‘Obama must be taken before ICC for the war on terror’ – Chomsky

The US war on terror is in fact the most massive terror campaign ever, and the invasion of Iraq was the worst crime in recent history, prominent liberal thinker Noam Chomsky told RT, adding that he wants to see Bush, Blair and Obama tried at the ICC.

The ‘father of modern linguistics,’ Chomsky reflects on the
language of the war on terror, coming to the conclusion that the
freer the society, the more sophisticated its propaganda.

RT: As someone who was living in the aftermath of the
Boston bombings, the chaos, what did you think of the police and
media response to them?

Noam Chomsky: I hate to second guess police tactics, but
my impression was that it was kind of overdone. There didn’t have
to be that degree of militarization of the area. Maybe there did,
maybe not. It is kind of striking that the suspect they were
looking for was found by a civilian after they lifted the curfew.
They just noticed some blood on the street. But I have nothing to
say about police tactics. As far as media was concerned, there was
24 hour coverage on television on all the channels.

RT: Also zeroing in on one tragedy while ignoring
others, across the Muslim world, for example…

NC: Two days after the Boston bombing there was a drone
strike in Yemen, one of many, but this one we happen to know about
because the young man from the village that was hit testified
before the Senate a couple of days later and described it. It was
right at the same time. And what he said is interesting and
relevant. He said that they were trying to kill someone in his
village, he said that the man was perfectly well known and they
could have apprehended him if they wanted.

A drone strike was a terror weapon, we don’t talk about it that
way. It is, just imagine you are walking down the street and you
don’t know whether in 5 minutes there is going to be an explosion
across the street from some place up in the sky that you can’t see.
Somebody will be killed, and whoever is around will be killed,
maybe you’ll be injured if you’re there. That is a terror weapon.
It terrorizes villages, regions, huge areas. In fact it’s the most
massive terror campaign going on by a longshot. What happened in
the village according to the Senate testimony, he said that the
jihadists had been trying to turn over the villagers against the
Americans and had not succeeded. He said in one drone strike
they’ve turned the entire village against the Americans. That is a
couple of hundred new people who will be called terrorists if they
take revenge. It’s a terrorist operation and a terrorist generating
machine. It goes on and on, it’s not just the drone strikes, also
the Special Forces and so on. It was right at the time of the
Boston marathon and it was one of innumerable cases. It is more
than that. The man who was targeted, for whatever reason they had
to target him, that’s just murder. There are principles going back
800 years to Magna Carta holding that people cannot be
punished by the state without being sentenced by a trial of peers.
That’s only 800 years old. There are various excuses, but I don’t
think they apply. But beyond that there are other cases which come
to mind right away, where a person is murdered, who could easily be
apprehended, with severe consequences. And the most famous one is
Bin Laden. There were eight years of special forces highly trained,
navy seals, they invaded Pakistan , broke into his compound, killed
a couple people. When they captured him he was defenseless , I
think his wife was with him. Under instructions they murdered him
and threw his body into the ocean without autopsy. That’s only the

RT: The apprehension of bin Laden and the
assassination and dumping his body into the ocean, of course the
narrative completely fell apart. You’ve said that in the aftermath
of 9-11 the Taliban said that we will give you Bin Laden if you
present us with evidence, which we didn’t do…

NC: Their proposal was a little vague.

RT: But why are people so easy to accept conventional
wisdom of government narratives, there is virtually no

NC: That’s all they hear. They hear a drumbeat of
conventional propaganda, in my view. And it takes a research
project to find other things.

‘Invasion of Iraq was textbook example of aggression’

RT: And of course at the same time of the Boston
bombings, Iraq saw almost the deadliest week in 5 years, it was the
deadliest month in a long time. Atrocities going on every day,
suicide bombings. At the same time our foreign policy is causing
these effects in Iraq…

NC: I did mention the Magna Carta, which is 800 years
old, but there is also something else which is about 70 years. It’s
called the Nurnberg tribunal, which is part of foundation of modern
international law. It defines aggression as the supreme
international crime, differing from other war crimes, and it
encompasses all of the evil it follows. The US and British invasion
of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression, no questions about
it. Which means that we were responsible for all the evil that
follows like the bombings. Serious conflict arose, it spread all
over the region. In fact the region is being torn to shreds by this
conflict. That’s part of the evil that follows.

RT: The media’s lack of coverage of everything that
you are speaking about, I know that America runs on nationalism,
but is America’s lack of empathy unique? Or do we see that in every
country? Or as we grew up in America we are isolated with this

NC: Every great power that I can think of… Britain was the
same, France was the same, unless the country is defeated. Like
when Germany was defeated after the WWII, it was compelled to pay
attention to the atrocities that it carried out. But others don’t.
In fact there was an interesting case this morning, which I was
glad to see. There are trials going on in Guatemala for Efrain Rios
Montt who is basically responsible for the virtual genocide of the
Mayans. The US was involved in it every step of the way. Finally
this morning there was an article about it saying that there was
something missing from the trials, the US’s role. I was glad to see
the article.

