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s/t: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War & Justice 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. fo s/t: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War & Justice 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.


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s/t: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War & Justice 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. fo s/t: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War & Justice 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.

30 review for Perilous Power: The Middle East & US Foreign Policy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

    Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar, Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy; Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice, Expanded Edition (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2009). Pp. 319. $29.95. This book is a fantastic source of information for those who want to understand the current political makeup of the Middle East. The book derives from a three-day conversation in January of 2006 between Chomsky and Achcar, which was moderated by Stephen Shalom. The final text was edited, Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar, Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy; Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice, Expanded Edition (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2009). Pp. 319. $29.95. This book is a fantastic source of information for those who want to understand the current political makeup of the Middle East. The book derives from a three-day conversation in January of 2006 between Chomsky and Achcar, which was moderated by Stephen Shalom. The final text was edited, and footnotes were profusely added after the conversations. The edition I read has an epilogue, which was written six months later (July of 200); and a postscript, which was written two years (2008) later. Needless to say, it's now 2014, and another updated could be written. Topics covered include: 1) terrorism; 2) fundamentalism and democracy; 3) U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East; 4) the War in Iraq and its aftermath; 5) the War in Afghanistan and its aftermath; 6) the situations of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the Kurds (of Iraq and Turkey), and Lebanon; and 7) the Israel-Palestine conflict. The conversation between these two brilliant scholars is eye-opening. Their major premise is that the U.S.'s goal is to control the world's economy (i.e., power). To do that they need to control the oil supply, which would give them power over other countries (including European countries) because the U.S. could threaten to 'turnoff the oil.’ They explain how this motivation leads the U.S. to: undermine democracy (all over the world - including in the U.S. itself); go to war with and invade with certain countries (Iraq), but not others; topple particular leaders, but not others; and install some leaders who are actually worse for their countries than the leaders who were removed. In fact, they show how the current policy of the U.S. is actually anti-democracy. For example, the U.S. worked against free elections in Venezuela and Nicaragua (pg. 49-50). They also ask if America can truly be called a democracy when polls often reveal that Americans are at odds with congress on certain policies (e.g., going to war, universal healthcare). My favorite section of the book was the section on fundamentalism (pp. 27 ff.) - perhaps because I'm in the religion 'business.' Their argument is that from the turn of the 20th century onward, there was a strong tendency towards secular nationalism rising in the Middle East. In fact, it sounds as if this nationalism was very progressive in many respects. However, U.S. government backed Islamic fundamentalists in order to bring instability to the region - or, at the very least, opposed secular nationalists, which lead to a vacuum that was filled by fundamentalists. The U.S. feared that secular nationalism would lead to strong and powerful Middle Eastern countries that would use the oil for their own economic development. In order to keep control over the oil (and also from keeping the U.S.S.R. and Europe from getting control of the oil), the U.S. consistently backed the fundamentalists, who created instability and prevented powerful Middle Eastern countries from developing. The discussion goes from Middle Eastern fundamentalism to U.S. fundamentalism, which has only recently become a political force. Their argument is that C.E.O.s and other powerful businessmen foster Christian fundamentalism in order "to shift the focus of many voters from the issues that really affect their interests (such as health, education, economic issues, wages) over to religious crusades to block the teaching of evolution, gay rights, and abortion rights" (pg. 31). Chomsky continues by saying, "These [the religious/social issues] are all issues, for example, about which CEOs just don't care very much. They care a lot about the other issues [health, education, economic, wages]. And if you can shift the focus of debate and attention and presidential politics and so on to questions that are quite marginal for the wealthy - questions of, say, gay rights - that's wonderful for people who want to destroy the labor unions, construct a social/political system for the benefit of the ultrarich, while everyone else barely survives" (pg. 31). In other words, they are arguing that Christian fundamentalism is actually hurting the majority of the population (main street), all while making a very small percentage very rich (wall street). In general the book is very readable. The reason I didn't give it the full number of stars available is that it can get very deep very quickly - to the point of name-dropping. It would have been helpful to have glossary of terms and people, a map, a timeline of events, and perhaps an appendix that quickly summarized the history and movements within each of the countries discussed. In all, however, with the current situation, I would highly recommend everyone reading this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ramil

