Chomsky and Newman - The False Debate

In preparing for my recent interview with Kevin Barrett on June 6, since I knew he wanted to talk about Noam Chomsky, I had the dubious pleasure of reviewing my own correspondence (1989-1995) with the man who seems to have become, in addition to the world's most famous linguist and leftist dissident, the most famous "left gatekeeper." I may have had more than a little to do with that, since I published three articles based on our correspondence (and his book Rethinking Camelot), and eventually the correspondence itself (my letters and summaries of his replies) on the internet, later included in my book Looking for the Enemy (2007).

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Chomsky's Straw-man debate

Michael Morrissey:

"It might interest you to know that I tried, in the course of a long and intensive correspondence with Chomsky (before Rethinking Camelot came out), to get him to state his position as follows: JFK's withdrawal plan was reversed, after the assassination, because the assessment of the military situation was reversed (also after the assassination). This is in fact his position, but you will see that in his book, as in his letters to me, he refuses to put it this way because he is so determined to make the truly specious argument that "there was no withdrawal policy." The reason is obvious to me, and I told him so: Once you admit that there was a radical policy change immediately after the assassination (exactly when doesn't matter), you must deal with the question of the possible relation between the two events [JFK ass.]. (I said this in my COPA talk too, but I guess you missed it.) That means you are automatically involved in "conspiracy theory," which is anathema to Chomsky (and others like Alexander Cockburn and the late I.F. Stone) for I suppose ideological or psychological reasons. The other alternative is to admit the withdrawal policy reversal but deny any relation to the assassination, as Arthur Schlesinger does. This is naive and irrational, as Schlesinger's hysterical condemnation of the Stone film amply demonstrates. Chomsky does not want to appear naive and irrational, so he has manufactured a tortuous and false argument that there was never a withdrawal policy ("without victory") in the first place.

Chomsky's argument is false because Newman's thesis (that JFK was secretly planning to withdraw regardless of the military situation) is 1) speculative, as Chomsky correctly says, and 2) unnecessary to establish the fact that the policy was reversed after the assassination, as Chomsky fails to realize. This is why I say it is a false debate–because it is about 1), not 2). The irony is that Chomsky's clear presentation of the facts regarding 2), as opposed to Newman's, supports a conspiracy view of the assassination. It is enough to say that two days after the assassination the CIA and other intelligence agencies began to reverse their assessment of the military situation–retrospectively, dating the deterioration from July–and hence to reverse the withdrawal policy. Chomsky says this (without using the term "withdrawal policy," which he refuses to use the way everyone else uses it)–not Newman. We do not need any secret intentions of JFK to pose the question of the relation between the assassination and Vietnam policy. All we need to do is establish what actually happened, according to the documentary record. What happened is that JFK was killed, and two days later the CIA et al. suddenly realized they had been losing the war for the past five months, and the appropriate policy change was made. This may have been pure coincidence (as Chomsky and Schlesinger both assume, Chomsky tacitly and Schlesinger explicitly), but once the facts are stated clearly, they reek of conspiracy."
Arabesque: 911 Truth

Chomsky, Newman, false, debate, Vietnam, withdrawal

Thanks, Arababesque. This is from from my reply to Parenti ( ), and puts it in a nutshell. I guess I've said it so many times I've lost track of where I said it best, but it seems like the point has gotten across, for which I am thankful.

I appreciate your reading and your comment.