By Noam Chomsky
The front page
of The New York Times on June 26 featured a
photo of women mourning a murdered Iraqi.
He is one
of the innumerable victims of the ISIS (Islamic
State in Iraq and Syria) campaign in which the Iraqi
army, armed and trained by the U.S. for many years,
quickly melted away, abandoning much of Iraq to a
few thousand militants, hardly a new experience in
the picture is the newspaper's famous motto: "All
the News That's Fit to Print."
There is a
crucial omission. The front page should display the
words of the Nuremberg judgment of prominent Nazis -
words that must be repeated until they penetrate
general consciousness: Aggression is "the supreme
international crime differing only from other war
crimes in that it contains within itself the
accumulated evil of the whole."
alongside these words should be the admonition of
the chief prosecutor for the United States, Robert
Jackson: "The record on which we judge these
defendants is the record on which history will judge
us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned
chalice is to put it to our own lips as well."
invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of
aggression. Apologists invoke noble intentions,
which would be irrelevant even if the pleas were
World War II tribunals, it mattered not a jot that
Japanese imperialists were intent on bringing an
"earthly paradise" to the Chinese they were
slaughtering, or that Hitler sent troops into Poland
in 1939 in self-defense against the "wild terror" of
the Poles. The same holds when we sip from the
the wrong end of the club have few illusions. Abdel
Bari Atwan, editor of a Pan-Arab website, observes
that "the main factor responsible for the current
chaos [in Iraq] is the U.S./Western occupation and
the Arab backing for it. Any other claim is
misleading and aims to divert attention [away] from
In a recent
interview with Moyers & Company, Iraq specialist
Raed Jarrar outlines what we in the West should
know. Like many Iraqis, he is half-Shiite,
half-Sunni, and in preinvasion Iraq he barely knew
the religious identities of his relatives because
"sect wasn't really a part of the national
reminds us that "this sectarian strife that is
destroying the country ... clearly began with the
U.S. invasion and occupation."
aggressors destroyed "Iraqi national identity and
replaced it with sectarian and ethnic identities,"
beginning immediately when the U.S. imposed a
Governing Council based on sectarian identity, a
novelty for Iraq.
Shiites and Sunnis are the bitterest enemies, thanks
to the sledgehammer wielded by Donald Rumsfeld and
Dick Cheney (respectively the former U.S. Secretary
of Defense and vice president during the George W.
Bush administration) and others like them who
understand nothing beyond violence and terror and
have helped to create conflicts that are now tearing
the region to shreds.
headlines report the resurgence of the Taliban in
Afghanistan. Journalist Anand Gopal explains the
reasons in his remarkable book, No Good Men
Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War
through Afghan Eyes.
when the U.S. sledgehammer struck Afghanistan, the
al-Qaida outsiders there soon disappeared and the
Taliban melted away, many choosing in traditional
style to accommodate to the latest conquerors.
Washington was desperate to find terrorists to
crush. The strongmen they imposed as rulers quickly
discovered that they could exploit Washington's
blind ignorance and attack their enemies, including
those eagerly collaborating with the American
country was ruled by ruthless warlords, while many
former Taliban who sought to join the new order
recreated the insurgency.
sledgehammer was later picked up by President Obama
as he "led from behind" in smashing Libya.
2011, amid an Arab Spring uprising against Libyan
ruler Moammar Gadhafi, the U.N. Security Council
passed Resolution 1973, calling for "a cease-fire
and a complete end to violence and all attacks
against, and abuses of, civilians."
imperial triumvirate - France, England, the U.S. -
instantly chose to violate the Resolution, becoming
the air force of the rebels and sharply enhancing
campaign culminated in the assault on Gadhafi's
refuge in Sirte, which they left "utterly ravaged,"
"reminiscent of the grimmest scenes from Grozny,
towards the end of Russia's bloody Chechen war,"
according to eyewitness reports in the British
press. At a bloody cost, the triumvirate
accomplished its goal of regime change in violation
of pious pronouncements to the contrary.
Union strongly opposed the triumvirate assault. As
reported by Africa specialist Alex de Waal in the
British journal International Affairs, the AU
established a "road map" calling for cease-fire,
humanitarian assistance, protection of African
migrants (who were largely slaughtered or expelled)
and other foreign nationals, and political reforms
to eliminate "the causes of the current crisis,"
with further steps to establish "an inclusive,
consensual interim government, leading to democratic
framework was accepted in principle by Gadhafi but
dismissed by the triumvirate, who "were uninterested
in real negotiations," de Waal observes.
is that Libya is now torn by warring militias, while
jihadi terror has been unleashed in much of Africa
along with a flood of weapons, reaching also to
plenty of evidence of the consequences of resort to
the sledgehammer. Take the Democratic Republic of
Congo, formerly the Belgian Congo, a huge country
rich in resources - and one of the worst
contemporary horror stories. It had a chance for
successful development after independence in 1960,
under the leadership of Prime Minister Patrice
West would have none of that. CIA head Allen Dulles
determined that Lumumba's "removal must be an urgent
and prime objective" of covert action, not least
because U.S. investments might have been endangered
by what internal documents refer to as "radical
supervision of Belgian officers, Lumumba was
murdered, realizing President Eisenhower's wish that
he "would fall into a river full of crocodiles."
Congo was handed over to the U.S. favorite, the
murderous and corrupt dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and
on to today's wreckage of Africa's hopes.
home it is harder to ignore the consequences of U.S.
state terror. There is now great concern about the
flood of children fleeing to the U.S. from Central
The Washington Post
reports that the surge is "mostly from Guatemala, El
Salvador and Honduras" - but not Nicaragua. Why?
Could it be that when Washington's sledgehammer was
battering the region in the 1980s, Nicaragua was the
one country that had an army to defend the
population from U.S.-run terrorists, while in the
other three countries the terrorists devastating the
countries were the armies equipped and trained by
proposed a humanitarian response to the tragic
influx: more efficient deportation. Do alternatives
come to mind?
unfair to omit exercises of "soft power" and the
role of the private sector. A good example is
Chevron's decision to abandon its widely touted
renewable energy programs, because fossil fuels are
far more profitable.
in turn announced "that its laserlike focus on
fossil fuels is a sound strategy, regardless of
climate change," Bloomberg Businessweek
reports, "because the world needs vastly more energy
and the likelihood of significant carbon reductions
is 'highly unlikely.'"
therefore a mistake to remind readers daily of the
Nuremberg judgment. Aggression is no longer the
"supreme international crime." It cannot compare
with destruction of the lives of future generations
to ensure bigger bonuses tomorrow.
Noam Chomsky - Distributed by The New York Times