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An Appreciation of Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Full Spectrum Dominance, by Noam Chomsky

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When it was published in 2004, Hegemony or Survival extended Noam Chomsky's critique of post-WWII American foreign policy into 2003; and it put the developments in 2003 squarely in the context of the evidence for American foreign policymakers' willingness to risk the human race's survival in their quest for global dominance.

Avram Noam Chomsky (2008)

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The book appeared at one of the darkest times in American history. Bushco had invaded Iraq, and there seemed to be little hope that the American war machine could be slowed, much less stopped.

In the book, Professor Chomsky conducts his readers on a tour of various hot spots around the world noting undisputed facts about which the American public was befuddled in 2003, due to the distortions of politicians and pundits in the media.

The author is sometimes sarcastic, which I don't recall in his more scholarly pre-1990 writings. For example, on page 175 of the Metropolitan Books First Edition, where the tour stops in Israel, there is this, "More than half of Qalquila's agricultural lands were reported to have been confiscated, to be annexed to Israel, with the munificent offer of onetime compensation equal to the market price of one year's harvest."

But these expressions of exasperation are few and far between. And Chomsky proceeds characteristically unflinchingly in Hegemony or Survival, wielding his two redoubtable intellectual weapons: (1) his moral imperative that policies must be judged prospectively by the foreseeable risks and rewards they entail, not by whether they "succeed" or "fail" in retrospect; and (2) his methodological imperative that his analysis shall be based on public information.

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Hegemony or Survival reprised, deepened, broadened and raised to the highest level Chomsky's critique of post-WWII American foreign policy. But in 2004, public irresponsibility and celebrity worship was at an all-time high, and the book was widely ignored. At the time, I heard it suggested that America's "biggest national resource" was either Jack Nicholson or Ed Harris.

Chomsky Debating at the World Social Forum (2003)

Today, that all seems like ancient history. And thankfully Noam Chomsky - America's biggest national resource - remains undeterred.

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I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)

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