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US foreign policy amounts to international terrorism - Chomsky

Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2 Feb 2002 (IPS/Satya Sivaraman) - With his usual biting wit, noted linguist, philosopher and social activist Noam Chomsky gave the audience at his “teach-in”, during the second World Social Forum (WSF) here, a strong dose of exactly what they were looking for.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor first defended the anti-globalization movement, then neatly exposed the motives behind the US government’s ongoing “War on Terrorism”, and finally trashed the entire rationale that the global elites give for the policies of neo-liberalism they push. “A sane and just form of globalization is what the anti-globalization movement is all about,” Chomsky said at his Friday workshop, urging everyone at the WSF to “reject with scorn” the canard that they were opposed to all globalization per se.

Calling the WSF - which emerged as a counterpoint to the World Economic Forum, the annual gathering of the global corporate elites traditionally held in Davos, Switzerland - “the most exciting development in recent times,” Chomsky said it is a continuation of the struggle for an integrated world of human beings that has been a part of people’s and workers’ movements for more than a century.

Speaking on the main theme of his testimonial “A World Without Wars”, Chomsky said that the weapons of mass destruction in human possession could currently wipe out the world completely. “Either we have a world without war or we have no world,” he warned, pointing out that despite this dire threat there are developed countries, like the US, that are pursuing research on even more deadly ways of destroying the world.

Chomsky traced the history of modern wars to the rise of the nation-state in Europe several centuries ago, when rising elites used violence to demarcate their boundaries of jurisdiction and interest.

The US government’s War on Terrorism came in for a particularly strong attack from Chomsky, who said that it is a campaign that only increases the risks of worldwide destruction.

He questioned the US government’s moral right to undertake such a war when Washington itself is guilty of promoting and implementing terrorism internationally on many occasions in the past.

“If one looked at the official definition of terrorism, it would be identical to the official definition of US foreign policy,” Chomsky said to wild cheers from the audience. The current campaign against terrorism, he pointed out, is being run by US officials who in the mid-1980s were themselves responsible for running an international campaign of terrorism against leftist-run countries in Latin America and the Middle East. This is “a telling comment on the educated classes of the free and democratic societies,” he added in a sarcastic aside.

Referring to the business and political elites who dominate global affairs and are meeting in the World Economic Forum this year in New York ( instead of Davos), as the “Masters of the Universe”, Chomsky said that globalization today was entirely designed to suit the needs of that wealthy minority. It is only popular movements like the WSF that can return power and resources back to the ordinary people and build a truly just and democratic world. – SUNS5053

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