Justice’ and they withdrew that when it was pointed out to them that the only ‘infinite justice’ is God’s justice, and they were being interpreted as regarding themselves as divinity. And they didn’t want to do that for obvious reasons, so they changed it to some other phrase. The phrase they did pick is interesting. The campaign is now called ‘Enduring Freedom’. Well, a number of comments about that...

If you want to look at the kind of ‘freedom’ they have in mind, there’s an ample historical record of the kind of freedom they impose. The other point is, nobody seems to have noticed it but, the word ‘enduring’ is actually ambiguous. It can mean ‘lasting’ or it can mean ‘suffering from’. So, I’m enduring pain is another interpretation of ‘enduring’ and, in fact, if you think of the kind of freedom they impose and enduring freedom in the other sense, that is: ‘somehow living with the horrendous consequences of it,’ is not an inaccurate description.

Nobody’s pointed that out to them yet so they’re still using this phrase, but if someone does maybe they’ll make another one up.

Yeah, but I wondered if it wasn’t a bit of a ploy, if there isn’t a bit of incitement going on. Kind of subliminal psychological intimidation. I mean, these speechwriters are, I imagine, are some of the best in the country. They must implicitly understand the import and potential impact of every word -

No, I don’t think so. I think they’re just mistakes.

Fair enough. Now, sticking with this analysis of language and, specifically, the use of the word ‘freedom’. In The Culture of Terrorism, you discuss something called the ‘fifth freedom’. Can you please just define that for us and maybe describe how it has any relevance right now?

Well, there’s a famous concept called The Four Freedoms. In, I think it must have been 1944 approximately… President Roosevelt, towards the end of the war, announced that the allies were fighting for the ‘four freedoms.’ That’s freedom from want, freedom from fear, I forget the exact other words, but all good things. So those were the four freedoms we were fighting for.

We actually have a declassified record, a released internal record of the background… what they were afraid of at the time. Remember, that at the time the world was mostly colonies and the colonies, in fact, often welcomed, especially, the Japanese. They welcomed the Japanese because the Japanese were throwing out the colonial oppressors - they were throwing out the British, and the French, and the Dutch, and the Americans and so on.

And it was understood, internally, that it was necessary to make some appeal to the huge part of the world which was the colonial world - we now call the south or the Third World - which would make them believe that we were really fighting for good things. Not just to restore colonialism.

And out of that came the Four Freedoms. And by the ‘fifth’ freedom, I meant the one that they didn’t mention. But the crucial one. Namely the freedom to rob and exploit, that’s a freedom that we and our powerful countries, the imperial countries, insist on. And that was the real freedom that was being fought for.

And the colonial world, if they didn’t know it already, discovered that very fast after the Second World War. That’s a good part of the history of the last 50 years… is the record of how the great powers - primarily the United States, because it’s the most powerful - pursued their own freedom to rob and exploit and oppress and so on. That’s the real history. It may not be taught in school here but the real history of British imperialism wasn’t taught in British schools either. It’s known by the victims.

Historical revisionism. On that topic, you published an official reaction to the terrorist attacks and the proposed U.S. reaction on October 8th. There is a lot to that but I wanted to focus on one point you made, namely this concept of historical revisionism. In that text, you used the words "systemic falsification of the past" to describe the West’s approach to its history. I’d like to ask you to define that terminology for people who don’t understand it, and how it plays a role in current events in allowing them to sustain itself. Is it a mode of behavior that can have severe human consequences?

It’s very typical over history, over time, for the world to look very different depending on whether you’re holding the whip, or you’re under the whip.

It just looks different.

For a couple hundred years, Europe and its offshoots - we’re one of it offshoots - have been holding the whip. They’ve been carrying out massive atrocities against others, and that’s U.S. history. That’s the history of England, France, Belgium, Germany and others. They’ve always been attacking people outside and conquering the world; they didn’t conquer the world in a pretty fashion. And they have a picture which is about how they were bringing freedom and justice and… ‘maybe they made some mistakes, but it was all well intentioned’… and so on. From the other end of the guns, it looks very different.

