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Part 1: Noam Chomsky on Climate Change, Nukes, Syria, WikiLeaks More with English subtitles  

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, the War and Peace Report, I'm Amy Goodman.

In this Democracy Now! special, we spend the hour with the world-renowned linguist and

political dissident Noam Chomsky.

In a public conversation we had in April, we talked about climate change, nuclear weapons,

North Korea, Iran, the war in Syria and the Trump administration’s threat to prosecute

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

We also talked about Noam Chomsky’s new book, Requiem for the American Dream: The

10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power.

Hundreds of people packed into the First Parish Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for our

public conversation.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about this comment that you made that the Republican

Party, you said, is the most dangerous organization in world history.

Can you explain?

NOAM CHOMSKY: I also said that it’s an extremely outrageous statement.

But the question is whether it’s true.

I mean, has there ever been an organization in human history that is dedicated, with such

commitment, to the destruction of organized human life on Earth?

Not that I’m aware of.

Is the Republican organization—I hesitate to call it a party—committed to that?


There isn’t even any question about it.

Take a look at the last primary campaign—plenty of publicity, very little comment on the most

significant fact.

Every single candidate either denied that what is happening is happening—namely, serious

move towards environmental catastrophe—or there were a couple of moderates, so-called—Jeb

Bush, who said, "Maybe it’s happening.

We really don’t know.

But it doesn’t matter, because fracking is working fine, so we can get more fossil


Then there was the guy who was called the adult in the room, John Kasich, the one person

who said, "Yes, it’s true.

Global warming’s going on.

But it doesn’t matter."

He’s the governor of Ohio.

"In Ohio, we’re going to go on using coal for energy, and we’re not going to apologize

for it."

So that’s 100 percent commitment to racing towards disaster.

Then take a look at what’s happened since.

The—November 8th was the election.

There was, as most of you know, I’m sure, a very important conference underway in Morocco,

Marrakech, Morocco.

Almost roughly 200 countries at the United Nations-sponsored conference, which was—the

goal of which was to put some specific commitments into the verbal agreements that were reached

at Paris in December 2015, the preceding international conference on global warming.

The Paris conference did intend to reach a verifiable treaty, but they couldn’t, because

of the most dangerous organization in human history.

The Republican Congress would not accept any commitments, so therefore the world was left

with verbal promises, but no commitments.

Well, last November 8th, they were going to try to carry that forward.

On November 8th, in fact, there was a report by the World Meteorological Organization,

a very dire analysis of the state of the environment and the likely prospects, also pointed out

that we’re coming perilously close to the tipping point, where—which was the goal

of the—the goal of the Paris negotiations was to keep things below that—coming very

close to it, and other ominous predictions.

At that point, the conference pretty much stopped, because the news came in about the


And it turns out that the most powerful country in human history, the richest, most powerful,

most influential, the leader of the free world, has just decided not only not to support the

efforts, but actively to undermine them.

So there’s the whole world on one side, literally, at least trying to do something

or other, not enough maybe, although some places are going pretty far, like Denmark,

couple of others; and on the other side, in splendid isolation, is the country led by

the most dangerous organization in human history, which is saying, "We’re not part of this.

In fact, we’re going to try to undermine it."

We’re going to maximize the use of fossil fuels—could carry us past the tipping point.

We’re not going to provide funding for—as committed in Paris, to developing countries

that are trying to do something about the climate problems.

We’re going to dismantle regulations that retard the impact, the devastating impact,

of production of carbon dioxide and, in fact, other dangerous gases—methane, others.


So the conference kind of pretty much came to a halt.

The question—it continued, but the question was: Can we salvage something from this wreckage?

And pretty amazingly, the countries of the world were looking for salvation to a different

country: China.

Here we have a world looking for salvation to China, of all places, when the United States

is the wrecking machine that’s threatening destruction, in—with all three branches

of government in the hands of the most dangerous organization in human history.

And I don’t have to go through what’s happened since, but the—in general, the

Cabinet appointments are designed to—assigned to people whose commitment and beliefs are

that it’s necessary to destroy everything in their department that could be of any use

to human beings and wouldn’t just increase profits and power.

And they’re doing it very systematically, one after another.

EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, has been very sharply cut.

