Subject: Chomsky on ET



Volume 21 - Issue 17, Aug. 14 - 27, 2004 India's National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU

The struggle for more freedom and justice is always an uphill task'

Interview with Noam Chomsky.


Q: Your contribution to the resistance movement in the 1960s brought about a mass reaction to the Vietnam War. From Vietnam to Iraq, do you think activism has almost disappeared, or has it become more intense? The first anniversary of the war on Iraq did not bring many demonstrators on the streets. On the other hand, your role in the East Timor cause is a singular instance of achievement against U.S. and Indonesian domination.

A: That vastly exaggerates my contribution. I was one of many, and the sources of the mass reaction were complex. The East Timor case was not much of a success. There were only a handful of activists, for many years, even though these crimes came as close to literal genocide as anything in the modern period, and could have easily been terminated simply by withdrawal of participation and support by the U.S. and its allies - no bombing, no troops, no economic measures - just stop participating. After almost 25 years, the Clinton administration came under enough international and domestic pressure to instruct its Indonesian clients that the game was over, and they instantly withdrew, revealing very clearly where the responsibility lies for these crimes, though the lesson cannot be drawn, with regard to England either.

The Timorese resistance is remarkable and inspiring, and there are a few outsiders - mostly little known, as usual - who deserve great credit for their perseverance and dedication. As for activism in general, it is more intense and widespread than at any time in the post-Second World War period, apart from a few brief moments, and covers a very wide range. The reaction to the Iraq war is a good illustration. This is the first time I can think of in the history of Europe and its offshoots that there was massive protest against a war even before it was officially launched. That is highly significant. The fact that articulate protest was less after the war doesn't mean much: what would the protestors have been calling for? True, there were major issues, but not the kind that rally mass demonstrations.

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