Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Jacob Fries


People often ask Noam Chomsky, one of the world's foremost intellectuals, why he continues to live in the United States. Why doesn't he just move to a place where his ideas have a larger audience? Chomsky's response is quick and firm. "This is the best country in the world," he recently told an interviewer.


So it is with an undying love of America - and an eye for hypocrisy - that Chomsky dismantles U.S. foreign policy in his latest book, Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Domination. In a heavily footnoted critique, Chomsky argues two central points: that America's aggressive foreign policy dates back 50 years, and that the Bush administration's "resort to force" is bringing the world to the brink of catastrophe.


Exhibit A in Chomsky's case is the Bush administration's "National Security Strategy," which declares in unambiguous terms that the U.S. should use military might, or the threat of it, to impose its will on the world. International law and treaties must be dismissed. "We will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting pre-emptively," the document states.


As a linguist, Chomsky devotes much of his 237-page book to highlighting how facts are manipulated through language. The word "terrorism," for example, is applied only to the actions of others, but never to those of U.S. officials. At worst, the most that American officials will admit to are inadvertent errors or oversight. Also, in a skillful turn of phrase, "pre-emptive" war becomes "preventive" action.


Through this system of propaganda, Chomsky believes that history can be whitewashed, the record altered, people's memories realigned. In other words, friends can become foes, or vice versa, but the official stance appears consistent. Recent events seem to confirm this theory.


In covering Saddam Hussein's capture this week, many TV news networks aired profiles of the deposed tyrant, detailing his rise to power, his brutal reign and his ousting at the hands of the U.S. military. Most of the reports, if not all of them, failed to mention the fact that before 1990, the U.S. had supported Hussein with huge loans, military intelligence, cluster bombs and precursors to chemical and biological weapons. In effect, Chomsky argues, America's link to the evildoer is simply redacted.


At the center of the book is the conclusion that "History is crafted by the powerful." In the end, Chomsky doesn't try to rewrite the past so much as reveal how history is constructed and then reconstructed according to the desires of those at the controls.





Publication date: 12/18/03

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Reunited We Stand
  • Reunited We Stand

    With major provisions of Trump's executive order put on temporary hold, 11 Iraqi refugees reunite with their families in Spokane
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Working Blue
  • Working Blue

    Spokane police officer under fire for profanity; plus, Tomi Lahren — and her opinions — are coming to town
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • 'Cautiously Optimistic'
  • 'Cautiously Optimistic'

    Spokane Public Schools has seen improvement since committing to reducing suspensions, but the hardest part is yet to come
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • Restarting Art
  • Restarting Art

    After four years of drought, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart hopes to start pumping funding back into the city's arts scene
    • Mar 10, 2016

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
A Little Night Music

A Little Night Music @ Spokane Civic Theatre

Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through March 5

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Jacob H. Fries

Most Commented On

  • We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

    Why we're filling the streets to protest Trump's inhumane, dangerous policies
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Obscene Gestures

    Spokane political party leaders hope to harness post-election passion into civil discourse. But so far, there's only been more strife
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Comment


do something


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Homeless School
  • Homeless School

    As the number of homeless students in Spokane County keeps climbing, schools unite with nonprofits to seek solutions
    • Nov 12, 2015
  • Four Weeks and Counting
  • Four Weeks and Counting

    The search for a missing Spokane woman has gone on since early November
    • Dec 3, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation