By WAI MOE
The Irrawaddy News
Noam Chomsky, one of the most well-known political and social critics in the world, said an armed uprising against Burma’s military regime is morally justified for the hardships inflicted upon the Burmese people.
However, he cautioned that it is not his role to tell the people of Burma what to do.
Chomsky, in an interview with the Bangkok Post published on Monday, said, “An armed uprising would have to evaluate with care the likely consequences for the people who are suffering.”
The ruling generals have “a good thing going for themselves,” he said. They have nothing to gain by yielding power, and they appear capable of holding on to their power.
“So that’s what they’ll probably do,” he said.
“On the other hand, the military leaders are aging,” he said, “and there may be popular forces developing that can erode their power from within.”
“Mass non-violent protests are predicated on the humanity of the oppressor. Quite often it doesn’t work. Sometimes it does, in unexpected ways,” he said.
The choice of a violent or non-violent mass uprising depends on an intimate knowledge of a society and its various constituents, Chomsky said.
He said, “I suspect that now it [a popular uprising] would be a slaughter.”
A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chomsky said it’s appropriate for people to rise up against a brutal government, “but it’s not for me to tell people to risk mass murder. “
As for assassinating leaders, the question is very much like asking whether it is appropriate to kill murderers, said Chomsky, who will turn 80 in December.
“They should be apprehended by non-violent means, if possible,” he said. “If they pull a gun and start shooting, it’s legitimate to kill them in self-defense, if there is no lesser option.”
Chomsky said, “China would likely tolerate, maybe even welcome, the overthrowing of the junta.”
Looking back over US involvement in Burma, he recalled that as part of US cold war policy, the Eisenhower administration supported thousands of Chinese nationalists [Kuomintang] troops when they invaded northern Burma.
As a result, the Chinese armed and supported insurgent groups in the region which led to a 1962 coup and the shift of power to the military, he said.
He said the US, Britain and Israel later sold weapons and invested in oil production in Burma to strengthen the military government.
“These matters are unreported and unknown in the US, apart from specialists and activists,” he said, “because they interfere too dramatically with the doctrine that ‘we are good’ and ‘they are evil,’ the foundation of virtually every state propaganda system.”