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Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy
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Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  4,939 ratings  ·  260 reviews
"It's hard to imagine any American reading this book and not seeing his country in a new, and deeply troubling, light."--The New York Times Book Review

The United States has repeatedly asserted its right to intervene militarily against "failed states" around the globe. In this much-anticipated follow-up to his international bestseller Hegemony or Su
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320 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Holt Paperbacks (first published September 12th 2006)
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Trevor
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Reading Chomsky always disturbs me. I’m left feeling washed out and despondent. He presents the problems of the world so vividly that it is impossible not to be confronted by the enormity of the issues that confront us. He re-values and re-evaluates received wisdom, the sorts of views we get from watching news programs or reading current affairs articles, to such an extent that one is left wondering if everything we are ever told is basically just another lie. Because that is it – one comes away ...more
Buck
Oct 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
There’s a line in Victor Serge’s Memoirs of a Revolutionary that comes back to me whenever I get trapped in a conversation with a political nutbar. Writing about some Soviet apparatchik that he’d butted heads with, Serge says, “I followed his argument with the blank uneasiness which one might feel in the presence of a logical lunatic.”

Noam Chomsky fills me with blank uneasiness. Now, the man’s no lunatic—let’s get that straight. He’s a gifted scientist and, in some ways, an admirable citizen. Bu
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kenneth
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Noam Chomsky is one of the greatest scientists and men of letters in the world today; however his virulent critique of U.S. foreign and domestic policy ensure that his work is derided and undermined by the corporate media. Failed States is an engaging, relatively simple (for Chomsky), and lucid account of how the American government is acting as a negative force in the world today. Chomsky gives insight into how the government manipulates facts and polls to create public opinion. In America, the ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When history is crafted in the service of power, evidence and rationality are irrelevant.

Hazrat Chomsky is very popular with Pakistani literati and for good reason, as he presents the other aspects of the momentous world events which together makes the story somewhat complete.
Consider the very obvious and rational argument, the top nation of the world, número uno country of the world, the mighty USA, misbehaving, openly flaunting, imperiously rejecting all international laws it expects rogue and
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Ewan
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Such an intense book. Masses of evidence condensed down into as close to the truth as we're ever going to get - and it's a depressing truth.

I found the whole book stimulating to read, but it was the 6th chapter, "Democracy Promotion at Home" (which strayed from the main focus of the book - American foreign policy), that I found most interesting.

In it, Chomsky basically predicts the current financial meltdown in the US and the reasons for it. He then leads on from this into the healthcare debat
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Amari
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
The first part: simply a random string of inflammatory, sarcastic statements. Not particularly well-crafted. However, it grew on me. Extremely informative, and compelling, even if (especially since?) it nags the thoughtful reader to check many things in other sources. A mind-boggling compendium of information, obnoxiously slanted. Part of me thinks that it's overdone if it causes me (of all people) to wonder if Chomsky is off his rocker with regard to more than a few things. In other words, that ...more
Ilias
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, philosophy
New life goal unlocked: Read Everything professor Chomsky has written
Kevin
My thoughts on Chomsky’s previous US/global politics book for the general public also applies strongly to his follow-up: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

The Missing:
--Of the many books by Chomsky, I must say I would start elsewhere:
1) Intro: Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky is the perfect place to start; fantastic editing. The Essential Chomsky has some of his key essays as well.
2) Media propaganda: Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (for eloquent
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Wardah Beg
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially American citizens
Mind... Blown.
I know it's all about everything we already know, the political truisms like America's efforts to maintain hegemony in the world rather than promoting democracy at home and abroad; that the Iraq war, and all the other 'wars on terror' have led to more terrorists taking over the stage than resulting in a crackdown of terrorist organisations once and for ever; that America's governmental decisions and foreign policies do not represent the majority opinion of it's people. Nevertheless
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Donovan
Jul 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
One of the many dozens of books professor Chomsky has produced over several decades, in this book - as always - he points out how hypocritical the behavior of the US government is. It says one thing while doing another, 'democracy promotion' for example. While allegedly trying to install a democracy in Iraq, democracy is desperately needed at home. Chomsky makes this hypocrisy seem so obvious that it would be almost comical if it weren't so tragic.

