Alternet: It seems Bush’s pretexts must be a fraud if control of oil is the real motivation. If this is the case, how can Bush believe he has the right to claim the moral highroad?
Chomsky: Bush is probably irrelevant. But the people around him have a record: They are recycled Reaganites. That’s why media and intellectuals so scrupulously ignore what they did when they were running the first “war on terror” that they declared 20 years ago. Better not to remember the horror stories for which they were responsible.
On human behavior, it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on. Unless you’re an unusually saintly figure, you’ve done things in your life that you knew were wrong. Maybe when you were 7 years old you took a toy from your younger brother, and when he ran crying to your mother, you told her – believing every word – that it was really yours, and he’d taken it from you, and he didn’t want it anyway, etc. Did you tell yourself that you’re stronger than he is so you could take it and get away with it?
It’s the same when you’re running a country in the world. It’s interesting to read the archives of Nazi Germany, fascist Japan, the Soviet Union. The leaders are acting from the highest imaginable motives, and probably believed it. It is remarkably easy to come to believe what it is convenient to believe. That’s the secret of being a “responsible intellectual,” someone who serves power