Linguist and author Noam Chomsky sat down with T.J. Coles, the director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research, to discuss American foreign policy from Syria to Russia, as well as trade and politics in South America. An excerpt of the conversations from earlier this year can now be found online, and appears in Coles’ new book, Voices for Peace: War, Resistance and America’s Quest for Full-Spectrum Dominance.

Chomsky said “no strategic policy is discernable” when it came to the Trump administration’s actions in Syria. He spoke of the airstrike on al-Shayrat air base: “The act seems to have been designed for an American audience, instructed that at last Trump has become a true president.”

Trump is currently on his first official tour through Asia. During their conversation, Coles asked Chomsky about Trump’s role in Asia, to which Chomsky said Trump “is intent on ‘rebuilding our depleted military,’ already the most advanced and powerful in world history, far ahead of any conceivable group of competitors, and providing more authority to the military to act free from civilian control. ‘America first,’ with a big fist but no nonsense about diplomacy and ‘soft power.’”

When it comes to the issue of peace in Israel-Palestine, Chomsky was skeptical about Trump’s ability to guide this process. He said the chances of peace are “Even lower than they have been for some time—unless we mean ‘the peace of the graveyard’.”

Coles and Chomsky’s conversation also touched on the political situation in South America.

Chomsky said,

“The left/center left governments of recent years achieved meaningful progress: sharp reduction in poverty, improvements in social justice, freeing the region from the clutches of the IMF (aka US Treasury Department), and others. They also made many mistakes, crucially reliance on primary product export instead of diversifying the economy, and joining in the elite practice of massive corruption.”

Though countries in South America have turned toward right-wing leaders, Chomsky said some of the work of the previous governments “will probably survive the current regression, quite severe particularly in Brazil, the most important country of the region. I suspect that this too will pass, and there will be a return to a more promising course of social and economic development.”

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