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Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights (American Empire Project) Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 15, 2011
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"Chomskyesque . . . A useful, thought-provoking challenge to the Western human rights consensus."
"An engaging and original look at America's foreign policy, accessible and well researched."
"A prodigiously researched, provocative critique."
"Ideal Illusions forces us to confront a great contradiction: how the noble vision of human rights has been compromised and manipulated to serve the purposes of the national security state and divert attention from deep economic, political, and military pathologies. James Peck's work, based on a rigorous examination of an enormous collection of official and archival documents, is essential, sobering, and eye-opening."
—John Dower, author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II
"This incisive and sophisticated analysis exposes the 'hidden history that once again reveals just how tied into U.S. national security concerns the evolution of human rights attitudes has been.' Ideal Illusions is a well-documented, impressive account and a timely warning to seek the interests that lie behind appealing rhetoric."
—Noam Chomsky, author of Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy
"In this searing book, James Peck strips away the comforting illusion that, give or take a mistake or two, U.S. foreign policy for the past thirty years or more has been shaped by a dedication to the principles of human rights. He demonstrates how, on the contrary, successive administrations have captured the language of human rights and bent it to America's purpose. In clear and compelling prose, Peck calls on the human rights community to understand the dangers of its reliance on American power—and on American citizens to address the contradictions between a genuine dedication to the rights of humanity and prevailing definitions of U.S. national interests."
—Marilyn Young, author of The Vietnam Wars: 1945-1990
"Ideal Illusions is both a devastating book and a deeply disturbing one. James Peck lays bare any lingering illusions that human rights concerns seriously influence U.S. policy. Yet he goes further: showing how Washington has consciously and cynically manipulated the very concept of human rights to serve the interests of American power."
—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War
About the Author
James Peck is the author of Washington's China. Founder of the Culture and Civilization of China project at Yale University Press and the China International Publishing Group in Beijing, he has written for The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. He lives in New York City.
Top Customer Reviews
But it seems Peck has taken a rather narrow, postwar/cold war view of the subject. Nothing was substantially different about this rhetoric from its imperial predecessors. Subduing the Boxers in China, ending the African slave trade, freeing Cuba from Spain, bringing Christian enlightenment and "good government" to lost heathens everywhere - all of this was justified in the broadest religious and humanitarian terms of Western idealism for their generation. And there was always the divide between "good imperialism" and "bad imperialism" - exemplied by the contest between the Atlantic Powers and fascism, continued with scarcely a blink in the internal and external cold war with the "communist empire." Men in the US Government like the Dulles Brothers encompassed the entire era with no sense of contradiction.
Peck also glosses over the differences between Carter and Reagan in their human rights promotion. Reagan was a late convert to the idea, most notably by avoiding the rescue of Ferdinand Marcos in the "Peoples' Power" Yellow Revolution of the Philippines - much against the Gipper's first reaction.Read more ›