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On Vlad Vexler's
How to critique Chomsky on Ukraine
By Roger Lippman
September 26, 2022

I have studied in detail what I consider to be Chomsky’s misdirection over the past 20 years. It was the ex-Yugoslavia wars that brought him to my attention (after having learned so much from him in earlier years). I could also, of course, have noted his supportive stance toward the Khmer Rouge - which to this day he declines to renounce.

In this talk, Vlad has many perceptive and analytical things to say, but on some points I think he is too easy on Chomsky, especially on the question of integrity. I offer you my detailed analysis of significant positions that Chomsky took on the Yugoslav wars, where I caught him out on false statements that he had every reason to know were false. The mitigating factor might be that his fan base expects him to be the authority on every issue, and he seems to have caught that disease himself, regardless of how little he actually knows – and he is no expert on Yugoslavia. Please see Noam Chomsky's denial of Serbian war crimes , and for more, consult my Chomsky index .

I didn’t understand as well at the time I produced those pages, but Ukraine has been a clarifying experience for me. (Syria could have been, had I paid a little more attention.) I thought, in my work on Kosovo and Bosnia, that progressives suffered from a lack of access to basic facts. It turns out that the way to account for that appearance is that the problem has been fundamentally ideological. Namely, a strain of Left thought has been anti-imperialist as applied to US actions but not to those of competing empires. This is an illustration of the inability of some to hold two opposing concepts in one’s mind at the same time and figure out how to process them. In its simplest form, it can be reduced to “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Surely this is not worthy of Chomsky’s intellect, but he propagates and panders to it, with his followers lapping it up. (It is noteworthy that Lenin understood this issue, as applied to the Russian Empire that he inherited, but he was outmaneuvered and outlived by Stalin. Elements of the Left have been getting it wrong ever since.)

That puts Chomsky in the category of an ideologue. A friend of mine wrote that “you are an ideologue when you no longer have ideas; your ideas have you.”

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