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Chomsky: Why the Mideast Turmoil Is a Direct Threat to the American Empire

An interview with Noam Chomsky about what this means for the future of the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy in the region.

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And it’s not just military industry. Construction projects, development, telecommunications—in the case of Israel, high-tech industry. So, Intel Corporation, the major—the world’s major chip producer, has announced a new generation of chips, which they hope will be the next generation of chips, and they’re building their main factory in Israel. Just announced an expansion of it. The relations are very close and intimate all the way through—again, in the Arab world, certainly not among the people, but we have the Muasher principle. As long as they’re quiet, who cares? We can disregard them.

AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of Mubarak in the Israel-Palestine-Egypt axis? I mean, going back to 1979, if you could briefly remind people why he’s so important, as the media keeps saying he has meant peace and stability with Israel, he gives the U.S. access to their air space, he guarantees access to the Suez Canal. Talk about that and what the change would mean.

NOAM CHOMSKY: We should actually go back a little further. In 1971, President Sadat of Egypt offered Israel a full peace treaty in return for withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. He cared about the Sinai, not—but Israel considered it, rejected it. Henry Kissinger, national security adviser, supported the rejection. State Department then supported Sadat. And Israel—it was a fateful decision. That’s the point at which Israel quite explicitly chose expansion over security. They were then expanding into the Sinai, planning to build a city of a million people, Egyptian Sinai, settlements driving farmers out into the desert and so on. Well, that was the background for the 1973 war, which made it clear that Egypt can’t simply be dismissed. Then we move on to the negotiations which led, in 1979, to the U.S. and Israel pretty much accepting Sadat’s offer of 1971: withdrawal from the Sinai in return for a peace treaty. That’s called a great diplomatic triumph. In fact, it was a diplomatic catastrophe. The failure to accept it in 1971 led to a very dangerous war, suffering, brutality and so on. And finally, the U.S. and Israel essentially, more or less, accepted it.

Now, as soon as that settlement was made, 1979, Israeli strategic analysts—the main one was Avner Yaniv, but others, too—recognized right away that now that Egypt is excluded from the confrontation, Israel is free to use force in other areas. And indeed, it very soon after that attacked Lebanon, didn’t have to worry about an Egyptian deterrent. Now, that was gone, so we can attack Lebanon. And that was a brutal, vicious attack, killed 15,000, 20,000 people, led finally to the Sabra-Shatila massacre, destroyed lots of—most of southern Lebanon. And no defensive rationale. In fact, it wasn’t even pretended. It was an effort to—as it was said, it was a war for the West Bank. It was an effort to block embarrassing Palestinian negotiation, diplomatic offers, and move forward on integrating the Occupied Territories. Well, they were free to do that once the Egyptian deterrent was gone. And that continues.

The rest of the interview is in video form.

Part 1: Chomsky discusses the decades-long "campaign of hatred" in the Middle East against the United States for blocking democracy and progressive developments.



Part 2: Chomsky discusses the impact of revelations from WikiLeaks on the uprising in Egypt and the consequences of U.S. support for radical Islamism.

Part 3: Chomsky says U.S. fear of the Muslim Brotherhood is really a fear of democracy in the Middle East.

Part 4: Chomsky examines the role of U.S. corporations in a "stable" Egypt in the Middle East.

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