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Noam Chomsky

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He seems both wholly cynical about the purposes of those in power, and wholly unforgiving. Those who direct American policy - and, by implication, those who direct the policy of any state - are allowed no regrets, no morals, no feelings, and when they change their policies they appear to do so for entirely Machiavellian reasons. Chomsky has little interest in the question of 'good in bad' - of how there can be good behaviour in the context of bad policies - and seems to deny the complexity of human affairs...
Martin Woollacott, January 14, 1989

Noam Chomsky

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There was a plea from honourable Members relating to the need for formal Gross National Product figures. Such figures are very inexact even in the most sophisticated countries I think they do not have a great deal of meaning, even as a basis of comparison between economies. That other countries make use of them is not, I think, necessarily a good reason to suppose that we need them. But, although I am not entirely clear what practical purpose they would serve in Hong Kong, I am sure they would be of interest. I suspect myself, however, that the need arises in other countries because high taxation and more or less detailed Government intervention in the economy have made it essential to be able to judge (or to hope to be able to judge) the effect of policies, and of changes in policies, on the economy. One of the honourable Members who spoke on this subject, said outright, as a confirmed planner, that he thought that they were desirable for the planning of our future economic policy. But we are in the happy position, happier at least for the Financial Secretary where the leverage exercised by Government on the economy is so small that it is not necessary, nor even of any particular value, to have these figures available for the formulation of policy. We might indeed be right to be apprehensive lest the availability of such figures might lead, by a reversal of cause and effect, to policies designed to have a direct effect on the economy. I would myself deplore this.

John James Cowperthwaite

The abhorrent acts in the prison were a direct consequence of the culture of impunity encouraged, authorized and instituted by Bush and Rumsfeld in their statements that the Geneva Conventions did not apply. The apparent war crimes that took place were the logical, inevitable outcome of policies and statements from the administration.
To me, as glaring as the evidence of this in the pictures themselves was the revelation that it was established practice for prisoners to be moved around during ICRC visits so that they would not be available for visits. That, no one can claim, was the act of individuals. That was policy set from above with the direct intention to violate US values it was to be upholding. It was the kind of policy we see and criticize in places like China and Cuba.

Al Gore

When it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.

Barack Obama

Your comments on the Cuban crisis are, to me, utterly amazing. You say that the way the solution was arrived at was that 'the Russians discontinued their suicidal policy; and President Kennedy by his resolution and farsightedness saved the world'. This seems to me a complete reversal of the truth. Russia and America had policies leading directly to nuclear war. Khrushchev, when he saw the danger, abandoned his policy. Kennedy did not. It was Khrushchev who allowed the human race to continue, not Kennedy.

Bertrand Russell

For Chomsky, the world is divided into oppressor and oppressed. America, the prime oppressor, can do no right, while the sins of those categorized as oppressed receive scant mention. Because he deems American foreign policy inherently violent and expansionist, he is unconcerned with the motives behind particular policies, or the ethics of particular individuals in government. And since he considers the United States the leading terrorist state, little distinguishes American air strikes in Serbia undertaken at night with high-precision weaponry from World Trade Center attacks timed to maximize the number of office workers who have just sat down with their morning coffee.

Noam Chomsky
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