Actually, the main department that’s concerned with environmental issues is the Department

of Energy, which also had very sharp cuts, particularly in the environment-related programs.

In fact, there’s even a ban on posting and publishing information and material about


And this is not just at the national level.

The Republican Party, whatever you want to call it, has been doing this at every level.

So, in North Carolina, a couple of years ago, where the Legislature, mostly thanks to gerrymandering,

is in the hands of the Republicans, there was a study.

They called for a study on the effect of sea level rise—on what sea level rise might

be on the North Carolina coast.

And there was a serious scientific study, which predicted, in not—I forget how many

years—not a long time, about roughly a meter rise in sea level, which could be devastating

to eastern North Carolina.

And the Legislature did react, namely, by passing legislation to ban any actions or

even discussion that might have to do with climate change.

Actually, the best comment of this—I wish I could quote it verbatim—was by Stephen

Colbert, who said, "If you have a serious problem, the way to deal with it is to legislate

that it doesn’t exist.

Problem solved."

You know, this is going on all over the country.

And it’s not just—it’s not simply climate change.

That’s bad enough.

But there’s another huge specter that we’re kind of trying to survive under, and that’s

nuclear war.

That’s a whole other story.

Here, both the Obama administration and, increasingly, Trump are radically increasing that danger.

This—the threat of the new developments is captured very effectively in the best,

simple monitor of the state of the world, established at the beginning of the nuclear

age by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

I’m sure you all know about this, but the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists regularly brings

together a group of scientists, political analysts, other very serious people, to try

to give some kind of estimate of what the situation of the world is.

The question is: How close are we to termination of the species?

And they have a clock, the Doomsday Clock.

When it hits midnight, we’re finished.

End of the human species and much else.

And the question every year is: How far is the minute hand from midnight?

Well, at the beginning, in 1947, beginning of the nuclear age, it was placed at seven

minutes to midnight.

It’s been moving up and back ever since.

The closest it’s come to midnight was 1953.

1953, the United States and Russia both exploded hydrogen bombs, which are extremely serious

threat to survival.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles were all being developed.

This, in fact, was the first serious threat to the security of the United States.

There’s an interesting story behind that, but I’ll put it aside, unless there’s

time to talk about it.

But then, it came to two minutes to midnight.

And it’s been moving up and back since.

Two years ago—2014, I think it was—the analysts took into account for the first time

something that had been ignored: the fact that the nuclear age—the beginning of the

nuclear age coincided with the beginning of a new geological epoch, the so-called Anthropocene.

There’s been some debate about the epoch in which human activity is drastically affecting

the general environment.

There’s been debate about its inception.

But the World Geological Organization has recently determined that it’s about the

same time as the beginning of the nuclear age.

So we’re in these two eras in which the possibility of human survival is very much

at stake, and, with us, everything else, too, of course, all living—most living things,

which are already under very severe threat.

Well, a couple of years ago—I think it was 2014—the Bulletin began to take that into

account and moved the minute hand up to three minutes to midnight, where it remained last


A couple of—about a week into Trump’s term, the clock was moved again, to two-and-a-half

minutes to midnight.

That’s the closest it’s been since 1953.

And that means extermination of the species is very much an—very much an open question.

I don’t want to say it’s solely the impact of the Republican Party—obviously, that’s

false—but they certainly are in the lead in openly advocating and working for destruction

of the human species.

I agree that’s a very outrageous statement.

So I therefore simply suggest that you take a look at the facts and see if it has any

merit or if it just should be bitterly condemned.

That’s up to you.

My view, the facts are pretty clear.

AMY GOODMAN: At this point, as President Trump nears his 100th day, North Korea and Iran

have been a major focus.

Are you concerned that with the president at the lowest popularity rating, I think,

in any president’s history at this point, that he will focus abroad, as he has in the

last few weeks, dropping the MOAB, the "Mother of All Bombs," in Afghanistan, bombing the

Syrian government, and yet focusing specifically on North Korea and Iran—in North Korea,

McMaster, General McMaster, the national security adviser, saying tensions with North Korea

are coming to a head.

Do you think there is a possibility that the U.S. would attack North Korea?

NOAM CHOMSKY: I mean, this administration is extremely unpredictable.

