You are on page 1of 2

UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper: July 10, 2006, 7:00 p.m.

Noam Chomsky, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on
Democracy (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006).

Theme: “[T]he growing democratic deficit in the United “[I]nquiry reveals that the real enemy of the United States
States is accompanied by declaration of messianic has long been independent nationalism” (110). Chile
missions to bring democracy to a suffering world” (251). (111-12). Cuba (112-14). Haiti (114). Russia (114-16).
Indonesia (116-17). Indochina (117-21). WWII (121-23).
Preface. Four issues of importance: “nuclear war, Cold War (124-25). Post-Cold War (125-29). Iraq (129-33).
environmental disaster, and the fact that the government Paul Wolfowitz’s supposed devotion to democracy (133-
of the world’s leading power is acting in ways that 36). Venezuela (136-38). El Salvador (138-40).
increase the likelihood of these catastrophes . . . [and] the Uzbekistan (140-41). Azerbaijan (141-42). Iraq in 1958
sharp divide between public opinion and public policy” (1). (142-43). Egypt’s Nasser (143-44). Iraq in 1963 and in
1990 (144). Iraq today (145-48). Thomas Carrothers’s
Ch. 1: Stark, Dreadful, Inescapable. U.S. hypocrisy: Critical Mission (2004) on U.S. post-Cold War policy (149-
there is not a double standard, but a “single standard,” 65).
expressed by Adam Smith as the “vile maxim of the
masters of mankind: . . . All for ourselves, and nothing for Ch. 5: Supporting Evidence: The Middle East. U.S.
other people” (3-8). U.S. courts “ultimate doom” (John policy toward Lebanon has not furthered democracy (166-
Steinbruner & Nancy Gallagher) because of nuclear 68). The democracy movement in Egypt, Kifaya, founded
weapons (8-10). U.S. pursues militarization of space (10- in 2000, is in fact anti-American (169). The U.S. has
14). The danger of international terrorists getting nuclear generally opposed pro-democracy forces in the Middle
weapons (14-16). U.S. ignores the danger of East (169-71). In Palestine, the U.S. & Israel support
environmental catastrophe (16-18). Counterproductive elections only if “they come out the right way” (171-72).
U.S. “war on terror”: “Unless enemies can be completely Arafat (172-73). Sadat’s 1971 peace offer rejected (173-
crushed, violence tends to engender violence in response” 75). U.S. diplomacy had blocked progress on Israel-
(18-24). U.S. efforts to provoke a casus belli in Iraq (24- Palestine (176). But Judith Miller’s obituary of Arafat in the
28). Demonstration that dealing with terror is a low New York Times represents Arafat as the prime obstacle to
priority for the U.S. (28-36). The U.S.’s real priority: peace (177-79). In fact, the 2000 Camp David proposals
“controlling the world’s major energy resources” (36-38). “could not possibly be accepted by any Palestinian
leader”; cites “the most careful analysis by Israeli
Ch. 2: Outlaw States. A principle of international law is scholars, Ron Pundak and Shaul Arieli” (179-81). Taba
that states are “equal and parties to agreements that bind negotiations, Jan. 2001 (181-82). Pundak and Miller
them,” as John Rawls put it in The Law of Peoples (1999) (following Dennis Ross) compared (182-84). Benny
(39-40). U.S. criminal practices in torture scandals, Morris’s op-ed on Arafat’s death in the N.Y. Times (184-
Guantánamo (40-43). U.S. dismissal of international law 85). Israel, too, has suffered from “U.S. and Israeli
authorities (43-46). Fallujah, a “major war crime” (46-50). rejectionism” and “subordination to the settlers in the
“The scale of catastrophe in Iraq is so extreme that it can occupied territories” (183-88). International
scarcely be reported” (50-54). Aside on rhetoric of consequences: Israeli dependency on U.S. (188-89). The
atrocity (54-55). U.S. diverts attention from effects of the Separation Barrier, which is a “device to destroy the
U.N. sanction regime on Iraq (55-59). The corruptness of remnants of Palestinian society” whose “security pretext is
occupation regime is all but ignored, while oil-for-food frivolous” (190-93). The Gaza pullout and
scandal trumpeted (59-63). The U.S. generally exempts “disengagement plan” was “in reality an expansion plan”
