RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Excerpt: "Renowned author and intellectual Noam Chomsky has again debunked the idea that the United States has a right to invade, bomb, and kill."

Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: Va Shiva)
Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: Va Shiva)

Noam Chomsky: US Targeted Killings: What Right Do We Have?

By teleSUR

26 October 15


teleSUR's The Global Empire with Abby Martin talks to renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky about U.S. elections, wars, and power.

hat right do we have to kill somebody in some other country who we don't like?”

This idea, that the United States has the right to invade, bomb, and kill, is a myth that renowned author and intellectual Noam Chomsky debunked during a 25-minute interview with Abby Martin for teleSUR's The Empire Files.

Even if the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which the United States bombed in October, had been only full of Taliban, Chomsky asks, why does the United States feel it has the right to kill people there?

“The idea that we have the right to use force and violence at will is accepted pretty much across the spectrum,” Chomsky said of politicians and the media in the United States. “The very idea of invading is criminal, but try to find someone who describes it as a crime. Obama is praised because he describes (the Iraq War) as a mistake.”

Obama is considered an anti-war candidate (but) Obama is running a global terror program of a kind that has never been seen before

Calling the invasion of Iraq “the worst crime of this century,” Chomsky said, “Suppose it had worked ... it's still a major crime, why do we have the right to invade another country?”

He points out that in the current landscape of U.S. presidential contenders there is not one true anti-war candidate.

“For example, Obama is considered an anti-war candidate (but) Obama is running a global terror program of a kind that has never been seen before, the drone program,” he said.

He says this pro-war, right-wing shift has been a result of the implementation of neoliberal policies, which shifted both parties to the right, pushing the Republicans “off the spectrum.”

“They became so dedicated to the interests of the extreme wealth and powerful that they couldn't get votes,” Chomsky said. “So they had to turn to other constituencies that were there, but were never politically mobilized, like Christian evangelicals (and) people who are so terrified that they have to carry a gun into a coffee shop.”

In doing so, the Republican Party “abandoned any pretense of being a normal political party” to become “a radical insurgency which has abandoned parliamentary politics.”

“The only thing that's ever going to bring about any meaningful change is ongoing, dedicated popular movements, which don't pay any attention to the election cycle.”

Chomsky said the result is that today's Democrats have shifted to the right as well.

“Today's mainstream Democrats are pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans,” he said. “Someone like Eisenhower, for example, would be considered way out on the Left.”

He calls today's Republican “libertarian” principles “anarcho-capitalism,” saying that if the U.S. were to implement policy based on those theories, “the whole society would collapse ... it would be tyranny.”

Traditional libertarianism was a left-wing ideology, Chomsky explains, opposed to master-servant relations, “but not in this version.”

Chomsky talks about Bernie Sanders, who is considered the most left-wing and progressive of the presidential candidates, calling him important and impressive, saying he is “doing good and courageous things.” However, he says, Sanders' campaign “ought to be directed to sustaining a popular movement which will use the election as an incentive, but then go on, but unfortunately it's not.”

“When the election's over, the movement's going to die,” Chomsky observes. “The only thing that's ever going to bring about any meaningful change is ongoing, dedicated popular movements, which don't pay any attention to the election cycle.” your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+37 # CL38 2015-10-26 19:44
"What right do we have to kill somebody in some other country who we don't like?”

What right do we have to kill people in the US that gop fundamentalists don't like? What right do these people have to use religion to target and discriminate according to gender, race, sexual orientation or class?
+53 # polfrosch 2015-10-26 19:56
Drone killings are extrajudicial executions without trial.

The kill ratio between someone declared a delinquent and innocent bystanders is 1:10 to 1:50, depending on the source.

That is: one intended killing, 10-50 innocent civilians. Time to say oops, right?

Imagine the Iranians executing any US individual considered an enemy -after a fatwa- with drones circling overhead small town USA.

Imagine they kill 25 innocent bystanders for each delinquent. I assume your mainstream media would consider to report this as problematic, right?

Just by switching perspective things become different, right?

