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on 5 June 2010
Eighty-one years old last December, and showing no sign of easing up on his Stahkanovite work rate, Noam Chomsky has recently published "Hopes and Prospects" - his latest collection of writing on global affairs. As usual Chomsky doesn't focus his scrutiny on official enemies, that would be too easy though no doubt rewarding (at least financially), but takes the more serious responsibility of looking into the rhetoric and reality of his own countries contributions to the world.

Rather than referring to Barack "The Audacity of Hype" Obama, the "hope" of the title refers to developments in Latin America that Chomsky covers in the first section of this book. Indeed at least the first two chapters appear to be transcripts of talks given in Chile. When Obama comes into view the prospect is less one of hope, but of the massive gulf between the rhetoric of his campaign (which in all truth was woolly enough) and the reality of his record in government. His treasury team including former architects and direct beneficiaries of the financial deregulation of the 1980's and 90's (e.g. Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin) is mirrored in the pitiful nature of the changes to the regulatory system (essentially business as usual) and the unaccountable nature of the banks recent feeding frenzy at public expense.

Beyond the hopes in Latin America and the hype of Barack Obama, Chomsky finds space to consider the United States recent and ongoing interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq; developments in the Middle East, with attention to the attack on Gaza, the attack on Lebanon, and the Obama administrations policy vis-à-vis the Palestinian-Israel conflict; the grotesque hypocrisy of the United States policy regarding the Nuclear issue and Iran; the fate of Obamas one radical policy, his attempt to reform health provision; and the twentieth anniversary celebrations of the events of 1989, where he quotes from a Central American writer that if that celebrant of American foreign policy Vaclev Havel had been active in one of the Latin American countries within the United States domain, rather than genuflecting to the Americans at the orgy of self-congratulation that made up the anniversary celebrations, he would have been found dead at the roadside, mutilated and murdered decades ago.

Among the valuable services that Chomsky provides are his endnotes: they are a pointer to many useful resources, publications and books. One example I am looking forward to getting hold of is Malalai Joyas A Woman Among Warlords. Chomsky quotes from her, and other Afghans at length, and her activism in a hostile environment appears truly awesome. This is a book that I have no problem in recommending to anyone who is serious about some of the most pressing issues facing the world today, and who wishes to get beyond rhetoric and hypocrisy to see what is actually going on.
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on 20 July 2010
Noam Chomsky yet again tells us far more about our world than our media ever do.

He writes, "A well-documented conclusion is that sovereignty, hence ability to control internal economic development and to enter international market systems on one's own terms, is a crucial prerequisite to economic development." 25 years of economic sovereignty, backed by exchange controls and managed currencies, did better than the succeeding 25 years of Thatcherism. Protectionism brings growth; imposed liberalisation harms growth.

In 1985 the World Bank said that in its standard `development' strategy, domestic consumption should be `markedly restrained', support for education `minimized' and `less emphasis should be placed on social objectives'.

The US National Intelligence Council's Global Trends 2015 (2000) said globalisation will lead to `a widening economic divide' and `deepening economic stagnation, political instability, and cultural alienation'. In law, predictable consequences are evidence of intent. Amnesty International's Secretary-General says that poverty is the worst of all the world's many human rights abuses.

In Latin America, Obama plays the usual US role. In June 2009, the largely US-controlled IMF at once gave a $150 million loan to the coup regime in Honduras. The IMF had earlier withdrawn loans from the elected government because it opposed that government's policies. In 2002, during the (failed) coup against Venezuela's elected government, the IMF had at once offered aid to the coup regime. France and the USA backed the 2004 coup in Haiti, which overthrew the elected government, causing 8,000 violent deaths in the next two years.

By contrast, Chomsky praises Cuba's `remarkable record of genuine internationalism over many years', especially its Operation Milagro, which has restored sight to more than a million people.

He denounces Israel's vicious and illegal siege of Gaza. Israel, with the USA, is destroying any viable Palestinian state. The USA and the EU voted against the International Atomic Energy Agency resolution calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to open its nuclear facilities to inspection.

In the recent US election, the best-funded candidate won 9 out of 10 contests, and Obama was the presidential candidate with most Wall Street funding. This January, the US Supreme Court voted to allow corporations to spend shareholder money directly in future elections.
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on 20 August 2010
Hopes and Prospects is effectively a collection of speeches and articles Chomsky wrote/delivered around the subject of global movements to combat the neo-liberal orthodoxy - whether in Latin America, where much of the focus lies, in Palestine, or elsewhere.

