On Chomsky’s “Failed States”

Noam Chomsky is considered one of the great Linguists, Philosophers, Historians, and Political theorists in contemporary times. Chomsky retired from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002 but continues to conduct seminars on and off the campus. Most of his books are in criticism of the American role in the international political arena. Failed States is no exception. Failed states, as he describes, are those who have stopped functioning properly in terms of governing within their territories. The countries which are incapable of providing basic rights to their masses. Syria, Iraq, or Somalia are a few examples. Besides, He also asserts that America too is becoming one of the failed states which will become a threat to its people.

Chomsky avows that America has seldom been seen abiding by international laws. Its interventions in almost all regions of the world have resulted in great catastrophes. The past events of its invasions in the name of National Security and War on Terror have, in reality, lacked sufficient evidence. In the case of Iraq’s invasion, for instance, nothing evidence was available for justification, except the cliché of “weapons of mass destruction”. Barring the UN disapproval, America called it an “Illegal but Legitimate” act. In addition, the intrusions in Nicaragua, Chile, Vietnam and Afghanistan, and numerous others are the events of the same tier.

Additionally, the book discusses several examples that portray the outlawed nature of the USA. An outlaw state, Chomsky says, is the one that does not follow any internationally set rules in a morally acceptable international society that has a Law of People. For example, Geneva Convention, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and Kyoto Protocols are some of the international undertakings which America always breached. By using the euphemistic phrase of Preemptive Measure or “Anticipatory Self Defense”, the USA has been involved in illegal intrusions in several Asian, Latin American, European, and African Countries. Albeit, ostensibly each president of America has had his or her doctrines pertaining to matters, however, the nature of their foreign policy has always evolved around illegal invasions, unwelcomed entries, and political instabilities in other countries. Whenever it felt any skeptic move from anywhere in the world, it just jumped showing sanctimoniousness. Ironically, the country has never faced any accountability for its wrongdoings in any illegal, illegitimate and unconscionable intervention.

Chomsky also criticizes the phrase that the USA has always used; “Promotion of Democracy”, by stating that it never wanted democracy in any state it has ever invaded. He provides enormous proof of American support to puppet dictators in countries it had ruined. For instance, the elections in Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia were only supported to bring a US-backed government, irrespective of what their people wanted. While deceiving the world regarding democracy, the USA has been rarely practicing it. On the other hand, in terms of health, income, and social security, the country has established great inequalities among its masses. As socialists usually state, “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer”.

Highlighting the threats to America, Chomsky also brings to discussion the alliances of Latin American Countries especially, Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. The economic support that Cuba gives to third world countries, and the Mercosur Economic and Political bloc are aimed at making a “block more independent from the USA”. In addition, the efforts of Canada to enhance its friendship with China, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, too, have the intention of making a world less dependent on America.

The last part of the book offers some “simple suggestions for the United States” which are logical recommendations about what America should do to prevent itself from turning into a Failed and Outlawed state. The seven suggestions are; firstly, America has to accept jurisdictions of the international courts. Secondly, sign and continue the Kyoto protocols. Thirdly, allow the UN to take lead in the crisis of the World. Fourthly, adopt diplomatic methods rather than military methods to deal with terror. Fifthly, accept the UN charter as it is intended to mean for all the countries without false interpretations to serve one’s self. Sixthly, give up the Security Council Veto and respect the opinions of mankind. Lastly, cut back its military expenditures and spend more on the social betterment of the masses.

In a nutshell, the book is full of rational discussions on historical events in global politics, which are vastly supported by references of articles, statements, and pronouncements of officials. An eye-opening piece that should be studied by any student interested in history and politics on the global level. It is an intellectual discourse on the self-exemption of the United States from all of the international laws and the so-called “Messianic Acts” it has performed within a century across the globe.


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