Chomsky warns against 'Armageddon of our own making'


America's unilateral policy on nuclear defence is increasing the likelihood of "an Armageddon of our own making", the controversial US academic Dr Noam Chomsky told a Dublin audience last night.

Speaking at a lecture in UCD hosted by the Literary and Historical Society, Dr Chomsky warned that the Bush administration was ignoring not only the wishes of the American people but the advice of US military analysts pursuing a "space wars" programme.

If a planned "first-strike weapon" showed any sign of success China would almost certainly increase its warhead capacity, he said.

Dr Chomsky, who was speaking on the theme of "The Question of Survival", also accused the US of shooting down a recent proposal, supported almost unanimously at the UN, to control the spread of nuclear materials. As a result, its recent posturing over Iran was regarded by the rest of the world as a cynical attempt to convert the Non-Proliferation Treaty into "a convenient implement of US foreign policy".

Meanwhile, in an RTÉ Prime Time interview broadcast last night, Dr Chomsky suggested Ireland would be foolish to accept American assurances that no prisoners were being transported through Shannon by the CIA. "Governments lie all the time," he said. "It really doesn't matter whether there are prisoners or not [ in Shannon]. Suppose the planes are refuelled at Shannon and then carry prisoners for what's called rendition - rendition is just a fancy word for torture - well then, the Irish people have to ask themselves: 'do we want to participate in torture?'."

Elaborating on comments he made at a speech in Dublin on Wednesday he said it was "an open question" as to whether the Government had committed "a war crime" by allowing troops to stop at Shannon en route to Iraq but it had certainly committed "a major crime".

In the question and answer session after last night's speech, Dr Chomsky urged that wealthy people had greater responsibilities beyond the poor. "The West has become more civilised," he added, pointing out that the Iraq war was the first "colonial war" which was preceded by massive protests. While such protests did not stop the invasion they represented a huge step forward.