So-Called Bloodless Wars: War Images

An Interview with Noam Chomsky, by Carl Whithaus

Photograph of Troops Jumping from a Helicopter to represent war images

CW: Elsewhere in this issue, in "What a Painter of Contemporary ‘Historical Narrative’ Can Show Us about War Photography," Paul Rutz examines the rhetoric and imagery of war. I wonder if you think there has been a shift in terms of the rhetoric of images and the propaganda of war related to information technologies from the Vietnam War up to our present state.

Chomsky: There certainly is a shift. The Vietnam War was fought on the ground. Over half a million American soldiers, sixty or seventy thousand mercenaries from South Korea and Thailand. It was a massive war primarily against South Vietnam. But then there was also a devastating air war against Cambodia and Laos and most of North Vietnam. That is sort of an old fashioned war. Nowadays, the wars are supposed to be clean for us. So, many less boots on the ground, far more use of mercenaries, like the Blackwater Group. The US military wants to fight aerial war without pilots. Drones that are assassinating people all over Pakistan and Afghanistan. They allegedly kill militants, but the military estimates that like 2% are militants and the rest are just whoever is standing around. It’s causing a lot of popular anger in the countries, but the U.S. feels that it can control that.

There is surely a move toward a cleaner, more information-technology oriented kind of cyber war system. "Cleaner" means for the attackers, not for the victims. For them, it’s not clean at all.

CW: I appreciate your time.

Chomsky: Good to talk to you.


Chomsky's face and glasses with lines Introduction
West Point Cadets Training U.S. Military Officers
Philipines The Conquest of the Philippines
Flying Drone IT in the Early 21st Century
Binary Numbers Cyber Section of the Pentagon The Cyber Section of the Pentagon
Lt. General William Caldwell's name on a uniform Blogs and Schizophrenia
Intellectual Property Intellectual Property
partial Israeli flag Israel
Circuit Board High Tech Corporations
Red Block to represent current page War Images
Chomsky Closing

Note: The complete audio recording of the interview is available to listen to as you browse the edited webtext.