Unfortunately Chomsky does seem to repeat himsel
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Boudewijn
Noam Chomsky makes a powerful statement why the United States - as a self proclaimed symbol of democracy in the world - does not abide by its own self proclaimed ideals. In fact, far from being a safeguard for freedom and security, the United states is more busy with securing its own economic and geopolitical interests.

As the most powerful state in the world, the USA is claiming the right to have its own influence and say on its actions, even where it is in conflict with for example the Geneva C
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Tichana  (The Book Hobbit)
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, non-fiction
I think it's obvious to point out why this book is unpopular with people who hold a false idea about the "greatness" that is the United States. Chomsky basically crushes that idea with facts.

I don't really care if you and I hold two different/opposite political views, but we must agree that Chomsky presents accurate data. He does not fool around. So whatever your political beliefs may be, you need to read this book.

The ideas and facts presented in this book revolve around the United States as a
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David Sarkies
Jul 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chomsky lovers
Recommended to David by: A friend from university
Shelves: politics
Twisting the idea of the failed state
22 July 2011

I have read a few books by Noam Chomsky, and despite him being a very accessible writer, and a profound intellectual, his books tend to all be on the same theme and seem to cover the same ground. In a way, I like to get an idea of Chomsky's views on recent events, and while his later books may give some insight, unfortunately you tend to have to go over a lot of old ground to get to the new ideas. Further, his take on the new events tend to simpl
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Chris Brimmer
Diatribe by a pompus windbag in love with his own intellect. Condesending to the reader, Chomsky wants you to know that he is wiser and smarter than you are and in an annoying suck tooth way is usually right. His points always seem overblown, hyper-stated and always imply evil intent of those he accuses breathlessly. Yet the most maddening thing about this book is that its right all the way down the line, proving once again that just because you're an asshole doesn't mean you're wrong.
blakeR
Mar 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Though dry, this is a good and fairly updated overview of most of Chomsky's political positions. He continues to be vital, which is my favorite word for him. I would recommend starting with his interviews or conversations, however, as they're more accessible and engaging. The most accessible and comprehensive intro to Chomsky, out of the four books I've read, is the very lives-up-to-its-name Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky.

What was most valuable about this book is that it gives Ch
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Liam Murphy
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leftist
"Orwell would not have known whether to laugh or weep."

This is a LOT of information. Much of which is relatively foreign (lol) to me, much of which isn't, but all of it doesn't surprise me. I can't say I can confidently confirm it all, as there are so very many claims here that I'm only now learning, but 1. It all follows what I'd expect from the US 2. It's footnoted to the damn moon 3. The consecutive research I did myself holds up. I'm sure that if I was more politically involved (or alive) fo
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Eric Gulliver
Mar 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
If there were any one thing that Noam Chomsky should be revered for, it would have to be his indelible use of evidence. In his latest authored work entitled Failed States, Chomsky meticulously sifts through use of the rhetoric of principles and compares to its actual practice, presenting a chilling exposition of, “The (American) Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy.”1 Throughout the book, Chomsky focuses his attention on the deterioration of domestic democracy in the United States and ela ...more
Owen
Scholarly but readable work which will keep you on your toes as the author (or should I say the inimitable Chomsky) expects the reader to follow closely and pay attention, a reasonable expectation given the amount of work he has put in. Essentially, it is an examination of why the United States of America qualifies as a failed state, and the lengthy argument, well supported by notes and an index, may perhaps best be summarized by referring to Chomsky's own summary in the Afterword:

«One commonly
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Anshu Raj Singh
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Propaganda is to democracy
what violence is to autocracy.

Failed States starts with an extraordinary appeal issued to the people of the world, by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein in July,1955. According to them the choice facing the world is "stark and dreadful and inescapable: shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war".

Chomsky says that the world has not only not renounced war, but the world's hegemonic power accords itself the right to wage war at will, under a
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Carmen Lamm
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Chomsky boggles my mind. I love him and hate him for making my brain ache, but it's like a good workout afterwards, and the adrenaline starts to run throughout your brain connecting neurons. This book in particular really points out without reasonable doubt, how and why the US is a failed state.

