Noam Chomsky, an American linguist and political dissident, has called the Islamic State terrorist group one of the "main effects" of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The remark was made Monday in an interview with Democracy Now!
Alternet offers a transcript of the interview, in which Amy Goodman of Democray Now! asked Chomsky how America should respond to the Islamic State:
NOAM CHOMSKY: It's very hard to think of anything serious that can be done. I mean, it should be settled diplomatically and peacefully to the extent that that's possible. It's not inconceivable. I mean, there are -- ISIS, it's a horrible manifestation of hideous actions. It's a real danger to anyone nearby. But so are other forces. And we should be getting together with Iran, which has a huge stake in the matter and is the main force involved, and with the Iraqi government, which is calling for and applauding Iranian support and trying to work out with them some arrangement which will satisfy the legitimate demands of the Sunni population, which is what ISIS is protecting and defending and gaining their support from.
They're not coming out of nowhere. I mean, they are -- one of the effects, the main effects, of the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- there are many horrible effects, but one of them was to incite sectarian conflicts, that had not been there before. If you take a look at Baghdad before the invasion, Sunni and Shia lived intermingled -- same neighborhoods, they intermarried. Sometimes they say that they didn't even know if their neighbor was a Sunni or a Shia. It was like knowing what Protestant sect your neighbor belongs to. There was pretty close -- it wasn't -- I'm not claiming it was -- it wasn't utopia. There were conflicts. But there was no serious conflict, so much so that Iraqis at the time predicted there would never be a conflict. Well, within a couple of years, it had turned into a violent, brutal conflict. You look at Baghdad today, it's segregated. What's left of the Sunni communities are isolated. The people can't talk to their neighbors. There's war going on all over. The ISIS is murderous and brutal. The same is true of the Shia militias which confront it. And this is now spread all over the region. There's now a major Sunni-Shia conflict rending the region apart, tearing it to shreds.
Now, this cannot be dealt with by bombs. This is much more serious than that. It's got to be dealt with by steps towards recovering, remedying the massive damage that was initiated by the sledgehammer smashing Iraq and has now spread. And that does require diplomatic, peaceful means dealing with people who are pretty ugly -- and we're not very pretty, either, for that matter. But this just has to be done. Exactly what steps should be taken, it's hard to say. There are people whose lives are at stake, like the Assyrian Christians, the Yazidi and so on. Apparently, the fighting that protected the -- we don't know a lot, but it looks as though the ground fighting that protected the Yazidi, largely, was carried out by PKK, the Turkish guerrilla group that's fighting for the Kurds in Turkey but based in northern Iraq. And they're on the U.S. terrorist list. We can't hope to have a strategy that deals with ISIS while opposing and attacking the group that's fighting them, just as it doesn't make sense to try to have a strategy that excludes Iran, the major state that's supporting Iraq in its battle with ISIS.
[Vinnie Rotondaro is NCR national correspondent. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.]