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Noam Chomsky: Unrepentant Stalinist By: Anders G. Lewis
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, April 13, 2004

It is now evident that the DRV relied heavily on the Soviets and the Chinese.  It is also evident that the North Vietnamese created and controlled the NLF.  Twenty five years ago, in his American in Vietnam (1978), Guenter Lewy provided proof that the NLF was formed and controlled by Hanoi.[1]  In 1985, the radical Leftist historian Gabriel Kolko conceded that the DRV “made the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam.”[2] More recently, Robert Brigham, in his Guerilla Diplomacy: The NLF’s Foreign Relations and the Viet Nam War (1999), documented that the NLF was a classic Communist-front organization. “Any individual or group who opposed the Party’s enemies might join the front,” Brigham observed, “but its leadership was clearly dominated by Communists.”[3] 


Historians such as Lewy and Brigham have discredited Chomsky’s interpretation of the NLF.  It is, however, the views of former NLF leaders, members, and fellow travelers that have provided the most damning refutation of Chomsky’s second point.  After the fall of Saigon in 1975, NLF members who had swallowed Hanoi’s promises of a peaceful, democratic, and just reconciliation, were shocked by how quickly the Communist’s sacked South Vietnam’s government and removed, imprisoned, or killed NLF members.  It was a sobering experience and it clearly demonstrated who really had power in Vietnam.   Doan Van Toai has recounted how he had been “hypnotized” by the NLF and its western supporters.  Writing in 1981, Toai stated that “I feel nothing but sorrow for my own naivete in believing that the Communists were revolutionaries worthy of support.  In fact, they betrayed the Vietnamese people and deceived progressives throughout the world.”[4]  Truong Nhu Tang, an NLF founder, was equally disillusioned.  In his A Vietcong Memoir (1985), Tang recounts how he slowly realized that Hanoi controlled the NLF and that it was using the NLF as a means to an end – the end being total control of Vietnam.  Hanoi Communists, Tang writes, considered the NLF “as simply the last linkup it needed to achieve its own imperial revolution.”  The program the Communists adopted after the war, Tang continues, was to “strip away as fast as possible the apparent respect for pluralistic government, neutrality, and national concord and reconciliation in the South that the DRV had maintained with such breathtaking pretense for twenty-one years.”[5] Finally, Duong Quynh Hoa, also an NLF founder, informed New York Times reporter Henry Kamm that “I have always been a revolutionary. This country is not their monopoly. I was a Communist when the party was not in power. But I found that its ultimate goal was power, not the happiness of mankind.”[6]


The Communists invaded South Vietnam and they sought, through the NLF, to disguise this invasion as a civil war.  They fooled Chomsky and most other antiwar activists. Regardless, any possibility of making a distinction between the NLF and Hanoi collapsed completely after the failed 1968 Tet offensive. Once U.S. forces soundly defeated the Vietcong, the war very clearly became a war of invasion by North Vietnamese forces into South Vietnam.  


Chomsky’s third point is that America entered the war for economic reasons and that the corporate ruling class determined U.S. policy.  He rejects the idea that U.S. policy in Vietnam, and American Cold War policy in general, had anything to do with the containment of Communism.  The Communist menace was “a magnificent propaganda instrument” used to disguise America’s imperial interests in Southeast Asia.  It was invented by political and business leaders and dutifully parroted by the mass media and the servile intellectual community.[7]  The real concern of the corporate elites who ran U.S. foreign policy was the maintenance of a U.S. led global economy.  In his Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and U.S. Political Culture (1993), Chomsky argued that the U.S. fought World War II in the Pacific to prevent the emergence of an unfriendly, Japanese led, non-capitalist order in East Asia.  It was not about to permit such an order to emerge in the 1960s.  Japan and Southeast Asia had to be integrated into a U.S. led anticommunist and capitalist Asian bloc.  Vietnam’s role was to serve as an export market and as a source of raw materials and cheap labor for Japan and the U.S. “The Vietnam War,” wrote Chomsky in his What Uncle Sam Really Wants (1992), “emerged from this need to ensure this service role.”[8]  By fighting to secure Vietnam’s subordination to U.S. economic goals, the U.S. was picking up where the French left off.  America was an imperial power bent on colonizing Vietnam and resisting the forces of Asian nationalism.  After World War II, Chomsky writes, “the U.S. quickly threw in its lot with France, fully aware from the start that it was opposing the forces of Indochinese nationalism and that its own clients could not withstand political competition.”[9]   The only “threat” that the Vietnamese Communists posed, Chomsky contends was “the threat of a good example.”[10]