Now, our systematic falsification of history… well, let’s just take where we’re talking right now

Well, we’re here in New England because religious fanatics, extreme fanatic religious fundamentalists, very much like Islamic fundamentalists, landed here and mercilessly destroyed the indigenous population. So we’re here. That’s not the way it’s taught, but that’s the way it was. And the founding fathers were well aware of it. And they recognized it, sometimes with regret, sometimes not, and it continued until the national territory was conquered. There were, after all, maybe 7 or 8 million or maybe more inhabitants here, they weren’t around by the year 1900. And the U.S., for example, conquered half of Mexico. Well, the Mexicans know it; we don’t get taught it in school. When the U.S. took over the Philippines, they killed a couple hundred thousand people. Filipinos, they know it, we don’t talk about it.

And this falsification of history has consequences. In fact, we saw some of them on Sept 11th. Here, the commentary often… much of the commentary is: "Well, why do they hate us?" And a lot of the commentary, op eds, in The New York Times and so on, by big thinkers, was: "Well, they hate us because we stand for freedom and democracy and prosperity and therefore they hate us."

Well, that’s a nice, comforting point of view, but it’s totally false. And some of the press, to its credit, did begin to look at the history. So the Wall Street Journal very soon, within a few days, began running articles on actual attitudes of people in the Middle East towards the United States. They sampled the wealthy and the privileged - the people who they’re concerned about - not beggars and rural people, but bankers, and lawyers for international corporations, businessmen, and they did several good studies of their attitudes. And, it turns out, that they’re very bitter and angry and frustrated about the United States though they’re very pro-American and, in fact, all involved in the U.S. system.

And their anger is precisely the opposite of what the elite intellectuals are saying.

They don’t hate us for our democracy, they hate us because we repress democracy. They hate us because we’ve supported the oppressive and brutal and authoritarian regimes and undermined any attempt at democracy in the region, and because of their explicit policies. So the policy of the last ten years… the U.S. and Britain have devastated the civilian society of Iraq meanwhile, strengthening Saddam Hussein. And they know very well, even though we don’t like to say it, that the U.S. and Britain supported Hussein right through his worst atrocities. The ones that are now being brought up to show how terrible he is. Like the gassing of the Kurds. A horrible atrocity, and, yet, the U.S. and Britain supported him right through it, continued to support him afterwards. And they know that. They also know that the policies are destroying the civilian society and strengthening Saddam Hussein, and that stands alongside the U.S. policies towards Israel and Palestine.

I mean, they know, even if we pretend not to, that there has been a brutal military occupation, now going into its 35th year, which has relied crucially on U.S. support - diplomatic support, military support, economic support. When Israel builds settlements to break up the occupied territories illegally, the U.S. is paying for it. When it sends helicopters to carry out assassinations or attack civilian complexes, they are U.S. helicopters sent with a certain knowledge that that’s how they’re going to be used. On the diplomatic front, they know, even if we pretend not to, that for twenty-five years, the U.S. has been blocking a diplomatic settlement which has almost total - almost, the whole world has been in favor of it for 25 years, including the Arab states, Europe, former Soviet Union, everybody – [in favor of] some sort of two-state settlement. And the U.S. has been blocking it, and they’re still blocking it.

Well, they know all of this. And such policies towards say, Iraq and the consistent U.S. support for brutal and oppressive regimes. Even its own atrocities within the region, which are not slight… its opposition to democracy, those are the attitudes of the pro-American elements. The wealthy, privileged elements. If you get out on the streets, you hear the same things, it’s just much more bitter and they’re also furious about the fact that the wealth of the region, which is real - mostly oil wealth - is not being used for them, but it’s going to the West. It’s going to purchase U.S. Treasury securities, or U.S. arms, or pay off U.S. and British investment firms, well they know all that.

They’re living in misery and the wealth is going to the West.

These are the real attitudes. Now if we choose not to pay attention to those attitudes and to pretend that they’re angry because we’re so wonderful, well, we’re just guaranteeing that there will be more terrorist acts. If you don’t want to understand the reasons, you can be pretty sure that it will continue. And this is true of, take any crime you like - robbery in the streets or a major atrocity - whoever is committing it has reasons. I mean, maybe it’s just pathology, that could happen too, but usually they have reasons. And if you look at the reasons, there’s usually something behind them, even something legitimate behind them. So, when… take the Oklahoma city bombing, when it first happened, there were big headlines about "Let’s Bomb Beirut" or something like that. It was assumed that it had some Middle East connection and if it had some Middle East connection, the U.S. probably would have gone to war, like it’s doing now. Well, it turned out not to have a Middle East connection, but to be a domestic person with militia associations.