This book helps you understand the intricate steps that the US takes to really fuck things over for ourselves and other countries. Chomsky uncovers the deception and unravels the steps in which the US ta
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Fiachna
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with a mind their not afraid to use
Noam Chomsky, reviled by the red-neck right is certainly a breath of fresh air to the political debate. Though to be honest, he's hardly fresh, having been around for so long.
He research's methodically and puts forth such a cohesive and logical debate that only the most narrow minded and rabid of patriots could fail to be swayed by his arguments.
He does what a true "Patriot" should do and examines the practices of those in power rather than blindly following and accepting unquestioningly.
He poin
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J.M. Hushour
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
As usual, spot-on and illuminating, especially the bits on the 2004 election and the media's blathering, sycophantic crotch-fawning over their political and corporate masters.
With an often wry sense of humor and irony which you might miss if you're not careful, Chomsky carefully dissects the notion of a 'failed state' and then spends a few hundred pages showing why he thinks we live in one.
Even if you disagree with him, it's a place to start since unlike your Facebook arguments with people you d
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Jessica Heyer
The author of Failed States, Noam Chomsky, is a well-known author of political books and has been known to make controversial points backed with a slew of facts. This is also the case in Failed States, where he makes the argument that the U.S. has been making undemocratic, borderline treasonous actions in the name of national security. His timeline of these events ranges from the Cold War to modern day electronic spying, and the book is filled with references to events and people. Much of his a ...more
Diz
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
The basic premise of this book is that the United States should hold itself to the same standard that it asks other countries to uphold. Chomsky uses this book to point out how the it is failing to live up to those standards. I'm of the opinion that it's healthy to criticize the actions of government since it often leads to improvements. While Chomsky makes a lot of good points, he doesn't provide any concrete advice on how the United States can be put back on track. In fact, this a book that is ...more
miaaa
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to miaaa by: Graeme Stephen
for once Graeme got a right book for me hehe

and Lams is right, reading this book might make me depressed because as Chomsky stated in the Afterword,

'One commonly hears that carping critics complain about what is wrong, but do not present solutions. There is an accurate translation for that charge: "They present solutions, but I don't like them." In addition to the proposals that should be familiar about dealing with the crises that reach to the level of survival, a few simple suggestions for th
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Daniel
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's noam chomsky bitch. get ready for hundreds of pages of articles being reviewed and countless journals being cited. Examines rhetoric versus policy and truisms as always. A lot of time spent on the Balkin wars which is nice since they are usually called the good humanitarian wars by statists dove interventionists. A lot of good memos reviewed, my personal favorite being the Blair files. Nicaragua, Israel/Palestine, and Iraq are probably the most discussed. The simulation scenarios of states ...more
Catnaitab
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, nonfiction
This book mostly made me sad about the state of our world nowadays and how the policy-makers in the US, do not respect anything or anyone, but the money dem making. Which I guess happens in a lot of other places in the world. The facts given by Noam Chomsky are extremely interesting to follow and easy to understand. However especially in the first half of the book it seems to jump a bit too fast between several examples of the US behaviour, not explain well enough or just change the direction to ...more
Frank
Jan 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
In Failed States, Chomsky examines the notion of failed or rogue states and argues convincingly that the U.S. fits the definition of such a state.

Defining such states as those "that regard themselves as beyond the reach of domestic or international law, and that suffer from a 'democratic deficit', having democratic forms but with limited substance", Chomsky provides significant evidence in support of his argument, including the U.S.'s lawless military aggression, self-exemption from internationa
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rislachius
Nov 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
I chose to read Failed States for a school project on the ailments of the US democratic system. I was expecting a reasoned, level-headed argument. That's not what I read.

Most of the book is on controversial US foreign policy. I'm not well informed on recent history, and Chomsky's argument, that the US has for decades essentially skirted international law for its own benefit, wasn't presented in a way that for me was at all helpful.

His tone throughout is frustrated and at times (perhaps) arrogan
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Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Chomsky is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, considered to be one of the most significant contributions to the field of linguistics made in the 20th century. H
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