Just one Chomsky book contains a wealth of insight and information – so imagine how much knowledge can be found in a dozen books! The Noam Chomsky Collection is made up of 12 volumes by one of the world’s most prolific and influential critics of US policy, including Fateful Triangle, Rogue States, Year 501 and Propaganda and the Public Mind. To order this amazing set of books, click here to make a donation to Truthout!
Deemed as one of the world’s top intellectuals and renowned for his groundbreaking work in linguistics and for being a fierce critic of US foreign policy, Noam Chomsky is the most cited living author and the 15th-most cited author of all time. Born in Philadelphia in 1928, Chomsky grew up discussing anarchist philosophy at street side newspaper stands and bookstores off of Union Square and Fourth Avenue while visiting his aunt and uncle in New York. Having written his first editorial at the age of 10 about the rise of fascism, Chomsky is now an author of hundreds of books and articles and even has a species of bee named after him. The Noam Chomsky Collection is a series of 12 books (two coauthored by Edward S. Herman) re-released by Haymarket Books spanning from 1979 to 2002. To borrow the phrase from the late professor of communications, George Gerbner, the media has “Nothing to tell but a lot to sell,” which is well documented by Chomsky’s relentless research.
The significance of this collection is encompassed in a quote from George Orwell’s essay, “Notes on Nationalism” written in 1945: “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” In the midst of presidential campaigns, Orwell’s thesis marches on in fine health. While both sides have conjured the familiar drug of fear with Hillary Clinton’s 2008 threat to “obliterate” Iran and the Republican side resurrecting Reaganite threats of invasion similar to his 1986 comments on Nicaragua and the Sandinistas stating the, “terrorists and subversives just two days’ driving time from Harlingen, Texas.” Bernie Sanders, who was credited by historian Greg Grandin as educating the electorate for mentioning US interventions in Latin America regarding the 1954 Guatemalan Coup in The Washington Post and Univision Democratic Debate, has received 23 times less coverage than Donald Trump. In the same light, media dissection has been dismal of Hillary Clinton’s friend Henry Kissinger who issued the 1970 massive bombing in Cambodia memo, “Anything that flies on anything that moves,” and gave the green light on the East Timor massacre describing it as going “illegally and beautifully.” The Chomsky Collection adds much needed insight to this ongoing narrative.
The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism: The Political Economy of Human Rights — Volume I (1979)
Released in the age of Carter, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (coauthored with Edward S. Herman), examines the strong connection to US funding and countries that committed torture, massacres and other human rights violations throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Preceding Chomsky and Herman’s book Manufacturing Consent (1988), The Washington Connection compared how the media reported the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in late 1975 supported by the US and the Khmer Rouge Regime taking control of Cambodia in early 1975. Regarding the disparity in coverage, Chomsky and Herman found that the US media’s reaction to East Timor was “silence or denial” while the coverage in Cambodia was “unrestrained horror at the acts of unspeakable brutality.” While the atrocities in Cambodia were indeed unspeakable brutality and genocide, Chomsky and Herman argued that the US gave Indonesia the nod to commit genocide against East Timor and the US media failed to fairly report the war.
After the Cataclysm: Postwar Indochina and the Reconstruction of Imperial Ideology: The Political Economy of Human Rights — Volume II (1979)
Further analyzing the propaganda model of western media that Chomsky and Herman dubbed the “Free Press,” After the Cataclysm notes that the Free Press averts “Western eyes from the carnage of the war” and expunges US responsibility by attributing all problems “to the evils of Communism.” According to Chomsky and Herman, some tools the Free Press use is selective information, unnamed “specialists” at the State and Defense Department and falsification. For example, regarding a New York Times editorial entitled “The Indochina Debt that Lingers,” Chomsky and Herman critique the article for saying that the “case for American help to the refugees of Indochina continues to be self-evident” by explaining that the United States’ leading newspaper had failed to write about the “hundreds of thousands of refugees” in “Southwest Asia and beyond.”
Furthermore, they critique the media’s lack of commentary of then-President Jimmy Carter’s comments on US responsibility to the Vietnamese when he stated, “Well, the destruction was mutual. You know, we went to Vietnam without any desire to capture territory or to impose American will on other people.” The significance of Chomsky and Herman’s study is that it uncovered propaganda models by exposing the fallacy of “balanced” journalism by controlling the margins of having the hawks on one side who argued the US could win the war and the doves on the other side who argued the US mission couldn’t be accomplished while peace activists were omitted from the narrative.
