90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gems of Tough Love, Hope & Inspiration
Other speakers have pointed out, as the book's foreword does as well, that most of Chomsky's Op Eds are widely published overseas but not in the US. I completely agree with the general view among intelligent people that the mainstream print and broadcast media, including NPR which now works for Otto Reich, Karl Rove's best post-Nazi pal, are worthless. As Joe Trippi...
Published on June 15, 2007 by Robert David STEELE Vivas
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting collection (but not all gems)
Chomsky has for a long time been rightly seen as one of the most incisive left wing critics of the US government and its foreign policy, applying the intellectual firepower which earlier had made him a leading thinker in linguistics to political matters.
This collection provides a selection of his "op-ed" thought pieces featured on the same pages as the...
Published on April 6, 2008 by Siriam
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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gems of Tough Love, Hope & Inspiration,
Other speakers have pointed out, as the book's foreword does as well, that most of Chomsky's Op Eds are widely published overseas but not in the US. I completely agree with the general view among intelligent people that the mainstream print and broadcast media, including NPR which now works for Otto Reich, Karl Rove's best post-Nazi pal, are worthless. As Joe Trippi says, "the revolution will not be televised," nor will it be discovered by any "news hole" reporter whose column inches are subordinate to advertising and info-mercials from the powers that be. I recall with anger that $100,000 full page ads, cash offered up front, were REFUSED by the NYT, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post. Shame!
As I usually do with Chomsky's works, I start with the last item, and then go back to the beginning. The heart of this book in my view is two-fold:
1) American intellectuals on both left and right, are timid, ignorant, lazy, and generally a pitiful mess. They have all fallen prey to ideological fantasy or agnostic oblivion. Absent Chomsky, Sy Hersh, and a few others (not counting authors like Francis Moore Lappe and others in the transpartisan mode), our media--broadcast, print, and web--is completely lacking and totally distorted in its failure to be a responsible fourth estate.
2) We the People have the power to change all this. Interestingly (at least to me), as Chompsky's book arrived via UPS I was reading the introduction by Lawrence Goodwyn to "The Populist Movement: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America" (Oxford, 1979). Both Chomsky and Goodwyn see clearly that there is a corporate dominance of "the national interest" that is completely at variance, 180 degrees contrary to "the public interest." This may well be the single most significant political concept we must communicate to every American eligible to vote in 2008.
Chomsky makes much--and in my mind very properly so--of how the people and the varied organizations subordinate to the banks, corporations, and puppet government (both federal and state) have been "domesticated" to believe that the existing system is "as good as it gets" and that nothing can come of a popular revolt. However, and here I draw on Goodwyn, it is clear that the people can reach a breaking points, a point beyond which their suffering cannot be explained by "hard times" or "genetic sloth" or any of the other propaganda terms used to try to keep the 90% that do all the work still for their screwing by CEOs and Wall Street and the Federal Reserve.
Reading Chomsky is like a bracing splash of cold water. Early on in the book, an item dated 1 November 2002 (the dates for each Op-Ed are always present and much appreciated), he offers a modest proposal: that if the US insists on toppling Hussein, that it simply commission Iran to do so, and offer all the support it previously offered to Iraq against Iran. What an insane idea, he points out at the end, only to pointedly suggest that the only idea MORE insane is for the US to go it alone and lightly.
This morning I was re-reading Adda Bozeman's introduction to her brilliant work, "Strategic Intelligence & Statecraft," and recalling how in 1992 (the same year that I tried to get the USG to take open sources of information seriously) she was very pointedly stating that the heart of strategic intelligence lay in understanding the cultural and religious values of others. Not something CIA has a clue about, especially today when 4 out of 5 "analysts" (more like junior butts in seats) have less than five years experience.
