I can’t say I’ve ever understood the adulation Noam Chomsky gets in some lefty circles. His arguments are generally fairly banal, drifting into a caricature of liberalism.. I don’t doubt that at some point in his life he may have been an incisive political commentator, but I’ve never seen it.

This applies in spades to Chomsky’s reaction to Osama bin Laden’s death. Terming the operation which killed the mass murderer and seized a trove of information about al Qaeda’s operational plans “a planned assassination…violating elementary norms of international law,” and decrying that there was “no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim,” Chomsky proceeds to deny that bin Laden can even be said to have played a part in the attacks of 9/11, the embassy bombings before that, the attack on the USS Cole, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, or terrorist attacks in England, Spain, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and other nations:

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.

This, as Chris Hitchens rightly notes, is palpable bullshit. It surely would have been preferable to have captured bin Laden alive, and then put him on trial, and in such a trial he would enjoy the presumption of innocence. But insisting that we only refer to bin Laden as a “suspect” is absurd, as absurd as pretending that OJ Simpson didn’t kill Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The presumption of innocence is a principle of courtrooms, not a general obligation in all of society. We may not have a courtroom verdict on bin Laden, but we do have evidence and testimony offered in trials of his agents in al Qaeda’s many attacks, and we have the documentary record laid out by the 9/11 commission, not to mention bin Laden’s own repeated threats and boasts of successes.

Chomsky ignores substantial evidence against his position, and roots his argument in principles that would not make sense in any other context. The 19 hijackers on 9/11 died in the commission of their attacks, and so never stood trial. Must we also treat them as mere “suspects”? Must we truly keep our minds so open that our brains fall out?

The rest of Chomsky’s essay is a rambling attempt to argue that any justification for killing bin Laden must apply equally to a hypothetical assassination attempt on George W. Bush, and some de rigeur whining about the use of Native American terms (Geronimo, tomahawk) in the US military lexicon. Yawn. There are interesting questions to be raised about how bin Laden’s killing could be justified, but Chomsky isn’t even converging towards such questions.

Comments

  1. #1 Nescio
    May 12, 2011

    Unfortunately, Mr. CHomsky has a valid point, even if your view of the world is different. From a legalistic POV the guild of Bin Laden has not been established. No evidence showing his involvement in 9-11 is available.

    Second, his “confessions” should be taken with caution, not infrequently do we release “guilty” criminals after i.e. DNA evidence establishes that incriminating testimonies (their own or from witnesses) are wrong. As you are well aware there exist many reasons for people to make (willfully) false statements.

    Third, I would not base a case on testimony extracted using torture.

    I can go on, but you get the point. Regardless of what you and I think we know to summarily execute somebody -even Bin Laden- is not something to be proud of.

    A better rebuttal of your critique can be found here:
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/05/06/bin_laden/index.html

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/05/09/fear/index.html

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/05/07/awlaki/index.html

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/05/10/democrats/index.html

    Sorry spamfilter :)

  2. #2 Eamon
    May 12, 2011

    If you had read any Chomsky seriously, you would understand that to associate him with contemporary liberalism is an absurdity. You should not disseminate falsehoods concocted by those like Hitchens simply because you don’t know any better.

  3. #3 Chris
    May 12, 2011

    “Chomsky proceeds to deny that bin Laden can even be said to have played a part in the attacks of 9/11, the embassy bombings before that, the attack on the USS Cole, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, or terrorist attacks in England, Spain, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and other nations”

    This is an appalling misreading. Chomsky never claimed that Bin Laden was innocent. Neither did he claim that he couldn’t be found guilty were he tried. Rather, he’s responding to defenders of the assassination who claim that bin Laden was so clearly guilty that he didn’t merit a fair trial. It’s possible to believe that bin Laden is guilty and at the same time believe that the case against him hasn’t been proven. And it’s also possible to believe that there is overwhelming evidence of his guilt already, but justice requires a fair trial regardless. This is how criminals, even obviously guilty ones, are typically treated. Say a police officer witnesses a murder and the murderer is apprehended and handcufffed. Should the cop just execute him? After all, there’s no doubt he’s guilty. Or does he deserve a fair trial? Maybe you don’t believe that terrorists should be treated like criminals, but there’s nothing patently ridiculous about those who do.

    “But insisting that we only refer to bin Laden as a “suspect” is absurd, as absurd as pretending that OJ Simpson didn’t kill Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The presumption of innocence is a principle of courtrooms, not a general obligation in all of society.”