Turning the Tide: US intervention in Central America and the Struggle for Peace (1985)
Chomsky received the North American Congress on Latin America’s (NACLA) Peace and Justice Award in 2012 for his writings on the Americas. Released in the middle of the “shameful Reagan era,” Chomsky’s Turning the Tide evaluated the conflicts in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala and revealed the violent US impact on these regions that began in the late Carter years. In 1979, the Carter administration backed a coup in El Salvador, which led to the massacre of thousands and the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980, a month after Romero “pleaded with President Carter not to provide the junta with military aid.” The Rio Sumpul massacre took place in May 1980 in El Salvador on the border of Honduras, where Organizacion Democratica Nacionalista(ORDEN) attacked the peasants with helicopters, “women were tortured, nursing babies were thrown into the air for target practice, children were drowned by soldiers or decapitated or slashed to death with machetes.” Chomsky further reviews the abhorrent crimes, which he deems, “Reaganite state terrorism” and despite the media being labeled as “liberal,” he highlights their silence and approval of the policies. Despite the record of atrocities, Chomsky’s hope and optimism lies in people rising up after becoming aware of what is being done in their name citing that during the end of the Vietnam war, “two-thirds of Americans regarded” the war as “fundamentally wrong and immoral.”
On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures (1987)
Taking place in Nicaragua in 1986, the Managua Lectures were given at the Universidad Centroamericana by Chomsky at the height of “Reagan’s terrorist war,” which was condemned by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case of Nicaragua v. United States of America. The ICJ found the US in violation of “unlawful use of force” and infringing on the territorial sovereignty of Nicaragua. Chomsky criticized The New York Times for downplaying the ICJ’s charge against the US for international terrorism by calling the court a “hostile forum.” The book consists of five lectures, Lectures 1 and 2 provide a foundational framework of US policies in Central America, Lecture 3 summarizes the global management stance the US takes on Central America, and Lecture 4 and 5 give an overview of post-WWII national security policy and how a hyper-capitalist democracy has led to an erosion of democracy.
Culture of Terrorism (1989)
Originally intended to be an addendum to Turning the Tide, Chomsky explained Culture of Terrorism “took on a life of its own.” While Congress was set in motion to vote on increasing aid to the contras, which was in violation of World Court orders, Chomsky notes that “The New York Times and Washington Post ran no less than eighty-five opinion pieces by regular columnists and invited political commentators in this lively debate,” explaining that they were all critical of the Sandinistas. It was also later revealed that Israel was training contras in Honduras and the contras were “receiving arms from US clients such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Israel, meaning that in effect they were receiving arms from the United States in violation of congressional directives.”
Highlighting the sheer violence of the Reagan Doctrine, Chomsky notes that more than 50,000 were killed in El Salvador, more than 100,000 in Guatemala and 11,000 civilians killed in Nicaragua. (Note that this was written in 1989, current estimates are higher). Critiquing how the intellectual class in the US often conforms to state doctrine Chomsky quotes James Reston of The New York Times, “The Administration is trying to get rid of two scoundrels in Tripoli and Managua, who are undoubtedly a problem but of a very different kind than were the dictators of the Philippines and Haiti.” The US bombed Libya shortly after in April 1986 under the pretense “self-defense against future attack.”
Year 501: The Conquest Continues (1993)
Omission, silence and denialism — these are all tactics Chomsky argues are used to erase the history of 500 years of Western imperialism since the arrival of the “genocidal maniac” Christopher Columbus. Throughout these 500 years, Chomsky reminds readers that these violent aggressions of imperialism have always been done under the guise of “humanitarian intervention.” Parallels between Columbus, who stated, “‘to care for the Indians and let no harm or hurt be done to them,” and Andrew Jackson who said upon signing the Indian Removal Act of 1830, “having done my duty to my red children”; “if any failure of my good intention arises, it will be attributable to their want of duty to themselves not to me,” are quite evident. No less than three years later did Jackson head the removal later to be known as the “Trail of Tears,” where “17,000 Cherokees were driven at bayonet point to Oklahoma by the US Army,” an estimated half survived according to historian Thurman Wilkins. Citing The New York Times Book Review from 1992 with the headline titled “You Can’t Murder History,” which was an article about how history was an enemy of the Soviet Union that led to its downfall, Chomsky argues that history possibly can be murdered with the help of an obedient intellectual class and powerful media, but offers hope in the rise of Third World solidarity movements and democratization.
Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture (1993)
Reconsidering the image of President John F. Kennedy, Chomsky questions the “favored image of the liberal intellectuals” who lauded the myth that Kennedy was planning to end the war in Vietnam before his assassination in 1963. Chomsky presents evidence from two key formerly classified documents NSAM 263 and NSAM 273. The documents revealed that Kennedy was reluctant to end the Vietnam War and made orders not “to withdraw 1,000 US military personnel by the end of 1963,” (NSAM 263) and “Planning should include different levels of possible increased activity,” regarding further damage to North Vietnam (NSAM 273). In this work, Chomsky also points out the role that the JFK-LBJ administrations played in helping “neo-Nazi Generals” take power in Brazil through a coup.
