Saturday, November 8, 2014
#313 / Terrorist States
Noam Chomsky says the United States is the world's "leading terrorist state." I think he is trying to be provocative.
Chomsky's article is well worth reading. And anyway, I like the graphic. Colorful, but with a message. The "United States of Guns" is somewhat descriptive of an underappreciated reality of our nation's public life.
I think that most citizens of the United States believe that the military interventions of the United States (and most recently our nation's drone killings) are justified by national good intentions. Maybe they are, but you do have to appreciate that the residents of other nations might have a different perspective.
Leon Panetta, who formerly represented my community in the United States Congress, and who most recently headed the C.I.A., has authored a book that criticizes the President for not being warlike enough. Mr. Panetta is apparently satisfied that he was doing the right thing (and that our nation was doing the right thing, since he was acting in our name) in "ordering the killing of a terrorist at an opportune moment even though it also meant the death of the man’s innocent wife." The quote is from a New York Times review of Mr. Panetta's recent book.
That "story" about killing the innocent wife is one that Panetta has included in his book, and in the Prologue, so we won't miss it. Again, even assuming that the terrorist he killed deserved to die (there was no trial, of course), we can see that the wife's family and children might have thought Mr. Panetta was himself acting like a terrorist.
If we don't want thoughtful people and the citizens of other nations to come to the conclusion that the United States is the world's "leading terrorist state," then we will have to assume control over what people like Mr. Panetta are doing. We certainly didn't know, beforehand, that Mr. Panetta, as an agent of our nation, thought it was alright to kill admittedly innocent people in our name. Was that a "worthy fight," the name of Mr. Panetta's book?
It would be nice for the American people to be able to decide for themselves what is "worthy," and what is not. And to make that decision in advance of people doing things of questionable worthiness in our name, so we don't have to try to put a good face on what the generals and spooks are doing for us.
And to us!
"To us" because there are lots of people, all around the world, who agree with Noam Chomsky's characterization of the United States. The actions done in our name, in which American decision makers knowingly kill innocent people, are not going to be excused by any claim of "good intentions." It is very easy to understand why those who bear the brunt of the violence we unleash might think that our country is the "world's leading terrorist state." To the degree that this reputation seems deserved, those who have come to that conclusion are going to try to do something about it. As Martin Luther King, Jr. says: "bombs that are dropped abroad explode at home."