January 2, 2003 9:18 AM   Subscribe

Kick his ass and get the gas. Three anti-war activists[Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali and Gilbert Achcar] discuss the current focus on war with Iraq on Turkish TV. Here is an alternative URL, just in case there are problems with OutlookIndia. P.S.: "Kick his ass and get the gas" was apparently a bumper sticker issued by the Republican party in California.
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy (20 comments total)
Frankly, I'm quite frightened by the banner ad at the top that shows pictures of four educated Indian men and then says "See anybody you like? Shaadi, the Number One Matrimonial Service Provider." Eep!
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:49 AM on January 2, 2003

an excellent read -- these guys are much more eloquent and intellectually rigorous than the somewhat preachy yellowtimes. And spot-on timing, as Turkey, Israel, and US carry out naval exercises on CNN.
posted by condour75 at 9:56 AM on January 2, 2003

Is it just me or is Chomsky making no sense whatsoever?

Same rhetoric, a plague spread by depraved opponents of civilization, a return to barbarism, and they proceeded the fight the war on terrorism in the 1980's. Same rhetoric, a plague spread by depraved opponents of civilization, a return to barbarism, and they proceeded the fight the war on terrorism in the 1980's.

If i remember correctly, US support for basically anyone who agreed to fight leftist guerilla movements in the 1980s was justified in terms of containment of the USSR, not anti-terrorism. Sure, they occasionally accused the Sandinistas of being terrorists, but mostly they didn't like them because they were closely aligned with Moscow.

Chomsky is trying to weave a single narrative at the expense of the facts. Until 1991, the US was mainly interested in checking the Soviets, now that they are gone, the US is mainly interested in fighting dangerous non-state actors (al-Qa'ida and such), and curbing the power of states outside an international system dominated by the US.

Sure, Rummy worked in the Pentagon in the 1970s and 1980s, but when he did he was spending his days plotting to check the USSR. Today, he is spending his days plotting to check al-Qa'ida and stomp Iraq's government. Indeed, the US's acceptance of Iraq's brutalities against Iran fly in the face of a notion that there is one underlying thread.

The shame is that some of Chomsky's earlier work (Manufacturing Consent for example) is worth reading. But since the early 1990s, he has turned into a caricature of a leftist academic.
posted by ednopantz at 10:06 AM on January 2, 2003

I agree, Ednopantz. I was one of Chomsky's fans in the early 90s, but he's sort of lost me over the past few years. F'rinstance, he was barely coherent in his feud with Christopher Hitchens. Chomsky has never had a very good sense of perspective -- critics of American foreign policy don't have to embrace its enemies (e.g., Pol Pot) -- and that shortcoming has been all-too apparent since 9-2001.
posted by subgenius at 10:21 AM on January 2, 2003

I'm sorry, but your comments seem to bear little relation to what was being discussed in the transcript. Perhaps Chomsky will make more sense if you reread the article.

I tend to agree with the point he was making, that in order to motivate people to support military action, a climate of fear has to be created. Clearly, one is being cultivated right now ... and it's not a difficult thing to do, because for the mainstream media, threats such as bioterrorism are attractive and sell.

The true nature and size of the threat is probably somewhat more complex and mundane than is being reported.
posted by blamb at 10:26 AM on January 2, 2003

Not to go all ad hominem or anything, but Noam Chomsky and Tariq Ali? (I gotta admit, I've never actually read anything by this Gilbert Achcar fella.) These guys were stale when I went to college with Fred and Wilma at Bedrock U.

Let's examine just a few of the arguments:

The Turks are supporting the Yanks against Iraq so that the Yanks can apply diplomatic pressure on Europeans and get the Turks into the EU. Oh, please: these are the same guys who are also saying that W has so little political capital in Europe that he couldn't votes for free drugs in a crackhouse.

"Basically the EU is accepting a position of vassality towards the US." Nice word, "vassality." Is that French for "having the quality of Vaseline?" And we all know how servile the Germans, French, Italians, Dutch, and Belgians have been lately towards Americans, right? Why, I hear they're chartering flights en masse over to Washington for the sole purpose of licking the Americans' boots. (They get some kind of mass discount or something.)

The U.S. is "expecting Turkey to be a Trojan horse for the United States to support US interests within the European Union." Oh yes, rule number one of geopolitics - support someone, expecting them to support your interests to their own detriment at some unspecified point in the future. It's worked so well in the past, hasn't it?

The EU commemorated September 11, but it does nothing of the same scale to commemorate African AIDS. Boys, boys, boys. Brush up on your rhetoric. Nobody buys that kind of false equivalence anymore.

I could go on (I'm only on page 2 of the article) but I think I'll stand back and let people throw things at me for a while.

(Oh, and special to SandeepKrishnamurthy: my snarky comments notwithstanding, I read the link with (amused) interest. Thanks.)
posted by 314/ at 10:34 AM on January 2, 2003

314/ -Did you get to the part where Chomsky accuses Kennedy of putting "millions" of Vietnamese into "concentration camps"? What is he talking about? Have such secret projects been declassified recently?
posted by quercus at 10:52 AM on January 2, 2003

quercus: yeah, didn't I just read something about that on
posted by 314/ at 10:56 AM on January 2, 2003

The title of the article would make a nice bumper sticker for an SUV. Must also have large US flag decal on window.
posted by nofundy at 11:35 AM on January 2, 2003

P.S.: "Kick his ass and get the gas" was apparently a bumper sticker issued by the Republican party in California.

