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.
What I find disconcerting about Chomsky is that he usually does not account for US successes and does not dwell on the negative aspects of US opponents (Most often, he points out their evilness in just a single line.) which in his presentation results in a lopsided balance unfair to overall US global influence (although positive US initiatives lately have become fewer and fewer). I think Chomsky could make his message much more palatable in acknowledging successes.
The book is divided into six chapters, five dealing with foreign policy, one with the US itself (unfortunately, the weakest chapter of the book featuring Chomsky's usual lament about corporations). The first chapter deals with the disconnect of proclaimed and actual goals. US representatives idealistic claims result in naked power and control politics - not exactly a new message, but one which undermines US credibility. The second chapter adds the US unwillingness to comply with global treaties and exempt itself from banal to crucial commitments. Some are obviously more equal. The US government positions itself alongside Russia, China and other non-complying states instead of the group of democracies. The practice further erodes US credibility. The third chapter destroys (if it ever needed destroying) the respectability of the notion of preemptive war. The value of this book lies in the discussion of the "illegal but legitimate" bombing of Serbia where Chomsky can convincingly (but thanks to hindsight) show that last-minute diplomacy could have achieved most of the good elements of the intervention without the (Serbian) human rights abuses which followed US intervention. Overall, "illegal but legitimate" actions have a bad track record and should only be undertaken with extreme caution. The fourth chapter shows that much what US governments call democracy promotion ends up supporting the opposite (creating nasty side effects, such as the Iranian Revolution). The fifth chapter is a valuable case-study in the well-intentioned but contra-productive support for Israel which discourages a reasonable conflict resolution. The sixth chapter deals with the US itself and lacks analytical sharpness. It is Chomsky's familiar lamentation about the corporate control and skewed playing field of US politics which while certainly accurate does not offer any solutions or improvements. Tacked on as an afterword is a list of (sensible) good global citizen measures the US should adopt.
Chomsky meticulously documents the transgressions the Americans overtly and covertly made in South America, Asia and the Middle East usually supporting the wrong guy for the wrong reasons. Sometimes, this results in Orwellian flip-flops ("Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania.") when formerly allied thugs (Saddam, Noriega, ...) become public enemies which have to be evicted by force. Chomsky is at his best in exposing the rhetoric contortions and inconsistencies of US government positions. The main problem is that the US allies itself to the local (undemocratic) rulers and supports them against their own people. Preaching democracy and supporting oligarchy (if not worse) is a double game the rest of the world less and less tolerates. Within the land of the free and home of the brave, the broken media environment does not prick the bubble. I learned from the book that the New York Times already in the Eighties had a tendency for selective reporting, so Judith Miller is a continuation not an aberration. The problems of US democracy become more and more apparent. Analysis is certainly not lacking. Unfortunately, realistic solutions remain elusive. Chomsky's book adds anger and frustration but does little to mend the broken government.
If you are familiar with the political work of Noam Chomsky, you are going to find the recycling of some historical examples
What is new is the continued deteriorating state of world affairs.
A lesson to be learnt when you elect a retarded neanderthal to two terms. He and his coterie