Is Noam Chomsky Manufacturing Consent for Regime Change in Syria?
by Kim Petersen - Dissident Voice
April 8th, 2017
One might well expect the corporate/state media to twice be complicit for the “gas attack perpetrated by the Syrian regime” scenario. One would hope, however, media independent of the state and corporate sponsors would apply a higher journalistic standard. Yet Democracy Now! has been pushing the imperialist agenda for regime change in Syria.
Tendentious recent reports from DN make this abundantly clear. The so-called independent1 DN has also lured octogenarian professor Noam Chomsky to criticize the “Assad regime.”
DN begins with the leading statement of “worldwide outrage mounts over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, which was reportedly carried out by the Assad government…” No evidence is presented to support the accusation, and the accusers also are unnamed. What kind of journalism is this?
It would be completely nonsensical and insane for Syria to use chemical weapons while the war is turning in its favor. And, of course, there is evidence that refutes the allegation. For the record, when a Zionist and war criminal Barack Obama was bent on attacking Syria in 2013 following false accusations that the Assad government used sarin gas in Ghouta, Syria – to preempt the threatened invasion Assad agreed (UN Resolution 2118) to give up Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons (a deterrence against Israel’s nuclear weapons).
Now the Syrian government stands accused of using a chemical that was disposed of under international supervision. Is the Syrian government that stupid to risk another threat of invasion by using a non-conventional attack? And why is this new gas attack in Idlib taking place just after Rex Tillerson declared that it is the Syrian people who should decide the fate of their current president?
The professor tells DN:
“Syria is a horrible catastrophe. The Assad regime is a moral disgrace. They’re carrying out horrendous acts, the Russians with them.”
How about a dose of skepticism? After all, Chomsky speculated recently of a Donald Trump-orchestrated false flag. Chomsky’s opening omissions speak loudly. He goes straight at the Syrian government; he does not mention involvement by the US, Israel, and other western states. He does not mention the western, Saudi, and Qatari-backed terrorist mercenaries that seek to topple a foreign government through violence.
Indeed Chomsky, the linguist, has dipped into the imperialist lexicon. He criticizes the Assad “regime.” I am unaware of Chomsky ever referring to a Trump, Obama or other US “regime” or of an Israeli “regime.” To be sure, Chomsky has been a critic of US terrorism and imperialism and of Zionist crimes against Palestinians, but I am unaware of Chomsky referring to US, Israeli, or other western regimes as a “moral disgrace.” It might be implicit but not explicit.
Moreover, to criticize “the Assad regime” seems starkly at odds with a fundamental tenet of Chomsky’s philosophy: that his concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by his own state, the USA.2
Chomsky is even on record as denying American-Israeli intent at regime change in Syria. If Chomsky is correct, then that would signal a profound change in American imperialist direction. In 2007, former US general Wesley Clark, told of a classified memo describing the US “tak[ing] out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.”
DN asks Chomsky: “Why the Russians with them [the ‘Assad regime’]?”
“Well, pretty simple reason: Syria is their one ally in the whole region. Not a close ally, but they do have—their one Mediterranean base is in Syria. It’s the one country that’s more or less cooperated with them. And they don’t want to lose their one ally. It’s very ugly, but that’s what’s happening.”
That is Chomsky’s assessment, but it is factually inaccurate. Iran and Hezbollah are helping fight the terrorists in Syria. Also Chomsky does not discuss an important point: that Russia was invited to aid the Syrian government, as were Iran and Hezbollah.3
The US is uninvited and Syrian president Assad calls US forces in Syria “invaders.” Chomsky is well versed as to what happens when uninvited US forces show up in foreign lands – among them Korea, Viet Nam, Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, etc: genocide, millions killed, millions displaced, economic infrastructure destroyed, and vassalage.
Later in the interview, Chomsky almost exculpates the Russians when he mentions
“an initiative from the Russians … for a negotiated settlement, in which Assad would be phased out, not immediately…. The West would not accept it, not just the United States. France, England, the United States simply refused to even consider it. At the time, they believed they could overthrow Assad, so they didn’t want to do this, so the war went on.”
Is the West’s refusal of a negotiated settlement not a “moral disgrace”?
“Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supporting jihadi groups, [Italics added. Again Chomsky borrows from the imperialist lexicon. Why not characterize, then, western groups as “crusaders”?] which are not all that different from ISIS. So you have a horror story on all sides. The Syrian people are being decimated…. the country is simply being destroyed. It’s descending to suicide.”
Suicide? When US invaders are in Syria, when western governments and operatives are arrayed against the Syrian government, when Saudi and Qatari governments are supporting terrorists, and when Syrian people are being killed and made into refugees, then why describe this as a “suicide”? Does Chomsky want to imply that the Syrian people bear responsibility for the horror and decimation imposed upon them from outside? It sounds absurd.
As a first imperative, all uninvited outsiders should vacate Syria immediately. As a second imperative, all parties responsible for aggression against Syria and its peoples must be charged and prosecuted. Third, any crimes committed by the Assad government in allegedly putting down peaceful protests must be investigated and where such charges are valid, then prosecution must be carried out.
Noam Chomsky has garnered enormous respect for his opposition to US crimes, support for social justice, and anarchist leanings. Yet, Chomsky also stakes out positions that appear flawed (his statement that the truth doesn’t matter as to 9-11), even morally questionable (his opposition to the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement).
It is imperative is that people become informed. We should all listen to the words of intellectuals and persons who have demonstrated great integrity, but we must also pay heed to our internal dissonance to seemingly incongruous information; we must question and apply rigorous challenge to that information; and based on our assessment of the factual accuracy, logic, and morality of the information we must reach our own conclusions.
Avoid the allure of unquestioningly accepting the words of authority!
Regardless of personage, open-minded skepticism is the key to developing our own ability to cut through disinformation and thwart the insidious acts propaganda is intended to disguise. Critical and moral thinking is crucial to the revolution for a free and socially just world.
As the whistleblowing former FBI contractor Sibel Edmonds, among others, has pointed out DN receives large foundation grants:
Serious questions have arisen about how Democracy Now!, begun and developed with the resources of Pacifica Radio and grants from the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund and others, suddenly became independent and the effective property of Amy Goodman without recompense to Pacifica. This transfer apparently included valuable assets such as trademarks, ownership of years of archived programs, affiliate station access, and more.
In a contract that remains secret, Amy Goodman is also receiving $1 million per year for a five-year period that began in 2002, according to Pacifica Treasurer Jabari Zakiya, to continue doing what has become Pacifica’s flagship morning news program. This is more than double Goodman’s officially stated stipend of $440,000 per year from Pacifica Radio.
Democracy Now! receives indirect funding from George Soros, and direct funding from the Ford Foundation, the Glaser Foundation, Soros’ Open Society Institute… [emphasis in original] 
See Noam Chomsky, On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures (South End Press, 1987.) 
Colleague BJ Sabri and I concluded in part 6 — “A Russian White Knight or an Interventionist Power?” — of our 7-part series on “The Imperialist Violence in Syria”:
“Russia, although it entered the war on the side of the legitimate government, Russia has never declared any strategy or long-term objective in Syria except the one supporting a legitimate U.N. member from not being overrun by American/Saudi-supported terrorists and mercenaries.” 
Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @kimpetersen.