Far be it from me to challenge Teriq Ali's certain veracity and inability to stray from the facts, but I'm just a wee bit suspicious of this claim. First, I don't think the "California Republican Party" would be stupid enough to send out such stickers -- it sounds too much like a Chomsky/Ali wet dream to me ("Here it is! The smoking gun!") Second, and probably more important, the only appearances of that phrase in all of google are attributed to Ali in the two sources referenced in this post. Sandeep was wise to temper this claim with "apparently."
posted by pardonyou? at 12:23 PM on January 2, 2003

Chomsky is trying to weave a single narrative at the expense of the facts.

And this is surprising exactly how?
posted by hama7 at 3:17 PM on January 2, 2003

hama...I had somewhat of the same feeling. If Chomsky were to say something that was balanced, academically-researched and not filled with made-up stories and rhetoric, then I would be amazed.

And, y'know, these guys have some points that are interesting to understand. But so many of their suggestions, such as the "Vietnamese concentration camps" and the magical Cali bumper sticker, are so ridiculous that it makes it hard for them to be taken seriously.

You know what would amaze me? If Chomsky and Ali (I also hadn't heard of the Frenchman, though he seems to be a bit more balanced) were to talk about the Turks killing of the Kurds. Or the Iraqi's killing of Shi'ites. Or the Hindi violence against Moslems, and vice versa.

Because it seems to me that they're only anti-violence when the violence is somehow linked to the United States, especially when Republican governments are involved. And that's tragic.
posted by Kevs at 4:02 PM on January 2, 2003

I heard Noam Chomsky is gay too!
posted by xmutex at 4:14 PM on January 2, 2003

Did you get to the part where Chomsky accuses Kennedy of putting "millions" of Vietnamese into "concentration camps"?

I know that it is common today to regard the Vietnam war as ancient history, as a war we could have won if only we had tried a little harder. To the contrary it was one of the most violent and shameful episodes in American history. More than 2 million Vietnamese were killed in that conflict making claims of genocide not inappropriate. In 1965 Kennedy authorized the bombing of South Vietnam by the US Air Force. The reason was that, outside of Saigon, most the rural villagers were sympathetic to the North Vietnamese cause. The US installed puppet regime in Saigon was corrupt and brutal and had little support in rural areas. The purpose of the bombings was to force the population out of their villages and into refugee compounds where they could be isolated from Viet Cong supporters. Vast areas were sprayed with the cancer causing Agent Orange, a defoliant designed to transform the countryside into a sterile wasteland so that the villagers would have to leave or starve.
posted by JackFlash at 7:10 PM on January 2, 2003

In 1965 Kennedy authorized the bombing of South Vietnam by the US Air Force.

Amazing since Kennedy was killed in 1963. I'll spot you Johnson Jackflash. No slack for Chomsky though. I won't defend U.S. policy in Vietnam, but "concentration camps" is a loaded term that only hampers honest inquiry.
posted by quercus at 7:45 PM on January 2, 2003

1962. Pardon the typo.

The strategy was to remove peasants from the country side and concentrate them in controlled hamlets to eliminate a perceived threat. Sounds like a familiar strategy.
posted by JackFlash at 8:44 PM on January 2, 2003

Familiar as in we had them all gassed?
posted by gyc at 8:45 PM on January 2, 2003

Well, the US dropped more bombs on that small country than all the bombs dropped in WWII. They sprayed the Vietnamese with deadly chemicals and burned them alive with jellied gasoline. Deaths were in the millions. Draw your own conclusions.
posted by JackFlash at 11:13 PM on January 2, 2003

Lemmee see here now....and has anyone noticed Chomsky's name sounds kinda, um....well, foreign? I mean, from the comments above we're warned he's stale and/or old, he's incoherent, he's unsurprising, possibly gay (~sarcastic wink~), a caricature, makes up stories, and never says anything that's balanced or academically researched.

So lemmee pile on too. And remember, I'm not one to spoil a bunch of craven fun for folks who can't refute a message except by slinking around attacking the messenger, so I'd be the very last to point out that all the assertions named were given without any support or relevance whatsoever.

Except mine, of course. His name does sound foreign, the leftist bastard.

And for some of you, the whole argument hangs on them there bumper stickers, eh? The "kick his ass...get his gas" meme mentioned above has been around among those of a certain political persuasion since the Gulf War, and is probably more popularly remembered as "kick/nuke their ass, get their gas". Our hired killers in the 173rd Airborne Brigade recently used it. That particular sentiment appeared on T-shirts and bumper stickers in many places....and golly oh my I just can't guess the political persuasion of folks who sport that kind of moral imperative/SUV slogan just below those fading flag decals.

Can you?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:25 AM on January 3, 2003

I won't defend U.S. policy in Vietnam,

I will, and I'll defend it again and again, and defend the respect for the fifty-three thousand Americans who died and the 200,00 casualties in the Viet Nam war, but I feel like I've said this before, because I have.

His name does sound foreign, the leftist bastard.

I couldn't give two hoots if his name was Hiawatha, he has a disturbingly poisonous hatred for America, and I would recommend that he live in France, but oh wait, he's getting fat cash from M.I.T. to spew his vacuous bile, and the French probably wouldn't hire his monotonous derriere anyway.

Lucky us who don't have cars, or want them.
posted by hama7 at 3:21 AM on January 3, 2003

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