May 2, 2011

Noam Chomsky Video

This video of Noam Chomsky is from is from 2006 (at least that is when it was uploaded) but his points are relevant today. Are we, Westerners, hypocrites? Do we, the West, fight al-Qaeda simply because they oppose us or because we believe ourselves to have the moral high ground? If it is the latter, we must question not only our other unrelated actions (Nicaragua, for example) but the way in which the War on al-Qaeda (previously called "the War on Terror) has been waged and waged against other ancillary parties.

To disagree with Chomsky, the US uses terrorism and state violence to solve problems because the world court is largely inadequate. In short, might makes right on the world stage and the US is still the mightiest military power. It is a practical necessity to serve national interests.

The illusion of morality or justice is helpful in a federated republic. The United States isn't a democracy, but neither was feudal China. But here may apply the concept of the "mandate of heaven" first to rulers and second to nations themselves. The US has put forth the myth of "American exceptionalism" ( to justify American interventionism, aid or violence abroad. A cynical reading of it is to see this American exceptionalism as a way to retain the "mandate of heaven" that allows the US to remain the hegemonic world power.

I am not saddened by Bin Laden's death. I am saddened by the deaths of more than three thousand innocents who died in the September 11th attacks. I am saddened by the cilivan deaths in Iraq, believed to be well over 100,000. I am saddened by the death and misery that has occurred in Afghanistan. Both sides have enough blood on their hands to drown a nation. I am sure the West has done some great things and some of them with good intentions. But to believe that justice or moral righteousness is or even should be our highest goal, is naive. What made use of atomic weapons on civilian cities alright for the US while the attack on the World Trade Center was not for al-Qaeda? It is not my intention to defend murderous religious extremists. Both actions were morally wrong but one was perpetrated by a global superpower. And might makes right, on the world stage.

What do you think? Are freedom and justice the true goals of the West or are they simply guises to hide their ability to maintain their status as world powers (and to retain the mandate of heaven) for as long as possible? Would the other options for dealing with al-Qaeda have been better?