Copied below is an excerpt from Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire by Noam Chomsky. This brief excerpt is filled with falsehoods and false assertions as is typical of Chomsky, yet Chomsky is still praised 1 in the media 2 for his supposedly astute observations on foreign policy, particularly with regard to the Vietnam War. Chomsky’s list of interviews 3 would make any vainglorious egoist salivate.
The famous American intellectual, historian and Pulitzer Prize winner, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., once wrote of Chomsky, “Chomsky, it soon becomes evident, does not understand the rudiments of political analysis. Indeed, despite occasional pretenses of reasoned discussion, he is not much interested in the analytical process” 4
The prominent linguist, Paul Postal, once wrote of Chomsky, “After many years, I came to the conclusion that everything he says is false. He will lie just for the fun of it. Every one of his arguments was tinged and coded with falseness and pretense. It was like playing chess with extra pieces. It was all fake.” 5
The problem with dealing with the Chomskys of the world is that they can make false statement after false statement, but those who seek to correct their lies are forced to provide voluminous documentation to support their refutations. Otherwise the argument becomes a rather childish “he said, she said” back and forth that resolves nothing.
Each endnote in this article explains the factual basis for refuting Chomsky’s claims and provides links to supporting documentation that the reader may access. However, readers should not be misled. Although Chomsky is clearly on the fringes of far left ideology, the basics of his arguments are echoed in the arguments of many on the left in what is called the “orthodox” view of the Vietnam War.
What happened in Vietnam in the early 1960s is gone from history. 6 It was barely discussed at the time 7, and it’s essentially disappeared 8. In 1954, there was a peace settlement between the United States and Vietnam 9. The United States regarded it as a disaster 10, refused to permit it to go forward 11, and established a client state in the South, which was a typical client state, carrying out torture, brutality, murders 12. By about 1960, the South Vietnamese government had probably killed seventy or eighty thousand people. 13 The repression was so harsh that it stimulated an internal rebellion, which was not what the North Vietnamese wanted. 14 They wanted some time to develop their own society. But they were sort of coerced by the southern resistance into at least giving it verbal support. 15
By the time John F. Kennedy became involved in 1961 16, the situation was out of control 17. So Kennedy simply invaded the country 18. In 1962, he sent the U.S. Air Force to start bombing South Vietnam, using planes with South Vietnamese markings 19. Kennedy authorized the use of napalm, chemical warfare, to destroy the ground cover and crops 20. He started the process of driving the rural population into what were called “strategic hamlets,” essentially concentration camps 21, where people were surrounded by barbed wire, supposedly to protect them from the guerillas who the U.S. government knew perfectly well they supported. 22 This “pacification” ultimately drove millions of people out of the countryside while destroying large parts of it. 23 Kennedy also began operations against North Vietnam on a small scale. 24 That was 1962.
In 1963, the Kennedy administration got wind of the fact that the government of Ngo Dinh Diem it had installed in South Vietnam 25 was trying to arrange negotiations with the North. Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, were trying to negotiate a peace settlement. So the Kennedy liberals determined that they had to be thrown out. 26 The Kennedy administration organized a coup in which the two brothers were killed and they put in their own guy, meanwhile escalating the war 27. Then came the assassination of President Kennedy. Contrary to a lot of mythology, Kennedy was one of the hawks in the administration to the very last minute. 28 He did agree to proposals for withdrawal from Vietnam, because he knew the war was very unpopular here 29, but always with the condition of withdrawal after victory. 30 Once we get victory, we can withdraw and let the client regime go. 31