on 9/11 by Noam Chomsky

I found an interesting set of articles on:


Specifically the ones that apply to our recent discussions deal with alternate perspectives on 9/11. One that I thought was interesting was from Noam Chomsky, which if you are familiar at all with linguistics you have heard of. The entire article is at:


this is his answer to his last question of, what, if not war, should our country be doing.

OK. Last question: there is a critique of the anti-war Left, and you’ve heard it often, over and over again, “you guys want peace, you advocate detente, you want some sort of solution, but you don’t have any solutions. At least the Right has a solution.” If you were president, what would be your policy goals toward –

Toward what?

U.S. policy subsequent to the Sept 11 attacks…

It’s very straightforward; it’s been stated over and over. The Left has plenty of concrete solutions. It’s just that power centers don’t want to pursue them. What happened on September 11 was a major atrocity, one of the worst terrorist attacks in history. Actually, unfortunately, it wasn’t unique in scale.

Let’s take an uncontroversial case. Uncontroversial because we have the judgment of the World Court and the Security Council, the highest international authorities – namely the war against Nicaragua. That war was much worse than even the World Trade Center bombing, they killed tens of thousands of people, practically destroyed the country. It may never recover. What did Nicaragua do? They didn’t set off bombs in Washington. They went to the World Court with their case, a strong case. In fact, they won it. Now, the Court accepted their case, ordered the United States to stop what they called “unlawful use of force,” which means international terrorism, and to pay substantial reparations. The U.S. dismissed the Court judgment and immediately escalated the war.

And so Nicaragua went to the U.N. Security Council, which considered a resolution, calling on all states to observe international law. It didn’t mention anyone but everyone knew it meant the United States. The U.S. vetoed it. Nicaragua, then, went to the General Assembly where there’s no veto and they got essentially unanimous agreement for two years in a row, for essentially the same resolution. The U.S. and Israel were opposed, that’s all. Well, Nicaragua couldn’t do anything. It’s facing a violent superpower, can’t do anything. On the other hand, if the U.S. pursued the lawful course, using the precedent of law-abiding states, nobody would block it, everybody would applaud. And that’s exactly what the U.S. should have done in the beginning, and should still do.

Notice what they are doing.

What the U.S. is doing, is killing an enormous number, we don’t know how many, but plenty of innocent Afghans. Now, I’m not talking about the collateral damage from bombing – as they call it with collateral damage, meaning civilians who happen to be killed when a bomb hits a residential neighborhood – I mean, that’s a crime but it’s very small in comparison to the real crime. Now, the real crime is starving the population to death and that could be hundreds of thousands, it could turn out to be millions of people. The U.N., which has been trying to do something about the food problem for years, estimates that there may be 7 million Afghans just on the verge of starvation. They were being kept alive by food shipments from international agencies, primarily the U.N. World Food program, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid , and others. Those programs were all terminated when the U.S. threatened to bomb. The international agencies had to withdraw their international workers, and the food shipments stopped. And , of course, people were terrified by the bombing threats and began to flee, but they couldn’t go anywhere. Now, we don’t know how many people died in the first several weeks, but it must have been a lot. Well, finally the World Food program, the main one, did start in early October shipping some food back in. Well, then, the U.S. started bombing. Food shipment stopped, distribution stopped. By now, it has started again but at about half the rate that is estimated to be necessary to keep 7 million people alive. And it’s only going to go on for another few weeks then the winter comes.

Well, just do the arithmetic. I’ll do it for you — do the arithmetic and those are the assumptions of policy planners.

Well, I’m strongly opposed to policies that are aimed at killing, I don’t know how many, it could turn out to be millions of Afghans, who have nothing to do with the Taliban. They’re victims of the Taliban. If the Right thinks that’s the right thing to do, well, we know where to place them in history.

I don’t think so.

I don’t think we should be following such policies. I think we should be following the policies of lawful states, law-abiding states, that’s a very concrete proposal. And we can go on to consider more concrete proposals. To say that critics have no policy proposals, that’s just a lie. They have very explicit proposals on case after case after case, it’s just that power centers don’t want to consider them for their own reasons.

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