Perilous Power The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy

April 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

ppPerilous Power The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy
by Noam Chomsky & Gilbert Achcar
published by
Paradigm Publishers

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.


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