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Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project) Hardcover – November 4, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 328 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Noam Chomsky is considered the father of modern linguistics. In this richly detailed criticism of American foreign policy, he seeks to redefine many of the terms commonly used in the ongoing American war on terrorism. Surveying U.S. actions in Cuba, Nicaragua, Turkey, the Far East and elsewhere over the past half a century along with the modern American war in Iraq, Chomsky indicates that America is just as much a terrorist state as any other government or rogue organization. George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq drew worldwide criticism, in part because it seemed to present a new philosophy of pre-emptive war and an appearance of global empire building. But according to Chomsky, such has been the operating philosophy of American foreign policy for decades. Opponents of the Bush administration's tactics consistently point out how the American government supported Saddam Hussein for many years prior to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait (pictures of Donald Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand are easy to come by) as a means of pointing out how the United States is happy to fund despots when it's in American interests. But Chomsky, armed with extensive historical notation, takes this notion further, arguing how the repression of other nations' citizenry is, in fact, the very reason Americans support certain foreign leaders. The charges made throughout the book are severe, as are the dire consequences he posits if current trends are not reversed, and Chomsky is no more likely to make friends or gain supporters from the mainstream now than he's ever been. But Hegemony or Survival is relatively dispassionate. Instead of relying on camp or shock value or personal attacks as some of his contemporaries have done, Chomsky drives his well-supported points steadily forward in an earnest and highly readable style. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

In this highly readable, heavily footnoted critique of American foreign policy from the late 1950s to the present, Chomsky (whose 9-11 was a bestseller last year) argues that current U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Iraq are not a specific response to September 11, but simply the continuation of a consistent half-century of foreign policy-an "imperial grand strategy"-in which the United States has attempted to "maintain its hegemony through the threat or use of military force." Such an analysis is bound to be met with skepticism or antagonism in post-September 11 America, but Chomsky builds his arguments carefully, substantiates claims with appropriate documentation and answers expected counterclaims. Chomsky is also deeply critical of inconsistency in making the charge of "terrorism." Using the official U.S. legal code definition of terrorism, he argues that it is an exact description of U.S. foreign policy (especially regarding Cuba, Central America, Vietnam and much of the Middle East), although the term is rarely used in this way in the U.S. media, he notes, even when the World Court in 1986 condemned Washington for "unlawful use of force" ("international terrorism, in lay terms" Chomsky argues) in Nicaragua. Claiming that the U.S. is a rogue nation in its foreign policies and its "contempt for international law," Chomsky brings together many themes he has mined in the past, making this cogent and provocative book an important addition to an ongoing public discussion about U.S. policy.
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Product Details

  • Series: American Empire Project
  • Hardcover: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; 1st edition (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805074007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805074000
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (328 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
During the 1990s, quite a few Chomsky books were compilations of previously-published material. He built books out of transcripts of talks, long interviews, and articles from Z magazine. Those books are all very good, but many of them had a scattered feel to them. In "Hegemony or Survival," he returns to the days when he sits at the typewriter and pounds out a new book.
This time, Chomsky sums up over 30 years of research on US foreign policy. He uses the current war in Iraq and the history of our policy toward Cuba as his key cases. That's not to say he leaves out other countries. In fact, this book mentions one country after another in which the US government worked hard to overthrow democracy abroad while covering it up at home. But, by putting emphasis on Cuba and Iraq, Chomsky shows the consistency of US policy --- the methods, the tactics, the justifications, and the effects.
It's the wide range of information that makes the book so convincing. Chomsky doesn't write opinion pieces. He presents you with a flood of facts, fully documented, and allows those facts to convince you. As you read, you'll say "Wow. Is that really true?" and flip to the footnotes. You'll find credible sources every time. You'll shake your head, wondering how you could have missed such important information. At some point, you end up reading with a finger wedged in the footnote section, flipping back and forth and making mental notes to double-check some of those sources later.
If you haven't read Chomsky before, start with one of the better interview books such as "Understanding Power" and "Chronicles of Dissent." Then read this one. If you want to understand "Why do they hate us?" (and why that isn't even the right question to ask), Chomsky has the answers.
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Format: Hardcover
...about what our government has brazenly done in our name, without ever actually consulting with us or getting our consent based on the facts. I just finished reading this the day this became so talked about because of Chavez. I couldn't believe it. I don't care how this gets popular but it has to become generally understood: we are largely unwitting dupes of an agenda that is so cynically anti-human, anti-egalitarian, anti-democratic and anti-american (in the real sense of that buzzword)that I am filled with shame for what we stand for in the world (from THEIR point of view, not what we like to think).