    Chomsky never said that a presumption of innocence for bin laden was a general obligation for society. You’re right, of course, that the presumption of innocence belongs to a courtroom, but that’s precisely Chomsky’s point: Bin Laden never saw a courtroom, because he was summarily executed. Chomsky’s reference to bin laden as a “suspect” was made in that context. If he was a tried and for some reason got off, Chomsky isn’t saying that he must be presumed innocent by the general public. At least based on his essay he isn’t.

    “We may not have a courtroom verdict on bin Laden, but we do have evidence and testimony offered in trials of his agents in al Qaeda’s many attacks, and we have the documentary record laid out by the 9/11 commission, not to mention bin Laden’s own repeated threats and boasts of successes.”

    You wrote: “We may not have a courtroom verdict.”
    For people who actually believe in the rule of law this actually matters and can’t just be glibly acknowledged and dismissed — at least in the context of the assassination of an unarmed man. You’re essentially admitting that you don’t believe in basic tenets of justice. All the things you listed, still don’t equal a trial where both sides are heard. Again, it’s one thing for the court of public opinion to decide that bin laden is guilty based on them, but it’s another thing for the US government to execute someone based on them.

    “The rest of Chomsky’s essay is a rambling attempt to argue that any justification for killing bin Laden must apply equally to a hypothetical assassination attempt on George W. Bush, and some de rigeur whining about the use of Native American terms (Geronimo, tomahawk) in the US military lexicon. Yawn.”

    This is just sneering, with no argument and no attempt to even seriously engage it.

    Last point: you might want to ask yourself why Chomsky’s insistence on trials makes him ridiculous, but Hitchens support for the Iraq war doesn’t relegate him to the same category.

  4. #4 Childermass
    May 12, 2011

    Bin Laden was not executed. He will killed by soldiers in a war that he himself declared. Unless those soldiers commanding officers outright ordered them not to kill bin Laden, then they could by the rules of war kill him at will at any time which he was not clearly surrendered.

    However, if he had surrendered (which lets face it he would have never have done), then he would have to be treated as a prisoner. However, it is fairly clear that a hearing would fairly quickly show that he is an illegal combatant and thus would be stripped of many of protections that prisoners of war enjoy (though other protections apply to all humans cannot be legally stripped). He would still have to be tried in court for his crimes. Frankly, I really don’t see it as a hard case. Indeed the part of a trial that is scary is not that he will be found not guilty, but rather that he would use open court as a platform to voice his call for jihad.

  5. #5 Anthony McCarthy
    May 12, 2011

    I have no idea why he was shot by the two sailors who are reported to have shot him, no one who wasn’t in the room could know that. If he made gestures that were reasonably interpreted to be threatening then that could have justified them shooting him. It will never be anything that anyone will know.

    Trying to capture him and bring him to justice in the way it was done is justified, both due to his confession of being involved in numerous murders and his intention to continuing to murder. At this point I’m not inclined to even consider whether or not going into Pakistan to get him might have been wrong. If he was there all those years, in that secured town, surrounded by the Pakistani military, they’ve got a lot to answer for before any of their complaints need to be taken seriously.

    Noam Chomsky is someone who I’ve admired, especially in what he’s written about the campaign of terror that the United States financed, supported and carried out in Central America and elsewhere. I don’t always agree with him. I’ll always give him a hearing but I don’t feel it’s necessary to give him unconditional support.

    I am increasingly skeptical about his linguistics, like I am everyone’s.

  6. #6 Chris
    May 12, 2011

    Your assertion that OSB’s guilt can be “assumed”, by operative’s TESTIMONY – yet OSB shouldn’t have been afforded the same legal right to refute his accusers, in the same legal arena – is hypocritical & inane.
    Your assumption that society’s OPINION of the O.J. case, should trump the actual VERDICT (decided in the legal arena), is not only vigilantism …moreover, it is frightening that it made it to print. (It seems like the kind of logic that an editor would tend to leave on a bathroom wall – just my opinion)

    Hitchens’ critique:
    His writing ;”…he (Chomsky) wrote that it (9/11) was no worse an atrocity than Bill Clinton’s earlier use of cruise missiles against Sudan…”, is nothing more than an out of context lie. (If you bother to research. Chomsky was discussing a country’s response to attacks, & if retaliation should be proportional to the initial attack. He surmised that consensus, at the time of 9/11, war was being justified – not only on lives lost in the attacks, but on attacks of key social values (economy & general ways of life – citing Oxford scholar’s study). Chomsky opined ; that if that theory is being used – then yes, Clinton’s attack on the Sudan is comparable to 9/11. The loss of much needed pharmaceuticals, in a 3rd world society devastated an entire country (proven by the documentation of the tens of thousands of lives lost due to lack of medicines). Chomsky’s article, like all of his work, was not sensationalism – but based on fact, and backed by credible sources.

