Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice / Edition 1

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The volatile Middle East is the site of vast resources, profound passions, frequent crises, and long-standing conflicts, as well as a major source of international tensions and a key site of direct U.S. intervention.

Two of the most astute analysts of this part of the world are Noam Chomsky, the preeminent critic of U.S, foreign policy, and Gilbert Achcar, a leading specialist of the Middle East who lived in that region for many years. In their new book, Chomsky and Achcar bring a keen understanding of the internal dynamics of the Middle East and of the role of the United States, taking up all the key questions of interest to concerned citizens, including such topics as terrorism, fundamentalism, conspiracies, oil, democracy, self determination, anti-Semitism, and anti-Arab racism, as well as the war in Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the sources of U.S. foreign policy.

This book provides the best readable introduction for all who wish to understand the complex issues related to the Middle East from a perspective dedicated to peace and justice.

About the Authors

NOAM CHOMSKY is the author most recently of 9-11 (a national bestseller) and Middle East Illusions. His articles and books revolutionized the contemporary study of linguistics and his political essays are widely read and translated throughout the world. In 2003 a profile of Chomsky in The New Yorker described his influence as one of the most widely cited scholars in history.

GILBERT ACHCAR, who lived in Lebanon for many years before moving to France, now teaches politics and international relations at the University of Paris. He is the author of several books on contemporary politics and is a frequent contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique.

STEPHEN R. SHALOM, author of the Preface, is a professor at William Paterson University.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This intriguing series of conversations between like-minded peers about America in the Middle East pairs dissident intellectual Chomsky with Achcar, who is less well known for critiques of U.S. foreign policy (Clash of Barbarisms). Drawing on deep historical background, they deconstruct Western assumptions about international politics: "Every state you can think of is based on violence, repression... the state system itself has no inherent legitimacy." While refreshingly careful to note when their conclusions aren't backed by rigorous documentation, both make broad assumptions about human behavior, while easily disregarding contradictions. For example they rely on opinion polls to indicate the desires of a given people (as opposed to the ruling elite), but reject the once-broad Palestinian support of the Oslo Peace Accords, for instance, because, as Chomsky says, the Palestinians "were just totally deluded." Similarly, they give little weight to nonrational influences religiosity, fear where these almost certainly played a key role in forming public opinion, such as in Arab disillusionment with secular nationalism or Israeli presumptions of anti-Semitism. Particularly in Chomsky's case, this can extend to an unfortunate contempt for those with whom he disagrees. Both men raise vital questions, but some readers may be alienated by the authors' often dismissive manner. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594513121
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2007

    Useful ideas for reducing the dangers of yet more wars

    This fascinating book records Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar¿s talks in January 2006. They are astoundingly well-informed and full of good ideas for reducing the dangers of war. They discuss terrorism, fundamentalism 'especially in Saudi Arabia', the sources of US Middle Eastern policy 'particularly oil', the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Achcar points out that the Bush-Blair claim that they must now stay in Iraq because, having invaded, `we have the responsibility¿, is like the vile rule in some societies that a man who rapes an unmarried woman must marry her. They cite the US military commander in Iraq who admits that the presence of US troops `fuels the insurgency¿. They note that most people in Baghdad believe that the USA¿s chief aim is to `rob Iraq¿s oil¿ and they note that most Americans think that the USA should get out of Iraq. Chomsky and Achcar point out that the EU gives the Israeli state economic privileges and they suggest that the EU should desist until Israel stops building new illegal settlements and the illegal Separation Wall. They agree that an academic boycott of Israel is a bad idea, but worse, it is a divisive diversion from academic unions¿ main job, to defend their members¿ wages and conditions. Chomsky observes that in October 2003, Iran suspended its nuclear enrichment programme in order to reach a general agreement. The EU said that it would provide `firm commitments on security issues¿, but it reneged when the USA refused to join the talks. In January 2006, Iran offered to suspend its nuclear programme again the EU rejected this offer too. Achcar observes, ¿There¿s a general trend at the level of the mainstream media to praise those ruling politicians who rule without consulting the polls that is deemed a great virtue. But behind it is the very elitist idea, also embedded in the very concept of `representative democracy¿, that, once elected, a representative is free to do whatever he or she wants, even against the unanimous will of his or her constituency.¿ So the Labour government opposes the will of the British people over the attack on Iraq, the EU, the Private Finance Initiative, immigration, breaking up Britain, etc., etc. But are we really surprised that capitalist states do not represent the people?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2007

    Great Analysis and Documentation

    This book offers a great dialogue concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians by two knowledgeable figures with a moderator/interviewer. It goes into a depth and analysis rarely encountered in popular publications on current affairs, leaving its readers walk away with a clearer understanding of volatile events in the Mideast. Additionally, sources are thoroughly documented, which again, is a much needed and welcome change from the norm in such an opinion-driven genre.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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