But don't take my word for it (as Chomsky would say), learn the facts for yourself as he did: by going to the declassified original documents and little known articles. Chomsky is nothing if not a thorough and responsible academic mind who starts all his research with a healthy scepticism.

Yes he has a point of view and a philosophy, like everyone else. He is not some cookie cutter leftist, though, or radical extremist who enjoys finding critical things to say about his homeland. He just wants, as many naturally do, to have a society in which all people have the opportunity for living informed, creative lives with a big say in how government is run and organized.

He does an excellent job outlining the big and largely invisible agenda that actually manipulates our consent on things we would never agree to had we known the facts. The rise of multinational corporations to hegemonic power and the rich elites that both serve and comprise them, are the elephants in the room we can feel but dare not discuss or describe. If you think we live in a democracy, you are blind.

These are big statements.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I shall not repeat what several other reviewers have said, but here is a personal reactive view.
I have read a fair amount of modern history, and was only vaguely aware (like most Americans) of the many of Chomsky's facts and assertions. Some were so startling that I felt I needed to verify. After researching four and finding them unassailable, I stopped trying to fault the facts. The indictment of US foreign policy that Chomsky devolves from these facts is at such variance with our view of ourselves that one is inclined to look for an explanation. If the facts are not false, then perhaps the interpretation is the problem, so I examined the logic by re-reading the book with careful attention to the relationship between facts and conclusion. There are weaknesses in some places where an argument depends on "respected commentator" or some other unsupported assertion. However, even if one throws out all of the marginal cases, he is still left with a great deal for which to account--a paradigm changer for the honest and open minded, and something to be reviled and suppressed for those determined to believe that Americans are the good guys who go around the world altruistically stamping out evil.
Chomsky stops short of a monolithic conspiracy theory, but the pattern of behavior of the US over the last 60 years that is painted by this book is remarkably consistent and disturbing.
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Format: Hardcover
Noam Chomsky has done it again. With his latest book, "Hegemony or Survival, America's Quest for Global Dominance," Chomsky presents a thorough, meticulously-researched indictment of prevailing American foreign policy - a policy which, as Chomsky correctly observes, is sure to lead to disaster for not only the United States, but ultimately, the entire world. Chomsky vividly illustrates the great alarm that is now pervasive even among the American foreign policy establishment as it struggles to come to terms with an administration that has so recklessly endangered American national security through its single-minded focus on securing a global "Pax Americana." As far-fetched as these claims may sound to many, Chomsky's documentation is irrefutable, and his research impeccable. Chomsky provides an even-headed critique of our current course through a rational examination of the frightening consequences that are sure to follow.
While his detractors are sure to resort to their usual accusations of virulent, knee-jerk anti-Americanism, asking any of them to substantiate their utterly baseless (and woefully ignorant) allegations through actually refuting the vast amounts of factual evidence Chomsky cites in his endnotes will prove to be nothing more than an exercise in futility - Chomsky's analysis is formidable, and it rests on a remarkable synthesis of practically-undeniable evidence.
I'd recomend this book highly for anyone seeking to put the policies of the second Bush administration into a more fitting historical context. It is only through analyzing our current course in a post-September 11th world through this wider historical context that we find ourselves properly equipped to dissect the mindset of the current administration's foreign policy apparatus and the inevitable implications of its unabashed quest for global domination.
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