Brutal and Sadistic

Federal officials say 711 children remain separated from their parents despite Thursday’s court-imposed deadline for the Trump administration to reunite all migrant children separated from their parents by immigration officials at the border. More than 400 parents have been deported back to their home countries while their children remain in U.S. custody in facilities scattered across the United States. For more on the Trump administration’s family separation policy and the roots of today’s refugee crisis, we speak with world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and professor Noam Chomsky.

AMY GOODMAN: Federal officials say 711 children remain separated from their parents, despite Thursday’s court-imposed deadline for the Trump administration to reunite all migrate children separated from their parents by immigration officials at the border. More than 400 of the children have parents who have already been deported from the United States.

Well, on Thursday, I spoke with world-renowned political dissident, author and linguist Noam Chomsky. He is a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for more than 50 years. His recent books include Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy and Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power. He joined us from Tucson, Arizona, and I began by asking Noam Chomsky about the Trump administration’s family separation policy.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, it’s a major scandal, of course, and properly condemned throughout the world. Taking children away from their parents, sending them off somewhere, losing track of them, you know, it’s hard to think of a more brutal and sadistic policy. Here in Tucson, there’s a lot of—there’s a good deal of activism concerned with immigrants. There are groups that set up camps in the desert to try to help people fleeing. And, of course, it’s a very live issue. It’s not very far from the border. In fact, when I give talks here, I often refer to the area as “occupied Mexico,” which actually is a good designation. But the immigration policy altogether is a grotesque moral scandal here, and in Europe, I should say.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to President Trump speaking earlier this month.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I have a solution: Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That’s the solution. Don’t come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Trump. We were on the border recently in Brownsville, going back and forth over the bridge to Matamoros, Mexico. We saw a Guatemalan mother with her child, a Guatemalan father with his child. The Guatemalan mother had been at the legal port of entry at the bridge for days, on two different bridges, told that America is full, told this by the U.S. government. The question is: Who’s being legal? Who’s being illegal? What about what the U.S. is doing and where these migrants are desperately fleeing from—Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador? If you can talk about the history of U.S. involvement in these countries and what President Trump is saying—do it legally?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, actually, these people are fleeing from the wreckage and horrors of U.S. policies. So, take Guatemala. No need to go through the whole history, but back in 1954, the U.S. intervened, sponsored a military coup, overthrew a mildly reformist elected government. Since then, the country has been a complete horror story—hundreds of thousands of people killed, all kinds of atrocities, every imaginable sort of torture. It peaked in the 1980s under Reagan. In fact, some of the places where people are fleeing from, the Mayan areas, there was literal genocide going on, carried out by the man who Reagan called a stellar exponent of democracy, a really good guy. When Congress imposed some limits on direct U.S. military aid to this—to Ríos Montt, the person who was—general who was implementing the genocidal attacks, Reagan set up an international terrorist network.

The U.S. does not hire terrorists, it hires terror states—it’s much more effective—so, Taiwan, Israel, Argentina—as long as it was under the rule of the neo-Nazi generals. Unfortunately, they were overthrown. They had the good news, Argentina. The people are still fleeing from the destruction there. It’s been a horror story ever since. Same with El Salvador, where about 70,000 people were killed during the 1980s, almost all by the security forces, armed, trained, directed by the United States. Again, horror story since.

In Honduras, which not long ago had the plurality of refugees, the refugee flow started to peak after a military coup threw out the elected government, the Zelaya government, condemned by the entire hemisphere and the world, with the usual exception of President Obama. Hillary Clinton refused to call it a military coup, because that would have meant terminating military aid to the junta, which the U.S. continued to do. There had always been a severe repression and atrocities. They mounted sharply. Honduras became maybe the homicide capital of the world, and refugees started fleeing. There were so-called elections, which were mocked by almost everyone except the United States. It continues.

You’ll notice there’s one—there’s two countries in the region from which there haven’t been refugee flows. One is Costa Rica, which happens to be the one country that sort of functions, and not by accident, the one country that the United States has not—in which the United States does not intervene militarily to overthrow the government and run a military regime. The other is Nicaragua, which differed, which also suffered severely in the 1980s from Reagan’s assaults. But Nicaragua was unlike the other countries of the region: It had an army to defend it. In the other countries, the army were the terrorists. In Nicaragua, the army could, to some extent, defend the population from Reagan’s terrorist forces. And though there’s plenty of problems in Nicaragua, it hasn’t been the source of refugee flow.