  7. #7 Chris
    May 12, 2011

    Your assertion that OSB’s guilt can be “assumed”, by operative’s TESTIMONY – yet OSB shouldn’t have been afforded the same legal right to refute his accusers, in the same legal arena – is hypocritical & inane.
    Your assumption that society’s OPINION of the O.J. case, should trump the actual VERDICT (decided in the legal arena), is not only vigilantism …moreover, it is frightening that it made it to print. (It seems like the kind of logic that an editor would tend to leave on a bathroom wall – just my opinion)

    Hitchens’ critique:
    His writing ;”…he (Chomsky) wrote that it (9/11) was no worse an atrocity than Bill Clinton’s earlier use of cruise missiles against Sudan…”, is nothing more than an out of context lie. (If you bother to research. Chomsky was discussing a country’s response to attacks, & if retaliation should be proportional to the initial attack. He surmised that consensus, at the time of 9/11, war was being justified – not only on lives lost in the attacks, but on attacks of key social values (economy & general ways of life – citing Oxford scholar’s study). Chomsky opined ; that if that theory is being used – then yes, Clinton’s attack on the Sudan is comparable to 9/11. The loss of much needed pharmaceuticals, in a 3rd world society devastated an entire country (proven by the documentation of the tens of thousands of lives lost due to lack of medicines). Chomsky’s article, like all of his work, was not sensationalism – but based on fact, and backed by credible sources.

  8. #8 ChrisB
    May 12, 2011

    Your assertion that OSB’s guilt can be “assumed”, by operative’s TESTIMONY – yet OSB shouldn’t have been afforded the same legal right to refute his accusers, in the same legal arena – is hypocritical & inane.
    Your assumption that society’s OPINION of the O.J. case, should trump the actual VERDICT (decided in the legal arena), is not only vigilantism …moreover, it is frightening that it made it to print. (It seems like the kind of logic that an editor would tend to leave on a bathroom wall – just my opinion)
    Hitchens’ critique:
    His writing ;”…he (Chomsky) wrote that it (9/11) was no worse an atrocity than Bill Clinton’s earlier use of cruise missiles against Sudan…”, is nothing more than an out of context lie. (If you bother to research. Chomsky was discussing a country’s response to attacks, & if retaliation should be proportional to the initial attack. He surmised that consensus, at the time of 9/11, war was being justified – not only on lives lost in the attacks, but on attacks of key social values (economy & general ways of life – citing Oxford scholar’s study). Chomsky opined ; that if that theory is being used – then yes, Clinton’s attack on the Sudan is comparable to 9/11. The loss of much needed pharmaceuticals, in a 3rd world society devastated an entire country (proven by the documentation of the tens of thousands of lives lost due to lack of medicines). Chomsky’s article, like all of his work, was not sensationalism – but based on fact, and backed by credible sources.

  9. #9 Chris
    May 12, 2011

    Your assertion that OSB’s guilt can be “assumed”, by operative’s TESTIMONY – yet OSB shouldn’t have been afforded the same legal right to refute his accusers, in the same legal arena – is hypocritical & inane.
    Your assumption that society’s OPINION of the O.J. case, should trump the actual VERDICT (decided in the legal arena), is not only vigilantism …moreover, it is frightening that it made it to print. (It seems like the kind of logic that an editor would tend to leave on a bathroom wall – just my opinion)
    Hitchens’ critique:
    His writing ;”…he (Chomsky) wrote that it (9/11) was no worse an atrocity than Bill Clinton’s earlier use of cruise missiles against Sudan…”, is nothing more than an out of context lie. (If you bother to research. Chomsky was discussing a country’s response to attacks, & if retaliation should be proportional to the initial attack. He surmised, that war was being justified – not only on lives lost, but on attacks of key social values (economy & general ways of life – citing Oxford scholar’s study). Chomsky opined ; that IF that theory is being used – then yes, Clinton’s attack on the Sudan is comparable to 9/11. The loss of much needed pharmaceuticals, in a 3rd world society devastated an entire country (proven by the documentation of the tens of thousands of lives lost due to lack of medicines). Chomsky’s article, like all of his work, was not sensationalism – but based on fact, and backed by credible sources.

