In addressing torture (and terror), Chomsky focuses on the distinction for those writing history, that torture and terror are the acts of non-state actors and certainly not the acts of major and distinguished nation-states, like the United States our exceptional "city on the hill." The type of terrorist and non-state actor, who can strike with 9/11-style asymmetrical warfare below the level of traditional nation-states, conveniently provides the sense of fear which the Bush administration was able to fan into this "global war on terror" (GWOT).
However, Chomsky seems to be suggesting that there are really two levels of non-state actors: one below the level of modern nation-states, and the other perhaps beyond our definition of a traditional nation-state--a non-state actor, which is an empire.
In fact, Chomsky proceeds to describe the historical and continuing actions of America as imperialist, starting as an "infant empire"--as George Washington called it. However, today, the United States, while it maintains the image and illusion of merely being a very powerful nation-state, has actually morphed into that higher level "non-state actor" of a disguised global empire, only posing as a traditional nation-state.
Certainly, if our country (our former nation-state) is now controlled by a ruling-elite, global "corporate financial Empire," which hides behind its two-party "Vichy" facade of democracy, then Chomsky's suggestion that non-state actors, which torture and terrorize beyond the internationally accepted bounds of laws and conventions of normal nation-states, would seem to include both the type of radical or revolutionary non-state actors that Bush tagged as terrorists, and the super non-state actor of global empire.
This suggests that we might accurately use the acronym of GWOT to both define a global war on terror, and a much more ominous imperial global war of terror.
One is reminded of the old comment of the cold war era that "if we did not have the Soviet Empire as an enemy, we would have had to invent it."
May 28 2009 - 10:15pm