Noam Chomsky: Trump’s Threat to Human Civilization Is More Immediate Than We Realize

Mar 29, 2017 by

The renowned political scientist on Republican radicalism, nuclear brinkmanship, American decline and more.

Photo Credit: Andrew Rusk / Flickr

On Tuesday, Donald Trump signed an executive order effectively dismantling the Obama administration’s climate protections and policies, specifically its Clean Power Plan targeting carbon emissions from major power plants. Environmental groups warn that the United States would cede leadership on global climate change and that the damage inflicted by the order could prove irreversible. For Noam Chomsky, this is but one of the ways in which Trump’s presidency — if not his first 100 days in office — poses an existential threat to human civilization.

In a wide-ranging new interview with Truthout, the renowned political scientist expounds on everything from the radicalism of the Republican Party to our troubling brinkmanship with Russia to the accelerated decline of American empire. Here are a few of the highlights:

On America’s rising fascism

The policies being formulated and enacted are drawn from the playbook of the most reactionary fringe of the Republican establishment. The abject service to private wealth and power is accompanied with an authoritarian and fundamentalist program to transform US society. The project is driven by the Bannon-Sessions vision of a society devoted to Judeo-Christian roots and white supremacy, eliminating such pernicious and threatening nonsense as arts and humanities, upholding the Betsy DeVos doctrine that public education has to be dismantled, while if science conflicts with religion, then too bad for science. Meanwhile, we are to wave a mailed fist at the world while cowering behind walls and rebuilding the “depleted military” that is the most powerful force in human history, dwarfing any collection of competitors. All of this resonates with at least parts of a society that has long been the safest and most terrified in the world.

On “Pax Americana,” such as it is

Trump’s position on nuclear weapons is unclear, but many of his comments have been worrisome, in particular his dismissal of the New START treaty on mutual Russia-US reduction of nuclear weapons as a bad deal for the US, in a phone call with Putin. The treaty is a good deal not only for the US but for the world, even though partial. And it would be bad news indeed if Trump chooses not to renew it. In general, on nuclear programs he seems to have kept so far to Obama’s dangerous modernization program. And being “on top of the pack” on nuclear weapons means little, since even a small number would be enough to destroy everything. … As for Pax Americana, it has hardly been much of a Pax. It is not coming to an end, but it is continuing to decline, just as American power has declined since its peak at the end of World War II.

On Bernie Sanders and the possibility of a brighter future

The success of the Sanders campaign was quite remarkable, a sharp break from political history. For over a century, elections in the US have been mostly bought. But here was someone who was scarcely known, who had virtually no support from the wealthy or corporate sector and was dismissed by the media, and even used the scare word “socialism.” He would very likely have won the Democratic nomination had it not been for the shenanigans of the Obama-Clinton clique that dominates the party — and that has almost ruined it at local and state levels in recent years. And he might very well have become president. … It’s easy to succumb to a sense of futility and despair, but objective circumstances provide no justification for that stance. There have been many gains over past years thanks to struggles undertaken under far harsher conditions than those of today. These gains provide us with a legacy that offers a great many opportunities to avoid the worst, and to move on to a much better future.

Read the interview at Truthout.

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.

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