Noam Chomsky on How the Military Is Bankrupting Us and Why Corporate Interests Want to Destroy Public Programs
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Editor's note: The following is a transcript of a Noam Chomsky interview on Democracy Now! Chomsky covers a wide range of subjects, including the true cost of America's empire, the significance of Obama's recent jobs proposal, and the real reasons why corporate interests and conservatives are intent on demolishing wildly successful public programs like Social Security.
President Obama sent his new jobs proposal to Congress on Monday with a plan to pay for the $447 billion package by raising taxes on the wealthy. Noam Chomsky says, "The healthcare system...the huge military spending, the very low taxes for the rich [and corporations]...those are fundamental problems that have to be dealt with if there’s going to be anything like successful economic and social development in the United States." As Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, calls Social Security a "Ponzi scheme," and Democrats buy into the narrative that the program is in crisis, Chomsky notes that "to worry about a possible problem 30 years from now, which can incidentally be fixed with a little bit of tampering here and there, as was done in 1983, to worry about that just makes absolutely no sense, unless you’re trying to destroy the program."
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest for the hour is MIT professor Noam Chomsky. His latest book is called 9-11: Was There an Alternative? That last question, "Was there an alternative?," referring to the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Aaron?
AARON MATÉ: Well, Noam, you mentioned the changes in discourse between 10 years ago and today. And actually, this issue of the reasons behind 9/11 came up Monday night at the Republican presidential debate. Congress Member Ron Paul of Texas drew boos from the crowd and a rebuke from other candidates on the podium when he criticized U.S. foreign policy in discussing the roots of 9/11.
REP. RON PAUL: We’re under great threat because we occupy so many countries. We’re in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We’re going broke. The purpose of al-Qaeda was to attack us, invite us over there, where they can target us. And they have been doing it. They have more attacks against us and the American interests per month than occurred in all the years before 9/11. But we’re there, occupying their land. And if we think that we can do that and not have retaliation, we’re kidding ourselves. We have to be honest with ourselves. What would we do if another country, say China, did to us what we do to all those countries over there?
So, this whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this and they’re attacking us because we’re free and prosperous, that is just not true. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been explicit. They have been explicit, and they wrote and said that we attacked—we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians a fair treatment, and you have been bombing—I didn’t say that, I’m trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombing. At the same time, we had been bombing and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis for 10 years. Would you be annoyed? If you’re not annoyed, then there’s some problem.
AARON MATÉ: That was Republican Congress Member Ron Paul of Texas speaking Monday night at the Republican presidential debate. Noam Chomsky, your response?
NOAM CHOMSKY: I think what he said is completely uncontroversial. You can read it in government documents. You can find it in polls. Maybe people don’t like to hear it, but, as I mentioned before, it goes back to the 1950s. Actually, right after 9/11, the Wall Street Journal, to its credit, did a study of privileged Muslims, sometimes called "monied Muslims," people in the Muslim world who are deeply embedded in the U.S. global project—lawyers, directors of multinational corporations and so on, not the general population. And it was very much like what Eisenhower was concerned about, and the National Security Council, in the 1950s. There was a lot of antagonism to U.S. policy in the region, partly support of dictators blocking democracy and development, just as the National Security Council concluded in 1958.