So, essentially, what President Trump is saying is, we’ll destroy your countries, slaughter you, impose brutal regimes, but if you try to get out, you’re not going to come here, because America is full.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to continue on the situation in Nicaragua. In a rare interview, the Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega, recently rejected calls to step down from power amidst mounting protests and civil unrest. This is President Ortega speaking on Fox News on Monday.

PRESIDENT DANIEL ORTEGA: [translated] We were elected by the voters. So, there have been electoral periods, there are term limits, and our electoral period ends with the elections of 2021, when we will have our next elections. And then we’ll have to see who will be voted in for the new administration.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s President Daniel Ortega. Nicaragua’s main business association has been demanding Ortega hold early elections, to which Ortega has responded Nicaragua “is not private property.” International human rights groups say over 300 people have died since their protests erupted in April, anti-austerity protests, and that the vast majority have been killed by pro-government forces. In June, we spoke with former Sandinista leader Alejandro Bendaña, who served as the Nicaraguan ambassador to the United Nations and secretary general of the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry during Ortega’s rule, during the Sandinista rule in Nicaragua, from 1979 to 1990. This is what Bendaña had to say on Democracy Now!

ALEJANDRO BENDAÑA: One has to remember key historical facts. The Sandinista revolution began in 1979 and ended in 1990 with the electoral defeat of Daniel Ortega. But this has not spelled the end of Ortega, because for 17 years he worked tenaciously to get back into power. But to do this, he got rid of his potential competitors and many old Sandinista backers. He embraced corporate capital in Nicaragua. He adopted the most retrograded positions of the church and entered into an alliance, and reached an understanding with the U.S., so that he was able to barely win the presidency in 2007. But by that time, he himself is no longer a Sandinista. Yes, the trappings, the colors are still there, but his entire government has been, in essence, neoliberal. Then it becomes authoritarian, repressive.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Alejandro Bendaña, who served as President Ortega’s, Nicaragua’s ambassador to the United Nations, as well as secretary general of Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry during the Sandinista rule first time around, ’79 to ’90. Students are saying that, overwhelmingly, it’s the government that’s killed the people. What are your thoughts, Noam?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, in 1990, it’s true that the—first of all, there were plenty of problems even in the ’80s, but by the standards of the region it stood out as almost a stellar record—bad but by the standards of the region. In 1990, the President Bush, first President Bush, essentially informed the population of Nicaragua that either you vote for our candidate, or else the Contra war, the terrorist war, continues, and harsh sanctions will strangle the country. And, indeed, at the point of a gun, the population voted the Sandinistas out, and partially for internal reasons. There were many things they were doing they shouldn’t have. Since then, it hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as the other Central American countries, the ones that are, more or less, overwhelmingly, influenced by the U.S. But there’s been a lot of corruption, a lot of repression. It’s autocratic, undoubtedly. The opposition is nothing to write home about, either, for the most part. So, it’s by no means a pretty situation. One would hope that negotiations could reduce the tensions. And my own view is that I think it would be a good thing for Nicaragua if Ortega were to call early elections and allow them to be run without corruption and brutality. But that doesn’t look as if it’s—it’s hard to hard to see a simple way out at this point. It’s a very unfortunate situation.

We should bear in mind that in the early 1980s the situation was extremely hopeful in Nicaragua. Even the international institutions, like the World Bank and others, were praising the progressive steps being taken by the Sandinistas. The country was full of hope, excitement, literacy campaigns, dealing with poverty. With the almost—U.S. intervention actually began in the mid-19th century and had been horrible all the way through, but they were beginning to pull themselves out of it—until the U.S. terrorist war began. We should bear in mind that the United States is the only country ever to have been condemned by the International Court of Justice for international terrorism—technically, unlawful use of force—and ordered to pay substantial reparations to Nicaragua for the attack that it was carrying out. Of course, the U.S. refused, refused the World Court’s jurisdiction. The World Court was condemned not only by the government, but even by the press. New York Times condemned it as a hostile forum because it had ruled against the United States, so of course you don’t have to pay any attention to it. The U.S. even vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on states to observe international law. And then the Contra war went on, the sanctions went on, the other forms of subversion continued, and the hopes were pretty much smashed. You could just see the changes in expectations and attitudes. And one result was internal corruption, repression, and then it’s now imploding. But again, it’s a very ugly and unfortunate situation—nothing remotely comparable to the countries that have been under the U.S. thumb throughout the period.

