Bullying and Noam Chomsky's 9-11

Eddie Kohler

I'm concerned here neither with Noam Chomsky's politics -- as expressed in 9-11 or elsewhere -- nor his arguments, some of which I agree with. But I hate his arrogant tone, which tolerates no dissent, and which states more or less directly that anyone with a different view is irrational, moronic, or a pawn of power. Why does he need to talk like this? You could delete most of these bullying statements and trends without affecting the sense.

General trends
  • use of adverbs implying obviousness, such as `quite', `certainly', `uncontroversially', `plainly', `simply', and `of course', which encourage the reader to accept an statement without weighing it critically
  • intensifiers such as `soberly', `gross', and `elementary', designed to make more-or-less conventional statements fill people with outrage
  • undocumented references to earlier works and to earlier statements in the conversation, such as `again' and `as I have written elsewhere', which tend to make the reader feel stupid or uninformed
  • broad-brush descriptions of hypothetical political opponents as irrational, stupid, or insane
  • unsupported generalizations, such as `there are many other illustrations', `and there are many others'
  • a world-weary, prophetic tone, such as `exactly as would be expected', intended to show Chomsky's full understanding of global dynamics through hindsight predictions
Section 1: Not Since the War of 1812
11   I've tried to explain my reasons elsewhere and won't go into it now.
12 that is something strikingly new is quite clear.
13 but uncontroversially, they draw their support from
So there definitely are
That is, of course, not inevitable.
14 There are very substantial reasons ... but this is not the place to go into that.
"humanitarian intervention", by no means a novel usage.
15 major recent scholarly work on "humanitarian intervention"
is a matter of fact: passionate declaration does not suffice,
It is quite extraordinary how weak the arguments are
But that's a separate matter, which I've written about in some detail elsewhere.
16 To call it a "war against terrorism," however, is simply more propaganda,
But that is plainly not contemplated
Under the (admittedly unimaginable) circumstances that Western intellectual culture were willing to adopt the literal meaning,
17 along lines spelled out in extensive detail in literature that does not enter the respectable canon.
but unmentionable in the United States.
And there are many others, extensively documented from the most reliable sources
those that European leaders are expressing quite publicly.
18 I don't quite understand the question.
There is now, predictably, an effort under way to clean up the record
and a bit surprisingly, even respectable journalists (not to speak of others) are soberly quoting CIA officials to "demonstrate" that required conclusion---in gross violation of the most elementary journalistic standards.
Not surprisingly, they were welcomed by the governments;
19 which---again---did not begin in Seattle.
20 exactly as would be expected.
Again, these are the common dynamics
21 It is a new type of war for the reasons mentioned in response to your first question:
First of all, no one with even a shred of rationality defines Arabs as "fundamentalist."
There are many other illustrations.
Section 2: Is the War On Terrorism Winnable?
23   If we want to consider this question seriously,
   We might bear in mind, for example,
   Only one of countless examples.
   we know quite well how the problem should be addressed, if we want to reduce the threat rather than escalate it.
24   A clear example is the one I just mentioned, one that should be entirely uncontroversial, because of the reaction of the highest international authorities.
25   as the leading historians of Nicaragua, Thomas Walker for one,
26   That is the course one follows if the intention is to reduce the probability of further atrocities. There is another course: react with extreme violence, and expect to escalate the cycle of violence, leading to still further atrocities such as the one that is inciting the call for revenge. The dynamic is very familiar.

And at that point I got sick of this exercise. I did read the whole book; it didn't get any better.