Chomsky is gifted at speaking truth to power, and it is significant that more and more people are reading what he writes--just as more and more people are reading my non-fiction reviews--the American public is now "engaged" and emergent from its slumber. Sadly, when other try to replicate his truth-telling, citing chapter and verse from "Sorrows of Empire," or "War is a Racket" or "The Fifty Year Would," or "Why the Rest Hate the West," we get slammed down. Just yesterday I was told that a superb monograph on Intelligence & Information Operations (I2O) would be published officially, but only if I took out all the "conspiracy theory" quotes. The first one, on page 3, quoted General Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine of his era, saying he did not like being an enforcer for corporations. So much for speaking the truth in Pentagon circles (where I usually get fairly free rein, to their credit).
Chomsky's other oft-repeated theme, but with all new words in all new Op-Eds tailored to the post 9/11 era, is that it is America that is the global terrorist, America that is the evil-doer. Let me be among those who stand with Chomsky. I declare, as the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction; as a former Marine Corps infantry officer, clandestine spy for the CIA, founder of the Marine Corps Intelligence Command, and devoted citizen and father with roots in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Chomsky is correct. We are losing the global war of belief systems because we refuse to recognize our grotesque migration from a free people to an evil empire in which the people have no say over what is being done "in their name." Sun Tzu knew that only those who know BOTH themselves, AND their enemy, will be victories. We know NEITHER ourselves nor our enemies, most of them of our own making. There are reasons for this, but the most important reason lies with our own failing as a public willing to demand the public interest in lieu of special interests.
No one need fear Chomsky, who loves America as much as I do. We need to fear only our inertia as disciplining those who have committed high crimes and misdemeanors, relying on our apathy. The list is long.
War Is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America's Most Decorated General, Two Other Anti=Interventionist Tracts, and Photographs from the Horror of It
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq
Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception : How the Media Failed to Cover the War on Iraq
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Bush's BrainWhy We Fight
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-hitting little gems,
"Interventions" is unusual in some respects. It's a collection of op ed pieces that Chomsky started writing shortly after 9/11. Believe it or not, these pieces were distributed worldwide by the New York Times Syndicate, a branch of the NYT publishing enterprise. Very few U.S. newspapers picked them up (that's all too familiar) but they were probably widely disseminated elsewhere in the world.
They span the years 2002-2007 and have been revised and collected now in one paperback volume, with new footnotes freshly added on the occasion of this republication. Even the oldest of these pieces don't feel dated. As always, Chomsky digs deep underneath the surface and extracts principles of U.S. foreign policy that haven't changed in many years.
The essays are short pieces of around 1,000 words, or 4 pages each, a total of 44, and they make for very good reading. Perhaps Chomsky was more focussed and less rambling than usual because of the need for concision, or perhaps it's simply the brevity of these pieces that makes them so effective. Whatever it is that sets these pieces apart, they've had quite an impact on me: I tend to walk around slightly stunned after reading each piece, unable to take my mind off it, and I'm able to remember these pieces so much better than a lot of my other Chomsky reading.
Perhaps this extra impact has to do with the fact that the number of facts and connections and basic principles uncovered by Chomsky in each essay is digestable. The complexity of the analysis doesn't go beyond what you can absorb in one setting. Each piece remains fresh in your mind and has quite an emotional impact, such as disbelief, outrage, sadness, or feeling sick to your stomach.
There is a crying need for making Chomsky more accessible, i.e. for transforming his standard mode of political analysis and commentary in such a way that it can be assimilated more easily by someone who is not a Chomsky himself. The Chomsky movies (Manufacturing Consent, Rebel Without a Pause) don't really succeed in that. The "Understanding Power" anthology, in book form and with massive annotations on the Internet, also had this ambition. It is admirable but the book doesn't quite succeed in this either.