But I think the point that—going back to the immigration crisis, which is actually a moral crisis in the United States, and comparably in Europe, we should bear in mind that the immigrants do not want to leave their countries. They would be very happy to stay in their own countries instead of coming here to unpleasant and harsh situations. They can’t, because we have ruined their countries. So, the first step in dealing with the immigration crisis should be to help reconstruct and rebuild what we have destroyed, so they won’t be fleeing from the homes where they would like to live. Now, that’s certainly within the means of a super-rich country like the United States with incomparable advantages. That’s step one in dealing with the immigration crisis—again, a moral crisis, not an immigration crisis.

Secondly, conditions should be established so that legal—what’s called legal immigration—I don’t like the term, but what’s technically called that—would be facilitated, with decent conditions, plenty of entry points, lawyers provided pro bono with U.S. support for immigrants so they could plead their cases, and decent conditions for the applicants to survive—nothing like putting them in camps and stealing their children away from them—and facilitating the kind of appeals for asylum that are granted under international law. That should be automatically assumed in a—certainly in a rich country like ours. That’s the second step.

We might also recognize that there are countries that have somehow managed to deal with the huge flood of immigrants, poor countries. So, take Lebanon, poor country. Probably 40 percent of the population are refugees at this point, driven out from Israel by the Israeli—several Israeli wars, ’48, ’67, Syrian refugees, Iraqi refugees fleeing from the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It’s a poor country, and there are plenty of internal problems, but they’re somehow surviving with 40 percent of the population refugees. The same is true of Jordan, another poor country. Kenya, Africa, another poor country, has a huge number of refugees. Bangladesh has taken in huge numbers of refugees fleeing from Burma. But the rich countries of the world—the United States, European Union—the ones who have an overwhelming responsibility for the circumstances from which the refugees are fleeing, they can’t help with it. They can’t deal with it. Too much for us. Go somewhere else. Go to a poor country, but not go to the countries of the perpetrators of the conditions from which you’re fleeing. I mean, it’s a grotesque moral crisis throughout the industrial world.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ll be back with Professor Noam Chomsky on the shakeup of the Democratic establishment and the news you’re not getting, in 30 seconds.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to the upcoming midterm elections and the increasing number of Democratic Socialist candidates running, who raise the issue of immigration as one of the top issues. I recently sat down with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democratic congressional candidate, whose recent primary victory upended the 10-term incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, who was being talked about as the next House speaker to succeed Pelosi. And I began by asking her how she achieved her staggering primary victory.

ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: I do think that the way that we won in New York 14 is a model for how we can win almost anywhere. I knew from the outset that—you know, I had no misconceptions of the fact that the New York political machine was not going to be doing me any favors. And so I didn’t—I tried to kind of come in as clear-eyed as possible. And I knew that if we were going to win, the way that progressives win on an unapologetic message is by expanding the electorate. That’s the only way that we can win strategically. It’s not by rushing to the center. It’s not by trying to win spending all of our energy winning over those who have other opinions. It’s by expanding the electorate, speaking to those that feel disenchanted, dejected, cynical about our politics, and letting them know that we’re fighting for them. So I knew that I had to build a broad-based coalition that operates outside of the traditional Democratic establishment, and that I had to pursue kind of an uphill journey of convincing activists that electoral politics is worthwhile.

AMY GOODMAN: And the issues you ran on?

ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: And the issues I ran on were very clear, and I think it was an important part to us winning: improved and expanded Medicare for all; tuition-free public colleges and universities, as well as trade schools; a Green New Deal; justice for Puerto Rico; an unapologetic platform of criminal justice reform and ending the war on drugs; and also speaking truth to power and speaking about money in politics not just in general, but how it operates in New York City.

