Noam Chomsky: Obama Threat Against Syria Based on Maintaining U.S. 'Credibility'

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Posted Sept. 11, 2013

Interview with Noam Chomsky, MIT professor and political analyst, conducted by Scott Harris


After the Aug. 21 mass casualty chemical weapons attack in Syria that Washington claimed was launched by the Syrian government, President Obama announced that a “red line” had been crossed and that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime needed to be punished with U.S. airstrikes. But after the British Parliament rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s call to join an American attack on Syria, there has been little international support for military intervention, with the exception of France and Turkey.

With the near certainty of Russian and Chinese vetoes of any American bid for U.N. Security Council authorization for an attack on Syria and no approval by the Arab League, President Obama turned to the U.S. Congress to try and gain some legitimacy for U.S. intervention in Syria’s brutal civil war, underway since 2011. But there, too, Democratic and Republican legislators alike, reflecting overwhelming public opposition to U.S. involvement in another Middle East War, appeared to be moving toward a decisive defeat of an Obama war resolution.

Then something unexpected happened. Secretary of State John Kerry speaking off the cuff at a London press conference, proposed, then dismissed the idea of Syria avoiding a U.S. military strike by allowing international monitors to take custody of, then destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. The Russians embraced the idea, and not long after convinced the Syrian government to agree to the still vague plan. As if being thrown a lifeline in the midst of an untenable political crisis, President Obama characterized the plan as a possible diplomatic breakthough. Now, as a congressional vote on airstrikes is delayed, there is cautious hope that a deal can be hammered out at the U.N. Security Council. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Noam Chomsky, linguistics and philosophy professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and longtime peace and social justice activist. Here professor Chomsky talks about the Syrian crisis and examines the repeated rationale for American military intervention based on the need to maintain Washington’s credibility as the world’s policeman.

Listen to the full interview (23:32) with Noam Chomasky here.

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