ARON MATÉ: Well, Noam, you mentioned the changes in discourse between 10 years ago and today. And actually, this issue of the reasons behind 9/11 came up last night at the Republican presidential debate. Congress Member Ron Paul of Texas drew boos from the crowd and a rebuke from other candidates on the podium when he criticized US foreign policy in discussing the roots of 9/11.
REP. RON PAUL: We're under great threat because we occupy so many countries. We're in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We're going broke. The purpose of al-Qaeda was to attack us, invite us over there, where they can target us. And they have been doing it. They have more attacks against us and the American interests per month than occurred in all the years before 9/11. But we're there, occupying their land. And if we think that we can do that and not have retaliation, we're kidding ourselves. We have to be honest with ourselves. What would we do if another country, say China, did to us what we do to all those countries over there?
So, this whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this and they're attacking us because we're free and prosperous, that is just not true. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been explicit. They have been explicit, and they wrote and said that we attacked - we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians a fair treatment, and you have been bombing - I didn't say that, I'm trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombing. At the same time, we had been bombing and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis for 10 years. Would you be annoyed? If you're not annoyed, then there's some problem.
AARON MATÉ: That was Republican Congress Member Ron Paul of Texas speaking last night at the Republican presidential debate. Noam Chomsky, your response?
NOAM CHOMSKY: I think what he said is completely uncontroversial. You can read it in government documents. You can find it in polls. Maybe people don't like to hear it, but, as I mentioned before, it goes back to the 1950s. Actually, right after 9/11, the Wall Street Journal, to its credit, did a study of privileged Muslims, sometimes called "monied Muslims," people in the Muslim world who are deeply embedded in the US global project - lawyers, directors of multinational corporations and so on, not the general population. And it was very much like what Eisenhower had - was concerned about, and the National Security Council, in the 1950s. There was a lot of antagonism to - a lot of antagonism to US policy in the region, partly support of dictators blocking democracy and development, just as the National Security Council concluded in 1958.
Also, by then, by 2001, there were much more specific things: very much a lot of anger about the US backing for the way - Israeli occupation of the Occupied Territories, settlements, the bitter oppression of the Palestinians, and also, something that isn't discussed much here but meant a lot there - and remember, these are privileged Muslims, leaders of - those who kind of carry out, implement the general US economic and social policies in the region. The other thing, besides the Israeli - support of Israeli crimes, was the sanctions against Iraq. This was 2001, remember. The sanctions against Iraq were brutal and destructive. They killed hundreds of thousands of people. Both of the international diplomats who administered the Oil-for-Food program, distinguished international diplomats - Denis Halliday, Hans von Sponeck, in sequence - both of them resigned in protest because they regarded the sanctions as genocidal. They were carrying out a kind of a mass slaughter of Iraqis. They were strengthening Saddam Hussein. They were compelling the population to rely on him just for survival. And these were major crimes of the 1990s. And privileged Muslims, monied Muslims, in the Saudi Arabia, elsewhere, were bitterly opposed to this, not because they hate our freedoms, because they don't like murderous and brutal policies.By Democracy Now!
13 September 11