itself from international legal requirements (64-69). U.S. to seize the West Bank, theatrically orchestrated (193-98).
subversion of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) “Meanwhile, the takeover of the West Bank continues”
(69-78). (198-201). 2004 Defense Science Board study concluded:
“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedoms,’ but rather they hate
Ch. 3: Illegal but Legitimate. The U.N. Charter, the our policies” (202-03). “[T]he United States is very much
December 2004 U.N High-level Panel on Threats, like other powerful states, pursuing the strategic and
Challenges and Change, the September 2005 U.N. World economic interests of dominant sectors to the
Summit affirm the same principles (79-80). But “the elite accompaniment of rhetorical flourishes about its
intellectual, moral, and political culture of the most exceptional dedication to the highest values” (203-04).
powerful states” rejects the consensus and assert a right
to pre-emptive war (81-88). John Lewis Gaddis’s sources Ch. 6: Democracy Promotion at Home. Barbara
in his history of the Bush pre-emptive war doctrine Olshanksy, Robert Dahl, Thomas Ferguson, and Robert
(Surprise, Security, and the American Experience [2004]) McChesney have criticized “seriously undemocratic
turned against him to show that the U.S. was motivated by features of the U.S. political system” (205-06). Madison’s
territorial expansion (89-94). Withering analysis of initial design has been distorted by rights granted to
Richard Goldstone’s analysis of the NATO bombing of corporations (206-09). The danger “demonic messianism”
Serbia as “illegal but legitimate” (94-101). poses to the U.S. political system, fueled by a need for an
ideology that distracts from increasing inegalitarianism
Ch. 4: Democracy Promotion Abroad. Investigation of (209-13). The neoliberal subversion of democracy since
the claim that democracy promotion is the goal of U.S. the 1960s (214-19). Analysis of 2004 voting patterns and
policy rendered more difficult by “barriers to an electoral system designed for deception and
understanding” that power deliberately erects (102-04). oppression (220-25). Supposed and real moral values of
“Righteous exceptionalism” is the rule rather than the George W. Bush’s program (226-28). Radical disjunction
exception (104-06). New categories invented after the between U.S. population’s opinions and U.S. public policy
end of the Cold War: “war on drugs,” “terrorist state,” (228-36). Reactionary statists who “defame the term
“rogue state,” “failed state,” are all problematic (106-10). conservative” serve business interests (236-38).
Campaign to muzzle educational system, which is still not protocols; (3) let the U.N. take the lead in international
“a wholly owned subsidiary of the state-corporate system” crises; (4) rely on diplomatic and economic measures
(238-41). Hurricane Katrina reveals the consequences of rather than military ones in confronting terror; (5) keep to
U.S. “pro-business, pro-government policies” (241-43). the traditional interpretation of the U.N. Charter; (6) give
Bush policies are succeeding in redistributing wealth up the Security Council veto and have ‘a decent respect
“even further upward than before” (243-44). Real for the opinion of mankind,’ as the Declaration of
healthcare crisis in the U.S. (244-47). Social Security Independence advises, even if power centers disagree; (7)
pseudo-crisis (247-50). cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase
social spending. For people who believe in democracy,
Afterword. U.S. favors democracy abroad, except where these are very conservative suggestions: they appear to
U.S. interests adversely affected (251-52). Iraq has been be the opinions of the majority of the U.S. population, in
“surprisingly difficult,” and given Iran the “situation could most cases of the overwhelming majority” (262).
get worse” (252-53). China, Russia, and India (253-55). Concludes on a positive note: “Opportunities for
Latin America poised to escape U.S. domination (256-60). education and organizing abound” (263).
Election of Hamas poses a problem to U.S. and Israel (260-
61). Haiti (261-62). Chomsky’s proposals: “(1) accept the Notes. 36 pp.
jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the
World Court; (2) sign and carry forward the Kyoto Index. 11 pp.