    (gerçek) ABD dış politikasını anlamak için bu kitabı politikaya ilgi duyan herkesin okuması gerek. Dünyaya bakışımızın ana akım medyanın bize telkin ettiği şekilde oluşması, aslında dünyanı ne kadar az ve ne kadar farklı, aslında hiç te doğru şekilde anlamadığımızı gösteriyor. ABD politikasının aslında ABD stratejik amaçları çerçevesinde yürütüldüyünü anlamak için bu kitabı okumak lazım. ABD stratejik amaçlarına ulaşmak için de gerekirse demokratik yolla seçilmiş rejimleri devirmek, gerekirse te (gerçek) ABD dış politikasını anlamak için bu kitabı politikaya ilgi duyan herkesin okuması gerek. Dünyaya bakışımızın ana akım medyanın bize telkin ettiği şekilde oluşması, aslında dünyanı ne kadar az ve ne kadar farklı, aslında hiç te doğru şekilde anlamadığımızı gösteriyor. ABD politikasının aslında ABD stratejik amaçları çerçevesinde yürütüldüyünü anlamak için bu kitabı okumak lazım. ABD stratejik amaçlarına ulaşmak için de gerekirse demokratik yolla seçilmiş rejimleri devirmek, gerekirse terörizmi desteklemek, gerekirse de nükleer silahları kullanmak makul görülüyor. Radikal dış politikaya sahip ABD-nin "amaçlar araçları meşrulaştırır" sloganını uygulayan en pragmatik ve en çirkin global aktör olduğunu göreceksiniz.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    كتاب شيق جدا وعملي ويعطي اجابات واضحه غير مفبركه ولا تستخدم السرد بهدف الاضافه الانشائيه وكونه مصمم كمقابله ايضا ونقاش بين جلبير ونعوم فهو كتاب جيد ومهضوم للاستفاده اما فيما يتعلق بالفحوى فقضية حق العوده للاجئين الفلسطينين لم يعطي النقاش موقف ويشعر القارئ بالتراجع من قبل نعوم لتقديم او لدعم قرارات دون سواها اما باقي المواضيع فالحقائق المقدمه مقنعه وعمليه للقارئ وجلبير ونعوم في كتاب واحد انجاز لكي يتم قرائتهما معا

  4. 5 out of 5

    Abdelmjid Seghir

    A great collection of Chomsky's and Achkar's talks about issues related to world politics. The book is a great introduction for anyone interested in the Middle East. Chomsky and Achkar present genuine opinions and viewpoints that are not popular in mainstream media, but that have great value to the neutral or truth-seeking reader. An enjoyable book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rasha Dbakrly

    A superb revelation of many truths hidden behind masked demoracy! Both Chomsky & Achcar provides an insightful exposition of the main dynamics of the Arab Worlds and the Middle East in particular. I found this dialogue of a profound significance. Highly recommend to read whenever you have the feel to listen to two gurus in the world of politics exchanging thoughts in flowing spontenous manner. A superb revelation of many truths hidden behind masked demoracy! Both Chomsky & Achcar provides an insightful exposition of the main dynamics of the Arab Worlds and the Middle East in particular. I found this dialogue of a profound significance. Highly recommend to read whenever you have the feel to listen to two gurus in the world of politics exchanging thoughts in flowing spontenous manner.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ayan Sinha Mahapatra

    Must Read. As is everything else by Chomsky. Gives quite some perspective into extremely complicated issues of the middle east and American foreign policy which also extends generally to a lot more of the issues facing us today.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    Eye opening book. Highly recommend