Suddenly a fair process is no luxury any more. Suddenly the rule of law becomes valuable again, isn´t it, my dear and somewhat -exceptionally- selfrighteous and barbarian american friends?

Listen to this interview with Brandon Bryant, a drome pilot involved in the execution of 1626 individuals, 13 of them first hand.

Some of the 13 may even have been guilty. His 14th execution was a child. Now the erinys are haunting him. Listen to him. Brandon Bryant deserves foregiveness.

George Bush and Barack Obama do not.
+16 # ritawalpoleague 2015-10-27 07:41
Thank you, Polfrosch, for your great comment, and thanks also, for the umpteenth time, to Prof. Noam. Time it is for us to pray and say.....

Father, forgive us, and U.S. too -
It's obvious that we know not what we do.

Then, not just some of us, but all of us with a bit of conscience and compassion, need to gather up amazing amounts of courage and determination, and force into place (and keep in place), peace plus, and...

+41 # Dongi 2015-10-26 22:21
What right do we have to kill somebody we don't like? We don't have that right. Period. We are delusional if we think we have it Time to wake up and face reality. No one has appointed us judge and jury over the actions of other peoples. America has risen so high in its pride that it rivals God himself and, no doubt, our comeuppance is on the way.

The drumbeats of our destiny are quietly beating out a dirge of death. What we dish out to others will soon be our fate. America get ready to suffer for what you have put others through. Your time has come!
+29 # jsluka 2015-10-27 00:44
The USA is a "rogue state" and the really significant "death cult," not ISIL.
+17 # RMDC 2015-10-27 07:35
Yes, good point. The US is a death cult that makes ISIS look like a band of boy scouts. The US kills, beheads, blows bodies to shreds all over the globe. And true psychopaths like Obama and his ogre John Brennan gloat and grin over the deaths. The US is run by ghouls.
+27 # DurangoKid 2015-10-26 22:49
It's not a question of right so much as capacity. The US government has the weapons and a certain hegemony over all the other nations. That seems to be enough. As Chomsky admits, governments are not moral agents. They act only according to opportunity and interest. To expect otherwise is naive. It's not necessary to have the right to act if the means are all that are required.

Right also implies some limits on an agent's ability to act. Otherwise rights would be unenforceable. Who sets the limits? The UN? NATO? The Vatican? Since there is no authority that can limit the US government's actions, the rights of those acted upon don't really exist. Of course global opinion can prevent some sorts of attacks, but the result is more often than not a change in tactics. As we've seen time and again, economic violence is deadly.
+15 # jsluka 2015-10-27 00:47
Machiavelli would agree with you. Hardly anyone else would. Most people actually think that governments should act morally, and do not agree with your "the ends justify the means" argument.
+23 # RLF 2015-10-27 06:46
Yes...most people think governments should act morally but the US has been assassinating leaders they don't like for a century or more. What people think and what this country really is are two different things.
+4 # DurangoKid 2015-10-27 10:41
I'm not arguing for "the ends justify the means." I'm just reporting what I observe. If governments were moral agents then the means would be the ends. But that's not what we observe.
+2 # polfrosch 2015-10-28 05:01
OK, now I understand your post. So I withdraw what I wrote about YOU and apoligize for it. I also put a remark in my posting referring to you.
+10 # Dongi 2015-10-27 02:30
This is the formula for continuous aggression and imperialism. It is a signature statement justifying our immoral behavior. No one can give us such a right, You sound like a nazi, probably you are one. Nations have such rights because they exist and as groups of people they have the rights of people. This is what the UN is all about. Of course, the right wingers in the US hate the UN. I wonder why.
+12 # tedrey 2015-10-27 07:31
I think DurangoKid is pointing out that governments do tend to act as if "might makes right." He doesn't necessarily agree that they should. Please don't toss the "Nazi" word around too loosely. I'll let him respond for himself.
+9 # polfrosch 2015-10-27 05:45
Thank you for your clarification, Durangokid

Your argumentation leads directly into a justification of terrorism. Now the only thing missing is someone with "capacity".

