I'll kick things off for the anti-Chomsky forces. This is a repost of something I wrote in 2001, during the war in Afghanistan.You rememeber the events surrounding that war, yes? During which Chomsky proved to be wrong in just about every one of his predictions? I mean, dudes, why does anyone even listen to him anymore?--------------Chomsky's arguments have always been undercut by the careless way in which he deals with the facts, especially the facts of history. Details are stripped of any meaningful context and set in the worst possible light. This is typified by a recent argument advanced by Chomskians: Unocal wants to build a pipeline through Afghanistan but can't because of the Taliban, so the US must be making war on the Taliban so that Unocal can build the pipeline and make lots of money. Thrown in are factoids about Bush's financial ties to companies related to Unocal, Bush senior's financial interests, etc. There is always going to be a group of people who will take all this as proof that the Bush administration is prosecuting a war against the best interests of the American people in order to enrich himself and his friends. That group would be the poorly socialized adolescent I-hate-my-father types (some going on their 50's) who don't know anything about the events or any of the background beyond what Chomsky has told them. For most people nothing of Chomsky's version of things washes. They just regard his scenarios as unlikely, and those that delve into the facts find plenty of reasons to dismiss Chomsky's framing of events.Left out of the pipeline story, for example, is the fact that existing and proposed pipelines from Kazakhstan to other places as well as improved business relations with Russia make the whole project less of a draw. Kazakhstan oil will get to the world market just fine without that pipeline, and Bush et al have as much interest in those other pipelines as in the Unocal project, with which they compete, and none of which interests are that large anyway. Left out also is the very real and valid interest the US and the rest of the West has in promoting political stability in the area. Of course, any national interest the US might have is, according to Chomsky, just evil greed, as if America has no right to promote its own interests. Nor is there any counterbalancing of contingencies for what, for example, would happen in the world if political instability renders Middle Eastern oil unreachable. Of course, none of this matters in the Manichean vision of Chomsky and his followers. The point is that it does matter to most people.Chomsky has been a prolific writer, but his approach to unfolding events has been formulaic: Read news accounts of events, pick and choose among factoids for those that support your world view, present those facts without context tied up with dogmatic references to dark forces and the machinations of the Evil Empire. Give it all a scholarly patina by putting in lots of citations or footnotes, which none of Chomsky's fans will bother to read. It's a lot faster than getting all the facts, analyzing them in a meaningful way in good faith, and presenting a balanced picture.
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