Noam Chomsky on Trump’s Troop Surge to Democratic Cities & Whether He’ll Leave Office if He Loses
July 24, 2020
“President Trump is desperate,” says world-renowned dissident Professor Noam Chomsky in an extended interview that begins with President Trump’s vow to send a “surge” of federal agents into major Democrat-run cities across the United States. “His entire attention is this one issue on his mind: that’s the election. He has to cover up for the fact he is personally responsible for killing tens of thousands of Americans. It’s impossible to conceal that for much longer.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, Democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
Barely 100 days before the presidential election in November, this week President Trump announced he is sending a surge of federal officers into large Democrat-run cities like Chicago. This comes after Trump first sent federal agents to Portland, Oregon, where the camouflage-clad paramilitary agents attacked antiracist protesters, even snatched activists off the streets in unmarked vans. On Wednesday night, when federal forces fired tear gas at protesters in Portland once again, among those hit was Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who also serves as Portland’s police commissioner.
The response to Trump’s outrageous and likely unconstitutional deployment of federal agents has been resoundingly critical. Oregon Governor Kate Brown denounced the “secret police abducting people,” and the Oregon Attorney General has now sued several of the federal agencies involved. In the streets, a contingent of women has grown nightly, protecting protesters by forming a wall of moms. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden described the federal agents as “essentially fascist,” and warned, “If the line is not drawn in the sand right now, America may be staring down the barrel of martial law in the middle of a presidential election.”
Well, for more on this and much more, we spend the rest of the hour with Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned political dissident, linguist, and author, laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for more than 50 years.
He spoke with Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh and I on Thursday. We reached him at his home in Tucson, Arizona, where he is sheltering in place with his wife, Valeria. I began by asking Professor Chomsky to respond to the surge of federal agents Trump is promising to unleash on the country.
NOAM CHOMSKY: President Trump is desperate. His entire attention is—there’s one issue on his mind; that’s the election. He has to cover up for the fact that he is personally responsible for killing tens of thousands of Americans. It is impossible to conceal that much longer. Just compare the United States with Europe or even Canada; it’s becoming a pariah state to the point where Americans aren’t even permitted to travel to Europe. Europe won’t accept them.
His chances of victory depend on his doing something dramatic. He was trying very hard to set up military confrontations that you mentioned, martial law. It’s moving toward martial law. He might even be able to try to cancel the elections. There is no telling what he would do. He is completely desperate. This is like the actions of some tin-pot dictator in a neo-colony somewhere, small country that has a military coup every couple of years. There is no historical precedent for anything like this in a functioning democratic society. If he could send Blackshirts out in the streets, he would be happy to do that.
Exactly how this will eventuate is very hard to say. The courts are unlikely to do anything. We may even get to a point where the military command has to decide which side they are on. The man is desperate. He is psychotic. He is in extreme danger of losing his position in the White House and will do anything he can to prevent it.