OK, what was the reaction?

Was the reaction to bomb Idaho and destroy Montana and bomb the Republic of Texas, which has declared independence of the oppressive government of Washington? No that wasn’t the reaction, that would have been crazy. The reaction was to find the person who was responsible, bring him to trial, follow legal procedures, and consider the grievances. I mean, the militia movements come out of something. And if you look at what they come out of, you find that there are some things that really ought be attended to. They’re important. And that’s typically the case. We can choose not to do that, but then we’re just guaranteeing that the cycle of violence will escalate, like tribal warfare - you hurt me, I’m going to hurt you more. That’s a way to go on, and we know the consequences.

OK. Further to that… how would you then characterize the foreign policy of the United States, which goes and empowers someone like Saddam Hussein while he is administrating over such brutal atrocities? Because, that is a direct policy. It is premeditated and conscious and one which, in my view, constantly creates a sort of strife. It’s almost like a sort of Machiavellian concept… maybe, perhaps, of divide and conquer. Can you sort of characterize that?

Well, the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein for, what they considered, sound policy reasons. For one thing, Saddam Hussein was anti-Communist and he’s a brutal monster and always was since the time he took power. But he was applying his atrocities to U.S. enemies, namely the domestic Communist parties. After that, the U.S. backed him, as did Britain, in his war against Iran; he invaded Iran, and Iran was a U.S. enemy by that time.

So Iraq invaded Iran.

The U.S. gave it pretty strong support, as did Britain and others. And, in fact, U.S. support ended up being decisive. The U.S. ended up actually shooting down an Iranian commercial airliner in Iranian airspace, killing 290 people. Here it’s not taken very seriously. In fact, the warship that did it came back and the commander got a hero’s welcome and the Legion or Merit of Honor. But the Iranians paid attention. It was one of many events which made them understand that the U.S. was going to go to the limit to make sure that Iraq won the war, and they effectively capitulated.

And the U.S. continued to back Saddam.

This was the period of the really huge atrocities, like the massacre of the Kurds, with gassing. These were Iraqi Kurds, the U.S. continued to support him. In fact, the first Bush administration was providing him with an enormous amount of agricultural aid, which he needed because the Kurdish regions that were destroyed were agricultural regions, supplying him with technology that could be used for weapons of mass destruction, as was recognized. Britain did too. Britain actually had a serious government inquiry into it later and revealed a lot of the facts, here it’s kind of ignored. And that continued almost up until Saddam Hussein made his first mistake, from the U.S. point of view. Namely, he disobeyed orders. His takeover of Kuwait… the U.S. was opposed to that; clients aren’t supposed to disobey orders. In comparison with his other crimes, it didn’t amount to much, but it was the one that counted, so then he became an enemy.

And there’s case after case like that.

Take say, just a few months before Iraq invaded Kuwait, the United States invaded Panama, and killed maybe a couple thousand people, destroyed residential neighborhoods and kidnapped someone they didn’t like. Namely Manuel Noriega. He was kidnapped, brought to trial in Florida and, if you look at the charges against him, I mean, they were surely accurate, but they were charges from the period when he was on the CIA payroll, almost entirely. He had been a client of the United States: he was a gangster and a killer. But he was a client, he was doing the things the U.S. wanted. He was participating in the U.S. war against Nicaragua, which was a major terrorist crime - that’s the one that the World Court condemned the United States for – and, as long as he was doing that, it didn’t matter much if he stole elections and tortured dozens and killed his opponents, it was okay.

But a couple of years later, he was getting too big for his britches. He was, sort of, acting on his own. He was not cooperating in the war and the U.S. decided "well, okay, he’s a criminal," which, of course, he was, and invaded the country brutally, and kidnapped him, which is totally illegal, of course, and brought him here. Well, here it’s considered a great triumph, but not in the rest of the world, especially not in the Third world, they’re too familiar with it. And that goes on constantly.

