Chavez, Chomsky and State Terrorism
by Frederick H. Gareau (Wednesday October 18 2006)
"...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
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.