‘Bush, Blair and Obama got to be tried by ICC but that’s

RT: Do you think that we will ever see white war
criminals from imperial nations stand trial the way that Rios
Montt did?

NC: It’s almost impossible. Take a look at the International
criminal court (ICC) – black Africans or other people the West
doesn’t like. Bush and Blair ought to be up there. There is no
recent crime worse than the invasion of Iraq. Obama’s got to be
there for the terror war. But that is just inconceivable. In fact
there is a legislation in the US which in Europe is called the
‘Netherlands invasion act’, Congressional legislation signed by the
president, which authorizes the president to use force to rescue an
American brought to the Hague for trial.

RT: Speaking of the drone wars I can’t help but think
of John Bellinger, the chief architect of the drone policy,
speaking to a think-tank recently saying that Obama has ramped up
the drone killings as something to avoid bad press of Gitmo,
capturing the suspects alive and trying them at Gitmo. When you
hear things like this what is your response to people saying that
‘his hands are tied, he wants to do well’?

NC: That was pointed out some time ago by a Wall Street
journal military correspondent. What he pointed out is that Bush’s
technique was to capture people and torture them, Obama has
improved — you just kill them and anybody else who is around. It’s
not that his hands are tied. It’s bad enough to capture them and
torture them. But it’s just murder on executive whim, and as I say
it’s not just murdering the suspects, it’s a terror weapon, it
terrorizes everyone else. It’s not that his hands are tied, it’s
what he wants to do.

RT: I would rather be detained then blown up and my
family with me…

NC: And that terrorizes everyone else. There are recent
polls which show the Arab public opinion. The results are kind of
interesting. Arabs don’t particularly like Iran, but they don’t
regard it as a threat. Its rank is rather low. They do see threats
in Egypt and Iraq and Yemen, the US is a major threat, Yemen is
slightly above the US, but basically they regard the US as a major
threat. Why is that? Why would Egyptians, Iraqi and Yemeni regard
the US as the greatest threat they face? It’s worth knowing.

RT: The controversial Obama policy, the National
Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which you are plaintiff on the
case, you’ve also said that the humanitarian laws are actually
worse, providing material support for terrorism. Do you think that
all these policies are quantifying what has been in place for

US executive whim: Nelson Mandela put on terrorist list, Saddam
Hussein taken off

NC: The NDAA is pretty much quantifying practices that
have been employed, it went a little bit beyond , and the court
case is narrow, it’s about the part that went beyond –
authorization to imprison American citizens indefinitely without
trial. That is a radical violation of principles that go back as I
said 800 years ago. I don’t frankly see much difference between
imprisoning American citizens and imprisoning anyone else. They are
all persons. But we make a distinction. And that distinction was
extended by the NDAA. The humanitarian law project broke no ground.
There was a concept of material support for terrorism, already sort
of a dubious concept, because of how to decide what is terrorism?
Well that’s an executive whim again. There is a terrorist list
created by the executive branch without review, without having any
right to test it. And if you look at that terrorist list it really
tells you something. So for example Nelson Mandela was on the
terrorist list until three or four years ago. The reason was that
in 1988 when the Regan administration was strongly supporting the
apartheid regime in South Africa, in fact ruling congressional
legislation in order to aid it, they declared that the African
national Congress was one the most notorious terrorist groups of
the world — that’s Mandela, that’s 1988, barely before apartheid
collapsed. He was on the terrorist list. We can take another case:
1982 when Iraq invaded Iran, the US was supporting Iraq and wanted
to aid the Iraqi invasion, so Saddam Hussein was taken off the
terrorist list…Its executive whim to begin with, we shouldn’t take
it seriously. Putting that aside, material assistance meant you
give him a gun or something like that. Under the Obama
administration it’s you give them advice.

RT: Let’s talk about the linguistics and language of
the war on terror. What did Obama’s rebranding of Bush’s policies
to do consciousness?

