The Imperialists


Noam Chomsky is like a medic attempting to cure a national epidemic of selective amnesia. His claim is more classic than novel: America’s foreign policy is based on necessary hypocrisy. A hypocrisy, for instance, that allows the U.S. to support Milosevic when he plays the obedient puppet and destroy him when he steps out of line, regardless of humanitarian concerns, all to protect America’s superpower status. Other recent feats of American imperialism include intervention in Cuba and Colombia. Chomsky explains them all—how the State Department has repeatedly justified sanctions and full-fledged wars, on the premise of humanitarian intervention, while simultaneously funding governments with outrageous human rights records.

Through shrewd analysis of internal documents and play-by-play accounts of the State Department’s strategic moves, he reveals, for instance, that the American government supports state terror in Colombia by training and funding the Colombian military ($1.6 billion over several years) in the name of fighting the “drug war,” while even official American records show that the “annual level of political killing by the [Colombian] government and its paramilitary associates is about the level of Kosovo.”

The second half of the book tackles globalization, citing the World Trade Organization, the IMF, and World Bank for improprieties and analyzing debt and free-trade regulations as tentacles of the U.S. superpower animal. Rogue States best serves the converted as a reference manual while giving others a timely guide to the tactics that the powerful employ to keep power concentrated and people compliant. Although it takes a dedicated reader to plow through the mountains of information, Chomsky’s work is crucial at a time when our empire perpetually disguises its pursuit of power under the banners of “aid,” “humanitarian intervention,” and now “globalization.” Americans have to begin deciphering the rhetoric. Chomsky’s a good place to start.

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