Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The US as "Failed State"

A quick link to an interesting article by Chomsky in todays Independent, an excerpt from (yet another) new book. In many ways, it is fairly standard Chomsky polemic, provocative and one-sided, and covering such a wide array of topics and incidents to make it practically impossible to summarise, or, indeed, engage with in any sustained critical manner. This is emphatically not to say, however, that Chomsky's writings in this regard are worthless; on the contrary, they perform an essential balancing role. It is, however, to my mind important to recall that things are rarely as black and white as he presents them (or that, even if they are in the final instance, his manner of presentation is unlikely to do more than preach to the converted).

Several interesting passages, however, including on the surprising reulsts of the US attempts to introduce democratic elections in Iraq and in Palestine, and also in terms of the Cuban role in the aftermath of the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005, and the role of Venezuela in rejuvenating the economies and politics of Latin America. Also noteworthy is his main claim, that the US displays the three basic characteristics of a 'failed state': unwillingness to protect their citizens from violence; a tendency to regard itself as 'above the law'; and a lack of democracy, either in terms of the basic institutional forms, or of a deficit between the output of those forms and the will of the general public. It is in the last point that Chomsky makes his most forceful argument of a striking incongruity between public opinion and public policy in the US, with many crucially important Government actions apparently standing in stark contradiction to what the majority of citizens actually want.

Like I said, pretty standard Chomsky; and this alone means that it's very much worth a read...

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