Leading U.S. intellectual Noam Chomsky was loudly applauded Tuesday at a lecture in Beirut when he lashed out at U.S. pressure against countries, namely Iran and Syria, as a way to "punish disobedience."
Chomsky, a loud critic of U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam War, told an audience of more than 1,000 at the American University of Beirut that the United States had an "interest to punish disobedience" and any "challenge of (its) authority."
He said countries like Syria and Iran were facing pressure because they achieved "successful defiance" of U.S. foreign policy and were "not following U.S. orders."
U.S. linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky, right, looks on ahead of his lecture titled 'The Great Soul of Power' at the American University of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, May 9, 2006. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Iran has been facing U.S.-led international pressure over its nuclear program, while Syria has been under an array of U.S. sanctions over its alleged support of terrorism.
Chomsky also accused Washington of using "economic strangulation" to "make economies scream" in some countries to force their people to overthrow "disobedient" leaderships, like the Palestinians who voted the Islamist radical Hamas in power earlier this year.
Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, which have suspended direct aid to the Palestinian government.
Chomsky, an emeritus professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accused the U.S. administration of using the "promotion of democracy" as a false means to serve U.S. interests across the world.
"Democracy promotion has always been proclaimed as a guiding vision but it is not even controversial that the United States regularly overthrew parliamentary democracies and installed and supported brutal tyrannies: Iran, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, etc."
Chomsky also criticized Israel, which has become "an image of the United States ... as a high-tech economy ... which relies on the military industry" to extend its domination and power in the region.
Chomsky first became known for his theory of grammar developed at MIT in the 1950s, which held that the ability to form structured language is innate in the human mind.
He later became known for his political activism. He published his first collection of political writings in 1969, and has penned over 40 books.
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