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Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the…

Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (2006)

by Noam Chomsky

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This book will give you a whole new perspective on the terms Rogue State and Axis of Evil. While the US of A is the main protagonist, tagging along is it's ever obedient dog and toilet bowl, the UK.

A lesson to be learnt when you elect a retarded neanderthal to two terms. He and his coterie comprising mostly of satan's offspring.
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
This book will give you a whole new perspective on the terms Rogue State and Axis of Evil. While the US of A is the main protagonist, tagging along is it's ever obedient dog and toilet bowl, the UK.

A lesson to be learnt when you elect a retarded neanderthal to two terms. He and his coterie comprising mostly of satan's offspring.
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |

I studied Mass Communications in my undergrad, and I remember having to read a bit of Chomsky. I didn't like him. I had no idea what he was talking about. Only much later, when I rediscovered Chomsky, did it occur to me - I had only ever been exposed to Chomsky the linguist and never[1] Chomsky the media theorist or Chomsky the political junkie.

There's a number of his books on our bookshelves, and I am looking forward to eventually making my way through them. Chomsky is just too right too much of the time. This was a very good read.

In Failed States, Chomsky traces how the United States is increasingly fitting the profile of what are generally considered to be 'failed states'. Some salient points that stuck with me:[2]

* US military expenditures approximate those of the rest of the world combined, and the alleged fears over other countries strengthening militarily are likely less of a threat than the fact that the US already controls so much (shipping, etc.);

* the derision and outright aggression directed toward those intelligence experts who have exercised caution or tried to understand the roots of terrorism (i.e., anything beyond an 'us versus them' mentality);

* Washington's long-standing habit of exempting itself from international law when appropriate;[3]

* negotiations surrounding the Non-Proliferation Treaties of the late '90s and early '00s;[4]

* the credibility of intelligence in various international conflicts;

* the promotion of democracy and institutionalization of state-corporate control;

* the incredible lack of health care;[5] and,

* the intricacies of country-to-country relations (e.g., NAFTA, Cuba-Venezuela, etc.).

I'm a left-leaning small-l liberal who believes that corporate interests have taken over way more of our daily life than is healthy. So needless to say, I agree with Chomsky a lot. But even for those who might not agree so readily, he's pretty hard to argue against. His information is all painstakingly footnoted and documented. While no doubt there is a certain level of spin applied to what he is saying, you can't dismiss him as a crank. He is obviously knowledgeable and clearly interested in the future of the US. He also writes clearly (unlike his linguistics work which, having recently returned to one text out of simple curiosity, I still can't make heads or tails out of) and compellingly. Even for those who may not be hugely political persons, this book will surely interest and captivate.

[1] Or, to be fair to my program, never as far as I can remember, some 15 years later.

[2] Somewhat unfortunately, I am writing this book review almost two years after reading the book. I don't remember many details. However, somewhat fortunately, I did make liberal use of sticky tabs whilst reading this book.

[3] The particular passage that I marked had a mention of Michael Ignatieff, now the leader of the Liberal Party, and his apparent support of some of the violations of the Geneva Convention (see p. 54). I really must learn more about this.

[4] Including a quote from the recriminations from the head of Canada's delegations, Paul Martin (see p. 77). Yay for Canada references!

[5] Keeping in mind I read this book two years ago, that was waaaay before Obama's health care reform was even a twinkle in the electorate's eye. And it was hugely overdue (and one of the better signs of real common sense that I've seen coming out of the US in a really long time).
  pixxiefish | Apr 26, 2010 |
Currently reading this - so far so good. Our governments definitely need tighter regulation, as do our banks, churches and politicians! ( )
  nlavery | Jun 16, 2009 |
This is a great digestion of the frightening state of human rights in the world, from one of the great anarchist (or anti-authoritarian if you prefer) thinkers of our time.

If you are familiar with the political work of Noam Chomsky, you are going to find the recycling of some historical examples from some of his other works. As we should expect from someone building their arguments on the shoulders of modern history.

What is new is the continued deteriorating state of world affairs. ( )
  kiacyclic | May 3, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805082840, Paperback)

"It's hard to imagine any American reading this book and not seeing his country in a new, and deeply troubling, light."--The New York Times Book Review

The United States has repeatedly asserted its right to intervene militarily against "failed states" around the globe. In this much-anticipated follow-up to his international bestseller Hegemony or Survival, Noam Chomsky turns the tables, showing how the United States itself shares features with other failed states--suffering from a severe "democratic deficit," eschewing domestic and international law, and adopting policies that increasingly endanger its own citizens and the world. Exploring the latest developments in U.S. foreign and domestic policy, Chomsky reveals Washington's plans to further militarize the planet, greatly increasing the risks of nuclear war. He also assesses the dangerous consequences of the occupation of Iraq; documents Washington's self-exemption from international norms, including the Geneva conventions and the Kyoto Protocol; and examines how the U.S. electoral system is designed to eliminate genuine political alternatives, impeding any meaningful democracy.

Forceful, lucid, and meticulously documented, Failed States offers a comprehensive analysis of a global superpower that has long claimed the right to reshape other nations while its own democratic institutions are in severe crisis. Systematically dismantling the United States' pretense of being the world's arbiter of democracy, Failed States is Chomsky's most focused--and urgent--critique to date.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:04 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The United States has repeatedly asserted its right to intervene militarily against "failed states" around the globe. Chomsky turns the tables, charging the United States with being a "failed state," and therefore a danger to its own people and the world. "Failed states," Chomsky writes, are those "that do not protect their citizens from violence and perhaps even destruction, that regard themselves as beyond the reach of domestic or international law, and that suffer from a 'democratic deficit,' having democratic forms but with limited substance." Exploring recent U.S. foreign and domestic policies, Chomsky assesses Washington's escalation of nuclear risks; the dangerous consequences of the occupation of Iraq; and Americas's self-exemption from international law. He also examines an American electoral system that frustrates genuine political alternatives, thus impeding any meaningful democracy.--From publisher description.… (more)

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