Late last month, the fine folks at Holtzbrinck Publishers offered, via email, to send me a complimentary copy of Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World, the newest book by the high priest of America haters, Noam Chomsky.
Now you may be wondering: “Why in the world would they send this book to a right-winger?” Well, in the initial email they sent, they said they’d “love to have some people who do not agree with Mr. Chomsky’s ideas commenting on the book.” With that in mind, I just finished up Imperial Ambitions, the second book by Chomksy that I’ve read by the way, and my first comment is that Noam Chomsky is a shallow, dishonest, unimpressive, overrated basket case who makes a living by duping gullible college students and soft headed intellectuals into believing that his quasi-delusional analysis of world events has some bearing on reality.
Unfortunately, Chomsky is as influential as he is wrong and, therefore, it’s not enough to simply write him off as a political quack. So, let me explain the problem with this book and with Chomsky.
First of all, in order to know what’s wrong with Chomsky’s thinking, you need to understand what’s wrong with his world view or as I like to think of it, the mythology of Chomsky. Here’s the best way to get a grip on the Chomskyesque perspective…
Imagine a fairy tale world full of Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Gnomes and other mythical creatures. It’s not a perfect world, nor is everyone pure and good, but as a general rule, the Gnomes get along with the Elves and the Hobbits like the Dwarves and all is well…or more accurately, all would be well if not for the kingdom of Amerikkka, which is the primary source of misery, pain, and horror in
Unfortunately, the kingdom of Amerikkka is ruled by members of two evil, competing clans: The Repligoblins and the Demiorcs. While the Demiorcs may be slightly less evil than the Repligoblins, they are evil all the same — and when I say evil, I mean evil! The rulers of Amerikkka eat evil, they sleep evil, and when they go to the bathroom, they even crap evil. Everything they do is evil and if it’s not evil, they’re just not interested in participating.
Sadly, these evil leaders and their minions have, through brainwashing and propaganda, buffaloed the common folk in Amerikkka into believing that they’re actually good! This is how the Demiorcs & Repligoblins keep power and can do their evil works.
Oh, and they’re ALWAYS evil works. For example, the silly people of Amerikkka think that when their armies were sent to stop the lizard people of Kraugh from eating everyone in a nearby pixie village, it was out of compassion. But actually, the motive was to steal all the pixie magic. See? Even when Amerikkka does something that appears to be good, it’s actually bad!
But, what about when the armies of Amerikkka stopped rampaging trolls from crossing the border and sacking the countryside? Bah! Obviously that was evil! Why, those trolls never meant any harm and even if they did, who could blame them for attacking an evil kingdom like Amerikkka?
That is what “Chomskyland” is like and if you understand it, you understand the way that Noam Chomsky looks at the world.
If America does something that on its face appears to be selfless or good, Chomsky looks for the deeper, darker motive. If America is in conflict with another country, then the other country is, by definition, a hapless, blameless innocent simply reacting to the machinations of the evil American giant.
That’s the framework Chomsky operates under and it explains why he argues that the attempt to build nuclear missiles in Cuba was a defensive, not a provocative measure (P.5). It’s why he can claim, presumably with a straight face, that the United States is deliberately “blocking a solution” to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians (P.11). It’s why Chomsky can suggest that Bush hates Democracy (P.15), that bombing Serbia was about showing everyone, “who’s the boss” (p.54), and that the Marshall Plan was really all about making Europe “more dependent on the United States” (P.57). In Chomsky’s view, America is always evil and its motive are always bad.
So, if Chomsky is basically selling nothing but “America is evil,” how is he able to convince people to buy? In other words, why do people find him to be credible?
The chief way Chomsky is able to convince his marks that he knows what he’s talking about is by focusing on America’s past. His readers think, “Look how much Chomsky knows about American history and how many examples of American perfidy he can cite. He knows so much, and has so much evidence, that he just must be right!”
What these people don’t know is that Chomsky is presenting a funhouse mirror version of history that is warped and stripped of most of the relevant details. Just to give you one very typical example, Chomsky claimed that Iraq was no threat to America before the Iraqi war and as evidence, he said:
“Kuwait and Iran, which were both invaded by Iraq, (didn’t) regard Iraq as a threat to their security.”
Could that be because the United States had military bases in Kuwait and was enforcing “no-fly zones” in Iraq that made an attack on Iran or Kuwait impossible? Why would they regard Iraq as a threat as long as the US was there?
Chomsky does the same thing time and time again with events related to the Cold War, which surprisingly, he talks about quite a lot in the book. You’d think that a book about the “post 9/11 world” would for the most part be on, well, the “post 9/11 world.” Instead, Chomsky spends more time than you would expect discussing Cold War battlefields like Vietnam, Grenada, Cuba, and Nicaragua, among others.
But here’s the rub: despite the fact that US foreign policy in these countries cannot be effectively explained or understood without mentioning the role the Soviet Union played, Chomsky either ignores the Soviets or acts as if they were almost irrelevant to what was happening. That’s like having a discussion about WW2 without going into detail about what the Nazis were doing.
Of course, that’s exactly the point. You can make history appear to show anything you wish if you strip away the context and any inconvenient facts. Chomsky does this routinely and as a result, he presents a bizarro world version of history to his readers that is patently misleading.
But even if they’re not familiar with history, you’d think that the Chomsky-bots out there might start to figure out that there’s something a little off about their hero after reading quotes like these with no-follow up or explanation:
“The universities are pretty right wing…” — P.180
Compared to what? The old Soviet Union?
“Actually I hate to use the word religious. Part of the reason is that you could make the argument that organized religion is sacrilegious. It is based on very strange conceptions about the deity. If there were one, he wouldn’t like it.” — P.184
“The father of a friend of mine was very sick, and he had to take him to the hospital. The father didn’t have health insurance, and the friend actually sat there for three days bringing him food and taking care of him before the doctors saw him.” — P.196
Yeah, right! At what US hospital did that occur? When was it?
What it all boils down to is that Chomsky is nothing but a history twisting blowhard who has created a fantasy world for himself which is centered around an American empire of evil that’s attempting to oppress the rest of the planet. Unfortunately, a lot of naive people have bought into that alternate universe Chomsky has created and, as a result, the real world the rest of us have to live in is a little less rational because of it.
PS: The book? I’d give a rating of 0 on a 10 scale. Don’t waste your time with it.
PS #2: Thanks for the complimentary copy Holtzbrinck Publishers!