  8. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    This book offers a nice look at the moral clarity and intellectual honesty that Noam Chomsky has spent his life espousing. Though Chomsky tends to focus on international politics, I always like it when he speaks of domestic issues, as in this passage that I highlighted about the rise of religious fervor in America: "The fundamentalist mobilization has occurred during a unique period of American economic history -- there's never been anything like it -- where, for about twenty-five years, real wag This book offers a nice look at the moral clarity and intellectual honesty that Noam Chomsky has spent his life espousing. Though Chomsky tends to focus on international politics, I always like it when he speaks of domestic issues, as in this passage that I highlighted about the rise of religious fervor in America: "The fundamentalist mobilization has occurred during a unique period of American economic history -- there's never been anything like it -- where, for about twenty-five years, real wages have either stagnated or declined for the majority. Real median family incomes for the majority are steady or maybe declining. That's never happened before. There were things like the Great Depression, but never twenty-five years of stagnation for the majority through a period with no serious economic disruption. Working hours have been going way up, social benefits way down, indebtedness growing enormously. These are real social and economic crises. And the way it's been dealt with, to a large extent, is by mobilizing what's always been there, the Christian fundamentalist sectors, and turning them into an active political force. And in the same period, shifting the discourse, and the focus and so on, to those issues that are concern to the fundamentalists, but of only marginal concern to the people who own and run the society. In fact, you could take a look at the attitudes of CEOs: They're what are called liberal. They're not very different from college professors. And if the population can be obsessed with 'evolution theory' and gay rights and so on, fine with them, as long as they're running the social and economic policies. So, for example, after the last election [2004], the business press was describing the 'euphoria' as they called it, in boardrooms; and it wasn't because they were against gay marriage. Some were, some weren't; many of them or their children are gay anyway -- no, what they knew is that it was a free run for business. And if you can manage that, that's an achievement; it's one of the ways the population can be kept under control. Plus inducing fear, which is not realized. "It's kind of striking, but my impression is that there was a real shift with the administration of Jimmy Carter. Pre-Carter, nobody really cared very much whether the president was religious -- did anyone care whether Lyndon Johnson went to church every Sunday? But Carter, who was probably sincere, somehow taught party managers that if you put on a pious face -- and you talk about how you're lusting in your heart and feel guilty and saw Jesus and so on -- that's a way of appealing to a big voting bloc. Now, since Carter, I think every presidential candidate has pretended to religious experience. Even Bill Clinton, who's probably about as religious as I am, made sure to be seen every week singing in the Baptist church."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Abhishek

    To anyone following international politics and U.S. foreign policy, Noam Chomsky will be a familiar name. Chomsky over the years has been quite a vocal critic of American foreign policy; lambasting it for its double standards, its imperialist ambitions, and “fitting any standard description of terrorism.” Achcar is a specialist on the Middle East (someone I must admit I was not familiar with). The strength of the discussion, which is the format of the book, lies in the depth of knowledge that bot To anyone following international politics and U.S. foreign policy, Noam Chomsky will be a familiar name. Chomsky over the years has been quite a vocal critic of American foreign policy; lambasting it for its double standards, its imperialist ambitions, and “fitting any standard description of terrorism.” Achcar is a specialist on the Middle East (someone I must admit I was not familiar with). The strength of the discussion, which is the format of the book, lies in the depth of knowledge that both men possess. This knowledge is not just limited to the Middle East, but also the workings of the U.S. government, its various agencies, the policies followed by several administrations, minutes, memoranda, U.N. resolutions and various news sources. The mastery and synthesis of all this information allows Achcar and Chomsky to dissect the actions of the American government and to paint a far more realistic picture than that presented by news sources and official statements. And it’s not a particularly pretty picture. The one assertion both men make throughout out the book is the growing disparity between public opinion and public policy in the United States. Readers will require a basic knowledge of the region’s politics and history in order to keep up with the discussion. This may seem like a redundant remark but nonetheless worth stating. Secondly this book was published 9 years ago and many changes and developments have occurred since. Both Chomsky and Achcar have gone on to author several books, none to my knowledge covering the same topics but similar; especially Chomsky. With their dialogue ranging from terrorism, fundamentalism, sources of U.S. foreign policy, to conflicts (in particular the Israeli-Palestinian conflict); and the inclusion of an interview conducted 6 months later, allowing both intellectuals to analyze and update their earlier opinions, readers can not only expect to have their knowledge of the Middle East and its conflicts broadened; but Perilous Power will allow for a keener visualization of the details and nuances of the area. An ultimately vital aspect when trying to understand the Middle East.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emmanuel Gustin