Chomsky’s Marxist interpretation of the war’s origins is contradicted by the evidence.  American leaders did not ignore economic factors in their decision to go to war (nor should they have).  Nevertheless, to argue that economic factors were the paramount reason for the war is unfounded.  Indeed, President Johnson, in his typically robust language, often referred to Vietnam as a “little piss-ant country.”  Further, the war itself was hardly beneficial to America’s economy.  Its total cost was approximately $150 billion, and it contributed to both large budget deficits and inflation by the early 1970s.  Many Democrats also complained that the war drained money away from Johnson’s Great Society programs.[11]  More important than economic factors was the reality that the war, as almost all diplomatic historians recognize, was part of America’s Cold War policy of containment of Communist expansion.  According to George Herring, the author of America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam (1996), the war “was a logical, if not inevitable, outgrowth of a world view and a policy – the policy of containment – that Americans in and out of government accepted without serious question for more than two decades.”[12] 


On the basis of the documented record, one can not argue that containment was a myth or a ruse designed as cover for economic imperialism.  From 1945 to 1960, American leaders observed with great trepidation the steady advance of Communism throughout Asia and in other parts of the world.  Castro triumphed in Cuba.  The Soviets established an iron curtain in Eastern Europe.  Mao was victorious in China.  North Korea, in turn, attacked South Korea and started the Korean War.  International Communist aggression was not, as Chomsky contends, a figment of zealous Cold War imaginations; nor was a concern for Communist tyranny.  By the time Americans were fighting in Vietnam, it was already clear that Communism was bringing about a frightening new world of tyranny, corruption, and poverty.  In no place, and certainly not in Vietnam, was it creating a “good example” that other nations could follow.  Instead, Communism was, as American leaders always argued, threatening American democracy.  Indeed, it was threatening all civilization. 


The Vietnam War represented a commitment to stem the tide of Communism. “Over this war – and all Asia,” President Johnson informed the American people in April, 1965, “is another reality: the deepening shadow of communist China.”  Johnson, as well as President Kennedy, believed that America could not permit a Communist victory in Vietnam because it would enable similar victories in neighboring countries.  So too would it damage America’s credibility. “To leave Vietnam to its fate,” Johnson argued, would shake the world’s confidence “in the value of an American commitment and in the value of America’s word.” American leaders believed they had to resist Communist aggression in Southeast Asia.  If they backed down, America’s status as a world leader would be no better than a paper tiger.  America would become the England of Neville Chamberlain - timid and easily pushed around.  American leaders were determined to prevent this from happening. They had learned the lesson of the 1930s, and they were not going to permit another Munich.  They were willing to exhaust so much effort, including the lives of 58,000 Americans, because they believed that if they permitted Communism to grow in Vietnam it could grow elsewhere. “The central lesson of our time,” President Johnson proposed, “is that the appetite for aggression is never satisfied. To withdraw from one battlefield means only to prepare for the next.”[13] 


The American people shared Johnson’s concerns.  In 1965, 70% of Americans supported the war, and up to the November 1968 elections, only 20% supported a U.S. withdrawal.  Most Americans understood what Communism meant to the people of the Soviet Union and China.  Most understood what it would mean to the South Vietnamese if it was allowed to triumph.   Americans also had years of experience dealing with the duplicity of the Moscow controlled American Communist Party.  They supported the Vietnam War and they expected their presidents to vigorously prosecute it.  “I can’t give up a piece of territory like [Vietnam] to the communists,” President Kennedy once remarked, “and get the American people to reelect me.”  Given such broad public backing, it is not surprising that most Democrats and Republicans strongly supported the war as well. 


