Noam Chomsky spoke out against a potential strike by the U.S. on Syria. PHOTO: Duncan Rawlinson, CC License
Noam Chomsky, scholar of linguistics, and prominent opponent of U.S. aggression, said that a military strike in Syria against the Assad regime would be a “war crime” if the U.S. did not get the approval of the U.N. first.
"[T]hat aggression without UN authorization would be a war crime, a very serious one, is quite clear, despite tortured efforts to invoke other crimes as precedents,” said Chomsky, in an email to the HuffPost. Chomsky elaborated on these “tortured efforts,” writing that "As international support for Obama’s decision to attack Syria has collapsed, along with the credibility of government claims, the administration has fallen back on a standard pretext for war crimes when all else fails: the credibility of the threats of the self-designated policeman of the world."
Chomsky makes some interesting points (and he has more to say on Syria than these two quotes), but he’s not quite being fair here: any U.N. resolution would inevitably fail because Russia can (and would) block approval of a strike on Syria. As for maintaining the credibility of the U.S.’s “policeman of the world” status, yes, some people have argued that because Obama said that Syria crossed a line, we should follow through on his threat. But that ignores the more robust argument about whether we should wade into a civil war to punish one side for a specific transgression.
There’s nothing wrong with arguing that the U.S. should stay out of Syria, but Chomsky seems to be ignoring present reality by claiming that the only way a strike on Syria has credibility is if it is stamped by the U.N.