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Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice Hardcover – September, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers; 1ST edition (September 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594513120
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594513121
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,042,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This intriguing series of conversations between like-minded peers about America in the Middle East pairs dissident intellectual Chomsky with Achcar, who is less well known for critiques of U.S. foreign policy (Clash of Barbarisms). Drawing on deep historical background, they deconstruct Western assumptions about international politics: "Every state you can think of is based on violence, repression... the state system itself has no inherent legitimacy." While refreshingly careful to note when their conclusions aren't backed by rigorous documentation, both make broad assumptions about human behavior, while easily disregarding contradictions. For example they rely on opinion polls to indicate the desires of a given people (as opposed to the ruling elite), but reject the once-broad Palestinian support of the Oslo Peace Accords, for instance, because, as Chomsky says, the Palestinians "were just totally deluded." Similarly, they give little weight to nonrational influences—religiosity, fear—where these almost certainly played a key role in forming public opinion, such as in Arab disillusionment with secular nationalism or Israeli presumptions of anti-Semitism. Particularly in Chomsky's case, this can extend to an unfortunate contempt for those with whom he disagrees. Both men raise vital questions, but some readers may be alienated by the authors' often dismissive manner. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Gilbert Achcar, who lived in Lebanon for many years before moving to France, now teaches politics and international relations at the University of Paris. He is the author of several books on contemporary politics and is a frequent contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique.

Noam Chomsky, M.I.T., is the author most recently of 9-11 (a national bestseller) and Middle East Illusions. His articles and books revolutionized the contemporary study of linguistics and his political essays are widely read and translated throughout the world. In 2003 a profile of Chomsky in The New Yorker described his influence as one of the most widely cited scholars in history.

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

4.3 out of 5 stars
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The book offers many insights.
Malvin
One comes away from the read better informed and amazed at the great puzzle the middle east has become.
R. A. Barricklow
The book unmasked the US foreign policy which is oil centric and propping Zionism against Arabs.
Sriranganath Nimmakayala

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on October 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Periolous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Power" records a discussion and dialogue between Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar about current events in the Middle East and the U.S. role in the region. Stephen R. Shalom explains in the Preface that the book is the product of several days of live, interactive discussions moderated by Mr. Shalom followed by review and editing of the transcripts by each participant. Consequently, the finished product has both a dynamic feel to it as Mr. Chomsky and Mr. Achcar interact with each other in interesting and sometimes unpredictable ways; and a scholarly dimension as the authors were provided the opportunity to clarify or expand on their comments after the taped sessions had ended. The end result is an exceptionally interesting, informative and timely analysis of U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East.

Mr. Chomsky and Mr. Achcar agree that U.S. interest in the Middle East primarily pertains to oil and control of the world economy; to that end, Israel is a close ally who allows the U.S. to project its power in the region. Mr. Chomsky insists that the threat of terror does not outweigh the imperative of controlling Middle Eastern oil; therefore, he charges that U.S. policy makers are taking an unnecessary calculated risk when choosing to deploy its military assets to the region. Rather, Mr. Chomsky believes that the threat of terror could be greatly reduced simply by withdrawing U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia, for example. Following a similar line of reasoning, the authors conclude elsewhere in the book that U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is a necessary prerequisite to ending the Sunni insurgency and creating a lasting peace.

The book offers many insights.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Preston C. Enright on February 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chomsky does not say that the US should "accept" terrorist attacks as another reviewer suggests. Rather, Chomsky says the US should stop engaging in terrorism. The US has spent hundreds of billions of dollars developing weapons of mass destruction, and training all sorts of killers through our military camps and bases all over the world, places like the "School of the Americas" which has turned out some of Latin America's worst tyrants. We have proxy wars, special forces, and private mercenaries operating all over the world in the interests of corporatism. As General Smedley Butler said, war is a racket, and he was a "high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers."

Ann Coulter, Victor Davis Hansen, Hugh Hewitt and so many others very obediently avoid the fact of US violence against other people. They only speak in terms of the threats (blowback) our military superpower faces, never the actual harm it causes around the world. That's the "thought-crime" that Chomsky commits in book after book, he dares to suggest that the people of the US look themselves in the mirror.

For some more interviews with Chomsky, I'd recommend the website of Z Magazine.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Barricklow VINE VOICE on January 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Invade Iraq, control the oil for "critical leverage" over other industrial societies with geopolitical control in the middle east. But you also have the Asian Energy Security Grid forming China, Russia with India in the wings followed by South Korea and maybe even Japan. They would love to get Iran. India has a pipeline to Iran which the U.S.doesn't like. Iraq's Shiite majority has links to Iran's Shiite majority. There is a substantial Shiite population in Saudi Arabia, right across the border where most of the oil is. Will that region come under control of The Grid instead of the U.S.? You have The Shanghi Cooperation Organization running parallel to The Grid turning into a NATO style organization aimed at central asia to confront the U.S. The militalized Israeli economy sells advanced weapons to China. The increasing military cooperation between China & Russia since the eary 1990's. So a military presence of the U.S. is extremely significant in Afghanistan.

These and many more topics are discussed by both Chomsky and Archer. Sometimes disagreeing, as in the question of 9/11 being an inside job; sometimes agreeing, as in Israel telling the Lebanese what it keeps telling the Palastinians: Destroy each other or we shall destroy you all! Very entertaining in their agruements and dis/agreements. One comes away from the read better informed and amazed at the great puzzle the middle east has become.

The book's theme is that one can easily understand why Gandhi, when asked what he thought of western civilization, is alleged to have said that he thought it might be a good idea.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris on November 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Chomsky dares to argue that while much of the charges the U.S. government makes against its foreign enemies regarding human rights violations, involvement in terrorism, etc. are valid, the United States itself is a leading sponsor of human rights violations and terrorism in the world. If the U.S. has the right to bomb Afghanistan for 911 should Venezuela and Cuba be allowed to bomb the United States because Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Cariles are being harbored in the U.S.? Should Sudan bomb the U.S. because Clinton's 1998 bombing destroyed the factory producing the majority of that country's medicine, an action which probably subsequently led to many thousands of deaths? Chomsky argues that the U.S. perhaps could have gotten Bin Laden from the Taliban if it taken seriously the latter's proposals for extradition processes. As before he continues to cite the New York Times articles after 911 reporting the angst of aid agencies about the drastic reduction of food aid deliveries during the U.S. bombing and the fact that the U.S. forced Musharaff to close his border with Afghanistan through which at least five million Afghanis depended to receive food and medicine. He seems reluctant to delve much deeper into the Afghanistan issue. I wish he would, like Michael Mandel in his recent book, quote from London Guardian and New York Times correspondents who cited such figures as 3000 and 20000 for deaths as a result of the cutoff of food aid in particular small areas of Afghanistan each surveyed.

Chomsky quotes former Reagan State Department official Thomas Carothers as explaining that the U.S. pushes for third world democratic governments when it is sure that a country's rich minority will retain real control. Hugo Chavez is the antithesis of this preference.
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