In effect you speak out for the thesis "might makes right". This is not my world. I despise it.

I do not want to be an ally of a country wich cherishes these ideas. I will not obey you. I will fight in a resistance against you, if necessary.

Get your bases out of Germany. Get out of Ramstein and Stuttgart, the location of Africa Command (!), from where US state terrorism is organized, because African countries didn´t want to provide a location. In Germany you can, because it is effectively occupied.

Don´t come back. And we, my fellow Germans should get out of NATO as well.

We don´t need that fashist groove thing Durangokis wants to dance to. I don´t care if it is under new ownership. Once was enough.

This above is an answer to this ideology and Durangokid, not to all US individuals. But all US individuals are somewhat responsible for what is going on in their country right now and in the future. Speak out. Organize.

I am somewhat responsible for what my country does. I declare I do not want to be responsible for the crimes commited in US bases in Germany.

+10 # RLF 2015-10-27 06:48
It is true that the tought process is the same for our droning government and the terrorists. They are thinking the same. Durango kid didn't say it was right...just that it was!
+9 # Dongi 2015-10-27 07:00
I am speaking out as well as I can and for as long as I can. I realize fully what is at stake.
+9 # engelbach 2015-10-27 08:56
Your excellent post is being misunderstood as approval.

But you are quite right. Governments with power are amoral, just as are businesses under capitalism. They act according to their natures.

Chomsky has said this as well. And I.F. Stone famously said, "All governments lie."

The only check on this power is for the people themselves to seize power — a possibility that for the Unted States has never seemed more remote.
+7 # Adoregon 2015-10-27 15:04
Right?! Right?!!
At this point in history, to think that the U.S.(Federal Government) is at all concerned about whether we have the right as a nation to do what we do is to not be paying attention to reality. The U.S., with all its ostensible respect for the rule of law is a scofflaw on the world stage. Merely research the relationship between the U.S. and the World Court. We use the "law" if it suits our purposes; if not, to hell with the law. We're the most powerful gang on the planet.

The U.S. does what it does, not because of any belief in rights, but because no one is able to stop us. Our actions (globally) are a big "fuck you" to the idea of the "rule of law" and international relationships based on cooperation and respect.

Simply put, the U.S. is an amoral actor on the world stage. We do whatever "we" (here read the corporate oligarchs who control the government and consequently the military) think is in "our" (corporate) best interests and fuck all y'all who don't agree.

If any of this is unclear to you, simply observe how police in the U.S. treat the citizens they are sworn to "protect and serve." Talk to the police about your "rights." Uh-huh...
+27 # grandma lynn 2015-10-27 00:49
This is the least wordy, most direct Noam Chomsky I've read. The problem is huge, and he gets right to the point. "Ongoing, dedicated popular movements" are what we have and only that, for hope-of-change, so non-material when pitched against the hardware of our military and our war machine. It's Shakespearean, an unequal "battle field." Might against right. In Schindler's List that German officer who might save Guido and his child is distracted by puzzles, by riddles. I think we are like that while our drones and military strategies go on and on - we are present but not paying attention. We continue with our habits that are daily life, and drones-killing, war refugees because we destabilized the Middle East with our brainless Iraq War keep demanding attention - but we keep ourselves distracted from them. Shame on us. Or shame on any of us not calling for peace, peace, peace. No war. No war. No war.
+22 # Dongi 2015-10-27 02:34
Next week, the first of the month, I protest the drones at Hancock Air Force base outside of Syracuse, NY. Drones are intimately connected with Hancock.
+9 # polfrosch 2015-10-27 06:08
grandma lynn - chapeau! Be my guest if you ever come to Berlin. And if there is a chance to work together...
+16 # John Puma 2015-10-27 02:03
The same "right" we had to drop two nuclear weapons on a country within hours of its surrendering.

