Trying to reason with Chomsky

Some Ukrainian academics write an open letter to Noam Chomsky that points out some recurring fallacies/patterns:

Pattern #2: Treating Ukraine as an American pawn on a geo-political chessboard

Whether willingly or unwillingly, your interviews insinuate that Ukrainians are fighting with Russians because the U.S. instigated them to do so, that Euromaidan happened because the U.S. tried to detach Ukraine from the Russian sphere of influence, etc. Such an attitude denies the agency of Ukraine and is a slap in the face to millions of Ukrainians who are risking their lives for the desire to live in a free country. Simply put, have you considered the possibility that Ukrainians would like to detach from the Russian sphere of influence due to a history of genocide, cultural oppression, and constant denial of the right to self-determination?

The history of genocide is a pretty big thing to ignore, if you ask me, especially for someone as vocal about global political issues as Chomsky is. Stalinists ignored it and tried to bully others into ignoring it (sound familiar?) but surely Chomsky doesn’t consider Stalin a comrade.

Then there’s the NATO issue. We get it: Putin doesn’t want NATO expanding right next to Russia…but the fact remains that Putin doesn’t own other countries even if they are right next to Russia.

The premise is that NATO’s eastward expansion left Putin with no other choice but to attack. But the reality is different. Eastern European states joined, and Ukraine and Georgia aspired to join NATO, in order to defend themselves from Russian imperialism. They were right in their aspirations, given that Russia did attack Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. Moreover, current requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO came in direct response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, consistent with NATO expansion being a consequence of Russian imperialism, and not vice versa.

In addition, we disagree with the notion that sovereign nations shouldn’t be making alliances based on the will of their people because of disputed verbal promises made by James Baker and George H.W. Bush to Gorbachev.

Wait, you mean US politicians don’t get to determine Ukraine’s fate for all time? Who knew?!

Then there’s Chomsky’s whataboutery. What about the US?!!! Nothing; it’s not about the US.

Item 5 is downright shocking.

Pattern #5. Whitewashing Putin’s goals for invading Ukraine

In your interviews, you go to great lengths to rationalize Putin’s goals of “demilitarization” and “neutralization” of Ukraine. Please note that, in his TV address from February 24, 2022, marking the beginning of the war, the verbatim goal declared by Putin for this “military operation” is to “denazify” Ukraine. This concept builds on his long pseudo-historical article from July 2021, denying Ukraine’s existence and claiming that Ukrainians were not a nation. As elaborated in the ‘denazification manual’ published by the Russian official press agency RIA Novosti, a “Nazi” is simply a human being who self-identifies as Ukrainian, the establishment of a Ukrainian state thirty years ago was the “Nazification of Ukraine,” and any attempt to build such a state has to be a “Nazi” act. According to this genocide handbook, denazification implies a military defeat, purging, and population-level “re-education”. ‘Demilitarization’ and ‘neutralization’ imply the same goal – without weapons Ukraine will not be able to defend itself, and Russia will reach its long-term goal of destroying Ukraine.

We’ve seen that kind of “denazification” before.

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