Anticommunist conservatives pressured the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.  So too did important elements of the Democratic coalition.  George Meany’s AFL-CIO, for example, approved a 1965 resolution backing “all measures the Administration might deem necessary to halt Communist aggression and secure a just and lasting peace.” And, at the 1967 AFL-CIO convention, union delegates defeated an antiwar resolution by a vote of 2,000 to 6.  What Chomsky refers to as a war of imperial aggression designed to benefit the elite was, oddly, widely embraced by the working class.[14] 


The Vietnam War was not determined, as Chomsky argues, by the imperatives of American capitalism. Instead, it was determined by the political and ideological realities of the Cold War, including the reality of Communist aggression and brutality. The DRV, supported by both China and the Soviet Union, was invading another nation and attempting to establish yet another Communist tyranny.  The NLF, moreover, was one of its most important tools. 


Chomsky’s third point is refuted by an objective analysis of the reasons for America’s entrance into the war.  It is also refuted by an honest examination of the reasons for America’s withdrawal.  Throughout the war, Chomsky argued that the corporate ruling class rigidly controlled American foreign policy and that the American state was essentially fascist.  “We have to ask ourselves,” he insisted, “whether what is needed in the United States is dissent – or denazification. The question is debatable.”  Chomsky, however, knew the answer: “To me it seems that what is needed is a kind of denazification.”[15]  The great mass of Americans, he argued, had no influence on American foreign policy.  Chomsky also believed that America would not leave Vietnam until it defeated the Communists by carrying out a Hitlerian “final solution.”  In truth, America did leave Vietnam to the Communists - with dire consequences for the people of Vietnam and Southeast Asia.   Moreover, American foreign policy during the Vietnam War was heavily influenced by public opinion, first in support of the war and then, after 1968, in response to the antiwar movement.  In particular, America’s withdrawal from Vietnam demonstrated, as David Horowitz has argued, that America foreign policy “in its most critical dimension [was] responsive to the will of ordinary people and to their sense of justice and morality.”[16]


Chomsky’s fourth and final point relates to what the U.S. did to destroy the Vietnamese Communists.  It invoked what Chomsky terms, in a reference to President Roosevelt’s 1941 Four Freedom’s speech, “the Fifth Freedom.”  The “Fifth Freedom,” according to Chomsky, is the self-granted right of the American ruling class “to rob, to exploit and to dominate” other nations to “ensure that existing privilege is protected and advanced.”[17]   To dominate Southeast Asia and destroy Vietnamese nationalism, Chomsky argues that the U.S. created the RVN government, which was a “Latin American-style terror state” that killed and repressed its people. The RVN was corrupt, arrogant, and completely divorced from the realities of Vietnamese society.  Its leaders, from Ngo Dinh Diem to Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Van Thieu were incompetent and dictatorial.  The U.S. also waged an illegal and indiscriminate war.  It destroyed the 1954 Geneva Accords and created the strategic hamlet program in an attempt to drive millions of peasants into “concentration camps.”[18]  In 1965, when large numbers of U.S. soldiers entered Vietnam, America unleashed a monstrous arsenal of terror.  It engaged in  indiscriminate B-52 terror bombing, used chemical weapons such as napalm to create massive fire storms that incinerated innocent civilians, randomly machine gunned the countryside from helicopter gunships, terrorized peasants daily, used cluster bombs, and dropped enormous quantities of Agent Orange. 


Chomsky’s fourth point has only limited validity.  Certainly, it is true that the RVN was not a shining example of democracy.  RVN leaders were often corrupt and repressive.  Nevertheless, it is helpful to remember that South Vietnam was a newly independent Third World nation with little experience with democracy. Further, however repressive and corrupt the RVN was, it was always a better alternative to the Communist DRV.  It offered greater personal freedom, including a greater tolerance for diverse opinions.  It permitted the existence of dozens of newspapers, journals, and radio stations that included a variety of opinions on important political and social topics.  RVN citizens could join labor unions.  In 1967, they also voted in presidential elections that offered a variety of candidates and numerous political parties.  Two years later, almost all villages under RVN control had elected chiefs and councils. 


Chomsky’s usual retort to these facts is to argue that it was the U.S. that opposed elections. Often, he writes of America’s violations of the 1954 Geneva Accords.  What he does not write about is the fact that the U.S. never signed the Accords, and that Ho Chi Minh and the Communists never had any intention of permitting free elections, as is clearly demonstrated by their behavior during and after the war.  The RVN’s elections, however poorly conducted, were simply unheard of in the North.