The form of the concise op ed in this book and the dialog form in the recent book Chomsky & Achcar "Perilous Power" take a different tack on presenting Chomsky's political thinking. They succeed better in making Chomsky accessible and exciting than many other attempts. He should publish more often in these two formats.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Noam's response,
To that lame Washington Post review by Jonathan Rauch (and why won't the Post print it anyway?):
The letter to the Washington Post that follows was written as an experiment, to see just how low the editors would sink in their efforts to block a book containing evidence and analysis that they do not want to reach the public. The letter is a response to a crude and vulgar diatribe, in the form of a review of my collection Interventions. In response, I wrote a point-by-point refutation of each charge, a straightforward matter, as the editors doubtless understand. The letter was sent to the Post immediately, altogether four times, with a request for acknowledgment of receipt. Unpublished, no acknowledgment of receipt. Two weeks after the review appeared, Sept. 16, the Post did publish two letters responding to it. The letters were critical of the review, but acceptable by the standards of the editors, because they left the lies and slanders standing -- the authors could have had no way to refute them without a research project.
I think it is fair to take the editors' silence to demonstrate that they know precisely what they are doing, and are too cowardly even to acknowledge receipt.
- Noam Chomsky
Jonathan Rauch's review of my Interventions (WP, Sept. 2) brings to mind Orwell's famous observations on the "indifference to reality" of the nationalist, who "not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but ..has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."
Rauch runs through a series of what he regards as "flights into a separate reality" and "tendentious whimsy." When exposed, a straightforward matter, his charges may appear to be conscious deceit, but are more charitably understood as a textbook illustration of Orwell's observations.
Rauch is appalled that I should charge Washington with bombing Serbia in 1999 "not to prevent ethnic cleansing but to impose Washington's neoliberal economic agenda." I neither made nor endorsed the statement. Rather, I quoted it - accurately, not in his words. The source is a high official of the Clinton administration directly involved in the Kosovo events, describing how events were perceived at the highest level. See p. 179.
Another bit of "tendentious whimsy" is the statement that "North Korea's counterfeiting racket may actually be a CIA operation." I neither made nor endorsed the statement, but cited it, accurately, from the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Rauch finds equally appalling the fact that "In Chomsky's universe, the 2001 U.S. attack on Afghanistan was undertaken with the expectation that it might drive several million people over the edge of starvation." The statement is precisely accurate. That is why aid agencies bitterly condemned the bombing, joined by leading Afghan opponents of the Taliban, including US favorites. It is also why many months after the bombing ended, Harvard's leading specialist on Afghanistan, Samina Ahmed, wrote in the Harvard journal International Security that "millions of Afghans are at grave risk of starvation." That and more is in the book under review, but in these op-eds I did not provide full details that would be familiar to readers of the mainstream press, for example, the increase in estimate of those at the edge of starvation by 50%, to 7.5 million, when the bombing was announced and initiated. If Rauch is indeed unfamiliar with the mainstream press, he can find precise references in books of mine cited here.
Particularly amazing in Rauch's universe is the idea, in his words, that "President Bush - the first and only U.S. president to declare formal American support for a Palestinian state - is the obstacle to a two-state solution that Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran are all prepared to accept (I am not making that up)." The tiny particle of truth here is that Bush announced his "vision" of a Palestinian state - somewhere, some day, a pale reflection of the long-standing international consensus on a two-state settlement. Bush did indeed innovate: he is the first president to officially endorse Israeli annexation of the major illegal settlements in the West Bank, a long step backwards from Clinton's "parameters," and a death blow to any hope for a viable Palestinian state, as minimal familiarity with the region demonstrates.
In contrast, Iran's "supreme leader" Ayatollah Khamenei formally announced that Iran "shares a common view with Arab countries on ... the issue of Palestine," meaning that Iran accepts the Arab League position: full normalization of relations in terms of the international consensus. "Khamenei has said Iran would agree to whatever the Palestinians decide," the prominent Iran scholar Ervand Abrahamian observes. If Rauch reads the journal in which he writes, he knows that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniye called for "statehood for the West Bank and Gaza..." (Washington Post, July 11, 2006) There are innumerable other examples, perhaps most important among them the statement of the most militant Hamas leader Khalid Mish'al, in exile in Damascus, calling for "the establishment of a truly sovereign and independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in June 1967" (Guardian, Feb. 23, 2007). Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly stated that as a Lebanese organization, Hezbollah will not disrupt anything agreed to by the Palestinians.
