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Chomsky: Only a Massive Uprising Will Change Our Politics

Chomsky: "What has to be done is what's happening in Madison, or Tahrir Square. If there's mass popular opposition, any political leader is going to have to respond.

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JUAN GONZALEZ: The wealth gap is shrinking.

NOAM CHOMSKY: And it’s shrinking, and they’re doing something about it. A long way to go, but at least being faced. And there also integration of the countries, which is a prerequisite for independence. Now, that’s dramatic. It’s far more significant than what happened in Eastern Europe. I mean, the comparisons to Eastern Europe I don’t think are very convincing. First of all, in Eastern Europe, remember, you had Gorbachev. Now, the person who was in charge, basically, and had the guns was saying, "Go ahead." You don’t have any Gorbachev in the West, nothing like him. Furthermore, in the case of Eastern Europe, the major power sectors in the world—the United States and Western Europe—were supporting the uprising, of course, because it was undermining an enemy. There’s nothing like that here.

In fact, about the only comparison to Eastern Europe that isn’t sort of ridiculous is the one that’s never talked about: Romania. Romania, which had the worst dictator in Eastern Europe, Ceausescu, he was a darling of the West. The United States and Britain loved him. He was supported until the last minute. They couldn’t support him anymore, so, you know, turned against him—the usual game plan. But that’s about the only analogy.

On the other hand, what happened in Latin America is extremely significant, and what’s happening in the Middle East could turn into something similar.

AMY GOODMAN: And the role of the U.S. in the Middle East, what it should play right now? And I know you have to go after that.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, what it should do is say, "OK, we’re out of here. This is your country. You live there. You do what you want. We’re going to support democracy. Or we’ll support whatever comes out." But think what’s involved in that. Just take a look at Arab public opinion. You take a look at Arab public opinion, you see democracy would be a disaster for the U.S. leadership. I mentioned the figures, but the whole of U.S. policy in the region would instantly collapse if you had democracy.

Well, you know, the Middle East is an important area. It goes back to almost 90 years, since oil was discovered, especially since the Second World War. Take a look at internal documents. The Middle East oil was regarded as the most important and strategic—the strategically most important area of the world, because it’s got the major oil reserves. And if you think what’s happened in the Middle East over the years, the big—the United States and Britain have traditionally supported radical Islamic fundamentalism. The core of radical Islamic fundamentalism is Saudi Arabia. That’s also the main fundamental of jihadi terror. That’s our main ally. In fact, in 1967, when U.S. relations with Israel took on their current form, the primary reason was that there was a war going on, literally, between Saudi Arabia and Egypt in Yemen. And Saudi Arabia is the center of radical Islamic fundamentalism. Egypt was the center of secular nationalism. And secular nationalism is frightening, because—it wasn’t democratic, it was autocratic, but it was secular and it was nationalist. And Nasser was talking about using the resources of the region for their own populations, not to enrich Western oil companies and, you know, the Saudi elite. Well, that’s frightening. So there was this conflict going on, the U.S. and Britain of course supporting radical Islamism. Israel won that battle for them. That’s when relations were established in their current form, and that continues. It’s not 100 percent, but substantially the U.S. and Britain have supported and continue to support radical Islam, because it’s a barrier against democracy. If it goes the wrong way, they don’t like it, but as long as it’s going your way, fine.

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