RVN citizens enjoyed other benefits over their DRV counterparts.  During the course of America’s involvement in Vietnam, school enrollment in primary education jumped from 410,000 to 2.7 million children.  The South Vietnamese also benefited from a steadily improving standard of living, including greater access to medical care. From the early 1960s to 1972, the U.S. provided funding for the building of 9 new hospitals and the renovation of 11 others, as well as the construction of hundreds of maternity-dispensaries.  At the very least, it can be strongly asserted that the U.S. supported anti-Communist South Vietnamese government offered hope for a better future. The DRV could make no such claims.[19]


Chomsky is neither a fan of the RVN or of the U.S. military. The U.S. military’s tactics were, he insists, the equivalent of the worst tactics used by the Nazis.  He also argues that a defense against these charges is “impossible.”[20]  This is not the case, for numerous reasons.  First, Chomsky has never acknowledged that the number of innocent civilians killed by Communists was far greater than the number killed by American bombers.  According to military historian Victor Davis Hanson, the author of Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power (2001), Communist troops killed approximately 400,000 civilians. In contrast, U.S. bombers killed approximately 50,000 civilians.[21]  Second, in comparison to World War II and the Korean War, the loss of civilian life in the Vietnam War was notably lower.  During operation Rolling Thunder in 1965, for example, U.S. bombers killed 0.3% of the North Vietnamese population. In similar raids over Germany during World War II, Allied bombers killed 1.6% of the population.  In Japan, Allied bombers killed 3.0% of the population.[22]  Despite such tragic and terrible loss of life because of U.S. bombing – some of which should have been avoided - the populations of both North and South Vietnam increased during the war.  The population of North Vietnam rose from 18.7 million to over 23 million.  The population of South Vietnam increased from 16.1 million to just below 20 million.[23] Given these numbers, it is clearly ludicrous to suggest, as Chomsky does, that America’s war in Vietnam was comparable to anything the Nazis did.  


There is evidence of U.S. mistakes during the war.  Conditions in the strategic hamlets and in the refugee camps built to deal with the large number of Vietnamese displaced by the war were poor and should have been improved.  Still, to refer to them as “concentration camps” is an egregious distortion of fact.  True, the hamlets and the camps often proved counterproductive to U.S. and RVN goals, but they often did serve their purpose of protecting the civilian population from the war.  Moreover, the food and medical supplies, though inadequate, were not inconsistent with local standards. 


It is also true that, on rare occasions, American soldiers committed war crimes.  The most notorious example is the March 1968 My Lai incident in which U.S. soldiers savagely killed at least 200 unarmed civilians.  Other U.S. actions merit criticism.  Nevertheless, when evaluating U.S. military tactics during the war and the number of civilian casualties, it is imperative to remember that the Vietcong, in direct violation of the laws of war, failed to differentiate themselves from the civilian population.  Far from openly identifying themselves as combatants, as U.S. soldiers did, the Vietcong sought to blend in with the civilian population.  So too did they use civilians, both male and female, and of all ages, as either human shields or as carriers of weapons.  It is equally imperative to realize that the U.S. military punished crimes committed by U.S. forces.  The military court-martialed 201 Army personnel and 77 Marines from 1965 to 1973. In contrast, Communist atrocities were a deliberate and encouraged war tactic. The Hue massacre, in which – as most scholars now recognize – Communists slaughtered 3,000 civilians, was no great aberration. The Vietcong carried out a similarly brutal massacre in the village of Dak Son in December 1967, using flamethrowers to kill 252 Montagnard villagers.[24]


In his autobiographical The Vietnamese Gulag (1986), Doan Van Toai pointed out that the “Communist road to national liberation is in fact a road to national destruction.”  The former Vietnamese revolutionary was so disgusted at what the Communists were doing to his country that he fled to America.  In contrast to Vietnam under Communist rule, in America he found a land that was “blessed.”  It is, he  observed, “a place where one can work freely and give one’s children a decent life….”[25] Painfully yet honorably, Toai recognized and confronted his previous errors in judgment.  He had, as well, the dignity and the courage to publicly acknowledge his mistakes. 


