Newsweek interviews Chomsky
You were involved in the antiwar movement in the 1960s. What do you think of the Vietnam-Iraq analogy?The only point I'd disagree with slightly is that I think there is an analogy to be made between Vietnam and Iraq, not so much in the nature of the conflicts themselves, but rather in the way the administration has handled the conflict domestically - i.e., a steady supply of doubleplusgood news from the front that bears no relation to reality, promises of 'Iraqization', the demonizing and scapegoating of the anti-war movement, etc. (Link.)
I think there is no analogy whatsoever. That analogy is based on a misunderstanding of Iraq, and a misunderstanding of Vietnam. The misunderstanding of Iraq I've already described. The misunderstanding of Vietnam had to do with the war aims. The United States went to war in Vietnam for a very good reason. They were afraid Vietnam would be a successful model of independent development and that would have a virus effect—infect others who might try to follow the same course. There was a very simple war aim—destroy Vietnam. And they did it. The United States basically achieved its war aims in Vietnam by . It's called a loss, a defeat, because they didn't achieve the maximal aims, the maximal aims being turning it into something like the Philippines. They didn't do that. [But] they did achieve the major aims. It was possible to destroy Vietnam and leave. You can't destroy Iraq and leave. It's inconceivable.
Was the antiwar movement more successful in the '60s than it is today?
I think it's the other way around. The United States attacked Vietnam in 1962. It took years before any protest developed. Iraq is the first time in hundreds of years of European and American history that a war was massively protested before it was launched. There was huge protest in February 2003. It had never happened in the history of the West.
Where do you put George W. Bush in the pantheon of American presidents?
He's more or less a symbol, but I think the people around him are the most dangerous administration in American history. I think they're driving the world to destruction. There are two major threats that face the world, threats of the destruction of the species, and they're not a joke. One of them is nuclear war, and the other is environmental catastrophe, and they are driving toward destruction in both domains.