Much as it may distress the nationalist, on this matter the positions of Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah are more moderate - that is, closer to the long-standing international consensus - than those of the US and Israel.
In Rauch's universe, Washington "tolerates a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq whose Shiite government is friendly toward Iran." No comment should be necessary for readers of the daily press.
That exhausts Rauch's charges. Orwell triumphs again.
It is perhaps not surprising that Rauch's furious exertions did not unearth even a misplaced comma. As he knows, the op-eds passed through New York Times fact checking. There might be a lesson there for the journal in which he is a senior writer.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chomsky Short and Sweet,
This is a collection of op-ed articles Chomsky wrote for the New York Times Sydicate from 2002 through 2006. They were not widely published in the United States save for a few regional papers, but received broader exposure overseas. Interventions is the first collection of these 44 op-eds of about 1000 words each. First, regardless of what one may think of Chomsky's views, it is a testament to the author that he would have all of his columns over a 4 year period bound into chronological order, intending them to be read one after the next. They are a model of self consistancy, and their theses rarely, if ever, damaged by new information.
The common thread between all of the pieces in this collection is the same as Chomsky's central thesis: That if the United States, and more broadly, the entire western world, were to turn the same critical, rational eye on our own actions that we rightfully turn on the actions of other nations, we would see ourselves moving against the interests of freedom, democracy, human rights, and even the survival of the species in favor of maintaining our political and economic dominance in the world. Constrained by concision, because these were op-eds, the entire collection is remarkably easy to digest. A bit Chomsky-lite, but not lacking any of the incisive observation and remarkable research that Chomsky's readers turn to him for.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Informative, Valuable Essays.,
"Interventions" is the latest collection of essays by Noam Chomsky, who becomes an ever more popular intellectual with each passing year (this is of course thanks to the fact that our government becomes more fascist with every passing year). Here Chomsky uses his usual, stinging prose to take us into the dark labyrinth of modern America and the policies of our imperial system. Propaganda remains alive and well, as well as ignorance, as you can see by reading the Washington Post review included above (the paper refuses to print Chomsky's response). In a world where the news becomes entertainment and few questions are asked, we need men like Chomsky to break down information, process facts, listen to words, and put it all together in published editions such as this one. "Interventions" takes a look at the last five years of American foreign policy, beginning right after the September 11 attacks in New York. In "9/11: Lessons Unlearned," Chomsky discusses the fact that while America became caught-up in a patriotic frenzy, nobody stopped to ask the real reasons why the attacks took place and how American foreign policy in the Middle East paved the way for an event like September 11. The essays that follow chronicle the propaganda fever and atmosphere that lead to the illegal invasion of Iraq, it is eerie to read Chomsky's predictions for where the war would lead (predictions made by many clear-minded individuals at the time) and then reading his essays on where the war ended-up going. He lays down facts and figures, ripping down the Bush regime's veil of lies about Saddam Hussein WMDs, and his threat to the U.S. when in fact, the U.S. was Saddam's main backer and source of funding for decades, even during his worst atrocities which Bush later used as excuses for the invasion. Chomsky chronicles our disastrous, murderous interventions in countries such as Nicaragua and El Salvador and the brutal policies being employed against the Palestinians. One unique, and very fascinating essay titled "South America At The Tipping Point" looks at the growing leftist tide in Latin America and how nations like Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba are leading the march towards new independence for the region and the overall integration of the Latin countries. "Interventions" is valuable, necessary reading, it is the kind of information we as citizens need to counter the dizzying garbage published by mouthpieces such as Anne Coulter and Sean Hannity, because we have real information, real facts, real history, and real ideas of where we should go and where we are headed. Any concerned citizen would do him/herself a favor by picking up this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A biting and insightful account, strictly to the point and passionately argued.,
