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Noam Chomsky is one of the few people who bucked the conventional wisdom that bombing Afghanistan was good--before and after we "won." He also opposed the Kosovo war back in Clinton time, earning him the scorn of liberals who support humanitarian intervention. The MIT prof is the subject of a passive-aggressive hatchet piece in the New Yorker this week. It's one of those mini-biographies, where a staff writer talks about Chomsky's academic battles as a linguist, his current schedule of intensive travel and speechifying, his wife, his grooming--while subtly reinforcing the official line that he's a bad egg. For example:
Chomsky is not a pacifist on principle, but when it comes to the United States he has never supported an intervention. The country's record is just too damning, he says: to expect better in the future is to indulge in willful self-delusion. States, he believes, can never be moral actors. But when asked to suggest a better way--an alternative to intervention in, say, Bosnia or Kosovo or Rwanda, to stop massacres currently taking place--he has no ideas to offer. Those are, he says, difficult cases. He does not know how to think about them.I recommend perusing Chomsky's writing archive at znet to see whether he "doesn't know how to think" about Kosovo, in particular. He points out that there was no "flood of refugees" there before the start of the war, as interventionists claimed, and attacks the double standard of the US arming the Turks against their own Kurdish population at the same time as we were "protecting" the Kosovars. He argues that Milosevic would have been toppled eventually through his own political blunders, and that the US bombing was an unnecessary aggravation. In general, he thinks it's better for countries to remove their own bad leaders a la Ceausescu than suffer the indignity of having it done for them. Whether one agrees with any of this or not, it's kind of deceitful to say it's not a position.