AMY GOODMAN: In a moment, I’m going to play her clip talking about immigration activism. Yes, Alexandria Cortez—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went to the border right before Election Day. In fact, her plane was delayed. I was concerned she wouldn’t be back in New York for the Primary Day. But if you could start by responding to this? And then we’ll hear what she has to say about immigration activism.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I think there’s—her victory was a quite spectacular and significant event. I think what it points to is a split in the Democratic Party between the—roughly speaking, between the popular base and the party managers. The popular base is increasingly, essentially, social democratic, following, pursuing the—concerned with the kinds of progressive objectives that she outlined in those—in her remarks, which should be directed not only to expanding the electorate but to the general working-class, poor population of the world, of the middle-class population of the country, for whom these ideals are quite significant. They can be brought to that. That’s one part of the party. The other part of the party is the donor-oriented, managerial part of the New Democrats, so-called, the Clintonite Democrats, who are pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans. The Republican Party itself has drifted so far to the right that they’re almost off the spectrum. But the split within the Democratic Party is significant, and it’s showing up in primary after primary. Will the party move in the direction of its popular base, with a, essentially, social democratic, New Deal-style programs, even beyond? Or will it continue to cater to the donor class and be essentially a moderate wing—a more moderate wing of the Republican Party? And unless that issue is resolved, I don’t think they have a very good chance in the forthcoming elections.

I think she was right in saying that the policies she’s outlined should have broad appeal to a very large segment of the population. We should bear in mind that, for now almost 40 years, since the neoliberal assault began, taking off with Reagan, on from there, a large majority of the population are living in conditions of stagnation or decline. Real wages are—for, say, male real wages—are about what they were in the 1960s. It’s been—there has been productivity growth. Hasn’t gone to working people. It’s gone into the very few extremely overstuffed pockets. And that continues. So, the Labor Department just came out with its report for wages in the year ending May 2018. Now, they actually slightly declined. All sorts of talk—real wages, that is, wages measured against inflation. And it’s apparently continuing, with an even further drop. This is a time when a lot of crowing about the marvelous economy, you know, full employment and so on, but wages continue to stagnate. And furthermore, it’s plainly going to get worse. The Republicans are on a binge of pursuing the most savage form of class warfare. The tax scam is a good example, the attacks on workers’ rights, on—Public Citizen just came out with a report on corporate impunity, which is almost comical when you read it. The administration has simply cut back radically on any kind of dealing with corporate crimes. And, of course, the EPA has practically stopped working. It’s as if grab whatever you can, stuff it in your pocket, before—while you have a chance. Under those conditions, the kind of appeal that she was talking about should mean a lot to the general population.

Notice, as everybody’s well aware, the tax scam was a purposeful effort not only to enrich the super-rich and the corporate sector—corporate profits, of course, are overflowing—but it was also an effort to sharply increase the deficit, which can be used—and Paul Ryan and others kindly announced to us right away what the plans were—the deficit could be used to undermine any elements of government structure which benefit the general population—Medicare, Social Security, food for poor children. Anything you can do to shaft the general population more can now be justified under the argument that we have a huge deficit, thanks to stuffing the pockets of the rich. This is an astonishing phenomenon. And under those conditions, a properly designed progressive program should appeal to a large majority of the population. But it has to be done correctly and not shaped in ways which will appease the donor class.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to the interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has really upended the Democratic Party, and the kind of message this candidate of Puerto Rican descent in New York has sent to the entire party, I think the Republican Party, as well. But this is what she says about immigration.

ALEXANDRIA OCASIOCORTEZ: We have to occupy all of it. We need to occupy every airport, we need to occupy every border, we need to occupy every ICE office, until those kids are back with their parents, period.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, the right-wing media—for example, Fox News and others—have kept—have written about this over and over since she made this comment about occupying airports. Interestingly, her area of Queens and Bronx include Rikers Island and LaGuardia Airport. Noam Chomsky?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I think we just had a very dramatic illustration of what courageous opposition to these atrocious policies can do—namely, the young Swedish woman who prevented an airplane from taking off because it was deporting an Afghan man to almost certain murder.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, let me go to the young Swedish woman, the student who you just raised, who stood up—


AMY GOODMAN: —on the plane, this flight from Gothenburg, Sweden, to Istanbul, because she understood that an Afghan refugee was on the flight, as you pointed out, and she live-streamed what she did next. This is what Elin Ersson had to say.

