Power And Terror: Noam Chomsky In Our Times

Branded an anti-American by The New Satesman, hailed as a "rebel without pause" by none other than Bono, Noam Chomsky is without question one of the foremost voices of dissent in the United States today. Linguist by trade, political analyst by conscience, Chomsky has long been a critic of power politics, U.S. foreign policy and the media, so it should come...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Branded an anti-American by The New Satesman, hailed as a "rebel without pause" by none other than Bono, Noam Chomsky is without question one of the foremost voices of dissent in the United States today. Linguist by trade, political analyst by conscience, Chomsky has long been a critic of power politics, U.S. foreign policy and the media, so it should come as no surprise that he was among the first pundits journalists turned to hoping for an alternative take on the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. A condensed collection of some of the those interviews were published as the simply titled 9-11, a slim paperback book that soon became a brisk seller. This concise, 90-minute Japanese documentary, directed by American filmmaker John Junkerman, serves as interesting companion piece. Assembled from a series of talks given in Palo Alto, Stanford and New York City, as well as an interview in Chomsky's office at MIT, the film reiterates the basic idea set forth in 9-11, namely the most effective way for the United States to end terrorism is to stop participating it. Too often, Chomsky argues, U.S. actions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, Beirut, the Sudan, Honduras, Nicaragua and Iraq — just to name a few — have met the most basic, uncontroversial criteria for what constitutes terrorism. We would rather wage a "war on terrorism" than treat terrorists as criminals and their actions as crimes — as the English government has done with the IRA — because to do so would be to leave our own government open to similar prosecution. And while Chomsky mournfully acknowledges the magnitude of the atrocities, he argues that the most shocking aspect of September 11th wasn't the scale of the attacks — the U.S. government is responsible for far more deaths in Nicaragua alone — but the identity of the victims. Chomsky recommends a sincere inquiry into the roots of anti-American sentiment throughout large areas of the world, and an honest attempt at understanding the grievances leveled against the United States. Chomsky has his own list, and notes our government's opposition to developing independent democracies, years of sanctions against Iraq, and the support of Israel at the expense of Palestinians. Viewers unfamiliar with Chomsky's work may be unsettled by his unblinking critique of U.S. policy at a time when unquestioning patriotism is the order of the day, but while he fails to offer real solutions, his conscientious perspective on the hard questions is invaluable.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Branded an anti-American by The New Satesman, hailed as a "rebel without pause" by none other than Bono, Noam Chomsky is without question one of the foremost voices of dissent in the United States today. Linguist by trade, political analyst by conscience,… (more)
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