Noam Chomsky: For a long time, the Arab world and other places beside have played host to stories and illusions about the supernatural power of the United States, which controls everything through complex conspiracies and plots. In this worldview, everything that takes place can be explained in terms of imperialist conspiracies. This is an error. Without a doubt, the United States are still a great power and capable of influencing events, but they are not always able to manipulate them by means of complex conspiracies: this really is beyond their capacities. Of course the Americans do sometimes try to do this, but they fail, too. What happened in Syria is not outside our understanding: it began as a popular and democratic protest movement demanding democratic reforms, but instead of responding to it in a constructive, positive manner, Assad reacted with violent repression. The usual outcome of such a course of action is either a successful crushing of the protests or otherwise, to see them evolve and militarize, and this is what took place in Syria. When a protest movement enters this phase we see new dynamics at play: usually, the rise of the most extremist and brutal elements to the front ranks.
Mohammed Attar: There is one astonishing point related the Syrian revolution. Individuals and groups belonging to the Far Left in Europe, the Arab world and other regions of the globe, have evinced hostility to the revolution on the grounds that it is part of an American and imperialist plot. Hostility also comes from the Far Right, which regards it as an extremist threat to the existence of minority communities and Christians in particular. We have heard similar statements from the French Far Right and from Nick Griffin, leader of the extremist British National Party who visited Damascus, defending Bashar Al Assad. How do you interpret this phenomenon?
Noam Chomsky: Just disregard them. They are insignificant. They represent groups that cannot be reached or communicated with. There is no need to worry too much about your inability to convince fringe groups it is difficult to reach out to in the first place. There are groups far more important, active and influential over the decision-making process that should be reached out to first.
The "imperialist plot" is widely accepted. It is not fringe in the world. Besides, there's truth to it. It can be overstated as to current capabilities; but as to intent, of course there's an imperialist plot. The US is an empire, and those at the top of that empire want more wealth, power, and control, not less; and they want it over the entire planet and then out into space on to infinity. Never underestimate the seductive power of selfishness. That's not being "paranoid" on my part. That's being realistic.