Philosophy teacher and well-known political commentator Noam Chomsky presents Interventions, a collection of his essays from 2002 to 2006 largely dealing with American foreign policy - especially criticisms of America's war in Iraq, hypocrisies in the American "war against terror", and cautionary tales of past cruelties America has inflicted, such as giving financial aid to the murderous Contras of Nicaragua. "Some observers fear that a U.S. pullout from Iraq would lead to a full-fledged civil war and the country's deterioration. As for the consequences of a withdrawal, we are entitled to our personal judgments, all of them as uninformed and dubious as those of U.S. intelligence. But these judgments do not matter. What matters is what Iraqis think. Or rather, that is what should matter." A biting and insightful account, strictly to the point and passionately argued.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for new and old readers of Chomsky,
This is a great collection of essays regarding recent actions of US foreign policy. A great book to read on the subway, because the essays are very short, only 4-7 pages per. So if you, like myself, are familiar with Classic Chomsky, then get it anyway because these are new essays on very recent events, none of them published in the US before. I should remind you here that Chomsky is the worlds leading political commentator, and is said to be quoted more often than the Bible, though unsuprisingly, he is barely known (and barely published) in the US. Insert ironic comment about the "liberal media" here.
Chomsky's wry, dry sense of humor and penetrating insight will warm your heart and your mind. His writings are like the first gulp of a ice-cold bottle of water after you have hiked through the city heat for hours: deeply refreshing and very neccessary.
The book's best essay is unquestionably "The great soul of power". Even if you have seen him speak, listened to recordings, read all/most of his political books, you would be missing an excellent essay here if you were to pass up this book. If you are the type of person who habitually reads only halfway into books before abandoning them, just start with this essay, then go to the beginning.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Agree with him or not, we lose out by not listening",
This book can serve as an introduction to Chomsky's ideas for those who have never read him before or simply not used to reading long nonfictional books. The essays are short, easy to read, and can be read in any order. It is a collection of Op-Ed pieces discussing US politics and policies in the post 9/11 world.
In its Editorial Review Section, Amazon has decided to post the review of a warmonger and a morally bankrupt individual like Rauch and yet leaves out the refutation by Chomsky in which he destroys Rauch's misrepresentations.
Letter to the Post [by B. Martin]: "...It will come as no surprise that Rauch was an advocate of invading Iraq, ostensibly in the aim of ending Saddam Hussein's chimerical weapons programs. It is increasingly sickening and insulting that the moral and intellectual failures of the people who lobbied for this war have not only not discredited them in The Post's eyes, but now seem to be indispensable qualifications for opining on U.S. foreign policy in the newspaper's pages."
Chomsky responds to the Post:
"In response, I wrote a point-by-point refutation of each charge, a straightforward matter, as the editors doubtless understand. The letter was sent to the Post immediately, altogether four times, with a request for acknowledgment of receipt. Unpublished, no acknowledgment of receipt. Two weeks after the review appeared, Sept. 16, the Post did publish two letters responding to it. The letters were critical of the review, but acceptable by the standards of the editors, because they left the lies and slanders standing -- the authors could have had no way to refute them without a research project.
I think it is fair to take the editors' silence to demonstrate that they know precisely what they are doing, and are too cowardly even to acknowledge receipt. "
Full refutation can be read on his website.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interventions by Noam Chomsky,
A must read. A series of Prof. Chomsky's op-ed's that were never published in the US press. As always, the depth and detail of his research and documentation is unsurpassed. His efforts raise inescapable questions and it's up to you to draw your own conclusions...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Chomsky,
I read a good deal of Chomsky's material and this is up there with the "Essential Chomsky." Concise and informative.
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