Take, right at this moment for example, the U.S. wants Afghanistan to turn over Osama bin laden. Now, the Taliban regime - which is a very cruel and oppressive regime (and that didn’t bother the United States before but now it does), they have said "give us some evidence." Well, that happens to be a very reasonable request. If a country approached the United States and said "hand over so and so, because we think he’s a criminal" and they didn’t provide any evidence, nobody would even bother laughing. Well, this Taliban request is considered ridiculous, you know, it just shows how awful they are: "look they’re asking for evidence, they’re not allowed to do that, we say we want him, hand him over."

Well, it happens that they’re right on this. You should provide convincing evidence, and the U.S. hasn’t provided it, probably because it doesn’t have it and, besides, they just treat them with contempt when they offer to negotiate.

You kick ‘em in the face.

Well, the world notices that. Certainly the Arab world. And many people may notice something else: the U.S. has criminals, internally… major criminals. Other countries are asking for their extradition, want them handed over, and the U.S. won’t do it, even though, in this case, the evidence is quite strong. So, right in the midst of all this focus of attention on the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, Haiti has repeated its request which it has been raising for a year that the United States turn over Emanuel Constant, who is not only indicted but was sentenced in absentia in Haiti for a leading role in the murder of four to five thousand people in the early 90’s, during the coup period.

Now, the U.S., the first Bush and the Clinton administrations were tacitly supporting the military junta and the rich elite, it’s not very hard to show. Constant, who was the head of the murderess paramilitary forces, had close ties to the U.S., to the CIA, and others, and probably that’s why the U.S. doesn’t want to hand him over. But here was a man who was a leading figure in the killing of four to five thousand people in a country right next door: they’ve had the evidence, they’ve brought him to trial, in fact, convicted him, and now they want him handed over. Not only the will the U.S. not do it but, in fact, it isn’t even discussed. We do what we want.

And there are other such cases.

I mean, Costa Rica, for example, which is the one long-time democratic state in Central America. For about fifteen years now they’ve been asking the U.S. to hand over a man named John Hull, who was a rancher in Costa Rica. They discovered that his land was being used by the Reagan administration as a base for major terrorist attacks against a neighboring country, namely Nicaragua. Well, in Costa Rica it’s a crime to have your land used for terrorist attacks against another country, and they’ve been asking the U.S. to hand him over. The U.S. won’t think about it. In fact, it punished them for making the request by economic sanctions of a kind, but here it’s never discussed. And we can go on. These are things that people, especially in the Third world, know quite well. We may choose to look in some other direction but they see it, and they’re aware of it and they suffer the consequences.

I know that we are getting short on time, so I want to jump into a different question entirely. It has to do with the way that 9-11 is being used to shape policy. If we look back in history, to the 1920’s when the Council on Foreign Relations was created, there was this whole concept of a New World Order and a world government that was trotted out. Obviously, the evolution of Communism as a dominant world power got in the way of that but by the end of the Reagan administration and the fall of the Berlin Wall the notion seemed to be in vogue again. In fact, George Bush reiterated publicly, during his address to Congress in 1991 when he spoke about the Iraqi conflict. My question is, has this recent attack in an ironic way, furthered that concept of creating a broad-lateral coalition of world government in the sense that our enemy is justifiably an enemy of the entire so-called free world; including, finally, Russia?

It’s the same, you know. The basic policies remain very stable. The policies are rooted in the domestic institutions. Like in any country, if you want to figure out what it’s policy is, you look at who runs it internally. Well, internally, the United States is formally democratic but power is overwhelmingly in the hands of a highly concentrated business sector, corporate sector, closely linked to government, closely linked to military, and so on. They have a very strong impact on how policy is formed, and they’re stable over very long periods of policy, stable over long periods of time. It adjusts, tactically adjusts… there are changes. Take this war on terrorism. It’s not a new war. The Reagan administration came into office 20 years ago, announcing very clearly that its major concern was the plague of international terrorism, which had to be destroyed. And they proceeded to combat the plague by creating the most extraordinary international terrorist network that ever existed, and using it to launch major terrorist wars in Central America, to support South African depredations against their neighboring countries which killed a million and a half people in the Reagan years alone

This time, there’s supposed to be a coalition of countries against terrorism and, as I already mentioned, if you look at the coalition, it’s terrorist states. So the Russians are happy to join the coalition because they want U.S. support for their brutal and murderous war in Chechnya. And the Chinese are quite happy to join because they want U.S. support for their murderous activities against Muslim groups in western China. Turkey’s delighted to join because they want U.S. support, which has always been there, for the massive ethnic cleansing and atrocities that they’ve been carrying out inside Turkey in the late 90’s against their own Kurdish population. And we can run through the list; every one of them is happy to join because they want U.S. support for their terrorist activities. So yes, that’s a coalition of ‘the just’, if you like. But it’s just an adjustment of traditional policies to new circumstances.