Trump probably has no idea what he’s going to do five minutes from now, so you can’t—literally—so

you can’t really make predictions with much confidence.

But I doubt it very much.

The reason is very simple: An attack on North Korea would unleash—no matter what attack

it is, even a nuclear attack, would unleash massive artillery bombardment of Seoul, which

is the biggest city in South Korea, right near the border, which would wipe it out,

including plenty of American troops.

That doesn’t—I mean, I’m no technical expert, but as far as I can—as I read and

can see, there’s no defense against that.

Furthermore, North Korea could retaliate against American bases in the region, where there’s

plenty of American soldiers and so on, also in Japan.

They’d be devastated.

North Korea would be finished.

You know, so would much of the region.

But if attacked, presumably, they would respond, very likely.

In fact, the responses might be automatic.

McMaster, at least, and Mattis understand this.

How much influence they have, we don’t know.

So I think an attack is unlikely.

But the real question is: Is there a way of dealing with the problem?

There are a lot of proposals: sanctions; a big new missile defense system, which is a

major threat to China, it’ll increase tensions there; military threats of various kinds;

sending an aircraft carrier, the Vinson, to North Korea, except by accident—it happened

to be going in the opposite direction, but we’ll forget that.

But these are—those are the proposals, that kind of proposals, as to how to solve.

Actually, there’s one proposal that’s ignored.

I mean, you see a mention of it now and then.

It’s a pretty simple proposal.

Remember, the goal is to get North Korea to freeze its weapons systems, weapons and missile


So one proposal is to accept their offer to do that.

Sounds simple.

They’ve made a proposal.

China and North Korea proposed to freeze the North Korean missile and nuclear weapons systems.

And the U.S. instantly rejected it.

And you can’t blame that on Trump.

Obama did the same thing a couple of years ago.

Same offer was presented.

I think it was 2015.

The Obama administration instantly rejected it.

And the reason is that it calls for a quid pro quo.

It says, in return, the United States should put an end to threatening military maneuvers

on North Korea’s borders, which happen to include, under Trump, sending of nuclear-capable

B-52s flying right near the border.

Now, maybe Americans don’t remember very well, but North Koreans have a memory of not

too long ago, when North Korea was absolutely flattened, literally, by American bombing.

There was—there was literally no targets left.

And I really urge people who haven’t done it to read the official American military

histories, the Air Quarterly Review, the military histories describing this.

They describe it very vividly and accurately.

They say, "There just weren’t any targets left.

So what could we do?"

Well, we decided to attack the dams, the huge dams.

That’s a major war crime.

People were hanged for it at Nuremberg.

But put that aside.

And then comes an ecstatic, gleeful description of the bombing of the dams and the huge flow

of water, which was wiping out valleys and destroying the rice crop, on which Asians

depend for survival—lots of racist comment, but all with exaltation and glee.

You really have to read it to appreciate it.

The North Koreans don’t have to bother reading it.

They lived it.

So when nuclear-capable B-52s are flying on their border, along with other threatening

military maneuvers, they’re kind of upset about it.

Strange people.

And they continue to develop what they see as a potential deterrent that might protect

the regime from—and the country, in fact—from destruction.

This has nothing at all to do with what you think about the government.

So maybe it’s the worst government in human history.


But these are still the facts that exist.

There are similar questions to raise about Iran.

So, Iran is, you know, the—again, the adults in the room, like Mattis and so on, say it’s

the greatest threat to peace, you know, the greatest sponsor of terrorism, on and on.

How is it a sponsor of terrorism?

Well, could go through that.

So, for example, in Yemen, it’s claimed that they are providing some aid to rebel

tribesmen, Houthi tribesmen, in Yemen.

OK, maybe they are.

What is the United States doing in Yemen?

It’s providing a huge flood of arms to its Saudi Arabian ally, who are destroying the

country, who have created a huge humanitarian crisis, huge numbers of people killed, massive


They’re threatening now to bomb a port, which is the only source of aid for surviving


But Iran is the major source of terrorism.

AMY GOODMAN: MIT professor emeritus Noam Chomsky in a public conversation we recorded in April

at the First Parish Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

When we come back, we’ll talk about Syria, WikiLeaks and more.

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