20.6.06

New Statesman Interview - Chomsky

New Statesman - NS Interview - Chomsky:

Understand the crimes

Which brings us back to war-crimes trials. Did he seriously envisage Bush and Blair in handcuffs at The Hague? No: charging them would be symbolic. 'What was important about the Nuremberg trials was not that they hung however many people it was, but that the German population were given the proper means to understand what the crimes were. I want their crimes to be fully understood, to be in elementary school textbooks, and ensure that those of our countries which tolerated these crimes should look themselves in the eye.'

Then we move on to Iran, and Chomsky's methodical deconstruction of US and British policies there. In American eyes, he says, there's only one event in US-Iranian history in the past half-century. 'That's 1979, when Iranians committed a crime: they threw out a tyrant installed by a US-British military coup, and they took hostages. And they had to be punished.

'Well, did anything else happen in the last half-century or so? Yes. The US and Britain overthrew the parliamentary government, installed a brutal tyrant, supported him right through the years of torture and violence. As soon as he was overthrown they turned to supporting Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran, which killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians - many with chemical weapons provided by the US and others. Right after that they imposed sanctions which have crushed the population.

'That means that for over 50 years the US and Britain have been torturing the people of Iran.' Yet they remain defiant, Chomsky says, and for that they have to be punished. 'Starting in the summer of 2003, two interesting things happened. First, all of a sudden, the reason for invading Iraq was not weapons of mass destruction. It was to bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East and the world . . . But the other thing that happened which has been little noticed is that there was already the beginning of building up a government media campaign about Iranian nuclear weapons.

'And as Bush's popularity declined, the intensity of this campaign increased. Maybe it's just coincidence, but I don't think so. In fact, the Iranian alleged nuclear weapons are now providing a pretext which will be used for a permanent US presence in Iraq. They're building the biggest embassy in the world in Baghdad which towers over everything, they're building military bases. Is that because they intend to get out and leave Iraq to itself? No. If you're staying in Iraq you have to have a reason. Well, the reason will be that you have to defend the world against Iran.'

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