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Sunday, October 7, 2007

In his review of my book Interventions (Book World, Sept. 2), Jonathan Rauch condemns me with "flights to a separate reality," giving four examples.

The first is the charge that Washington bombed Serbia "not to prevent ethnic cleansing but to impose Washington's neoliberal economic agenda." The charge is not mine. I quoted high officials of the Clinton administration directly involved in these events. See page 179 of the book.

Next, "North Korea's counterfeiting racket may actually be a CIA operation." The statement is not mine, but is from the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The third is my observation that the invasion of Afghanistan "was undertaken with the expectation that it might drive several million people over the edge of starvation." That is precisely accurate. Published estimates were that the numbers at the edge of starvation increased by 50 percent to 7.5 million. That is why aid agencies bitterly condemned the bombing, joined by leading Afghan opponents of the Taliban. And why, months later, Harvard's noted specialist on Afghanistan, Samina Ahmed, wrote in International Security that "millions of Afghans are at grave risk of starvation." The basic facts are given in the book under review, a collection of op-eds, in which I did not provide full details that were reported in the mainstream press and are reviewed in earlier books of mine.

Rauch is amazed at the idea that President Bush "is the obstacle to a two-state solution that Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran are all prepared to accept," and then quips "(I am not making that up)." Bush did announce his "vision" of a Palestinian state -- somewhere, sometime, a vague reflection of the long-standing international consensus on a two-state settlement. There is nothing vague, however, about his support for Israeli takeover of the major illegal settlements in the West Bank and cantonization of the rest, a long step backward from Clinton's "parameters" and a serious blow to any hope for a viable Palestinian state.

In contrast, Iran accepted the Arab League position: full normalization of relations in a two-state settlement. Hamas called for "statehood for the West Bank and Gaza . . . " (Washington Post, July 11, 2006), a stand often reiterated elsewhere, even by the most militant Hamas leader, Khalid Mish'al (Guardian, Feb. 23, 2007).Hezbollah has repeatedly stated that it will abide by any Palestinian decision.

Rauch claims that Washington "tolerates a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq whose Shiite government is friendly toward Iran." Comment should be unnecessary.

That exhausts Rauch's charges.

-- NOAM CHOMSKY

Cambridge, Mass.

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