World-famous MIT linguist Chomsky has long kept up a second career as a cogent voice of the hard left, excoriating American imperialism, critiquing blinkered journalists and attacking global economic injustice. Chomsky's new work, a collection of linked essays, comes in the wake of the Kosovo bombings and the recent riots in East Timor. Its sardonic title recalls the argument that America ought to defend the world against "rogue states" like Iraq and Libya. Chomsky contends that the U.S. (and, sometimes, its allies) has itself behaved as the biggest rogue state, ignoring international law and norms and acting only in the richest Americans' interests. Chapters cover the former Yugoslavia, East Timor, Cuba, and (a particularly powerful one) Third World debt. Chomsky includes accounts of havoc that , he charges, the U.S. has wreaked (or helped wreak) in poor countries, from overturned elections to mass slaughter--from Guatemala in the 1950s to Sudan, Cuba, Mexico and Laos today. "Contempt for the rule of law," Chomsky contends, "is deeply rooted in U.S. practice and intellectual culture." Chomsky's research can bring home disturbing issues that the mainstream media miss (for example, that the Pentagon refuses to give up data that would make it easier to clear dangerous landmines from old wars around the world). In other places, Chomsky can seem shrill, quick to judge or obsessed with irrelevant details: he spends a paragraph attacking Clinton's secretary of defense for quoting Theodore Roosevelt ("this famous racist fanatic and raving jingoist"). Though not all his points hold equal power, Chomsky has delivered another impressive argument that the U.S. flouts international law when it finds it convenient to do so.
Author: Noam Chomsky