Chomsky is accurate in the substance of his criticism, but as a linguist he knows the emotional impact of language on the public, and depending on what segment of the public he is trying to convince/persuade, the term may or may not be appropriate to win support for the case he is making. I would actually prefer softer terms to convince those who never question US foreign policy that the US needs a serious re-examination of its activities and needs to compare their impact on the rest of the world.
When I see that children from Iraq and Syria drown in boats with their parents as they try to escape the horrors of war across the Eastern Mediterranean, I think of the forces that destabilized Iraq and Syria. When I see in the news continued low-level conflict in Libya, I think back to who created the destabilizing conditions. Not that the previous regimes were ideal by any measure. But to replace a bad regime with a much worse one is hardly a triumph for freedom and democracy.
When I see that Afghanistan went from bad to much worse as the world's top heroin producer under US-NATO watch, I have to wonder how much freedom and democracy the US delivered for all that heroin Afghan farmers have been producing. in short, the utterly absurdity of US foreign policy rests in its own contradictions, and there is hardly a need to call it terrorist when the results are more horrifying and speak for themselves.
More inflammatory rhetoric for emotional responses is hardly a way to persuade. Do we need war of words, or realistic and accurate analysis with step by step solutions to crises? The people in positions of influence in the US must answer the question of what is really in it for the country's best interests pursuing the current destabilizing policies instead of pursuing political solutions. Chomsky knows all of this better than me, but for his own reasons he chose for the moment to do what he did. Perhaps it was because he wanted a political response. The question is what kind of political response and toward what end?
The role of governments is to propagate and to use as many outlets to do so as they are able to influence through various means. The US uses just about everything at its disposal from mainstream media to NGOs, think tanks, academics, and even religious institutions. Other governments engage in more direct methods of intervention to propagate than the US, and they are often less effective because the "sledge hammer" approach rarely works. The US is indeed a master at propaganda and Chomsky more than the rest of us know this because he has co-authored a book about the subject (Manufacturing Consent).
Does this mean that the majority of the people will believe me instead of a propaganda-driven right wing radio talk show host arguing America needs more defense spending to defeat Muslim terrorists and to deter Russia and China? Of course the mainstream media always prevails because it is the peoples' living rooms 24/7. But in the age of mass information, alternative analysis must be available for those curious enough to pass it on to others.
Solutions-oriented analysis. It is true that there is no such thing as "objectivity" in the social sciences and journalism, because we are not dealing with the laws of physics here and mathematics, but a set of criteria on which policy analysis is based. If Chomsky is committed to social justice as he is throughout his life, he cannot possibly side with the state of Israel and the US, because he sees very clearly the injustice in their policies toward the Palestinians. Just as many of us see the propaganda and manipulation of the political arena in the Ukraine, so does Chomsky. Having said this, everyone loves a good analysis that is as balanced and coherent as possible and based on some modicum of empirical basis.
The question is to go beyond the analysis and propose solutions, or at least hint at solutions in a subtle manner. I really hate to use the term that the State Department uses because it is propagandistic and its meaning not at all what the words imply, but "conflict resolution analysis" with social justice as the criteria is where I would personally aim. While the first thing is to make people aware, to give them the point of view that is free of government propaganda, do we stop there?
Intellectuals are not above the world observing it like indifferent bird from the sky, as Soren Kierkegaard and other philosophers believed. On the contrary, an intellectual would not be human if she/he did not strongly condemn the African slave trade, the holocaust and all genocides in the 20th century, the Vietnam War and all regional wars that cost the lives of about 30 million between 1945 and 2000, and US foreign policy that has led to such catastrophic civil war, refugee and impoverished conditions in Islamic countries today.
AMERICAN MILITARISM: Last Hope for Greatness or Road to Decline?
The US created the current new Cold War against the new enemy Islamic jihadists to replace the old Cold War and the former enemy the USSR? History will show that at the very least the US went out of its way to feed Islamic militancy by conducting policy in such a way as to strengthen it, and in certain cases there was even indirect cooperation and collaboration. Does this make the US the world's leading terrorist? Even if it does, exactly what does this term mean and what should the world's response be?
Without deliberately going out of my way to belabor this issue on whether the “US is the biggest terrorist state in the world”, I merely wish to point out that that policy decisions are not made because intellectuals or policy advisors have sound ideas, unless those ideas coincide with the tangible and invariably narrow interests behind the policy. For example, it is simply pointless to try and convince either Republicans or Democrats that there is a real need to reevaluate US foreign policy and establish perimeters based on current realistic assumptions about US ability to finance defense and intelligence operations.
The White House and Congress will always make decisions on the basis of serving narrow interests behind the policy and never would they even consider the detrimental longer term consequences to the country. In other words, it is not so much the Machiavellian theory of power that is pursued, but the even more dangerous short-term thinking about short term interests no matter the results longer term. Even if we bring down to earth Moses, Jesus, the prophet Mohammad, Confucius and the Buddha and they all agree on what course of action is best suited, the US would follow the exact same policy as it is today because it could care less about the merits of policy, and only the interests it serves. Now, is it any different for Russia, China, etc.? I think that Japan and China have a longer term horizon, and Russia is driven more by the insecurities that invariably ensued after the disintegration of the USSR.