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How Elites Lie to You: Propaganda & Manipulation by the Government & the Press – Noam Chomsky (1991)

In 1985, during the Nicaraguan Contra War—in which the U.S. supported the contra militia against the Sandinista government—Chomsky traveled to Managua to meet with workers’ organizations and refugees of the conflict, giving public lectures on politics and linguistics. Many of these lectures were published in 1987 as On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures. In 1983 he published The Fateful Triangle, which argued that the U.S. had continually used the Israeli–Palestinian conflict for its own ends. His books:

In 1988, Chomsky visited the Palestinian territories to witness the impact of Israeli occupation.

Chomsky and Herman’s Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988) outlines their propaganda model for understanding mainstream media. Even in countries without official censorship, they argued, the news is censored through five filters that greatly influence both what and how news is presented. The book was inspired by Alex Carey and adapted into a 1992 film. In 1989, Chomsky published Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, in which he suggests that a worthwhile democracy requires that its citizens undertake intellectual self-defense against the media and elite intellectual culture that seeks to control them. By the 1980s, Chomsky’s students had become prominent linguists who, in turn, expanded and revised his linguistic theories.

In the 1990s, Chomsky embraced political activism to a greater degree than before. Retaining his commitment to the cause of East Timorese independence, in 1995 he visited Australia to talk on the issue at the behest of the East Timorese Relief Association and the National Council for East Timorese Resistance.[137] The lectures he gave on the subject were published as Powers and Prospects in 1996.[137] As a result of the international publicity Chomsky generated, his biographer Wolfgang Sperlich opined that he did more to aid the cause of East Timorese independence than anyone but the investigative journalist John Pilger.[138] After East Timor attained independence from Indonesia in 1999, the Australian-led International Force for East Timor arrived as a peacekeeping force; Chomsky was critical of this, believing it was designed to secure Australian access to East Timor’s oil and gas reserves under the Timor Gap Treaty.

Chomsky has been a prominent critic of American imperialism[198] and believes that World War II is the only justified war the U.S. has fought in his lifetime. He believes that the basic principle of the foreign policy of the United States is the establishment of “open societies” that are economically and politically controlled by the United States and where U.S.-based businesses can prosper.[199] He argues that the U.S. seeks to suppress any movements within these countries that are not compliant with U.S. interests and to ensure that U.S.-friendly governments are placed in power.[193] When discussing current events, he emphasizes their place within a wider historical perspective.[200] He believes that official, sanctioned historical accounts of U.S. and British extraterritorial operations have consistently whitewashed these nations’ actions in order to present them as having benevolent motives in either spreading democracy or, in older instances, spreading Christianity; criticizing these accounts, he seeks to correct them.[201] Prominent examples he regularly cites are the actions of the British Empire in India and Africa and the actions of the U.S. in Vietnam, the Philippines, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Chomsky’s political work has centered heavily on criticizing the actions of the United States. He has said he focuses on the U.S. because the country has militarily and economically dominated the world during his lifetime and because its liberal democratic electoral system allows the citizenry to influence government policy. His hope is that, by spreading awareness of the impact U.S. foreign policies have on the populations affected by them, he can sway the populations of the U.S. and other countries into opposing the policies. He urges people to criticize their governments’ motivations, decisions, and actions, to accept responsibility for their own thoughts and actions, and to apply the same standards to others as to themselves.

Chomsky has been critical of U.S. involvement in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, arguing that it has consistently blocked a peaceful settlement. Chomsky also criticizes the U.S.’s close ties with Saudi Arabia and involvement in Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, highlighting that Saudi Arabia has “one of the most grotesque human rights records in the world”.

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