  10. #10 Poyani
    May 12, 2011

    What Chomsky decried was the government’s total contempt for a suspect’s right to trial. This concept is central to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is customary in international law (as well as the American constitution- although that only applies to US citizens). Chomsky is 100% correct in his criticism. Bin Laden was unarmed. He should have been captured. These celebrations of his death are revolting and reminiscent of the Islamists dancing in the street after 9/11. All decent people, including many families of the victims of 9/11 were disgusted by this reaction.

    What astonishes me is how people like Chris Hitchens and Josh Rosenau can endlessly pontificate about taking the side of “Liberal democracy” in this “war on terror” when they are cheerleading the dismantlement of the most central and important aspects of liberal democracy.

    Their hypocrisy knows no bounds!

    Liberal democracy only exists where people like Hitchens and Rosenau have been thoroughly defeated. It does not exist in places where people like Hitchens and Rosenau succeeded in gutting concepts like the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.

  11. #11 Jacob
    May 12, 2011

    Ah, idealism. The supporters of Chomsky have no-doubt never seen outside of their own ivory towers, let alone the battlefield.

  12. #12 Art
    May 12, 2011

    OBL was assassinated, or, if it makes you feel better, executed. He ‘resisted’ in some unnamed way but the method is telling. The woman who ‘rushed’ the SEALs was shot in the leg. OBL was shot in the head and chest.

    The woman shot in the leg is relevant because it shows that the SEALs were placing their shots very deliberately. The head/chest combination is a standard kill-shot practiced by these teams to guarantee the person is ‘no longer a threat’, dead.

    Yes, OBL may have had the house wired to explode, or may have been wearing an explosive belt intended to make sure he took someone with him. But it wasn’t and he wasn’t. Reports say he was unarmed but ‘resisted’. Unless OBL took up Kung-fu I doubt he was much of a real threat. Bottom line is that there was no tactical and immediate need to kill him. There was time, and adequate means to have duct taped him up and hauled him off. This is the usual course for accused mass murderers, even those accused of genocide and terrorism.

    I understand why it wasn’t done that way. I get the feeling special efforts were made to make sure, without actually telling anyone, that OBL was not to leave the location alive. He was going to be assassinated. That was the point. All the rest of it is after-the-fact window dressing.

    I don’t disagree that this was the best way to go. There would be huge number of very deep security and legal problems created by hauling him out and trying to conduct a trial. To start with the second word gets out he is in custody everyone and his brother takes hostages to trade for him. Then there is the fact that the nation, state, county, city and everyone connected to the trial, and their families, are at risk. Add in the media circus and you have chaos. Killing OBL was a simple, practical, and expedient solution and alternative to what would be several years of very expensive and dangerous chaos and the creation of durable legend and martyr. And then we have the conspiracy theories and mythology that would spring up as even the basic facts remain in dispute for months.

    Assassination is a dirt word but we did it and it was most likely the best thing to do. In a perfect world there would be trial with a spirited prosecution and defense, a ruling made by an unbiased jury, and a sentence swiftly applied. In a perfect world this process would be sacrosanct and none would dare to interfere or bias the process. It all would be so clearly and obviously fair and honest that nobody could object or contest the correctness of the proceedings or the sentence. Everyone would learn their lessons and consider the issue settled.

    We don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where extrajudicial killing may be, in some cases, as good as it gets. Where some criminals may place themselves in a web of religious fervor, mythology and violence so dense and tangled that the a relatively swift and painless death, one to the chest and one to the head, is the apex of justice obtainable.

    But Chomsky is right. We talk a good game of rule of law, legal process, and justice but when it comes down to it we have to realize we are limited in power and how far we can push the ideal of justice. That a swift and painless execution may be, in this case and situation, as good as it gets. We need to embrace the contradiction. Not comfort ourselves my making believe that what was done was squeaky-clean and entirely congruent with our ideals of legal process and justice. It wasn’t. It was simply the best we, or anyone else, could do.

  13. #13 Exigently
    May 12, 2011

    I see that the appropriate criticisms to the view aired above have been made, and not answered (mostly because they succeed in soundly dismantling this as nothing more than a rant).

