Chomsky on Syria: The Idea That the US Enforces International Law is ‘Hardly Even a Joke’

John Glaser, September 12, 2013

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The following is an excerpt from Democracy Now, in which Noam Chomsky responds to Obama’s Tuesday night Syria speech:

“Well, the Russian plan is a godsend for Obama. It saves him from what would look like a very serious political defeat. He has not been able to obtain virtually any international support for this—the action he’s contemplating. Even Britain wouldn’t support it. And it looked as though Congress wasn’t going to support it either, which would leave him completely out on a limb. This leaves him a way out.

“He can maintain the threat of force, which incidentally is a crime under international law, that we should bear in mind that the core principle of the United Nations Charter bars the threat or use of force, threat or use of force. So all of this is criminal, to begin with, but he’ll continue with that. The United States is a rogue state. It doesn’t pay any attention to international law.

“He—it was kind of interesting what he didn’t say. This would be a perfect opportunity to ban chemical weapons, to impose the chemical weapons convention on the Middle East. The convention, contrary to what Obama said, does not specifically refer just to use of chemical weapons; it refers to production, storage or use of chemical weapons. That’s banned by the international norm that Obama likes to preach about. Well, there is a country which happens to be—happens to have illegally annexed part of Syrian territory, which has chemical weapons and is in violation of the chemical weapons convention and has refused even to ratify it—namely, Israel. So here’s an opportunity to eliminate chemical weapons from the region, to impose the chemical weapons convention as it’s actually formulated. But Obama was very careful not to say that he—for reasons which are too obvious to go into—he—and that gap is highly significant. Of course, chemical weapons should be eliminated everywhere, but certainly in that region.

“The other things that he said were not unusual, but nevertheless kind of shocking to anyone not familiar with U.S. political discourse, at least. So he described the United—he said that for seven decades the United States has been “the anchor of global security.” Really? Seven decades? That includes, for example, just 40 years ago today, when the United States played a major role in overthrowing the parliamentary democracy of Chile and imposing a brutal dictatorship, called “the first 9/11″ in Latin America. Go back earlier years, overthrowing the parliamentary system in Iran, imposing a dictatorship; same in Guatemala a year later; attacking Indochina, the worst crime in the postwar period, killing millions of people; attacking Central America; killing—involved in killing—in imposing a dictatorship in the Congo; and invading Iraq—on and on. That’s stability? I mean, that a Harvard Law School graduate can pronounce those words is pretty amazing, as is the fact that they’re accepted without comment.

“So what he said is I’m going to lie like a trooper about history; I’m going to suppress the U.S. role, the actual U.S. role, for the last seven decades; I’m going to maintain the threat of force, which is of course illegal; and I’m going to ensure that the chemical weapons convention is not imposed on the region, because our ally, Israel, would be subjected to it. And I think those are some of the main points of his address. 

[snip]

“The U.S.—the idea that the U.S. has introduced and imposed principles of international law, that’s hardly even a joke. The United States has even gone so far as to veto Security Council resolutions calling on all states to observe international law. That was in the 1980s under Reagan. No state was mentioned, but it was evident that the intention was to request the United States to observe international law, after it had rejected a World Court judgment condemning it for what was called unlawful use of force—it means international terrorism—against Nicaragua. In fact, the U.S. has been a rogue state, the leading rogue state, radically violating international law, refusing to accept international conventions. There’s hardly any international conventions that the U.S. has accepted, and those few that it has accepted are conditioned so as to be inapplicable to the United States. That’s true even of the genocide convention. The United States is self-authorized to commit genocide. In fact, that was accepted by the International Court of Justice. In the case ofYugoslavia v. NATO, one of the charges was genocide. The U.S. appealed to the court, saying that, by law, the United States is immune to the charge of genocide, self-immunized, and the court accepted that, so the case proceeded against the otherNATO powers but not against the United States. In fact, the United States, when it joined the World Court—it helped introduce the modern World Court in 1946, and joined the World Court, but with a reservation. The reservation is that international agreements, laws, do not apply to the United States. So the U.N. Charter, the charter of the Organization of American States, the U.S. is immune to their—self-immunized to their requirements against the threat and use of force, intervention and so on.

“It’s kind of astonishing. I mean, by now it’s hard to be astonished, but it should be astonishing that a president of the United States, who is furthermore a constitutional lawyer or a graduate of Harvard Law School, can say things like this, in the full knowledge that the facts are exactly the opposite, radically the opposite. And there are millions and millions of victims who can testify to that. Right today is—happens to be an important date, the 40th anniversary of the overthrow of the parliamentary democracy of Chile, with substantial U.S. aid, because we insisted on having a vicious dictatorship, which became a major international terror center with our support, rather than allowing a Democratic Socialist government. Well, that’s—these are some of the realities of the world. Now, the picture that the president presented is—it doesn’t even merit the name fairy tale.”

Full transcript and video here.




15 Responses to “Chomsky on Syria: The Idea That the US Enforces International Law is ‘Hardly Even a Joke’”

  1. Obama is good in printincc more dollarz

  2. [...] Antiwar.com (blog) [...]

  3. [...] Antiwar.com (blog) [...]

