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

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Henry Holt and Company, Apr 3, 2007 - Political Science - 320 pages
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The world's foremost critic of U.S. foreign policy exposes the hollow promises of democracy in American actions abroad—and at home

The United States has repeatedly asserted its right to intervene against "failed states" around the globe. In this much anticipated sequel to his international bestseller Hegemony or Survival, Noam Chomsky turns the tables, charging the United States with being a "failed state," and thus 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 the nuclear risk; the dangerous consequences of the occupation of Iraq; and America's self-exemption from international law. He also examines an American electoral system that frustrates genuine political alternatives, thus 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, and its policies and practices have recklessly placed the world on the brink of disaster. Systematically dismantling America's claim to being the world's arbiter of democracy, Failed States is Chomsky's most focused—and urgent—critique to date.


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Failed states: the abuse of power and the assault on democracy

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Forget Iraq and Sudan-America is the foremost failed state, argues the latest polemic from America's most controversial Left intellectual. Chomsky (Imperial Ambitions) contends the U.S. government ... Read full review

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a tract which explores the us govt's commitment to democracy at home and abroad. some of the text has been presented before; the overall message is an attempt to explain the "strong thread of consistency" running through post-WWII US foreign policy. in particular, the "strong thread" is decidedly not the common refrain of democracy promotion; in fact it is the discontinuity between words and actions that is the real focus of the book.
there are some real pearls in this one. the main target is US intellectual culture, which chomsky likens in a sense to postmodern criticism in the "restrict[ion of] attention to [journalistic] narrative and text, recoiling from Truth, perhaps a social construction." brilliant - a penetrating insight on what passes as journalism today, more an analysis of rhetoric rather than a sober and considered look at the results of policies.
the fallout from neoliberal policies (IMF) forced upon societies is explored with the remarkable inverse correlation between adoption of said policies and economic growth. the "issue" of funding social security in the states is exposed as a myth. also, the US need for an ally in south asia in the "cop" scenario articulated by nixon explains alot of the recent pressure on india to play the part ... or else (us military funding to pakistan has increased - a not so subtle message).
here are some more gems:
"deeds consistently accord with interests, and conflict with words - discoveries that must not, however, weaken our faith in the sincerity of the declarations of our leaders."
"In the term NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the only accurate words are 'North American'"
"Many indigenous people apparently do not see any reason why their lives, societies, and cultures should be disrupted or destroyed so that New Yorkers can sit in SUVs in traffic gridlock."



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About the author (2007)

Noam Chomsky is the author of numerous bestselling political works, including Hegemony or Survival, Failed States, Imperial Ambitions and What We Say Goes. A professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, he is widely credited with having revolutionized modern linguistics. He lives outside Boston, Massachusetts.

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