    This is an interesting, sometimes challenging, analysis of contemporary events in the Middle East and US policy, published in in 2007. That makes it old enough to be read in retrospective, but recent enough to give its analysis of the situation in Iraq and Syria a particular poignancy. It is depressing to the observe that in the 8 years since then, things mostly got worse. Much of the analysis is not, to an attentive watcher of the news with some historical awareness, very surprising. The form of This is an interesting, sometimes challenging, analysis of contemporary events in the Middle East and US policy, published in in 2007. That makes it old enough to be read in retrospective, but recent enough to give its analysis of the situation in Iraq and Syria a particular poignancy. It is depressing to the observe that in the 8 years since then, things mostly got worse. Much of the analysis is not, to an attentive watcher of the news with some historical awareness, very surprising. The form of the book, a transcribed dialogue, probably does not lend itself to very deep insights. But it is a debate between two well-informed, if somewhat biased, observers. They sometimes fail, in their analysis of US policy, to apply Hanlon's Razor -- "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." Chomsky also has a tendency to burst out in colourful rants. But on the whole it is an engaging dissection of years of rather unsuccessful foreign policy and military intervention. The big lesson seems to be that you cannot have a successful foreign policy if you do not understand the people for whom it is their domestic policy; that local motives and pressures will always assert their power over decision made (and illusions fostered in) foreign capitals, no matter how powerful the people there think themselves to be.

  11. 4 out of 5

    G. Branden

    Another solid and well-informed offering from Chomsky, and my first exposure to Gilbert Achcar. The drawback with this book as with most of Chomsky's political output is that it could really use a historical/chronological overview. The authors are meticulous about documenting their sources, and being of liberal-progressive bent myself I have little problem with their moral analysis, which is diametrically opposed to the Kissingerian/neocon "you can't make windfall profits without breaking a few t Another solid and well-informed offering from Chomsky, and my first exposure to Gilbert Achcar. The drawback with this book as with most of Chomsky's political output is that it could really use a historical/chronological overview. The authors are meticulous about documenting their sources, and being of liberal-progressive bent myself I have little problem with their moral analysis, which is diametrically opposed to the Kissingerian/neocon "you can't make windfall profits without breaking a few thousand infant skulls" ethic, but I don't actually follow the Iraq War obsessively closely. I read the news (nearly) every day but I don't yet have the nose to sniff through the media filters Chomsky describes in Manufacturing Consent. Highly readable and valuable--if actual policy is nearly inevitably a compromise, we need books like this to remind us what the "negotiating position" of the antiwar left really should be, rather than going to the table pre-compromised. Even conservatives are smarter than that.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shea Mastison

    This book is a collaborative effort between Gilbert Achcar and Noam Chomsky; it was "written" as a series of moderated discussions between the two leftist intellectuals as they cover a variety of topics related to American foreign policy in the Middle East. The book required at least a few trips to Google, as they talk about relatively esoteric organizations and leaders with hardly a passing thought of an introduction. Which is to be expected when two experts talk about their shared field. Overa This book is a collaborative effort between Gilbert Achcar and Noam Chomsky; it was "written" as a series of moderated discussions between the two leftist intellectuals as they cover a variety of topics related to American foreign policy in the Middle East. The book required at least a few trips to Google, as they talk about relatively esoteric organizations and leaders with hardly a passing thought of an introduction. Which is to be expected when two experts talk about their shared field. Overall, this was a decent book. Take care to pay attention while you read, though, because there are a few logical fallacies that lurk within their discussions: I noticed that Chomsky in particular would use straw man arguments to prop up his opinions.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gemma Williams