The same can not be said of Noam Chomsky.  In the summer of 2003, during an eight-week long correspondence, he made it quite clear to me that he has had no second thoughts on the war.  When I asked him if he has altered his views, he declared that his “critique of U.S. atrocities and its apologists was by no means severe enough.”  He also insisted that all the evidence that has surfaced about the truly barbaric nature of Communism is nonsense.  He termed The Black Book of Communism (1999) a fabricated work of pro-Western propaganda.[26]   He was equally dismissive of the new evidence on Soviet and Chinese aid to the DRV.  It was, he argued, “irrelevant.”  When I urged him to accept that Soviet and Chinese aid enabled North Vietnam’s victory in 1975, he snapped “....undoubtedly that infuriates anyone who believes that the state he supports has a perfect right to carry out aggression, massacre, chemical warfare and other atrocities….” Chomsky responded in a similar fashion to the evidence concerning Hanoi’s control of the NLF.  “The records,” he blithely proposed, “are in full agreement that the [NLF] resistance was South Vietnamese.”  This is, he continued, “amply supported by detailed studies of province advisers, declassified documents, etc., and by hawkish independent scholars….”  When I pressed him, he decided to dismiss the entire relevance of the debate on who controlled the NLF: “….While it is an interesting question….it has absolutely nothing to do with your strong support for the mass slaughter and destruction that drove South Vietnam to the level of virtual extinction.”


Chomsky’s views on the Vietnam War are static and simplistic.  For almost four decades, he has written nothing more than one-sided polemics.  Further, he appears unwilling to engage in a frank and fair debate on the war.  He is so committed to his views that he portrays anyone who disagrees with him as morally and intellectually inferior.  In his review of Guenter Lewy’s scholarly America in Vietnam (1978), for example, he castigated Lewy’s arguments as “morally grotesque” and “intellectually worthless.” The result, Chomsky wrote, “is a form of apologetics for massacre and destruction....for which no comparison comes to mind apart from the worst excesses of Nazi and Stalinist scholarship.”[27]  Chomsky was equally unrelenting in his correspondence with me.  In one letter alone, he called me a Nazi and a Stalinist ten times. 


Such verbal pyrotechnics are not among the necessary characteristics of an intellectual committed to democratic discourse - nor is camouflaging the crimes of a tyrannical government, ignoring so much scholarship, and employing crude analytical tools.  Chomsky has, at least, acknowledged that this is true.  In his famous 1967 essay, “The Responsibilities of Intellectuals,” he argued that the role of an intellectual is to “speak the truth and to expose lies.” He stated that this was a truism that should “pass without comment.” Chomsky was correct, but he has failed to adhere to the standards he set for himself.[28]

[1] Lewy, America in Vietnam, pp.15-16.

[2] Gabriel Kolko, Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, The United States, and the Modern Historical Experience (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), p.105.

[3] Robert  Brigham, Guerilla Diplomacy: The NLF’s Foreign Relations and the Viet Nam War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), p.11. Brigham does suggest that southerners had influence over decisions made in Hanoi. Regardless, it is now clear who ran the show. See Brigham’s essay in Gilbert, ed., Why the North Won the War, pp.97-116.

[4] Doan Van Toai, “A Lament for Vietnam.”

[5] Truong Nhu Tang, David Chanoff, and Doan Van Toai, A Vietcong Memoir: An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath (New York: Vintage Books, 1986), p.269. 

[6] Quoted in Kamm, Dragon Ascending, p.237.

[7] Otero, ed. Noam Chomsky: Radical Priorities, p.212. Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (Boston: South End Press, 1989).

[8]Chomsky, Rethinking Camelot. Chomsky, What Uncle Sam Really Wants, p.12.

[9] Noam Chomsky, Year 501: The Conquest Continues (Boston: South End Press, 1993), p.272.

[10] Otero ed., Chomsky: Language and Politics, p.559. In What Uncle Sam Really Wants, Chomksy wrote that the “real fear” of American leaders was that if “the people of Indochina achieved independence and justice, the people of Thailand would emulate it, and if that worked, they’d try it in Malaya, and pretty soon Indonesia would pursue an independent path….” See Chomsky, What Uncle Sam Really Wants, pp.23-24.  Also see Chomsky, Year 501, p.36.

[11] James Patterson, Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945- 1974 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp.597-609. George Herring estimates the cost of the war at $167 billion. See Herring, America’s Longest War, p.304.

