Noam Chomsky regrets disappearance of science from Pakistan

Says US-Iran war a possibility
Dec 08, 2020

World-renowned linguist and philosopher Professor Noam Chomsky regretted on Monday Pakistan's drift away from science.

Chomsky was speaking at the 6th Yohsin Lecture organised by Pakistan's Habib University. He regretted the disappearance of science from the country's educational system.

"Pakistan used to have an advanced scientific establishment, Nobel Prize laureates and so on," the philosopher said. "Now science has virtually disappeared from the educational system."

The country lacks serious scientists to preserve a rational educational system which deals with the reality of the world, according to Chomsky.

"Pakistan has no future if it is going to live in a world of religious superstition," he said.

The philosopher said the world is currently facing four crises: the threats of a nuclear war and environmental catastrophe, deterioration of democracy worldwide and the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the Trump administration continued an arms control regime which offered some protection against severe threat of a nuclear war.

"And, it’s worth remembering that any nuclear war among power of any significance, certainly Pakistan and India, will be essentially terminal," Chomsky said.

He said one of the developments in the past couple of years has been the growth of a "reactionary international". It’s not formalized but it's taking shape with Trump in the White House.

Chomsky pointed out that there is a possibility of a war between the United States and Iran.

“It’s a possibility,” he said. “In fact, we should say that sanctions against Iran have absolutely no legitimacy.”

The two countries have been at loggerheads with each other for the past several decades but tensions between them rose after Donald Trump was elected as the US president.

The assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US airstrike in Baghdad and the recent killing of its nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh near Tehran have further escalated these tensions. Iranian authorities have pointed fingers at two US allies – Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Chomsky believes the sanctions placed by the US on Iran “are means of torturing and terrorizing the population”. He said the people of Iran have to suffer from those sanctions because the Iranian government is not obeying the US orders.

The American philosopher thinks that Iran has no match for the US military might.

“It has very low military expenditures, very low even by the standards of the region, let alone the United States,” Chomsky explained. “US intelligence informs us its (Iran’s) strategic posture is defensive, if there are nuclear weapons, it would be part of the deterrent strategy.”

So what’s the ‘threat of Iran’, Chomsky asked before answering his own question: The threat is it is a possible deterrent.

He believes the countries that want to rampage freely in the region don’t want deterrents, and the US is one of them and its “Israeli client” another.

“They don’t want a deterrent,” Chomsky said. The US doesn’t even admit that Israel has nuclear weapons, let alone getting its nuclear war inspected, the American philosopher said.

“Will there be a strike, nobody knows,” he said. “The Trump administration is in a state where it is willing to do almost anything.”

The question is would Iran respond to any such US attack, Chomsky said. It could do that, he added.

“It has ways to respond,” he opined. “Weak military, but they do have missiles.”

Its missiles, according to Chomsky, could reach the oil-rich northeastern parts of Saudi Arabia — a US ally.

“If they attack, then results are extraordinary not just for Saudi Arabia for much of the world,” he said. “Very likely if that happens it will be a massive war and then we are basically finished.”

Moving to the East, he said, Modi’s India is destroying the remnants of Indian secular democracy, crushing the Muslim rights, placing Kashmir under a vicious, brutal rule.

"Pakistan is not too far behind," the philosopher said.

Chomsky, however, said the solutions to nuclear weapons, environmental catastrophe, destruction of democracy, pandemic and all other problems are feasible.

"But it’s not enough to just have academic knowledge of what to do," he said. "Somebody has to take that knowledge and work with it. That’s the burden that this generation is facing."

He said it’s a severe responsibility and exciting challenge, but if it’s not met then we are facing the end of an organized human society.

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