NC: The policy of murdering people instead of capturing
them and torturing them can be presented to the public in a way
that makes it look clean. It is presented and I think many people
see it like that as a kind of surgical strike which goes after the
people who are planning to do us harm. And this is a very
frightened country, terrified country, has been for a long time. So
if anybody is going to do us harm it is fine for us to kill them.
How this is interpreted is quite interesting. For example there was
a case a year or two ago, when a drone attack in Yemen killed a
couple little girls. There was a discussion with a well-known
liberal columnist Joe Klein, he writes for the Time, he was asked
what he thought about this and he said something like — it’s better
that four of them are killed than four little girls here. The logic
is mindboggling. But if we have to kill people elsewhere who might
conceivably have aimed to harm us and it happens that a couple
little girls get killed too, that’s fine. We are entitled to do
that. Well, suppose that any country was doing it to us or to
anyone we regard as human. It’s incredible! This is very common. I
remember once right after the invasion of Iraq, Thomas Friedman,
the New York Times, Middle East specialist, columnist, was
interviewed on the Charlie Rose show, a sort of intellectuals show.
Rose asked him ‘what we ought to be doing in Iraq?’ You have to
hear the actual words to grasp it, but basically what he said is
something like this: ‘American troops have to smash into houses in
Iraq and make those people understand that we are not going to
allow terrorism. Suck on this, we are not going to allow terrorism
in our society! You’d better understand that. So those terrorized
women and children in Baghdad have to be humiliated, degraded and
frightened so that Osama Bin Laden won’t attack us.’ It’s
mindboggling. That is the peak of liberal intellectual culture

RT: Famous atheists like Richard Dawkins saying that
Islam is one of the greatest threats facing humanity, that is a
whole another form of propaganda…

NC: Christianity right now is in much greater threat.

‘Propaganda most developed and sophisticated in the more free

RT: The media is obviously instrumental in
manufacturing consent for these policies. Your book ‘Media control’
was written a decade before 9-11 and it outlines exactly how
sophisticated the media propaganda model is. When you wrote that
book did you see how far it would come and where do you see it in
10 years?

NC: I’m afraid that it didn’t take any foresight because it
has been going along a long time. Take the US invasion of South
Vietnam. Did you ever see that phrase in the media? We invaded
South Vietnam, when John F. Kennedy in 1962 authorized bombing of
South Vietnam by the US air force, authorized napalm, authorized
chemical warfare to destroy crops, started driving peasants into
what we called strategic hamlets – it’s basically concentration
camps where they were surrounded by barbwire to protect them from
the guerrillas who the government knew very well they were
supporting. What we would have called that if someone else did it.
But it’s now over 50 years. I doubt that the phrase ‘invasion of
South Vietnam’ has ever appeared in the press. I think that a
totalitarian state would barely be able or in fact wouldn’t be able
to achieve such conformity. And this is at the critical end. I’m
not talking about the ones who said there was a noble cause and we
were stabbed in the back. Which generally Obama now says.

RT: It’s become so sophisticated, but I don’t know
maybe beсause I am younger and I’ve seen it only in the last 10
years in the post 9-11 world. With the internet do you see the
reversal of this trend when people are going to be making this form
of media propaganda irrelevant? Or do you see a worsening?

NC: The internet gives options, which is good, but the
print media gave plenty of options, you could read illicit journals
if you wanted to. The internet gives you the opportunity to read
them faster, that’s good. But if you think back over the shift from
say of the invention of the printing press there was a much greater
step then the invention of the internet. That was a huge change,
the internet is another change, a smaller one. It has multiple
characteristics. So on the one hand it does give access to a
broader range of commentary, information if you know what to look
for. You have to know what to look for, however. On the other hand
it provides a lot of material, well let’s put it politely, off the
wall. And how a person without background, framework,
understanding, isolated, alone supposed to decide?

RT: Another form of propaganda is education. You’ve
said that the more educated you are the more indoctrinated you are
and that propaganda is largely directed towards the educated. How
dangerous is it to have an elite ruling class with the illusion of
knowledge advancing their own world view on humanity?

NC: It’s old as the hills. Every form of society had some
kind of privileged elite, who claimed to be the repositories of the
understanding and knowledge and wanted control of what they called
the rebel. To make sure that the people don’t have thoughts like
‘we want to be ruled by countrymen like ourselves, not by knights
and gentlemen’. So therefore there are major propaganda systems. It
is quite striking that propaganda is most developed and
sophisticated in the more free societies. The public relations
industry, which is the advertising industry is mostly propaganda, a
lot of it is commercial propaganda but also thought control. That
developed in Britain and the US — two of the freest societies. And
for a good reason. It was understood roughly a century ago that
people have won enough freedom so you just can’t control them by
force. Therefore you have to control beliefs and attitudes, it’s
the next best thing. It has always been done, but it took a leap
forward about a century ago with the development of these huge
industries devoted to, as their leaders put it, to the engineering
of content. If you read the founding documents of the PR industry,
they say: ‘We have to make sure that the general public are
incompetent, they are like children, if you let them run their own
affairs they will get into all kind of trouble. The world has to be
run by the intelligent minority, and that’s us, therefore we have
to regiment their minds, the way the army regiments its soldiers,
for their own good. Because you don’t let a three-year-old run into
the street, you can’t let people run their own affairs.’ And that’s
a standard idea, it has taken one or another form over the
centuries. And in the US it has institutionalized into major

This article originally appeared on : RT