OK. Last question: there is a critique of the anti-war Left, and you’ve heard it often, over and over again, "you guys want peace, you advocate detente, you want some sort of solution, but you don’t have any solutions. At least the Right has a solution." If you were president, what would be your policy goals toward -

Toward what?

U.S. policy subsequent to the Sept 11 attacks...

It’s very straightforward; it’s been stated over and over. The Left has plenty of concrete solutions. It’s just that power centers don’t want to pursue them. What happened on September 11 was a major atrocity, one of the worst terrorist attacks in history. Actually, unfortunately, it wasn’t unique in scale.

Let’s take an uncontroversial case. Uncontroversial because we have the judgement of the World Court and the Security Council, the highest international authorities - namely the war against Nicaragua. That war was much worse than even the World Trade Center bombing, they killed tens of thousands of people, practically destroyed the country. It may never recover. What did Nicaragua do? They didn’t set off bombs in Washington. They went to the World Court with their case, a strong case. In fact, they won it. Now, the Court accepted their case, ordered the United States to stop what they called "unlawful use of force," which means international terrorism, and to pay substantial reparations. The U.S. dismissed the Court judgement and immediately escalated the war.

And so Nicaragua went to the U.N. Security Council, which considered a resolution, calling on all states to observe international law. It didn’t mention anyone but everyone knew it meant the United States. The U.S. vetoed it. Nicaragua, then, went to the General Assembly where there’s no veto and they got essentially unanimous agreement for two years in a row, for essentially the same resolution. The U.S. and Israel were opposed, that’s all. Well, Nicaragua couldn’t do anything. It’s facing a violent superpower, can’t do anything. On the other hand, if the U.S. pursued the lawful course, using the precedent of law-abiding states, nobody would block it, everybody would applaud. And that’s exactly what the U.S. should have done in the beginning, and should still do.

Notice what they are doing.

What the U.S. is doing, is killing an enormous number, we don’t know how many, but plenty of innocent Afghans. Now, I’m not talking about the collateral damage from bombing - as they call it with collateral damage, meaning civilians who happen to be killed when a bomb hits a residential neighborhood - I mean, that’s a crime but it’s very small in comparison to the real crime. Now, the real crime is starving the population to death and that could be hundreds of thousands, it could turn out to be millions of people. The U.N., which has been trying to do something about the food problem for years, estimates that there may be 7 million Afghans just on the verge of starvation. They were being kept alive by food shipments from international agencies, primarily the U.N. World Food program, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and others. Those programs were all terminated when the U.S. threatened to bomb. The international agencies had to withdraw their international workers, and the food shipments stopped. And , of course, people were terrified by the bombing threats and began to flee, but they couldn’t go anywhere. Now, we don’t know how many people died in the first several weeks, but it must have been a lot. Well, finally the World Food program, the main one, did start in early October shipping some food back in. Well, then, the U.S. started bombing. Food shipment stopped, distribution stopped. By now, it has started again but at about half the rate that is estimated to be necessary to keep 7 million people alive. And it’s only going to go on for another few weeks then the winter comes.

Well, just do the arithmetic. I’ll do it for you… do the arithmetic and those are the assumptions of policy planners.

Well, I’m strongly opposed to policies that are aimed at killing, I don’t know how many, it could turn out to be millions of Afghans, who have nothing to do with the Taliban. They’re victims of the Taliban. If the Right thinks that’s the right thing to do, well, we know where to place them in history.

I don’t think so.

I don’t think we should be following such policies. I think we should be following the policies of lawful states, law-abiding states, that’s a very concrete proposal. And we can go on to consider more concrete proposals. To say that critics have no policy proposals, that’s just a lie. They have very explicit proposals on case after case after case, it’s just that power centers don’t want to consider them for their own reasons.

Thank you Noam.

You’re welcome.

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