Chavez, Chomsky and State Terrorism

I first discovered that Noam Chomsky was one of the foremost experts on state terrorism, if not terrorism in general, when supervising a Ph D dissertation on the former subject. The doctoral candidate could not find anyone else in the department to assume the job. After several revisions in which, among other changes, the candidate was required to abandon a harsh leftist presentation in favor of softer academic discourse, his dissertation was accepted. I left this experience intrigued by the subject and impressed by Chomsky’s bravery in accusing Republican and Democratic administrations in Washington of supporting state terrorism.

Before 9-11, I too wrote a book on Washington’s support for state terrorism. My book’s evidentiary base was principally the six truth commission reports then available on five terrorist-beset countries that had received aid and support from Washington. These reports were chosen principally because each was based on thousands of interviews of the victims of terrorism, in the hope that a skeptical American audience would believe empirically quantified results.

A compilation of the testimony of those interviewed in each of the six reports revealed that the overwhelming percentage of the terrorism in each of the five countries was state terrorism committed by the government or agents it controlled, not private terrorism carried on by the guerrillas. In Guatemala, the commission appointed by the United Nations concluded that 93 percent of the terrorist acts, including 92 percent of the murderous ones and 91 percent of forced disappearances were committed by the government or its agents. The report on El Salvador charged the government and those it controlled with 95 percent of the terrorist acts resulting in death and the guerrillas with the remaining five percent. This evidence exposed as lies the claims of the governments that the guerillas were committing the bulk of the terrorism. The reports also concluded that the overwhelming number of those terrorized by their governments were ordinary workers, peasants, or the like, rather than terrorists and/or communists, as Americans had been led to understand.

Washington had used "communist terrorism" as an excuse to aid what were in actuality terrorist governments.

A few days ago, President Chavez of Venezuela waved a book written by Chomsky at his United Nations audience. Before 9-11 and even after it, this expert on terrorism has been rarely seen on television or referred to in the print media. But after Chavez’s performance at the UN, sales of the waved book climbed. They surged to number one on Amazon’s best seller list, and Chomsky’s publisher decided to print an additional 25,000 copies.

Clearly, the American people want to know more about what their government does in their name, and in a democracy, a free media should be able to address this issue.