Review: Failed States–The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (American Empire Project) (Hardcover)

4 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Military & Pentagon Power

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

4.0 out of 5 stars Preventive Wars Don’t Work; Democracy Deficit in USA,

May 2, 2006
Noam Chomsky
Within the 900+ non-fiction books about information, intelligence, emerging threats, and national security that I have reviewed for Amazon, I count many of Noam Chomsky’s books. As with others, there is some repetition here, and he could have done a better job of reviewing the function and purpose of the state before labeling the U.S. a failed state. I will say, before my concluding comment, that all of my reading bears out Chomsky’s inherent correctness.

Among the points that earned a note on my flyleaf:

* US began with the genocide of the Indians, moved on to slavery, and now condones genocide across Africa and elsewhere.

* Quotes CIA Bin Laden analyst with appreciation in noting that all the US has to do to stop the problems in the Middle East is wean itself from dictators and cheap oil, remove its forces from the Muslim lands, and stop predatory capitalism. Hmmmm. There just might be a moral point in there someplace!

* Chomsky asserts that history documents that preventive wars usually bring about the outcomes they ostensibly seek to stop, and does very very well in detailing how the US invasion allowed hundreds of missile and weapons sites to be looted, moving many of the components of weapons of mass destruction into unfriendly insurgent hands–precisely what we allegedly sought to prevent.

* The author recounts the varied facts that have emerged on how the US specifically sought regime change, the British (at least those with integrity like the Foreign Minister who quit) refused to go along with that, so Blair and Bush together concocted pretexts.

* Chomsky confirms in this book what I have seen myself, which is that the only part of the US Government that is “at war” is the U.S. Army and select portions of the U.S. Air Force. The rest of the government is NOT at war, and simply pursuing business as usual. Our war on terrorism is ineffective in the sense of capturing specific terrorists, and counter-productive in the sense of producing tens of thousands more–as Chomsky recounts in the book citing RAND and other studies, 85% of the “foreign fighters” in Iraq were mobilized and radicalized by the US invasion of Iraq.

* Chomsky is provocatively on target when he anticipates the emergence of a Shiite regional power based on Iran that includes the Shiite controlled regions of Iraq and Saudi Arabia–and in the latter, that happens to include the most productive oil fields–in short, the extremist Republicans’ worst nightmare.

* Chomsky harps, no doubt with reason, on the long record that the US has in sponsoring crimes against humanity including regime changes that are against democracy (Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Haiti, the list goes on) and in favor of dictators who will protect US private investment as the expense of the public interest in their own countries.

* Chomsky focuses a portion of the book on the crimes by Israel against the Palestinians, although he does not appear to balance this by noting how ill-treated the Palestinians have been by all the Arab nations. He emphatically and deliberately identifies Bush with Hitler in that the two share a strain of “demonic messiaism” and rely on “the big lie” that (if repeated often enough) will fool the people. Goebbels would be proud of his kin in the White House, Karl Rove.

* Chomsky concludes the book by discussing the “democratic deficit” in the USA, and while he is very much on point, he wanders somewhat. For a better appreciation of why we allowed the extreme right to take over and ruin the country, I recommend Jacob Hacker’s OFF CENTER: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy as well as other books on my democracy list. As a moderate Republican, I can certify that the Republican party today is run by thieves, lunatics, extremists, and — in the case of John McCain — born again Bushophiles.

This book is, like, most of his books, a very long Op-Ed but with good footnotes. We need to move toward more analysis and toward finding solutions. Inspired by Chomsky and others, I am in the process of developing a monograph that takes the top ten threats to global and national security identified by the High-Level threat panel of the United Nations (with LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft as the US representative), and showing that 80% of the information we need to understand and address those threats is open source information (OSIF), not secret information, on which we spend $60 billion a year. At the same time, we are spending $500 billion a year on a heavy-metal military and missile defense, when in fact inter-state conflict is only one of the ten threats, or 10%. We are not, as a nation, trained, equipped, nor organized to do poverty, infectious disease, environmental collapse, civil war, terrorism, or translational crime. America is in effect, two Americas: a nation of sheep living for their next six pack, and a very small exclusive group of perhaps 10,000 really rich people dominating Wall Street, the energy companies, and a handful of other major corporate networks. They are busy looting the Republic on the false assumption that they will be able to retire to gated enclaves. They simply do not understand that within twenty years there will be no place for them or their heirs to hide, and this will all come back to haunt them.

I would also say that I am more optimistic than Chomsky. Collective Intelligence and a Citizens Party (as a second home party, non-rival) are emergent, and technologies are coming out that will help eliminate poverty and infectious disease while stabilizing the environment and population. What we lack right now is moral strategic leadership. It is my hope that Bush-Cheney have radicalized enough of the world so that we might thank them in 2008 for making possible the return of balanced centrist coalition leadership.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’
Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
War Is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America’s Most Decorated General, Two Other Anti=Interventionist Tracts, and Photographs from the Horror of It

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