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Noam Chomsky in London (english)
by Keith Parkins
12 Dec 2002
Noam Chomsky paid a two day visit to London where he was
listened to with critical acclaim.
Noam Chomsky is a leading authority on and critic of US foreign policy,
which no doubt explains why we never see him in the mainstream media.
On behalf of the Bar (body for Barristers, cf Law Society for solicitors)
he gave a talk in St Paul's Cathedral to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of
the Kurdish Human Rights Project. 2,000 people attended, a further 1,000
were in the freezing cold outside hoping in vain to get in. Afterwards, for
a select few, including some of the leading lawyers in the land, a private
party was held in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral.
The centre piece of the talk was human rights violations in Turkey, the
crisis in the Middle East, followed by Colombia.
In Turkey, Kurds are still being imprisoned and tortured for the crime of
being a Kurd. Leyla Zana is still in prison, for daring to represent the
Kurds in Parliament. When a Kurd goes to the US on a mission of peace, he
is refused a visa, but war criminal Ariel Sharon is welcomed with open
There is a strong correlation with supply of US arms and human rights
abuses. The atrocities peaked in Turkey as the Clinton weapons supplies
were stepped up. More arms went to Turkey during this period than at the
height of the Cold War. As Turkish terrorism prospered, Kurds were
bludgeoned into submission.
As the US has turned its intention to Colombia, the atrocities have risen.
In Colombia, around two million people have been displaced by the
atrocities, a figure only matched by Turkey. No informed commentator
believes this to be a war on drugs. Why is the media silent?
In the Middle East, the West, ie US/UK, has the resources as of right. The
Middle East is not about access to oil, it is about control.
War with Iraq will have undetermined consequences. The CIA accept it will
lead to an increase in terrorism. Dissent and comparison with Vietnam are
misleading. It was several years into the Vietnam war before there was any
widespread dissent. Before the war with Iraq has even started, there is
growing opposition. This is unprecedented in recent US and European
2,000 people so intent on what was being said, that if a pin had been
dropped, it would have echoed throughout the hallowed venue.
The following day Chomsky was speaking to parliamentarians in an event
organised by Alan Simpson MP, then addressing students at the LSE, and
finally an evening event at the Institute of Education hosted by Red
Pepper. The Red Pepper event, like the previous day's event for KHRP, was
well over-subscribed, with a video link having to be provided for an
overflow theatre for a further 350.
As Michael Mansfield QC said in thanking Noam Chomsky for an illuminating
lecture, a lecture which received a standing ovation lasting several
minutes, if President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are to read a dossier,
it should be the dossier we have been presented tonight.
Speaking to Noam Chomsky later, I asked him why he thought the US was going
to attack Iraq. He said Iraq was not perceived as a threat until September.
9-11? He said no, September this year. I asked why. He replied the
congressional elections, and that it was now to get Bush re-elected.
Shocked and appalled, I asked was it that simple, that crude. He replied
yes, that simple that crude. As he explained, it has always been so, wars
to get unpopular leaders re-elected. I said like Maggie (former British
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) with the Falklands when she was at rock
bottom in the polls, he replied yes.
KHRP was originally founded to defend Kurdish human rights cases in Turkish
occupied Kurdistan. KHRP is increasingly handling cases of Kurds in Russia,
Syria, Iraq and Iran.
The World Tonight, Radio 4, BBC, 10 December 2002
Terry Kirby, Sidelined in the US, the left's 'greatest thinker' finds warm
welcome in Britain, The independent, 7 December 2002
Chomksy is a prolific writer, a selection which covers what he was
discussing in his lectures:
Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, Verso, 1991
Noam Chomsky, Fateful triangle, Pluto Press, 1999
Noam Chomsky, Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs, Pluto
Noam Chomsky, 9-11, Seven Stories Press, 2001
Noam Chomsky, Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism in
the Real World, Pluto Press, 1986, 2002
Noam Chomsky, Back in the USA, Red Pepper, May 2002
Phil Scraton (Ed), Beyond September 11: An Anthology of Dissent, Pluto