Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance
(Henry Holt & Co., New York City: 2003)
READ: April 2008
One of the more rational, clear-headed thinkers out there. Chomsky's book is well-thought out and, in my opinion, fairly uncontroversial - just because you might not agree with him doesn't make him wrong - everything he says is backed up with real evidence, and he's pretty good about showing the evidence in the other direction, too. A must-read.
Noam Chomsky was one of those authors who would show up from time to time on my undergraduate mass communications degree reading lists. Though a linguist and philosophy professor at MIT, he has written many works that also lie firmly in political science and media studies. At the time, however, I remember dreading the Chomsky readings. However, I have grown to truly appreciate much of his work, mostly because I have learned more since then and am now more ready to understand and engage with his work.*
In this book, Chomsky outlines the tactic of "full spectrum dominance" pursued by the American government in its international relations since at least the end of WWII. From the Bay of Pigs, through Nicaragua, Cuba, the Middle East, Afghanistan, and, most recently (at least at the time the book was written, in 2003), Iraq, the U.S. has followed policies and practices geared toward global control, a new kind of colonialism. At the same time, it has fairly consistently worked to undermine certain principles of international law, and refused to recognize many instruments of international justice, such as the World Court and the International Criminal Tribunal.
I'm going to leave the review at that, closing off with a blurb from author Arundhati Roy on the book, because she says it better than I could:
"If, for reasons of chance, or circumstance, (or sloth), you have to pick just one book on the subject of the American Empire, pick this one. It's the Full Monty. It's Chomsky at his best. Hegemony or Survival is necessary reading."
For more on this topic, see the American Empire Project.
* Sometimes I feel that university is wasted on 17-21 year old students. Better we all go at 32, no?