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this book is a collection of accessible interviews conducted by david barsamian, (a chomsky favourite), covering a wide range of recent activity in the world of foreign affairs. chomsky is very insightful and its a credit to the depth of his analysis that little of what is presented here is breaking new ground.
the target of chomsky's probing insight is the intellectual class - the ivory tower elite and talking head commissars that support the prevailing moral and political culture in the usa. his method, as usual, is to reference mainstream publications like the NYT and UN publications and demonstrate what they choose to write about AND what they choose not to write about.
instead of the threat of terrorism, chomsky instead focusses on the threats posed by nuclear proliferation, nuclear weapon stockpiles and the militerization of space.
here are some pearls:
(on the 9/11 truthers) "With regard to the physical evidence, can you become a highly qualified civil and mechanical engineer and expert in the structure of buildings by spending a couple of hours on the Internet?"
"There is nothing great about being able to sit in a traffic jam in New York in your Hummer. It's not the peak of existence."
"But draw your own conclusions, not just because the dear leader pronounced it. We don't have to be voluntary North Koreans."
"The so-called opponents of war overwhelmingly are opponents of U.S. failure, not opponents of the war."
"In fact, international affairs has more than a slight resemblance to the Mafia."
"To ... accept Israel's right to exist is to grant Israel something that no state in the international system has."
one criticism is that chomsky invariably seems to reduce the actions of a complex institution such as the nation state to those of a person. chomsky wants to apply a "golden rule" for nations in the same way that there is one for people. whether something as complex as a nation actually behaves like a person is left unexplored. if institutions are a reflection of society, then it is hard to believe that the nation state is capable of great virtue.
a second criticism about diminishing labour standards due to globalization - chomsky makes this assertion based on the experiences during britain's deindustrialization of india, but i'm less convinced that it is as simple as that IN TODAY'S CONTEXT after reading bhagwati's "in defence of globalization".