Well, yes. And he has some things to say about the killing of Osama bin Laden that ought to surprise no one familiar with his oeuvre:
It’s increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 80 commandos facing virtually no opposition—except, they claim, from his wife, who lunged towards them. In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress “suspects.” In April 2002, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it “believed” that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany. What they only believed in April 2002, they obviously didn’t know 8 months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know, because they were instantly dismissed) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence—which, as we soon learned, Washington didn’t have. Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that “we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.”
We are not told what “elementary norms of international law” are violated by the decision to kill a terrorist, so Chomsky’s observation is worthless. I could write that elementary norms of international law were violated by Chomsky’s decision to write the blog post that he wrote, but absent a citation to a relevant provision of international law, my observation would not mean anything to anyone. Note the doubt alluded to by Chomsky that bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for 9/11, a doubt for which there is no evidence save some fragmentary report by Chomsky of what Robert Mueller may or may not have said in April, 2002 (there is no link of any kind to any transcript detailing what Mueller may have said), and note his apparent willingness to extend to the Taliban far more trust and good faith than he is (ever) willing to extend to the government of the United States. To say that these are lunatic positions to take is to insult lunatics, but leave it to Chomsky to try to lend credence to 9/11 Truthers, and to posit that one ought to be more generous to the Taliban than one is to the U.S. government. Reflexive contrarianism demands no less.
Nothing serious has been provided since. There is much talk of bin Laden’s “confession,” but that is rather like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon. He boasted of what he regarded as a great achievement.
An unbelievably lame effort to dismiss the overwhelming evidence of al Qaeda’s efforts to plan and execute the terrorist attacks of 9/11, not to mention the value of bin Laden’s confession:
There is, of course, far more evidence that bin Laden and al Qaeda were involved in 9/11 than there is that Chomsky won the Boston Marathon. I do wonder how any of his fans can continue to be willing to be associated with a Truther crank.
There is also much media discussion of Washington’s anger that Pakistan didn’t turn over bin Laden, though surely elements of the military and security forces were aware of his presence in Abbottabad. Less is said about Pakistani anger that the U.S. invaded their territory to carry out a political assassination. Anti-American fervor is already very high in Pakistan, and these events are likely to exacerbate it. The decision to dump the body at sea is already, predictably, provoking both anger and skepticism in much of the Muslim world.
In fact, there has been a great deal of discussion in the news regarding Pakistan’s anger over having its sovereignty violated. It is true that the Pakistanis are displeased with the United States military coming into their country to take out bin Laden, but (a) the United States has every right to defend itself; and (b) if the Pakistanis approved, Chomsky would be no more likely to give his approbation to the operation. Indeed, chances are that if the Pakistanis approved, Chomsky would write about how they have become the dupes and puppets of the United States government.
We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s, and he is not a “suspect” but uncontroversially the “decider” who gave the orders to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region
I have to think that Chomsky would celebrate if George W. Bush were assassinated by Iraqis. Putting that issue aside, and moving on, I have been trained to think that when a writer begins a sentence with a word like “uncontroversially,” he/she is, in fact, planning to put forth a very controversial position, and simply wants to paper over any opposition that might arise against it; thus Chomsky’s effort to pass off the absurd suggestion that George W. Bush’s “crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s” as a run-of-the-mill observation. It should be noted that this kind of thing is Chomsky’s stock in trade; he likes to shock by claiming that American Presidents are even worse than terrorists like bin Laden, and he now basically says that President Obama is a criminal too; an entirely expected development. These kinds of statements are about the only way that Chomsky can attract attention from anyone, which explains why he is so willing to make them. But of course, the schtick is getting kind of old.
I suppose that I could write more on Chomsky’s blog post, but it kind of peters out. Much like whatever relevance Chomsky has these days, come to think of it. Noam Chomsky is still alive. But given the increasingly tired and predictable nature of his public act, who cares anymore?