Politics Magazine

Noam Chomsky Is A Voice Of Reason On How To Fight ISIS

Posted on the 29 January 2016 by Jobsanger
Noam Chomsky Is A Voice Of Reason On How To Fight ISIS (Note - This photo of Noam Chomsky is by Duncan Rawlinson.)
The following is part of an interview with America's foremost leftist by Melissa Parker at Smashing Interviews Magazine. It's a great interview that covers several subjects, and I urge you to read the whole interview. What I am posting below is just the section of the interview concerning ISIS.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): ISIS attacked Paris last November and just recently claimed 10 lives in Istanbul, Turkey, in a major tourist area. What should be done to combat ISIS? Noam Chomsky: The first thing we have to do is understand what it is and where it’s coming from. Scott Atran, for example, has done extensive work investigating the appeal of ISIS, studying ISIS members, former members and the communities in which they draw support. It’s a very important phenomenon. It’s a monstrosity. There’s no doubt about that. But where does that monstrosity come from? If you look back, it comes largely from the United States invasion of Iraq which destroyed the country, killed hundreds of thousands of people, created a couple of million refugees and incited a sectarian conflict. There was none before in Iraq. There were disagreements between two protestant sects or something, but the country was integrated. Shiites and Sunni families lived in the same neighborhoods. One of the consequences of the invasion was to instigate a sectarian conflict which was tearing the country and region apart. And one of the out-groups of it was Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Out of that came ISIS. That was one factor. The other factor in the development of ISIS is Saudi Arabia which is an extremist, fundamentalist, Islamic state, the most extreme in the world and far more than Iran. Furthermore, it’s a missionary state. They have plenty of resources because of the oil, so they put huge resources into trying to expand their extremist Wahhabi and Salafi doctrine by direct funding of Jihadist groups not excluding ISIS, but also by funding koranic schools. Madrassa is an Islamic religious school and where the Taliban comes from. Journalist Patrick Cockburn calls the rise of the Islamic state as one of the most dangerous developments of the modern era. That’s another factor. ISIS is an extremist offshoot of the Wahhabi version of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, our ally. The Sunni populations in Syria and Iraq where ISIS is based may hate ISIS, but they also see it as a protector. In these horrible sectarian conflicts that have been instigated, they see it as a kind of protector and a source of stability. That’s the same way lots of people in Afghanistan think that the Taliban were protecting themselves from the extremists Mujahideen, mujahid elements that the United States has been supporting. If you look elsewhere, say in France or other countries where the Jihadists are coming from, they are coming from seriously oppressed neighborhoods where people are humiliated and degraded. There’s a racist contempt for them. They live without hope, without any chance of entering the society they come from in countries which have been devastated by French atrocities for well over a century, Algerians and other parts of West Africa. They’re very bitter, young people who want something in life. They want something. They want some cause. They want something that will give them dignity. That’s where the Jihadists are coming from. Most of them come from backgrounds with very little Islamic background. They don’t know the Koran or anything at all. They’re just looking for something in their lives, and that’s drawing them to it. Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So in a sense, you’re saying that we need to really examine the psychology behind these terrorist groups? Noam Chomsky: The first thing we have to do in combatting ISIS is understanding what all this is about. Not just screaming imprecations, but asking what it’s about. Undoubtedly they commit horrible atrocities, but we’re not exactly immune to that. Belgium is now one of the countries suffering from the offshoots of Islamic terrorism. What’s its record? The potentially richest colony in Africa which could have led Africa to enormous development is a Congo that was run by the Belgians. They were just slaughtering people, maybe 10 million people, because they weren’t bringing in enough rubber. In 1960, Congo was liberated. It had a very promising young nationalist leader, probably the most promising one in Africa who campaigned for independence from Belgium, named Patrice Lumumba. He could have led Congo on with its enormous resources to help the development of Africa. So what happened? The Belgians murdered him. The CIA was under orders to murder him, but the Belgians got there first. They didn’t just murder him. After he was murdered, his body was hacked to pieces and dissolved in sulfuric acid. There’s plenty of stuff like that, so I could go on and on. But we have to understand those things. We do not like to look at them, but we need to understand them. If we do understand them, we’ll begin to treat ISIS at its roots. We’ll ask where it’s coming from, and we will deal with those problems. It is a monstrosity. We should undoubtedly support anyone who’s defending themselves against ISIS crimes like the Kurds and Syria definitely. Take Turkey where the ISIS crimes take place today. It has been allowing jihadists to flow into ISIS territories right across its borders. It has been allowing funding for ISIS. It has been openly supporting Jihadi groups different from ISIS like the al-Nusra Front. Well, okay. That’s not part of ancient history. That’s today. We have to look at those things. Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): But the answer is not US military intervention? Noam Chomsky: There are plenty of ways to combat ISIS seriously, but not by Ted Cruz’s carpet bombing. In fact, hit any of these things with a sledgehammer and you’ll make it worse. There’s a long record that shows that when you attack radical insurgencies or even individual terrorists with violence, you usually end up with something much worse. That’s the Ted Cruz reaction. If you want to be serious about it, you’ll follow the proposals of people like Scott Atran and William Polk who understand the actual circumstances and who pay attention to the nature of their roots and who come up with pretty sound proposals. Polk worked many years at the highest level of US government planning as well as being a very good Middle East specialist. The proposals are sensible. They’re not dramatic. They’re not like carpet bombing which kind of sounds good until you think about what the consequences would be. Just take a look at the records of the last 15 years. The last 15 years is what’s called the “Global War on Terror.” The method that has been used in the “Global War On Terror” is violence. That’s what we’re good at. Violence. So we invade. We kill people with drones. We have all kinds of ways of killing people. What has been the effect? Take a look. Fifteen years ago terrorist groups were concentrated in a small tribal area in Afghanistan. That was it. Where are the now? All over the world. The worst terrorist crimes are going on in West Africa with Boko Haram, a lot of which is an offshoot of the bombing in Syria. They’re in West Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia. They carry out attacks in Turkey, in Paris and so on. We’ve succeeded in spreading it from a little corner of tribal Afghanistan to most of the world. It’s a great achievement for the use of violence. Can we draw some lessons from that? Yeah. We can.

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