Top positive review
80 people found this helpful
on 29 July 2006
When trying to sum up 'Failed States', as with other books by Noam Chomsky, the words that spring to mind are 'thought provoking'. In this latest work professor Chomsky argues that America, whilst commonly accusing other nations of being failed states, can be fairly judged to be a failed state itself, or at least share some of the qualities that define a failed state. He bases this argument on America's demonstrable inability or unwillingness to protect its citizens from violence and possible destruction and its tendency to consider itself beyond domestic and international law. He also argues that America suffers from a 'democratic deficit' which is another indicator of a failed state. Each of these arguments, along with others, are discussed in detail and presented with Chomsky's usual clarity.
My early fears that Failed States would contain little that hadn't already been discussed in the excellent Hegemony or Survival were proven false as the book went on to cover fresh ground, including 'just war theory', an up to date analysis of the invasion of Iraq and the present chaotic situation, and possible future developments in the middle east and south America. Chomsky does discuss certain principles which will be familiar to those who have read him before, and which are central to his, and surely any right thinking persons, beliefs such as the principle of universality. This is understandable as keeping such principles in mind is important when considering the issues which the book discusses.
Professor Chomsky polarizes opinion like few others and there is a tendency for people to either dismiss him and his views entirely or to consider his every word and opinion to be the unequivocal truth. Maintaining an open mind, a topic which the book made me think deeply about, is clearly essential when reading Failed States.
Whatever your own thoughts on the many weighty issues may be, the book will make you think and force you to ask questions. Most importantly for me, Failed States made me think about the primary motivations that determine how the world works, be it in business, international relations or even at the level of the individual. Understanding these motivations will go some way to explaining why those in power behave, and have always behaved, the way they do.