As an anthology of disparate sources, which is how the book comes across (to be fair Chomsky is open at the beginning of the provenance of each chapter), there is some repetition, a great deal in some cases. Nonetheless this doesn't take away from the breathtaking evidence of American imperialist behaviour, nor the encouraging reports of resistance movements.

Anyone familiar with Chomsky's style will recognise the forthright, often brash manner of his writing - not to everyone's taste, but effective. Not many political commentators can get away with the provocative language he uses without appearing arrogant or righteous - and yet Chomsky carries off the trick of passionately discussing global issues whilst remaining truthful. I admit to feeling a little uncomfortable at what appears to be the consistent anti-American, pro-Bolivarian themes (balance was never Noam's forte...), but as a polemic this book is as worthy as any around - a must-read, even though you may not agree with some of the content, as one way or another the book will open your eyes...!
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VINE VOICEon 28 February 2012
Hopes and Prospects is classic Noam Chomsky and I mean that in two ways: (1) there is some insightful material that gets to the heart of contemporary United States democracy, particularly around the hollowness of the Barack Obama presidential campaign of 2008, contrasted with the meaningful participatory democracy of some recent Latin American elections; however, (2) Hopes and Prospects is also full of self-referencing and self-plagiarising material, some of it seemingly ripped straight from his 1991 pinnacle, Deterring Democracy.

Like the Rolling Stones or Woody Allen, Chomsky has produced some excellent work that will last - but much of his subsequent output seems to be a pale imitation with dashes of his former glory, with increasingly diminished returns.

So, too, with Hopes and Prospects. Chomsky delivers exactly what you expect of him and some of this is indeed great but he also repeats himself to the point where I'm thinking, is this money for old radicalism? I write this not to seem clever or cynical but as someone who has admired Noam for several decades but has found his recent work seems to be rehashing what he has already written, several times over.

Hopes and Prospects is not really a book with a consistent theme, despite the best efforts of publisher Hamish Hamilton to convince you otherwise. Rather, this is just a collection of unconnected essays and speeches that sometimes bare little connection to the title of their chapter. It's always interesting and sometimes it is devastating but unfortunately, those flashes of brilliance are increasingly accompanied by recycled work from his other books.
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on 14 February 2011
In Hopes and Prospects, Noam Chomsky lifts lid on the gritty side of global politics that are not widely covered by the media. Much of what is written fills me with an immense sense of injustice, as well as shame in the way my own government conducts itself in the 'interests of its people'.

Highly recommended for anyone wanting an insight into government foreign policies at the highest level, throughout history and up to the modern day.
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on 2 August 2012
It doesn't seem to matter who is the US President it's just more of the same, or sometimes worse. By chance I happened to see a recording of David Icke giving a speech a the Oxford Union before Barack Obama was elected. There, he warns of the dangers of electing Obama saying he will just escalate wars, due in part to being supported by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had admitted luring the Russians to invade Afghanistan over thirty years ago while President Carter's advisor. And we all know what happened to Afghanistan.

What's this got to do with Chomsky's book? Well it's just exposing the truth that is really shocking to the readers who have not yet worked out how the world order and power operate in "democratic societies".

Just to return to Obama, the man who embodied the hopes of millions of US citizens for a fairer society, what is his war record?

- Started a covert, drone war in Yemen
- Started a war in Libya without congressional approval
- Escalated the war in Afghanistan
- Sharply increased drone attacks in Pakistan
- Continued the occupation of Iraq, in spite of saying otherwise
- Escalated the proxy war in Somalia by launching drone strikes
- Sold $60 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia
- Secretly deployed US special forces to 75 countries
- Signed an agreement for 7 military bases in Colombia
- Touted nuclear power, even after the disaster in Japan
- Opened up deepwater oil drilling, even after the BP disaster
- Did a TV commercial promoting "clean coal"
- Defended body scans and pat-downs at airports
- Signed the Patriot Act extension into law
- Continued Bush's rendition program

If this subject interests you then buy it, but if you prefer not to know then there are plenty of books to keep you occupied.
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on 19 February 2011
there's not much really to say: this book by Chomsky is the first his I am reading and I love it. The fact he gives is one and doubtlessly very important part of it, especially for people who don't know much about American policy and I have impression that most of the Americans don't know what they presidents REALLY do :(
But language Chomsky uses is as important, it makes reading this book simply addictive.
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on 11 May 2013
How dark & evil are the politics! No regard for the economy or lives of the oppressed.
How many died or killed globally in these atrociocities committed by the so called civilised countries. UN has a lot to answer for too
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on 21 August 2013
A must read for all people concerned about the challenges the human race is facing and the role of US imperialism.
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on 31 October 2014
Fantastic attention
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