Thursday, June 07, 2007


INTERVENTIONS? By Noam Chomsky Introduction by Peter Hart City Lights Books Open Media Series 234 pages | $15.95 ISBN ? 13: 978-0-87286483-2 For those of us who know the name Noam Chomsky, our familiarity flows from having read (or read about) his many books on political or foreign affairs. Perhaps his best-known are 9-11, Manufacturing Consent (written with Ed Herman), and thanks to the promotion at the United Nations by Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez recently, Hegemony or Survival. That said, when (or if) we think of Chomsky, it's in the context of a critic, an author, or a scholar. Who knew that he is a gifted, concise columnist? Chomsky has been writing and distributing his op-ed pieces for years; unfortunately, American newspapers rarely carry them. In fact, as Chavez has demonstrated, Chomsky's readership of both books and columns may be more plentiful abroad than here, in the States. That may change with the publication of his newest book, a collection of columns called Interventions (City Lights Books/ Open Media Series, San Francisco, 2007). Interventions? offers over forty of Chomsky's columns; insightful, crisp and well-researched pieces on news events of the day. From 9-11 to the Iraq War, from the "non-crisis" of social security to the leveling of Lebanon, Chomsky provides informed opinion and critical analysis. The real kicker is, why is it easier to read him in Mexico's national daily, La Jornada, or in Britain's Guardian, than say, the Washington Post or the New York Times? The reasons are simple and undeniable: Chomsky doesn't buy the "Washington consensus" that is the bread and butter of most U.S. newspapers, and his pen slants to the left. For example, in "Disarming the Iran Nuclear Showdown," Chomsky writes: "A near meltdown seems to be imminent over Iran and its nuclear programs. Before 1979, when the shah of Iran was in power, Washington strongly supported these programs. "Today, the standard claim is that Iran has no need for nuclear power and, therefore, must be pursuing a secret weapons program. 'For a major oil producer such as Iran, nuclear energy is a wasteful use of resources,' Henry Kissinger wrote in the Washington Post last year (2005). "Thirty years ago, however, when Kissinger was secretary of state for President Gerald R. Ford, he held that 'introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran's economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals.' " (page 181) Chomsky, a leading linguist and scholar, peppers his columns with such insights. In an age when the nation's mass media knowingly betrayed its customers into this disaster of a war, based on a lie, Chomsky's musings could have been a valuable and necessary corrective. Unfortunately, millions of Americans never got that opinion; instead they were fed the lies of privilege, profit and war-mongering that led this nation into the mess it now finds itself. A timely intervention might have changed things. 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal

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