[12] Herring, America’s Longest War, p.xi.

[13] Johnson’s speech is contained in Richard Hofstadter, Great Issues in American History, Vol.III: From Reconstruction to the Present Day, 1864-1981 (New York: Vintage Books, 1982), pp.556-559. Also see John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), p.241.  American credibility in the fight against Communist aggression was an essential reason for its involvement in Vietnam.  According to the leading historian of U.S.-Southeast Asian relations, Robert McMahon, “Johnson and his top advisors, like a whole generation of American Cold Warriors, were convinced that U.S. credibility must be preserved….”  It was, McMahon continues, “the indispensable glue holding together America’s entire Cold War alliance system as well as the principle deterrent to communist aggression.” See Robert McMahon, The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp.101-102.  Robert Schulzinger has also written that “had American leaders not thought that all international events were connected to the Cold War there would have been no American war in Vietnam. American leaders persistently believed that their credibility was at stake there.”  See Robert Schulzinger, A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), p.329. Even the radical Leftist Gabriel Kolko concedes that “credibility was the hypnotic justification which unified virtually all those who shaped fundamental policy.” See Kolko, Anatomy of a War, p.164.

[14] Patterson, Grand Expectations, pp.608-609. Schulzinger, A Time for War, p.233.  Doris Kearns, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), pp.324-327. Robert Zieger, American Workers, American Unions (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), pp.170-174. Paul Johnson, A History of the American People (New York: HarperCollins, 1997), p.886.  Kennedy’s quote is in McMahon, The Cold War, pp.101-102.

[15] Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins, p.16.

[16] David Horowitz, Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey (Dalles: Spence Publishing Company, 2003), p.113.

[17] Noam Chomsky, The Culture of Terrorism (Boston: South End Press, 1988), p.3.

[18] Chomsky, Year 501, pp.251-252. The reference to concentration camps is in Chomsky, Rethinking Camelot, p.2.  Also see Chomsky, What Uncle Sam Really Wants, p.88 for another reference to concentration camps.

[19] On the RVN see Lind, Vietnam: The Necessary War, p. 233; Lewy, America in Vietnam, pp.301-302; W.W. Rostow, “The Case for the Vietnam War,” Parameters, Winter, 1996-1997, pp.39-50; and Podhoretz, Why We Were In Vietnam, p.202.

[20] Chomsky, Year 501, p.268. Noam Chomsky, Towards a New Cold War: Essays on the Current Crisis and How We Got There (New York: Pantheon Books, 1979), pp.134-153.

[21] Hanson, Carnage and Culture, p.425.

[22] Lind, Vietnam: The Necessary War, p.247.

[23] Lewy, America in Vietnam, p.301.

[24] Summers, The Vietnam War Almanac, pp.90-91. Lewy, America in Vietnam, pp.273-275.

[25] Toai and Chanoff, The Vietnamese Gulag, p.347.

[26] In his correspondence with me, Chomsky insisted that the authors of The Black Book should have written about an entirely different subject: the crimes of Capitalism, which, according to Chomsky, have been far worse than the crimes of Communism.  Further, he accused the author of the impressive chapter on China, Jean-Louis Margolin, of misrepresenting the work of Amartya Sen, particularly Sen’s Hunger and Public Action - a book that favorably compares the social and medical health policies of Communist China with those of democratic India. He asked me how I reacted to “the decision of the authors of The Black Book….to cut out the fact that the primary sources for their worst condemnation of Communism [the Chinese famine of 1958-1961], using exactly the same reasoning, condemn the crimes of capitalism as vastly worse?” He continued, “had the authors of The Black Book and those who refer to it aspired to, or even comprehended, the most elementary standards of honesty (not to speak of scholarship), they would have referred to all of Sen’s famous work, not merely the half that they could exploit to justify their worship of power and privilege.”  Chomsky is wrong.  Margolin does not use Sen at all to discuss the famine.  As Margolin wrote, “much of this information is taken from Jasper Becker, Hungry Ghosts: China’s Secret Famine. This is the only book we know of that gives a good overall picture of the famine that followed the Great Leap Forward.”  So much for “elementary standards of honesty.”   

[27] Noam Chomsky, Towards a New Cold War, pp.154-165.

[28] Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins, pp.324-325.

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