Chomsky on Chagos
Noam Chomsky is something is something of a hero to many on the left, myself including. Now, via the Chagos Discussion list, I've discovered the following exchange about the Chagos Archipelago and the US military base on Diego Garcia (background here if you're not familiar with the story) which is drawn from a question and answer session with the professor which took place during a meeting in India:
Q5: Karthik Ramanathan, a studentThe rest here.
We often read in the papers of this Diego Garcia base in the Indian Ocean. So proudly, the Indian media display it, that the United States is sending its forces into whatever place to bomb Afghanistan. What they don’t write is things like the fact that the American forces in the Diego Garcia base are situated less than five hundred miles away. (I’m not sure about the number because the media never talk about it.) They are situated less than five hundred miles from Indian territory, the Lakshwadeep Islands. Nobody seems to know about it. Nobody knows where Diego Garcia is.
My question is simple: why this media and political complacency towards the presence of American troops? And why do we see no threat from them? Will America tolerate Indian troops situated some five hundred miles from its coast? Nobody seems to be asking that question [audience applause]. The second question is this. The United States, despite all the CIA intelligence and its technology, has not been able to prevent a single person planting a bomb or ramming a jet into its buildings. The question is: whatever technology they develop, can they really dominate the world?
A5: Noam Chomsky
So the first part is about Diego Garcia. That’s just a straight power play. The United States wanted the island as a military base. It wanted it as part of the great system of intervention aimed at the Gulf energy resources. The main U. S. intervention forces, called the Central Command, have been aimed right at the oil-producing areas for many years. It has nothing to do with the Russians or anybody else. That’s, incidentally, conceded now. With the collapse of the Russians, it was officially conceded that they had nothing to do with it. It had to with the fear of independent nationalism, which might lead to movements that would take over the resources of the region for the benefit of its own population. And that’s intolerable, of course.
The prime beneficiaries of those resources have to be rich westerners. The United States, Britain, energy corporations, and so on. As long as governments are in place that accept that rule, like the Saudi Arabian government, they’ll be accepted. But if they aren’t, they’re going to be overthrown.
So Diego Garcia is part of it. It extends from Guam in the Pacific all the way over to the Azores in the Atlantic and it goes through the Indian Ocean and Diego Garcia is a base. Well, okay. It was a ``British island,’’ so the British kicked out the population, and the United States took it over and turned it into a military base. As you know, I’m sure, the population has been pursuing the case through the British courts and won. You know the High Court in England accepted their case and said that the British Government, which technically still owns it, has to bring them back. The United States just said, `get lost’, and Britain got lost. It’s kind of like the World Court case [relating to the United States’ terrorist war against Nicaragua]. So they stay there. But that’s just plain exercise of force.
Nobody knows about it in the United States. If you do a database search in the press, I doubt if it’s been mentioned twice in the last twenty years! So no one knows. Nobody knows about the dispossessed population or anything that’s happened and therefore there’s no protest. You can’t protest something you do not know about.
That’s part of the duty of the free press and the intellectual community: make sure people do not know about things that might lead them to protest. If people knew, they would do something about it and the forces would have to get out of the island, the people would be back home.