In this episode, I speak with political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky.
In this brief discussion, we begin with Professor Chomsky examining the current state and trajectory of the United States empire within the broader scope of recent history, fitting the recent “withdrawal” of the US military presence in Northeast Syria, under Kurdish governance, as an indication of what the U.S. geopolitical influence in the region currently is. As Noam states, “the United States, didn't leave Northeast Syria, they just moved its troops to the oil producing regions. The number of troops is about the same,” with more troops being sent to Iraq and Saudi Arabia “to support their murderous war in Yemen.”
Secondly, we discuss the responsibility of journalists, especially in this time, to challenge state power and stand for those that are willing to risk everything to expose the crimes of the state and its corporate allies. To highlight this, we focus on the current situation of Wikileaks founder and editor Julian Assange, currently imprisoned in the high-security Belmarsh Prison in London, awaiting an extradition hearing set for February 2020, after his asylum was revoked from the Ecuadorian government and handed over to British authorities April this year. “Assange basically is being murdered by the British government,” as his health continues to rapidly deteriorate from his time holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy and his treatment by British authorities more recently. Assange faces “18 charges, including conspiracy to hack government computers and violation of espionage law, and could spend decades in prison if convicted,” (http://bit.ly/2Cjdrof) with the real possibility of him being “extradited to the United States, where he'll be tried with crimes that, even theoretically, can lead to the death sentence, which he's already practically suffering [from] now.” Noam compares this attack on press freedoms and whistleblowers to the Red Scare post-WWI, in which “thousands of people were deported. The independent press was virtually crushed. There was a massive attack on human rights. The so-called McCarthy period was about the same. The Trump period is innovating in a way which is familiar [to] totalitarian states. The entire system in the United States under Trump is becoming a kind of proto-fascism without the ideology, just the pertinences of fascism.” We get into this and more in this episode.
Considered the founder of modern linguistics, Noam Chomsky is one of the most cited scholars in modern history. He is a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for more than 50 years.
- Learn more about Noam and his work: https://chomsky.info
- I cite the article ‘‘I can’t think properly’: Assange fights back tears and struggles to say own name as he appears in court over US extradition’ from The Independent: http://bit.ly/2Cjdrof
- The song featured is "Playful Pizzicato" by the English Chamber Orchestra.