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Noam Chomsky, 'Hopes and Prospects'

Hamish Hamilton, 2010; ISBN 978-0-241-144-75-6; 327pp; £18.99

The Nation, the United States’ leading left-liberal magazine, once said: “Not to have read Chomsky is to court genuine ignorance”. Rarely has this been more true than today.

With Hopes and Prospects, academic and activist Noam Chomsky has produced another indispensable critique, explaining the inner workings of world affairs.

The first half of the book is largely focused on Latin America, with updated and revised versions of lectures Chomsky gave in Chile and Venezuela in 2006 and 2008.

Chomsky points out that US state planners have always recognised that US control of Latin America was vital to their domination of countries further afield. Therefore, the growing integration and independence of Latin American countries, surveyed by Chomsky, are extremely threatening for them, and hopeful for the rest of us.

Chomsky is characteristically illuminating on popular opinion in Venezuela, US support for the coup in Honduras, the US destruction of democracy in Haiti, the ground-breaking Evo Morales administration in Bolivia and much else.

In the second half of the book he addresses, among other things, the continuing disaster in Iraq, the Obama phenomenon (with a devastating sidelong glance at recent US “health reforms”), the not-so-glorious elections in Lebanon in 2008 (the “cedar revolution”), the much fairer elections in Gaza in 2006 which unfortunately gave the “wrong” result and which led directly to the Israeli assault in December 2008-January 2009, also discussed.

For me personally, the most illuminating part of this wide-ranging book was Chomsky’s commentary on the global financial crisis and how it has not been fixed. As ever, Chomsky is a demanding and endlessly rewarding read. It’s all gold.

Topics: Foreign Policy