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A gift to the hard jingoist right

—by Noam Chomsky

The September 11 attacks were major atrocities. In terms of number of victims they do not reach the level of many others, for example, Clinton’s bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and probably killing tens of thousands of people (no one knows, because the US blocked an inquiry at the UN and no one cares to pursue it). Not to speak of much worse cases, which easily come to mind. But that this was a horrendous crime is not in doubt. The primary victims, as usual, were working people: janitors, secretaries, firemen, etc. It is likely to prove to be a crushing blow to Palestinians and other poor and oppressed people. It is also likely to lead to harsh security controls, with many possible ramifications for undermining civil liberties and internal freedom.

The events reveal, dramatically, the foolishness of ideas about “missile defense.” As has been obvious all along, and pointed out repeatedly by strategic analysts, if anyone wants to cause immense damage in the US, including weapons of mass destruction, they are highly unlikely to launch a missile attack, thus guaranteeing their immediate destruction. There are innumerable easier ways that are basically unstoppable. But these events will, nonetheless, be used to increase the pressure to develop these systems and put them into place. “Defense” is a thin cover for plans for militarization of space, and with good PR, even the flimsiest arguments will carry some weight among a frightened public.

In short, the crime is a gift to the hard jingoist right, those who hope to use force to control their domains. That is even putting aside the likely US actions, and what they will trigger—possibly more attacks like this one, or worse. The prospects ahead are even more ominous than they appeared to be before the latest atrocities.

—by Noam Chomsky Professor of linguistics at MIT, author of Year 501: The Conquest Continues, Boston, 1992)

Howard Zinn in the first peace rally in Copley Square, Boston after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Howard Zinn in the first peace rally in Copley Square, Boston after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

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