Noam Chomsky: My Reaction to Osama bin Laden’s Death
May 6, 2011
By Noam Chomsky
It’s increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination,
multiply violating elementary norms of international law. There appears
to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably
could have been done by 80 commandos facing virtually no
opposition—except, they claim, from his wife, who lunged towards them.
In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended
and brought to fair trial. I stress “suspects.” In April 2002, the head
of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most
intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that
it “believed” that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though
implemented in the UAE and Germany. What they only believed in April
2002, they obviously didn’t know 8 months earlier, when Washington
dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know,
because they were instantly dismissed) to extradite bin Laden if they
were presented with evidence—which, as we soon learned, Washington
didn’t have. Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White
House statement, that “we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were
carried out by al Qaeda.”
Nothing serious has been provided since. There is much talk of bin
Laden’s “confession,” but that is rather like my confession that I won
the Boston Marathon. He boasted of what he regarded as a great achievement.
There is also much media discussion of Washington’s anger that Pakistan
didn’t turn over bin Laden, though surely elements of the military and
security forces were aware of his presence in Abbottabad. Less is said
about Pakistani anger that the U.S. invaded their territory to carry out
a political assassination. Anti-American fervor is already very high in
Pakistan, and these events are likely to exacerbate it. The decision to
dump the body at sea is already, predictably, provoking both anger and
skepticism in much of the Muslim world.
We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos
landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his
body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin
Laden’s, and he is not a “suspect” but uncontroversially the “decider”
who gave the orders to commit the “supreme international crime differing
only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the
accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for
which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths,
millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter
sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region.
There’s more to say about [Cuban airline bomber Orlando] Bosch, who just
died peacefully in Florida, including reference to the “Bush doctrine”
that societies that harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists
themselves and should be treated accordingly. No one seemed to notice
that Bush was calling for invasion and destruction of the U.S. and
murder of its criminal president.
Same with the name, Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so
profound, throughout western society, that no one can perceive that they
are glorifying bin Laden by identifying him with courageous resistance
against genocidal invaders. It’s like naming our murder weapons after
victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk… It’s as if the Luftwaffe were
to call its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy.”
There is much more to say, but even the most obvious and elementary
facts should provide us with a good deal to think about.
Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the MIT Department of
Linguistics and Philosophy. He is the author of numerous best-selling
political works. His latest books are a new edition of Power and Terror,
The Essential Chomsky (edited by Anthony Arnove), a collection of his
writings on politics and on language from the 1950s to the present, Gaza
in Crisis, with Ilan Pappé, and Hopes and Prospects.
for video 1, click here
for video 2, click here
" Who are they going to kill next? Ghaddafi, Ajmadinejad, Ismail Haniah,Hugo Chavez?"
I , as well as countless millions other Muslims,[and I can only assume as I do not have the statistics to back up], share the same sentiment as Noam Chomsky. Correction...plus a wee bit more : 'Silent' anger and grief at this blatant disrespect to International law and decorum, and this I believe come direct from the hearts and does not require much rationalization or thinking.'Silent' because anything more audible than a soft murmur now would be construed as passive terrorism. That is the degree and state of 'fascism' preexisting in the world now.
The West can be celebrating bin Ladin's assasination forgetting that even in Islam one need to treat even your enemy with respect.In death, and especially in death, often times, even in so called criminals and renegades, form subjugate substance .
The 'pain' and grief can almost be heard and palpable across the whole Muslim landscape despite some muted 'polite apologies' from so called Muslim head of states.To feel otherwise would be to be entirely less honest with ourselves.
By a single senseless stroke of the pen, Obama and his cohorts have , in their utmost ignorance and infinite arrogance, open up more potential trouble in the future. My gut feeling is that the bin Ladin saga, thanks to Obama, will escalate to a higher plane from now on. It remain to be seen as time unfolds itself.
On the issue of bridging the seemingly 'unbrigeable', politicians across the globe cannot beat the British monarchy in their class and perception. I am reminded of a speech given by Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, given in Oxford just last year. While Prince Charles may seem to some people to 'have gone bonkers' by present standard,, do listen to him......this world would be a more peaceful place, if the likes of Obama share the same perception.
[... and again I am saying this at the obvious risk of some smart a-leck somewhere throwing back to me the assumption that 'there you go again, putting the blame on the West !]