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The Milton Measure

Noam Chomsky

by Benjamin Scharfstein on Friday, May 4th, 2012

MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky addresses students as the keynote speaker for Seminar Day (Mckean Tomkins/TMM)

Coming into Noam Chomsky’s keynote speech this past Wednesday, I have to admit I was expecting something extremely controversial and possibly offensive. I thought that at the very least, Professor Chomsky would accuse the United States and Israel of supporting terrorist activity, if not outright terrorism. Although he wasn’t outright offensive, Professor Chomsky did make some pretty outlandish assumptions and told a very one sided story. He did ask some interesting questions for us all to ponder, but for a man whose main premise is that the United States is biased in our foreign policy, his biased speech on Iran, the Arab Spring, and the Israel-Palestine conflict was quite disappointing.

I took issue with Chomsky’s argumentation that Iran solely wanted to obtain nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence. He was operating under the assumption that Iran is a “rational actor”, whose leaders would adhere to a classical understanding of political theory which states that any country would be completely out of their mind to use a nuclear bomb against another country with nuclear weapons and a reliable second strike capability. But Chomsky himself stated that the biggest threat to the Iranian people is the aIranian government itself. To say an “elected” government is a threat to its people is basically to say that the government is irrational. So why would Chomsky assume that the Iranian government would ever be rational and only use a nuclear weapon as a means of deterrence, especially since Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has himself stated that he wants to “wipe Israel off the map”?

Even if Iran itself were not to use a nuclear weapon against Israel, an Iranian built nuclear weapon might very well be used against the Jewish nation. Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist organization (Chomsky wouldn’t have called it that), has close ties to Iran. Considering the erratic leadership of the Iranian government and their close ties to terrorist groups, it was utterly absurd for Chomsky to claim that Iran only wanted a bomb for “deterrence.”

Chomsky’s grasp of the issues is apparently foolproof and whose record is so distinguished that it is hard to argue with his views. However, Chomsky, as most of us do, fell into the trap of only providing one side of the story. For me, his anti-Israel and anti-American bias hugely undermined his ultimate message which was that there may very well be solutions to many of the problems in the Middle East.

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Posted by Benjamin Scharfstein on May 4 2012. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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