  14. #14 chris
    May 12, 2011

    Here’s a good essay by George Scialabba regarding Hitchens and Chomsky.

    http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/2680/on_hitchens_on_chomsky/

  15. #15 Jacob
    May 12, 2011

    More Guernica….how refreshing.

  16. #16 Paul
    May 13, 2011

    Basically, what I hear you say is that Osama bin Laden is a known murder and terrorist of such proportion that in his case it is acceptable to disregard the rule of law and kill him where he resides. So, therefore, if such a terrorist of comparable proportions were holed up in the U.S., unbeknownst to our government, you would fully support the right of China (for example) to send its military special forces to the U.S. and perform a night time raid and murder in our country. If you don’t support such a comparable attack, then you have some explaining to do.

    Or, scenario 2…

    Let’s say there is a dangerous “known” drug king pin hiding out in some U.S. inner city and the local police/FBI know where he resides due to phone taps and other gathered intelligence. And say this non-citizen was known to have killed hostages and border guards as well as innocent bystanders. Then, in his case, it would be okay to simply go to the house and blow it up or kill him without regard for our laws?

    How about a serial child molester on the run from multiple victims who have positively identified him? Why not just find and kill him too?

    Why did Timothy McVeigh get a trial?

    The way I see it is simple. Either you believe in the rule of law for everyone or you don’t. No exceptions. When you make exceptions, be prepared for further exceptions in less obvious cases. It is truly a slippery slope. We now have the choice to distinguish ourselves from those of Osama bin Laden’s ilk by demonstrating how civilized our society is or to join the ranks of the other lawless barbaric peoples of the world we generally try to stop.

    -Paul

  17. #17 anti-yankee Pole
    May 13, 2011

    I thoroughly agree with Chomskt,whom I have always respected for his bold and deep criticism of US imperialism.I consider US a terrorist nation and I see some hope for the world in its ultimate fall.I’m strongly ashamed of mainstream Polish politicians beig nothing but US ass-lickers.

  18. #18 John
    May 13, 2011

    “… insisting that we only refer to bin Laden as a “suspect” is absurd, as absurd as pretending that OJ Simpson didn’t kill Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.”

    Wow, speaking of palpable bullshit. I always find the “OJ Card” a good way to gauge people’s core (racial) politics, and your statement is telling in the least. What does OBL have to do with OJ? I know white people have a hard time with this (you need to let it go, you lost that one, but you still have hundreds of lynchings in the south of blacks that weren’t, and never will be investigated, so it sort of balances out). But I think Chomsky makes a valid observation. If we can provide trials for Nazi war criminals, then we can provide a trial for OBL. That’s what separated us from Nazis, and that’s what separates us from OBL and his followers.

    So much for rigorous discussion.

  19. #19 Josh Rosenau
    May 13, 2011

    John: I don’t doubt that we could have provided a fair trial to Bin Laden. I’ve said repeatedly that capturing him and putting him on trial would have been preferable. But he was also a leader of a transnational movement that had declared open war on the US, and one of the risks of taking that position is the possibility that the US military will shoot you.

    My point about OJ is simply that it’s a high profile instance of someone who is demonstrably guilty who nonetheless was not convicted in court: a case where the courtroom presumption of innocence need not bind the broader society’s judgment of a person. I could just as well have noted that we should only refer to those lynchings as “alleged” lynchings, and the authors of those lynchings as mere “suspects.” The point is the same either way: Bin Laden, Simpson, and the lynchers are all guilty, whether or not a court said so.

  20. #20 Riman Butterbur
    May 13, 2011

    #3:

    they could by the rules of war kill him at will at any time which he was not clearly surrendered.

    However, if he had surrendered… it is fairly clear that a hearing would fairly quickly show that he is an illegal combatant and thus would be stripped of many of protections that prisoners of war enjoy

    Either he was a combatant in a war, or he was not. You’re trying to have it both ways.

  21. #21 Cole
    May 13, 2011

    So tell me, Josh, how much time have you spend palpating bullshit? Rather than concocting it? Seriously, you’re going to have to stop joshing around and use that noggin of yours if you want to take on Chomsky. He’d make short work of you if he had the time to waste.

  22. #22 J Vargas
    May 14, 2011

    Terming the operation which killed the mass murderer and seized a trove of information about al Qaeda’s operational plans “a planned assassination…violating elementary norms of international law,” […]

    You quoted the relevant passage yet didn’t address it. Did the operation violate international law? It certainly did. Full stop. The rest of your blog post is wholly irrelevant next to this issue. “Yes, yes, we violated international law, but look at Chomsky’s choice of footwear!” is approximately how I read it.

