Would Trump Get 'Ugly' to Salvage His Popularity? Noam Chomsky Thinks So

President Donald Trump speaks at a Women's Empowerment Panel at the East Room of the White House, Washington, D.C., March 29, 2017. Carlos Barria/Reuters

President Donald Trump's low approval ratings are nothing new, yet the Republican has largely maintained the support base that sent him to victory in November's election. But if and when his popularity among his core support erodes then the president could take some extreme steps to claw it back, leading left-wing intellectual Noam Chomsky has warned, including staging a false-flag terrorist attack.

"I think that we shouldn't put aside the possibility that there would be some kind of staged or alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly," Chomsky said in an interview with Alternet Monday.

Allegations of false-flag terrorist attacks have largely been the province of conspiracy theorists. The most serious recent charge surrounds the 9/11 terror attacks and unfounded allegations that it was an "inside job" by the U.S. government. The self-proclaimed "founding father" of the "9/11 Truth Movement" is radio host Alex Jones, a passionate Trump supporter.

Trump has set record low approval ratings, this week reaching a new depth of just 35 percent in a Gallup tracking poll. But he was also the most unpopular presidential candidate in recent memory and yet triumphed over Hillary Clinton. And while his overall approval ratings have continued to sink, his popularity among Republicans remains high, currently at 84 percent.

However, earlier this week Trump signed a bill that eliminated a worker-safety rule that protected employees from wage theft and unsafe working conditions. Chomsky has said that it is just a matter of time before white working-class voters, who played a large role in electing him, begin to realize that his pledges have ultimately done them no favors.

"I think that sooner or later the white working-class constituency will recognize, and in fact, much of the rural population will come to recognize, that the promises are built on sand," he said. "There is nothing there. And then what happens becomes significant."

Although Chomsky, 88, did not rule out the possibility of a false-flag terrorist attack, he said Trump's first steps would be to pin the blame on vulnerable groups in society.

"In order to maintain his popularity, the Trump administration will have to try to find some means of rallying the support and changing the discourse from the policies that they are carrying out, which are basically a wrecking ball, to something else," he said.

"Maybe scapegoating, saying, 'Well, I'm sorry, I can't bring your jobs back because these bad people are preventing it,'" he said. "The typical scapegoating goes to vulnerable people: immigrants, terrorists, Muslims and elitists, whoever it may be. And that can turn out to be very ugly."

A false-flag attack, or at least the contemplation of one, would not be completely unprecedented in the United States. Joint Chiefs of Staff documents from 1962 detail plans to stage an attack by Cuba, including blowing up a U.S. ship, in order to provoke a war with the Caribbean island. The plans were rejected by the country's civilian leadership.