Noam Chomsky often sounds like a voice in the wilderness, especially in the weeks precisely following 9-11, so we should be grateful for an early voice of comparative reason.
Nonetheless, Dr. Chomsky comes across as alternatively over and under-prepared, not that anyone really could have been prepared for 9-11 and its aftermath.
My problem is, whether he is answering interviewer questions immediately following the event, or writing a summary article 8 months later, his answers are delivered like an avuncular politician from the 1960s, one who doesn´t want to address the issue at hand or have the logic of his position entirely understood.
His words on the printed page are noticeably clearer and less soporific than a live speech I once attended, but he front-loads all of his answers with older, tangentially related examples and trails off into one sentence generalities at the end. For a world-renowned professor of linguistics, he apparently doesn´t subscribe to traditional essay format. If his concluding sentences are meant to provide a synopsis of everything said before, he truly does put a lot of faith in just a few words. Worst of all, his sentences gradually lose their antecedents, so you´re always reading backwards to see which example(s) a late generality applies to. I used to think he didn´t condone analysis, but now think it´s just a brief hand-wave after every act of librarianship.
Where he seems right: He says several times that excessive military response, beyond punishing the perpetrators, only plays into the hands of someone like bin-laden.
Where it´s just strange:
-He doesn´t seem especially demanding regarding evidence against bin laden.
-He says killing bin laden will only make it worse.
-He hints that the "Arab world" has pent-up anger regarding some apparent state-sponsored suffering he doesn´t (dare?) describe.
The best part of the interviews is a long section documenting the history of state terrorism in the west. That stated, Mr. Chomsky has a habit of ascribing every act of history to one nebulous actor, i.e. "the U.S.", instead of, say, Reagan, who he sometimes points out by name. At the same time, he says that Afghanistan is not Afghanis. When he generalizes "the Arab world", I also begin to wonder how much time he personally has spent in the places he writes about.
Generally it´s not clear who he targets by blaming country the concept for the last 40 years of Western politics. Or is he, as Hesse said of the Germans, "once again beginning to think ´historically´(that is inhumanly)?"