Noam Chomsky, 9/11; Noam Chomsky, Power and Terror: Conflict, Hegemony and the Rule of Force; Lois Meyer and Benjamin Maldonado Alvarado eds, New World of Indigenous Resistance

IssueSeptember 2011
Review by Milan Rai

Asked days after the 11 September 2001 attacks if US president George W Bush’s “war on terror” was winnable, Noam Chomsky responded: “If we want to consider this question seriously, we should recognise that in much of the world the US is regarded as a leading terrorist state, and with good reason. We might bear in mind, for example, that in 1986 the US was condemned by the World Court for ‘unlawful use of force’ (international terrorism) and then vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on all states (meaning the US) to adhere to international law.”

To mark the tenth anniversary of 11 September 2001, Seven Stories Press and Pluto Press are releasing new editions of two of Noam Chomsky’s books on the al-Qa’eda attacks on New York and Washington.

9/11 is a small format book with Chomsky’s immediate responses to the attacks (including the interview quoted from above).

Power and Terror is based on a 74-minute documentary of the same name, drawing on talks Chomsky gave in 2002, and a long interview with Chomsky that year, by German director John Junkerman (available from the US in NTSC, the US video format). This new and revised edition (edited by Junkerman and Takei Masakazu) includes further Chomsky speeches and interviews from 2008 and 2010.

These books are indispensable for understanding and dealing with our current situation. Chomsky places the 9/11 attacks in their proper context, noting, for example, that the US missile attacks on Sudan in 1998, which destroyed a pharmaceutical factory manufacturing vital drugs cheaply, are estimated to have led directly to the deaths of tens of thousands of people from easily treatable diseases.

For those interested in Chomsky, a very intriguing book was published last year in which a group of indigenous people from around Latin America invited Chomsky to be part of “hemispheric conversation between equals”. Two interviews with Chomsky were used as the starting point for a wide array of responses from “renowned activists, educators and scholars from the indigenous Americas”, discussing issues of concern to the original peoples of the Americas. A final interview with Chomsky, equally thought-provoking and incisive, closes New World of Indigenous Resistance.

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