Chomsky in Canberra

Issue 

Chomsky in Canberra

By Phil Shannon

CANBERRA — Noam Chomsky addressed the National Press Club here on January 24, speaking on East Timor as a microcosm of world order. The invasion of East Timor by Indonesia in 1975, he said, has required extraordinary attempts by powerful Indonesian and Western interests to deny, ignore, rewrite or justify the event.

Gareth Evans, said Chomsky, is ready with fine sentiments and high principles about opposing the acquisition of territory by force in the case of, say, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, where this would harm Western interests. In the case of East Timor, the high principles do not apply when there is some advantage to be gained.

Chomsky was enthusiastically received by most of the capacity audience of around 400. The Press Club has rarely heard such an honest, demystifying, crap-busting address. I don't think I'll book ahead for the next Press Club talk: Gareth Evans. I wouldn't know whether to cry or laugh.