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.
“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.