Obama “more extreme than Bush”, Chomsky tells UCD


Prof. Chomsky awarded Honorary Life Membership by Lawsoc

chomsky10a DLPresident Barack Obama’s policy on torture is inept on the grounds that it continues to deny prisoners their basic human rights, claimed leading intellectual and political activist, Noam Chomsky, during a lecture in UCD’s O’Reilly Hall.

Chomsky, who has written numerous books criticising US foreign policy in addition to making significant contributions to linguistics, was in UCD last Tuesday to receive an Honorary Life Membership from the Law Society.

When asked by a member of the audience if he was being “too dismissive” of the impact which Obama has made, the professor responded by saying that there has been “almost no change” from the Bush era and claimed Obama’s stance on torture is harsher than that of his predecessor.

Speaking in front of a packed audience, the Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also dismissed the president’s role in shutting down Guantanamo Bay, claiming that this decision was inevitable before Bush left office.

“The Supreme Court eventually decided that prisoners in Guantanamo deserved their rights,” said Chomsky. “They then sent the prisoners to Bagram in Afghanistan… The Supreme Court recommended that their ruling should apply everywhere. [Obama’s] first act as president was to overrule this ruling.”

Chomsky spent the first hour delivering a lecture on the history of US foreign policy, before answering a series of questions from members of the audience.

A diverse range of topics were addressed, from his thoughts on the recent passing of Lévi-Strauss to his views on the current situation regarding Puerto Rico’s lack of independence from the US. However, the issue of Ireland’s economic crisis was conspicuously absent from the talk, though Chomsky has admitted he does not know enough of its details to comment on the topic.

Throughout his speech Chomsky described the US as “the mafia” of the world and claimed that they operated under the principle of punishing other countries that “disobeyed their policies”.

While he maintained the US was the “greatest country in the world”, the professor also had further criticism for the country’s health care system which he described as “a total disaster”. “If you compare the US to Canada, it’s quite striking,” he stated.

The event, in which the 80-year old spoke for almost two hours, was deemed a success by the Law Society. The Auditor of the Society, Conor O’Hanlon, said they were “greatly honoured to have one of the world’s leading public intellectuals accept Honorary Life Membership”.

Another member of the society speaking at the event also praised Chomsky, describing him as “one of, if not the most, influential intellectuals currently living”.