    Absolutely excellent stuff. This book is made up of transcripts of discussions between Gilbert Achcar and Noam Chomsky and goes into all the big issues around the middle east. It is very readable and full of passion. Everybody should read this, as it really puts events into context and tackles the myths bandied about in the press and mainstream politics. The issues are debated with real passion and great intelligence and a real concern for justice and truth.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leif Barron

    A fantastic debate/dialogue book between Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar that is "moderated" (or at least kept on track to a certain extent) by Steven Shalom (who is no intellectual slouch himself). Chomsky and Achcar are both outstanding thinkers and it is a pleasure to get an inside view of their thought processes as there are some truly spectacular moments in which both Chomsky and Achcar are working out theories together all while modifying the others views.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    Chomsky is undeniably brilliant and his opinions are usually fairly solid. However, he shows his political biases even in the first few pages of this book. It is an excellent read, but MUST be taken with a grain of salt. This is not an objective or entirely factual account of US policy in the Middle East, and omits pertinent and sometimes crucial pieces of information. Some readers seem to have missed this. I would balance reading this book with also reading one from a different angle.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    noam chomsky must be the most prolific writer in the history of the written word. he could be speaking gibberish and somebody would transcribe it and bind it and put it in the library of congress. i read this thing, understood it, agreed with it, now haven't the foggiest idea what it was about.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Unfortunate that Noam Chomsky died while I was reading this, but the book is a brilliant discourse on war and the situation in the Middle east. Loved the way it was presented, as a discussion amongst eminent persons, taking apart and examining every facet of the situation, all the while presenting a way out for America and the people in the Middle East.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Reading this book really showed me the complexity of the Middle East, and how to critically examine U.S (or for that matter, any country's) foreign policy. At times I had to gloss over parts of the content, as my limited knowledge of the topic at hand made it difficult to follow at times. Nevertheless it was a valuable read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Peaceful Warrior

    This book has taught me what the middle east crisis is really about. what role america has in the middle east. it describes accurately what the Iraq war is about and why america has a foreign policy which ignites violence and hatred towards it. its an eye opening experience because you really cant grasp that a government would lie so much for power.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elise

    Incredibly informative and unexpectedly easy to read. Basically, the United States is involved ALL over the world for self-serving purposes and only supports democracy if it conforms to our strategic and economic objectives. Rather dirty, abhorrent work unfortunately.

  21. 5 out of 5

    T.J. Jourian

    This conversational writing between Achcar and Chomsky is one of the best and most comprehensive books I have read on current issues in the Middle East as deposited in historical, economic, cultural and social contexts.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hamad Al-ibrahim

    اذا اردت التاريخ وراء كثير من السياسة الخارجية الامريكية في الشرق الأوسط،وعلاقتها مع السعودية،موقفها من سوريا وايران وحزب الله واسرائيل، فلابد من اقتناء هذا الكتاب الكتاب عبارة عن لقاءات بين الكاتبين نعوم تشومسكي وجليبر الأشقر لمدة ٣ ايام متواصلة، كتاب يجب ان يقتنيه كل مهتم بالشأن السياسي للمنطقة

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Dialogue between Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar in 2006, transcribed and published. The discussion on fundamentalism and America's responsibility in creating it was interesting. The rest of it I've read more coherently argued in Chomsky's other books

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed Tarek

    The last & best book I did read in 2014 The last & best book I did read in 2014

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Very scholar. Much middle east. Wow imperialism wow.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Halik

    A lucid piercing analysis of middle eastern issues and US/Israeli policy in the region. InshaAllah will put up a longer review soon

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sharbell Azzam

    great

  28. 5 out of 5

    دانة

    Needs a rereading with a browser at hand. I highlighted the names/incidents, will definitely read again.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

    no es la aproximación más sencilla al conflicto del medio oriente (como te lo hacen creer en el resumen), pero tiene centenares de datos interesantes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    so far so good, a scary eye opener....read it with the knowledge you can never un-know this information.

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