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Deterring Democracy Paperback – January 3, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chomsky regards the "new world order" proclaimed by Bush as a sham. What this phrase means, argues the noted MIT scholar, is that the U.S. will persist in its role as global enforcer of its own foreign policies. This meticulously researched, disturbing report offers a revelatory portrait of the U.S. empire in the 1980s and '90s, an ugly side of America largely kept hidden from the public by a complacent media. Chomsky criticizes the cynical U.S. invasion of Panama that ousted Bush's and Reagan's former friend and client, General Manuel Noriega, noting also that Washington supplied military assistance to Iraq before Saddam Hussein shifted status overnight from "favored friend to new Hitler." In the Philippines, Africa and South America, Chomsky finds the same story: U.S. meddling to "defend our interests" brings increased poverty and political repression.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This collection of essays emphasizes the destructive impact of American foreign policy in Central America. Supporting chapters interpret the origins of American global intervention, the creation of domestic consensus, and the effects of the "war on drugs." Much effort is devoted to exposing the "framework of illusion" that obscures the real objectives of violent repression in the Third World, "punishing the underclass" at home and protecting the conditions for "business rule" generally. Some readers will find Chomsky's style exaggerated and tendentious. Few scholars believe a 1952 Soviet proposal for a neutral unified Germany were remotely as straightforward as Chomsky assumes. Nevertheless, the author's sheer intellectual power and his command of sources amounts to a troubling indictment of Washington's official lies and sanctioned brutality, a situation unchallenged by the mainstream press. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
- Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ.-Erie
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099135019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099135012
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,841,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. A member of the American Academy of Science, he has published widely in both linguistics and current affairs. His books include At War with Asia, Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle: The U. S., Israel and the Palestinians, Necessary Illusions, Hegemony or Survival, Deterring Democracy, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Unlike the reviewer Mr. Gartman, I do not see Chomsky's ideas as poorly researched or un-deductive. Quite the opposite: most of his sources come directly from the mainstream media in the US and are quite illuminating to US foreign policy. Chomsky is also one of the more empirical thinkers I've read before, which also means one must think a lot about his ideas before accepting or rejecting them. His assertions are based upon a very wide world view, one that cannot be easily condensed into a simply International Politics book. Like Mr. Gartman, I would interject that the US does not act to limit the freedoms of the people in other countries out of malice, but out of it's own concern and interest. This is, Mr. Gartman, what Chomsky is arguing. I do disagree with you as to the extent that elites play in the execution of US concern and interest, however. It is plain to see in the fact that, although the US is a democracy (although not in law-- we are technically a republic), that democracy only extends insofar as everyone has a meaningful way of affecting policy and interacting in that democracy. We all know how much say we have in our democracy: we get to vote once a year, and for Presidential elections, once every four years. The rest of the time it is up to certain interests to affect those policy makers to have their will done. That is not democracy. That is what Chomsky argues.
Like another reader, I think the history _can_ speak for itself: the US has acted like a belligerent thug in the past, regardless of what reason and for who's interests, and in a humanistic world view, that is wrong. Most people, if made known of that truth, would also condemn US belligerence. Others, such as Mr. Gartman, may choose to re-write that history or deny it.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By "lexo-2" on September 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Like a lot of people, I came across this particular work of Chomsky's before any of the rest, perhaps because it was the first in a long time that was brought out by a major publishing corporation (Vintage UK, a division of Random House) and not by a smaller, more radical press. (Sobering to remember that his first major political work, "American Power and the New Mandarins", was published in the UK by Penguin.) It changed the way I think about the world.
It's significant that critics of Chomsky's political writings have very little means at their disposal with which to criticise him. They can claim that he quoted one source out of context (even if this were true - one source out of the hundreds cited in the whole book? Chomsky didn't make up NSC 68, it's in the archives for anyone to read...); they can claim that he's a bolshevik who should go back to Russia (in spite of his lifelong denunciations of the Soviet regime, and his deep-rooted mistrust of state power in general - in fact, Chomsky has often said that the reason he hasn't denounced the crimes of the Soviet regime more often is because he didn't need to, practically everybody else did); they can claim that he denied the Khmer Rouge atrocities (he never has, in fact he has compared it in scale to the activities of Indonesia in East Timor - however, plenty of people have pretended that he's denied KR atrocities, especially in the French press - see his "Language and Politics" for the details) or that he's a Holocaust denier (which he isn't; he defended the right of a Holocaust denier to free speech, while publicly disassociating himself from the man's opinions, on the grounds that if you don't give your enemies the right to free speech then "free speech" is meaningless).
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Noah Linden on November 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book because I was quite ashamed at the American political scene at home and quite mystified with its actions abroad. I was angry that our government and the business community seemed to be drifting farther and farther from popular control, and how politicians were condescending, insincere, and corrupt. I wondered if America really was the savior of the world I had been taught to believe it to be, or whether it was all a hoax. I remembered from my childhood how the toughest guys always bullied the weaker individuals, and I was extremely skeptical that the United States could have such power and always use it benevolently. The book proved to be an incredible read, right from the first page. Chomsky did not begin with the assumption that America has acted benevolently in the past, or that it ever meant to. Instead, he started with the facts, and constructed them into a global picture that should irk anybody with a conscience. The US IS a thug and a murderer, an untrustworthy goon, as far as international affairs are concerned. Even now, George W. Bush, the Republican candidate for the presidency, says he will "cancel," or VIOLATE, the treaty the United States signed with Russia that forbids both countries from building missile defense systems. Anybody concerned with the truth would do well to read this book.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Saul Minaee on February 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
In a better world Chomsky's political analysis would be superfluous: facts about US aggression, subversion, terrorism, support for tyranny, profiteering and deception would - along with US successes - be uncontroversial parts of intellectual and historical currency; exhaustive exposures of media hypocrisy and the forensic refutation of familiar liberal pieties would be no more than a casual pastime. In a word, if people in the intellectual community were more honest and judicious about certain topics, then Chomsky could at least be dismissed or ignored for legitimate reasons. Unfortunately for the social sciences, Chomsky's political work, with its glorious, bloody-minded disregard for the principled, equable modesty of humanist scholarship and relentless, caustic irony, most certainly is necessary. Whether or not the reader is put off by the discursive style, heavy use of quotations, disturbing conclusions or the eventual familiarity of most of the arguments, it is hard to read "Deterring Democracy" without a mounting sense of moral indignation.
I include his detractors in this category, though obviously for different reasons. I also doubt whether many of them have the stomach or patience to persevere to the end. Most attempts to criticise Chomsky have been thoroughly dishonest, trivial or just plain ludicrous. If Chomsky is to be disregarded, then it must be for good reasons and on his territory; not because of pathetic, hackneyed slander, innuendo or abuse.
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