ELIN ERSSON: I’m not going to sit down until this person is off the plane, because he will most likely get killed if he is on this plane when it goes up.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Elin Ersson. And when one of the angry passengers threatened her, threatened to take her phone away, and then a flight attendant grabbed it back, she went on to say—when passengers talked about being inconvenienced, she said, “They’re not going to die. He’s going to die.” And there were many on the plane, actually, who supported her in her protest, until the Afghan refugee was removed from that flight on orders of the pilot.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah, that was a very inspiring act and an indication of what could be achieved by really large-scale civil disobedience. Here’s one young woman standing up alone to try to prevent a person from being killed in difficult and hostile conditions. Large-scale civil disobedience could achieve a great deal more. But I would again urge that we think in broader terms. We should be considering why people are fleeing from their homes. Not because they want to live in slums in New York. They’re fleeing from their homes because their homes are unlivable, and they’re unlivable, largely, because of things that we have done. Overwhelmingly, that’s the reason. That tells you right away what the solution to the crisis is: rebuild what we’ve destroyed, compensate for the atrocities that we’ve carried out. Then the flow of refugees will decline. And for those who come with asylum pleas, they should be accommodated in a humane and civilized way. Maybe it’s impossible to imagine that we can reach the level of civilization of the poor countries that are absorbing refugees. But it doesn’t—it shouldn’t seem entirely out of reach.

AMY GOODMAN: We continue our interview with Noam Chomsky, world-renowned dissident, linguist and author, now in Tucson at the University of Arizona. I asked him about a recent mix-up on Fox & Friends, in which the hosts thought they were interviewing former Democratic congressional candidate, a current one, Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, who supports Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, but, in fact, they were actually speaking to a Massachusetts Democratic congressional candidate, Barbara L’Italien, who opposes ICE. Here is how the interview started.

SEN. BARBARA L’ITALIEN: Good morning. I’m actually here to speak directly to Donald Trump. I feel that what’s happening at the border is wrong. I’m a mother of four. And I believe that separating kids from their parents is illegal and inhumane. I’m actually Barbara L’Italien. I’m a state senator representing a large immigrant community. I’m running for Congress in Massachusetts. I keep thinking about what we’re putting parents through, imagining how terrifying that must be for those families, imagining how it would feel not knowing if I’d ever see my kids again. We have to stop abducting children and ripping them from their parents’ arms—


SEN. BARBARA L’ITALIEN: —stop putting kids in cages—

ROB SCHMITT: You want to—

SEN. BARBARA L’ITALIEN: —and stop making 3-year-olds defend themselves in court.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Barbara L’Italien said a lot there, but she was then cut off, with the shock of the Fox & Friends crew in the morning that they had the wrong Democratic congressional candidate. But this kind of media activism also just goes to the whole issue of the media, Noam Chomsky, the issue of Fox News becoming really state media, with—you have the person who supported the sexual harasser Roger Ailes, Bill Shine, now a top aide to President Trump in the White House. That’s gotten little attention. So you have Fox being a mouthpiece for Trump and a place for him to hear what people have to say, and the other networks very much running counter to Trump, on certain issues, CNN and MSNBC. But your thoughts?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, my frank opinion is that—I must say I don’t pay much attention to television, so I don’t know a great deal about it. But, in general, I think the media—first of all, Fox News is, by now, basically a joke. It’s, as you said, state media. The other media, I think, are focusing on issues which are pretty marginal. There are much more serious issues that are being put to the side. So, the worst of—even on the case of immigration, once again, I think the real question is dealing with the roots of immigration, our responsibility for it, and what we can do to overcome that. And that’s almost never discussed. But I think that’s the crucial issue. And I think we find the same across the board.

So, of all Trump’s policies, the one that is the most dangerous and destructive, in fact poses an existential threat, is his policies on climate change, on global warming. That’s really destructive. And we’re facing an imminent threat, not far removed, of enormous damage. The effects are already visible but nothing like what’s going to come. A sea level rise of a couple of feet will be massively destructive. It will make today’s immigration issues look like trivialities. And it’s not that the administration is unaware of this. So, Donald Trump, for example, is perfectly aware of the dangerous effects, in the short term, of global warming. So, for example, recently he applied to the government of Ireland for permission to build a wall to protect his golf course in Ireland from rising sea levels. And Rex Tillerson, who was supposed to be the adult in the room before he was thrown out, as CEO of ExxonMobil, was devoting enormous resources to climate change denial, although he had, sitting on his desk, the reports of ExxonMobil scientists, who, since the ’70s, in fact, were on the forefront of warning of the dire effects of this accelerating phenomenon. I don’t know what word in the language—I can’t find one—that applies to people of that kind, who are willing to sacrifice the literal—the existence of organized human life, not in the distant future, so they can put a few more dollars in highly overstuffed pockets. The word “evil” doesn’t begin to approach it. These are the kinds of issues that should be under discussion. Instead, what’s being—there is a focus on what I believe are marginalia.

