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April 6, 2003

A hilarious excerpt from the

Daniel Radosh

A hilarious excerpt from the recent New Yorker profile of Noam Chomsky. This argument is clever and funny. Much more so than in the stiff written version that Chomsky published back in November:

Back in the classroom, Chomsky's co-teacher asked whether one of the students wanted to try to make a case for the war in Iraq. A round-faced young man near the door raised his hand. "I think the most central claim for the pro-war movement is the liberation of the Iraqi people," the student said. "That's been the hardest one for the left to counter. I think that at the core the best of what Professor Chomsky has been able to say is that in the past the U.S. hasn't done it."

"Not just hasn't done it, has supported the opposite," Chomsky broke in. "And not just the U.S. but the people currently in office. . . . Suppose the goal is to liberate Iraq. How come it's not proposed at the United Nations?"

"There are a lot of answers to that, like I think-" the student began.

"Really? I don't know of any," Chomsky interrupted. "But here's a way to liberate Iraq, an easy way, and it will knock off all the most common arguments. No U.S. casualties, no threat to Israel, good chance of bringing democracy, probably be welcomed by the population, they'll allow plenty of oil to flow, Saddam will be torn to shreds, they'll destroy every trace of weapons of mass destruction. Help Iran invade Iraq. They could do it very easily if we gave them any support at all."


"Excuse me. They have a fair chance of introducing democracy. The U.S. doesn't. The reason is that the majority of Iraq's population is Shiite. Shiites are likely to want an accommodation with Iran, but the U.S. will never allow them to have a voice in the government because it doesn't want the government to have an accommodation with Iran. . . . What's the downside?"

The student looked baffled. "Are you honestly advocating that we help Iran invade Iraq?" he asked.

"No. You are," Chomsky said. The students laughed, startled by this unexpected twist. "Proposing that Iran attack Iraq is insane. But it makes a lot more sense than having the U.S. attack. Are you saying that the people who supported Saddam while he was committing his worst atrocities are more likely to liberate the Iraqis than the people who opposed him?"

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