Tomgram: Noam Chomsky on War Crimes in Iraq
In the Vietnam era, the subject of war crimes was the last to arrive and the first to depart. When, in 1971 in Detroit, Vietnam Veterans Against the War convened its Winter Soldier Investigation into U.S. war crimes in Southeast Asia, it was roundly ignored by the media. Over 100 veterans gave firsthand testimony to war crimes they either committed or witnessed. Beyond the unbearable nature of their testimony, the hearings were startling for the fact that here were men who yearned to take some responsibility for what they had done. But while it was, by then, possible for Americans to accept the GI as a victim in Vietnam, it proved impossible for most Americans to accept him as a human being taking responsibility for a crime against humanity. There was no place for this in the American imagination, it seemed, no less for the thought that the planning and prosecution of the war were potential crimes committed by our leaders. Evidently there still is none, which is why it's important to follow Noam Chomsky back into the Iraq of recent years to consider the American occupation of that country in the context of war crimes.
The piece that's linked here is an excerpt from Chomsky's new book, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. It is Chomsky at his best, a superb tour (de force) of a world in which the Bush administration has regularly asserted its right to launch "preventive" military interventions against "failed" and "rogue" states, while increasingly taking on the characteristics of those failed and rogue states itself. It will be an indispensable volume for any library. (You can check out a Chomsky discussion of it at Democracy Now!)