So, take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that’s almost a joke. First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done, I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies—what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015. Did Putin come to give an address to the joint sessions of Congress trying to—calling on them to reverse U.S. policy, without even informing the president? And that’s just a tiny bit of this overwhelming influence. So if you happen to be interested in influence of—foreign influence on elections, there are places to look. But even that is a joke.

I mean, one of the most elementary principles of a functioning democracy is that elected representatives should be responsive to those who elected them. There’s nothing more elementary than that. But we know very well that that is simply not the case in the United States. There’s ample literature in mainstream academic political science simply comparing voters’ attitudes with the policies pursued by their representatives, and it shows that for a large majority of the population, they’re basically disenfranchised. Their own representatives pay no attention to their voices. They listen to the voices of the famous 1 percent—the rich and the powerful, the corporate sector. The elections—Tom Ferguson’s stellar work has demonstrated, very conclusively, that for a long period, way back, U.S. elections have been pretty much bought. You can predict the outcome of a presidential or congressional election with remarkable precision by simply looking at campaign spending. That’s only one part of it. Lobbyists practically write legislation in congressional offices. In massive ways, the concentrated private capital, corporate sector, super wealth, intervene in our elections, massively, overwhelmingly, to the extent that the most elementary principles of democracy are undermined. Now, of course, all that is technically legal, but that tells you something about the way the society functions. So, if you’re concerned with our elections and how they operate and how they relate to what would happen in a democratic society, taking a look at Russian hacking is absolutely the wrong place to look. Well, you see occasionally some attention to these matters in the media, but very minor as compared with the extremely marginal question of Russian hacking.

And I think we find this on issue after issue, also on issues on which what Trump says, for whatever reason, is not unreasonable. So, he’s perfectly right when he says we should have better relations with Russia. Being dragged through the mud for that is outlandish, makes—Russia shouldn’t refuse to deal with the United States because the U.S. carried out the worst crime of the century in the invasion of Iraq, much worse than anything Russia has done. But they shouldn’t refuse to deal with us for that reason, and we shouldn’t refuse to deal with them for whatever infractions they may have carried out, which certainly exist. This is just absurd. We have to move towards better—right at the Russian border, there are very extreme tensions, that could blow up anytime and lead to what would in fact be a terminal nuclear war, terminal for the species and life on Earth. We’re very close to that. Now, we could ask why. First of all, we should do things to ameliorate it. Secondly, we should ask why. Well, it’s because NATO expanded after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in violation of verbal promises to Mikhail Gorbachev, mostly under Clinton, partly under first Bush, then Clinton expanded right to the Russian border, expanded further under Obama. The U.S. has offered to bring Ukraine into NATO. That’s the kind of a heartland of Russian geostrategic concerns. So, yes, there’s tensions at the Russian border—and not, notice, at the Mexican border. Well, those are all issues that should be of primary concern. The fate of—the fate of organized human society, even of the survival of the species, depends on this. How much attention is given to these things as compared with, you know, whether Trump lied about something? I think those seem to me the fundamental criticisms of the media.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, author and linguist, now a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He taught for 50 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tune in next week when we continue our conversation with Noam Chomsky about Gaza, Israel’s new nationality law, the recent Trump-Putin summit, Iran, North Kora, the war in Yemen and more. In December, Noam Chomsky will be celebrating his 90th birthday.


1 comment

  1. george patterson August 1, 2018 3:51 pm 

    Noam Chomsky has made a very passionate, inspiring and morally compelling case of the US immigration crisis, particularly the very cruel separation of children from their parents; US intervention in Central America as being a significant cause of the immigration crisis in the US; and the existential danger and threat of global nuclear war and climate change that we must not fail to ignore. We can not afford to be complacent about these urgent, existential realities, looming over us like the Sword of Damocles. Thus, to do otherwise would be catastrophic. We don’t have much time; we must act now with determination, courage, discipline, and vision like a violet bougainvillea..

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