  4. I stopped being astonished decades ago. Since then, I expect the government, at all levels, to lie. Of course, we've developed the concept of "half truth" to protect ourselves from the cynicism and apathy we would have if we admitted the truth to ourselves.

  5. An investigative committee headed by a former US Secretary of Justice concluded that the US Army killed about 6,000 unarmed civilians in Panama City during the invasion of Panama in December 1989 to kidnap the president. Obama thinks he is Godfather. He is a psycho but actually, he is Godfather!
    He and all Americans should remember: There is no defence against Launch On Warning. If they push the Russians too far, they'll deploy Launch On Warning. And that's game over. The end.

  6. At least since 1970 with Trident-1 the US has been aiming to replace MAD with Disarming First Strike Capability according to missile engineer Bob Aldridge and documented in The Counterforce Syndrome, First Strike! The Pentagon's Strategy For Nuclear War (also available in German, French and Danish), Nuclear Empire (ch. 9 on Anti-Submarine Warfare) and research papers on http://www.plrc.org Bob Aldridge resigned because it's Suicidal as it leads to Launch On Warning and Accidental Nuclear War. For that reason General Harbottle said to me: "They are bloody fools in the Pentagon!"

  7. US government no matter what kind! From democratic or republicans platform, always have regarded themselves above the law, CIA have proven to be loyal to this trend by the way of co de Etta's from 1950s to 1970s all over the world. The US social economic establishment (capitalism) have seen to it that only such obeying president will be elected where they can create wars for no apparent reasons. Or in some cases, if not all, they have lied about the country which they wanted to start a war with, like Iraq.

    Obama was elected because he lied to the American people knowing that Americans are sick and tired and scared having wars hanging on their neck for last 65 years, being a opportunist politician he used the momentum for getting elected. Every president and their secretary of states have a war named after him, Obama and Hillary Clinton are the elected entity of the past. There is not even a little sign anywhere regarding America being honest and under no circumstances when it come to America foreign policies anywhere, NSA surveillance is the proof of the matter, so, for American politicians wanting to police the world is yet another joke created by the system, lying about Syria is a tradition within the Democratic Party when Bill Clinton were talking about ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, yet he is for the Syrian war as Saudis barbarians doing the ethnic cleansing in Syria. A double moral you can only find within a falsified democracy.

  8. Claus@ 6; what ever.
    Havinf shirt-tail relative actove in hov back then told that there was more like 10,000.
    Many feaths for months after the invasion, all those active in Noiegas top political appointees and some military.
    No veterans that were in country weeks before actual invasion and they were aided by some Miami based Cuban group. There were even Asian intel in uniform because almost all the papers were by time main force s hit were already under thst Foreign special Forces

  9. Lnew both Spec ops and contacts within CN N that spld some vrry damning info of U S Civilian Inrell running drugs but keeping most of prpfits and involved a lot of Texas intell and energy girms but all over the Southern Mafia states.
    Knew guys that told of popping. male Panamanian government. workers. that were.laying face down with 45 cal handguns.
    They bragged about how high the head would bounce off the ground from bullet impact.
    Regular troops and the special psy warfare groups stole everything that was not tied down.
    Same group as were in country before invasion once invasion began indescrimonate killing of any who even verbally asked what was happening.
    The Cubans were wearing Pannama Military uniforms so office workers were at a lost, stumned nt visciousnesd omilitar they thoughyt was their military.
    Replacement for all Noriega appointees were flown in on day after invasion as they were partof “US Cultural Exchange through Universitu systems. Same place Iraqi replacements were staged plus 7 thousand in Rumania for Iraq invasion.
    They are not original in their programming but hell the populace are dumb as fn rocks

  10. [...] Antiwar.com (blog) [...]

  11. He can maintain the threat of force, which incidentally is a crime under international law, that we should bear in mind that the core principle of the United Nations Charter bars the threat or use of force, threat or use of force. So all of this is criminal, to begin with, but he’ll continue with that. The United States is a rogue state. It doesn’t pay any attention to international law.

  12. The US only enforce international law on country it can bully, but continue to supply Israel WMD to kill civilians. Yes, its hardly a joke, its a slap in the face.

  13. The U.S.—the idea that the U.S. has introduced and imposed principles of international law, that’s hardly even a joke. The United States has even gone so far as to veto Security Council resolutions calling on all states to observe international law. That was in the 1980s under Reagan. No state was mentioned, but it was evident that the intention was to request the United States to observe international law, after it had rejected a World Court judgment condemning it for what was called unlawful use of force—it means international terrorism—against Nicaragua.

  14. US government no matter what kind! From democratic or republicans platform, always have regarded themselves above the law, CIA have proven to be loyal to this trend by the way of co de Etta's from 1950s to 1970s all over the world. The US social economic establishment (capitalism) have seen to it that only such obeying president will be elected where they can create wars for no apparent reasons. Or in some cases, if not all, they have lied about the country which they wanted to start a war with, like Iraq.

  15. [...] The good guys at Antiwar.com have been an ally of this website for a very long time – PJC did an interview there which is how I found out about the website in the first place. Noam Chomsky did an interview for Antiwar.com where he made a pretty spot on analysis, pretty in tun… [...]