Failed States is Professor Noam Chomsky's latest state of the nation address, a critical snapshot of where the United States is right now.
The approach he takes is that 'Failed States' is a phrase used within the U.S. establishment to justify certain exercises of power, from financially supporting opponents of failed states, to regime change and invasion. 'Failed states', like 'rogue states' and 'states of concern' before it, is a vague term, perhaps deliberately so but Chomsky identifies some defining features of a failed state, among them, a failure to adequately protect its citizens from terrorism, a failure to provide reasonable health care for all, regardless of an ability to pay, a tendency to break international law and act regardless of treaties and conventions, a lack of representative democracy in its political processes.
Chomsky argues that a fundamental moral truism is that an individual or a country should judge oneself by the same standards that you apply to others, if not to a higher standard if you are completetly honest with yourself. Therefore, the United States should be examined on the basis of the criteria briefly laid out above. Chomsky undertakes this task and finds that the U.S. is sorely lacking in many crucial respects and indeed shares many of the key aspects of countries that are currently demonised by those who stalk the corridors of power.
As is probably familiar to readers of Chomsky, I approached this book with a little caution, fearing that Chomsky was simply going to rehash many of his familiar arguments and cases through this new prism; I was pleased to find that, whilst there is obviously some overlap with previous texts, there is a great deal of fascinating contemporary material in this highly detailed book. Those who are cautious about purchasing another Chomsky text, concerned about over-familiarity, need worry no more. Read alongside his previous excellent book, Hegemony or Survival, Failed States is yet another classic.