Normalising the Unthinkable

In response to recent reports about Monbiot’s attempt to arrest John Bolton for war crimes, and Bolton’s citing of UN resolutions in his defence, there have been some interesting posts and good quotes posted up on the Media Lens message board.

I thought I’d post up 3 quotes here with links to the original articles (if anyone else is interested).

This first one is a quote by Noam Chomsky on whether the UN resolutions could be used to justify use of force by the US and UK:

There is no need to debate the matter. The U.S. and UK could readily have settled all doubts by calling on the Security Council to authorize their “threat and use of force,” as required by the Charter. Britain did take some steps in that direction, but abandoned them when it became obvious, at once, that the Security Council would not go along. But these considerations have little relevance in a world dominated by rogue states that reject the rule of law.

Suppose that the Security Council were to authorize the use of force to punish Iraq for violating the cease-fire UN Resolution 687. That authorization would apply to all states: for example, to Iran, which would therefore be entitled to invade southern Iraq to sponsor a rebellion. Iraq is a neighbor and the victim of U.S.-backed Iraqi aggression and chemical warfare, and could claim, not implausibly, that its invasion would have some local support; the U.S. and UK can make no such claim. Such Iranian actions, if imaginable, would never be tolerated, but would be far less outrageous than the plans of the self-appointed enforcers. It is hard to imagine such elementary observations entering public discussion in the U.S. and UK.

And this one from Edward Herman explains why war criminals such as Blair and Bolton appear on TV so frequently and get invited to events like the Hay Festival:

Doing terrible things in an organized and systematic way rests on “normalization.” This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as “the way things are done.” There is usually a division of labor in doing and rationalizing the unthinkable, with the direct brutalizing and killing done by one set of individuals; others keeping the machinery of death (sanitation, food supply) in order; still others producing the implements of killing, or working on improving technology (a better crematory gas, a longer burning and more adhesive napalm, bomb fragments that penetrate flesh in hard-to-trace patterns). It is the function of defense intellectuals and other experts, and the mainstream media, to normalize the unthinkable for the general public.

And finally, Pilger writing in 2004 on the attack on Iraq:

This epic crime is the greatest political scandal of our time, the latest chapter in the long 20th-century history of the west’s conquests of other lands and their resources. If we allow it to be normalised, if we refuse to question and probe the hidden agendas and unaccountable secret power structures at the heart of “democratic” governments and if we allow the people of Fallujah to be crushed in our name, we surrender both democracy and humanity.

This entry was posted in Quotes. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.