Yeah, right. Thanks, Noam.
“However, in the last decade, the professor’s flaws have become glaring. His descriptions of our freedom seem more irrational than ever, his advocacy of compliance increasingly strident. His lectures are so predictable and tedious that they sometimes seem generated via algorithm. Chomsky is as famous as he is because he’s always demonstrated power-serving biases—as early as 2009, Seaumas Milne observed that “He describes himself as an anarchist or libertarian socialist, but often sounds more like a radical liberal.”* But Chomsky, too, has evinced a major rightward slide under Obama.
For instance, Chomsky used to explain how American imperialism could destroy a country and this would still produce benefits for the wealthy classes who dominate US policy. He theorized this as minimal vs. maximal goals: a totally subservient neo-colony may be the maximal goal, but the minimal goal of a failed state still squelches what Parenti calls “the threat of a good example” and warns other countries not to displease the wealthy whose interests Washington represents. In an interview from 1982, for example, he says “I think the chances of the US meeting its minimal goals, namely just preventing any constructive nationalist revolutionary movement from taking power and being able to do anything, that minimal goal I think the US can and probably will achieve. The maximal goal of installing the kind of government we succeeded in installing in Guatemala in 1954 may not succeed.”1 He explained the US destruction of Vietnam in similar terms. This may be a vulgarized version of a Marxist critique of imperialism, but it’s illuminating commentary because it still has at least one foot in the world of radical, class-based analysis.
In contrast, under the previous president, Chomsky moved away from this good radical analysis and has pushed a class-free image of the US as a blundering giant, an “empire of chaos” as he calls it, destroying countries on accident mostly due to lack of knowledge. “The chaos and destabilization are real, but I don’t think that’s the aim,” he said in 2015. “Rather, it is a consequence of hitting fragile systems that one does not understand with the sledgehammer that is the main tool, as in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere.” As is increasingly the case as he gets worse, Chomsky does not explain why his previous framework of “minimal vs. maximal goals” does not apply. Readers are meant to believe that post-2009 wars are the first instances of American imperialism which did not benefit the ruling class. Iraq, prosecuted by the Bush junta, “is a different story: ‘Iraq is a country (the United States) wanted to invade,’ because of its resources and strategic location in the middle of the world’s biggest oil-producing region.” Iraq is a confusing case, though, since back in 2005, Chomsky said that the “minimal vs. maximal goals” framework did not apply to Iraq, so we can’t be sure what exactly the professor wants us to think about that country’s destruction.”
Well, one might consider Israeli interest in promoting the destruction of Iraq.