Noam Chomsky’s Hopes and Prospects is a dazzling, informative, arresting piece of work that serves to confirm why one of America’s leading dissident voices may be, according to the New York Times Book Review, “one of the most widely read American voice(s) on foreign policy on the planet today.”
The book is incredibly timely and incredibly thorough, reserving safe ground for no-one and exploring the challenges and problems facing us in today’s changing world.
Hopes and Prospects is essentially a collection of essays that Chomsky has adapted and/or expanded to meet more modern purposes. As the title might suggest, Chomsky is intent on providing a dividing line between the “hope” offered by traditional politicians like Barack Obama and the actual “prospects” for that process of hope. With copious examples from U.S. and Western foreign policy, the author proves once again that there’s a lot of space between stated intentions and realized facts.
As is usually the case with Chomsky’s works, the amount of information present can be a bit staggering and a bit exhausting to digest. He’s included over 30 pages of copious references and notes on his points, thankfully, and uses a variety of reputable sources to flesh out the details.
The book begins with three essays taken from a series of lectures in Chile in 2006. The essays have been “updated to 2010 and considerably expanded” to include gallons of new information and perspective. Chomsky thoroughly outlines how American foreign policy interacts with and obstructs Latin American policy, for instance, and weaves in examples from history to back his points.
Hopes and Prospects goes on through its first part, primarily focusing on American relations with Latin America and relating the legitimate hope he sees in the subcontinent with the “business as usual” approach he observes in the United States’ political structure.
Noting the irony of the stated American policy goal of “spreading democracy” as the United States openly overthrows parliamentary democracies in Iran, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, and others, Chomsky precisely targets the “dominant operative principle” of American imperial tendencies as “policy conforms to expressed ideals only if it also conforms to interests.” Adding more razor-sharp observations, he adds that the term “interests” doesn’t mean the interests of the domestic population.
The second part of the book deals with revised talks and articles from 2008 to 2009. These are all updated to include context from 2010, of course. Covering domestic U.S. and international affairs, Chomsky outlines the realities of development and democracy in out world, describing the North American free trade agreement by the notion that the only accurate words are “North American.”
Chomsky, as mentioned, doesn’t spare anyone from his crucial examination. Obama’s outlines on various policies are rigorously and thoroughly criticized and explored, with no stone left unturned in discussing the real nature of the president’s “hope and change” and the reality behind his policies as relate to the rest of the world. The mind-blowing military spending, for instance, remains a constant reminder of just how “peaceful” the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s designs actually are.
Hopes and Prospects is another essential Chomsky work. It is informative, enraging and thorough. Chomsky remains cool and collected as always, remaining an enduring testimony to the prevailing powers of real democracy and the real power of the people. This book is vital, timely and indispensable.