The same right we had to follow that with a slow-motion holocaust over the entire globe:

US has killed 20-30 million since WWII:

Basic stats, US imperialism:

Historic war against Islam (Vltchek):

2102 US global military base (property) report:
+26 # Dongi 2015-10-27 02:41
And, you wonder who is captain of Lucifer's League and who leads the world in the execution of our fellow human beings. Why, it is the good old USA whose president has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at what? Sending out drones and killing all kinds of people.

When is America going to wake up and realize it has become a spiritual and physical monster? Judgment day is almost here.
+24 # jdd 2015-10-27 04:59
We? It is Obama, who from his first week in office began the Tuesday "targeted killing" program from the White House. on which he personally signs off, in which his legal team has come up with bogus rationale to get around Gerald Ford's 1975 ban on assassinations. The recently leaked "Drone Report" puts the death toll at over 4,000, of which up to 90% are bystanders, including four US citizens, who are then later classified as "enemy combatants." In addition to the MSF call for an independent investigation of the Kunduz bombing, Amnesty International has called for a congressional investigation of this murderous program. We know that Hillary is into killing, ("We came, we saw, he died") so we need Bernie and O'Malley to step up to the plate.
+12 # Dongi 2015-10-27 07:06
We need every person of good will to step up to the plate. I think Armageddon is upon us. Now, is not the time to buy the vacation home in Florida.
+3 # Radscal 2015-10-27 11:09
Because the US is ostensibly a democratic republic, I use the term "we" to describe US policies from even before my ancestors came here. I believe that is Chomsky's use as well.

Yes, the US government officially ended its assassination programs, unwarranted surveillance, etc. after the Church Hearings and other responses to the leftist revolutionaries .

Although the assassination program largely came back out of the shadows when Bush II issued his deck of cards, listing 52 Iraqis who were "fair game," but I doubt it ever really stopped.

Still, it is true that since 9/11, the public has at least tacitly agreed with Cheney's insistence that we had to go to "the dark side" at the start of his multi-generatio nal Global War OF Terror.
+23 # franpryor 2015-10-27 06:27
Well, if any of you remember, JFK thought he was going to rein in the big bad guys, but, sadly, the reined him in for good. Jimmy Carter did a decent job of it and they made him out to be a fool. Then they replaced him with a mentally challenged old man, the co-star of a monkey, who they worshiped like a golden calf. Since then they have only gotten bigger and badder. What do you think will happen to the next guy who tries? Our country has gone totally off the rails since WWII.
+16 # Glen 2015-10-27 06:58
Excellent point, franpryor. The true leaders of the U.S. have nothing to do with the presidency except to use that president at a spokesperson. They are calling the shots world wide.

It really doesn't matter who is president. They no longer have much to contribute that is not controlled.
+13 # Dongi 2015-10-27 07:04
Very well put!
+12 # Radscal 2015-10-27 11:14
The US, like every other Empire in history, will fall. The only thing not sure is whether that fall will come from revolution inside the Empire, or military/econom ic warfare from outside.
+4 # Glen 2015-10-28 07:26
That is a genuine consideration, Radscal. There could easily be an invasion of sorts, done stealthily. I'm not convinced on the revolution end because Americans are not easily organized and if any think they could organize such as Trump's rabid supporters good luck. Too many warring groups in the U.S. already.

Khrushchev as I have written once said that the U.S. will rot from within. No need to attack.
+3 # Radscal 2015-10-28 10:48
You could be quite right. After all, didn't Josef Stalin coin the term "American Exceptionalism" as a derision since we stubbornly refused to revolt against the capitalists who were taking control of our government and exploiting the masses, exactly as Marx had predicted?
+4 # Glen 2015-10-28 13:23
If the U.S. continues to arm everyone there will be war. Ships to Saudi Arabia and Egypt now and a whole new fleet of bombers now being built by Northrup Grumman. There is no plan to end attacking countries or war. It will come back on the U.S. in spades.
+6 # Radscal 2015-10-27 11:23
ps. I'm so glad to see that Abby Martin has a new show, "The Empire Files" that's carried on TeleSur and The Real News. She's done about 1/2 dozen episodes so far, and each has been great.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.