Many people in the political mainstream will say, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day” when they discuss the viewpoints of left-leaning public intellectual Noam Chomsky. They will often say the same thing about Donald Trump, who is supported by the far right.
Chomsky and Trump agree on issues far less than twice a day, so it is certainly noteworthy when they achieve consensus.
When asked about the crisis in Ukraine and tensions between American allies and Russia, Chomsky recently stated that Donald Trump is the only high-ranking American speaking sensibly about negotiating an agreement with Vladimir Putin and the Russians to end the fighting. What Trump is proposing is not much different from what American president George Bush senior proposed to the Russians at the end of the Cold War. Had Bush’s plan been followed, the well-being of our planet would not likely be in peril today.
Somewhere in between the far-left and the far-right, Pope Francis has also questioned the wisdom of expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an anti-Soviet remnant of the Cold War, into Russia’s historical sphere of influence.
We need to study our history books and see what has happened over the last 200 years so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. Napoleon’s proud army pillaged Ukraine before they were beaten back in humiliation. Hitler did the same in the last century. Ukrainians likely understand better than anyone else that the common person in a conflict zone never benefits from war.
Between these two disasters, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin starved seven million Ukrainians to death during the Holodomor. Clearly, the people of Ukraine have suffered far too much already.
We also need to remember what else is at stake if the fighting in Ukraine continues. Without Ukrainian and Russian grain production, much of the world’s population will face starvation. This will not only cause unimaginable suffering but will serve to further destabilize many struggling parts of the world.
In addition, it is often forgotten that Russia has brought stability to other parts of its sphere of influence. When Azerbaijan and Turkey attempted to continue the Armenian Genocide in 2020, it was Russia that negotiated a settlement and put peacekeepers in place to end the crisis. One can only imagine the disaster that could result in this region if Russia is weakened.
Though many do not agree with the views of Noam Chomsky, few would dispute that he is sincere and humble in his quest for truth. He is not afraid to challenge the popular narrative, and he will agree with a person on the other end of the political spectrum when he knows they are right.
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Though Donald Trump is unorthodox, Chomsky notes that he proved to be an effective negotiator when he was president, especially when dealing with dictators. While North Korea had been a nuclear threat when Barack Obama was in office, Trump managed to ease these tensions and, as a result, the world became a much safer place.
It is challenging to find truth in the media during a time of armed conflict in the world, regardless of who is reporting. However, when we hear experts on two opposing sides of the political spectrum challenging the popular narrative and speaking the same message, we need to sit up and listen.
For those of us living in North America, areas of armed conflict, starvation, and human devastation may seem very far away. The truth is, we are all neighbours on this beautiful planet, no matter where we live.
Everyone deserves to live in peace, and we know what is necessary to bring this about. Now we just need to do it.
Gerry Chidiac specializes in languages, genocide studies and works with at-risk students. He is the recipient of an award from the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre for excellence in teaching about the Holocaust. For interview requests, click here.
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