    (Yes, you linked without comment to something which tries to provide some justifications, but the only relevant conversation is whether those justifications are valid.)

  23. #23 jon smith
    May 17, 2011

    here is a thorough response to hitchens’ recent attack on chomsky
    “A Few Words On Christopher Hitchens’ Fondness for Noam Chomsky”: http://abidnyc.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/a-few-words-on-christopher-hitchens-fondness-for-noam-chomsky/

  24. #24 Mario
    May 18, 2011

    In a perfect world, a fair trial would be ideal. In reality, how many americans would I need to have kidnapped to exchange for OBL’s freedom? Were would I find a fair jury? How would I eliminate his attempts at furthuring suffering through pushing his agenda on CNN everynight after the trial? (liiiiiiive, from federal prison, the man we all love to hate!)……so we kill the dude and brake one more law, I wonder what these critics would say if Pakistan did not permit his extradition?….there are too many variables and everybody can be a Monday morning quarterback but I’m sure there a lots of stuff that we don’t take into account.

  25. #25 Marion Delgado
    May 18, 2011

    Just as Noam Chomsky doesn’t speak for liberals though they might agree with him on some things, I don’t think Chris Hitchens is normally a spokesman for Josh Rosenau, The latter is just agreeing with him on one point.

    I think I pick my battles, so whether I agree with Chomsky or not is irrelevant to the issues I publicly debate.

  26. #26 chris
    May 20, 2011

    Chomsky elaborates on his initial bin Laden response:

    http://www.zcommunications.org/there-is-much-more-to-say-by-noam-chomsky

  27. #27 Craig
    May 23, 2011

    Chomsky is a rambling crank.
    We have a lot of information indicating al Queada and bin Laden’s guilt, including many public gloating confessions. His organization was currently planning terrorist attacks. They could have saved many innocent lives by taking him out. And probably in a Shia mosque somewhere in the middle east. The attacks of al Qeada have been mainly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, because surveilance makes the west more difficult. I suppose Chomsky’s afficionados consider those to be US imperialism collaborator targets or something. But really, who cares?

  28. #28 Lyndon
    June 6, 2011

    The simple fact of the matter is that the United States wanted him dead – and they were not going to let anything stop them from achieving this goal. Not even international law. It was a pure revenge killing, justified on the basis of Bin Laden’s crimes. If any other national state power, say China, conducted such an operation, then the western powers would rightly question such actions, yet because the united states did it, it is not questioned. No state should engage in such breaches of soverignity and international law – not even to kill someone that has caused so much pain and suffering for that state. This article is wrong in its criticisms of Chomsky. We should be congratulating that somebody with the well known reputation as Chomsky has the courage to ask these questions and raise these points in a country that has, quite understandbly, welcomed Bin Laden’s death.

  29. #29 scott
    June 6, 2011

    Lyndon:

    “If any other national state power, say China, conducted such an operation, then the western powers would rightly question such actions”

    That’s pure speculation on your part. So I guess I’ll speculate also and say that the ‘western powers’ would be happy, curious and jealous all at the same time.

  30. #30 MikeC
    June 16, 2011

    Someone is missing the point here.

    Its simply amazing to observe people in this country react to our dissents and internal critics. How much actual thought and skill do you think it takes to publicly denounce someone who expresses a point of view that most people find reflexively disturbing in the first place?

    The truth is that dissidents not only provide a vital source of balance and perspective into our culture, they are often proved correct by history. You don’t have to look very hard to find cases of history in which conventional wisdom at the time was simply wrong.

    Of course, this fact often gets white-washed in our 7th grade history texts. Its here in our formidable years that we first learn conventional wisdom is always correct and that the American Government is virtually infallible.

    Take someone like Henry David Thoreau. How many of us learned that he was an outspoken critic of US policy, particularly against the US war with Mexico? That he refused to pay taxes funding the war and was sent to prison for it? Or that the motivation behind the war was blatant conquest and expansion of slavery? (Mexico had the audacity to outlaw slavery and try to impose this egregious law on free white immigrant settlers from the US who imported the noble practice with them).

    What if instead of invading two counties we had maintained our composure and hunted down bin Laden and his co conspirators? Brought them to justice? Made them face the Amercan public in a fair and just trial? Would we have been better off as a nation?

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