Chomsky’s answer is essentially: Because I believe it to be so. Now, whatever that is, it isn’t thinking. In fact, it’s an excuse for not thinking.
Ironically, Chomsky later said that Foucault was the most amoral man he ever met, whereas I would argue that Foucault was simply pointing out that Chomsky’s “morality” is in fact a form of nihilism.
I think people come to Chomsky and essentially worship him for precisely that reason. He allows them to feel justified in their refusal to think. They never have to ask themselves any difficult questions or provide any difficult answers. It’s a form of intellectual cowardice essentially, but I’m sure you can see its appeal.
I think you’ll agree that, of all the bad things people are capable of, their refusal to think is one of the worst, mainly because it leads to most of the other bad things of which they are capable.
In one of his earliest books, Chomsky wrote that America requires a process of de-Nazification. He has denied saying this, but again, it’s right there in black and white.
I think its impossible to understand Chomsky’s politics without understanding that, to him, the US is morally equivalent to Nazi Germany and needs to be dealt with accordingly. It should be noted, by the way, that this was a very important aspect of post-war Stalinist propaganda, and I have no doubt that Chomsky adopted it from that rather dubious source…
I think that, in the beginning, he may have believed that it (Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia) was all a frame-up by the New York Times and the US-Nazi alliance or whoever else he made up to blame it on. No doubt a great deal of wishful thinking on his part was involved, but it’s possible he was sincere in his conspiracy theories.
Then, as the facts became more difficult to deny and he started looking worse as a result, things got more complicated. At some point, he must have realized that he was saying things that in all likelihood were false. My guess is that he justified it in two ways: First, by relativizing it. Something along the lines of “whatever the Khmer Rouge may have done, it can’t be as bad as what America did in Vietnam, or Chile, or Indonesia, etc. Therefore, I am justified in continuing to defend the regime.” Second, by demonizing his opponents, by saying “whatever the Khmer Rouge may have done, it’s more important not to allow my opponents to win, because they are evil, and it is morally wrong to allow evil to win.”
Then, when the really horrendous scope of the genocide became clear, he was faced with having to admit he’d been wrong and owning up to it publicly. That is something Chomsky has never done and will never do. Perhaps he has a very fragile ego under all the bluster. It certainly seems like it.
In any event, blaming anything and everything bad that happens in the world on the United States has always been Chomsky’s default position. So once he’d exhausted all other possibilities of escape, that’s what he fell back on. And he’ll keep doing it until his dying day. You will never get a mea culpa from him on anything, and certainly not on Cambodia, which is probably the biggest disgrace of his career…