Noting the “striking resemblances between the Kennedy and Reagan Administrations” Chomsky dispels the Camelot myth, explaining that both came into office denouncing the “wimps in power”; both were “innovators in the art of international and state terrorism”; “both launched huge military build-ups on fraudulent pretexts”; and both used their “muscle abroad” with aims of “extending the taxpayer subsidy to high-tech industry.”
Powers and Prospects: Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order (1996)
Primarily based on essays presented during Chomsky’s first trip to Australia, Chapters 1 and 2 focus on problems of language of mind. Chapter 3 is based on notes for a talk given at the Writers’ Center in Sydney where Chomsky elaborated on his 1967 essay, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” explaining that the responsibility “of the writer, or any decent person, is to tell the truth.” Chapter 4 is from a talk he gave at the Visions of Freedom conference of Australian anarchists, where Chomsky explained his anarchist beliefs were akin to Rudolf Rocker. Chapter 5 deals with economic topics such as how markets work in the real world, displaying that companies such as Boeing and Lockheed-Martin who receive large public subsidies wouldn’t last a day in the free market. Chapter 6 focuses on the Middle East on topics involving the Israel-Arafat 1993 agreement Declaration of Principles, the Gulf War and a history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Chapters 7 and 8 center in on human rights and the Western-backed war in East Timor, quoting the head of the US State Department Policy Planning Staff George Kennan in his 1948 state paper (PPS 23) regarding foreign policy in the far east:
We should cease to talk about vague and — for the Far East — unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians. (1999)
Originally written after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, The Fateful Triangle is a thorough work by Chomsky that analyzes the complex history of the region. Historian and scholar Edward Said called the work “the most ambitious book ever attempted on the conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians viewed as centrally involving the United States.” Summarizing the 700-plus page book, Said states, “Chomsky’s major claim is that Israel and the United States — especially the latter — are rejectionists opposed to peace, whereas the Arabs, including the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization], have for years been trying to accommodate themselves to the reality of Israel.” Despite the violations of international law, such as the Sabra and Shatila massacre, the bombings of a Gaza hospital, and illegal settlements, Chomsky highlights that Israel’s actions won’t change as long as the US continues to provide “decisive support” placing the “considerable burden on the shoulders of American citizens.”
Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs, (2000)
What Chomsky means by “rogue state” is two definitions: one is a propagandistic term “applied to assorted enemies” and the other is a literal term for a country that bypasses international law and international conventions while vilifying other states and declaring their “own acts as glorious and just.” Citing the US as one of the world’s leading rogue states, Chomsky reviews the record of President Bill Clinton who supplied 80 percent of the arms to Turkey in 1997 when they were committing “atrocities against its Kurdish population”; the NATO led bombings of the Balkans in 1999; Clinton’s arms deals to the western hemisphere’s leading human rights violator Colombia; the military coup in Haiti in 1991; and the US backed Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 that “Clinton continued to support … but finally, under substantial international and domestic pressure” he called off after 25 years in 1999.
Propaganda and the Public Mind (2001)
Propaganda and the Public Mind is a collection of interviews with Noam Chomsky by KGNU radio broadcaster David Barsamian. The book discusses activist victories such as the WTO [World Trade Organization] protests in Seattle in 1999 that was a renaissance for the anarchist movement. Chomsky notes that successful activism must involve core values such as “solidarity, mutual aid, and sympathy.” Barsamian also asked Chomsky to explain his theory of language, which he summarized as “the capacity for language is a species-specific property” that is “part of our genetic endowment.” Regarding propaganda and the public mind, Barsamian and Chomsky discussed the Hatfield Report on dioxin in Vietnam that garnered only a single story in the mainstream press at the time, despite showing that 14 percent of South Vietnam was contaminated with children being born with “cleft palates, mental problems, and limb deformities.” Chomsky notes that Agent Orange, which contains dioxin, was aimed at destroying the food supply in Vietnam when “Kennedy authorized chemical warfare under Operation Ranch Hand back in 1962.” An estimated half a million Vietnamese and countless US veterans were contaminated by dioxin.
Pirates and Emperors: International Terrorism and the Real World (2002)
Inspired from St. Augustine’s book City of God, Chomsky paraphrases the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great, who tells the powerful leader, “Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you, doing it with a great navy, are called an emperor.” Bringing Augustine’s story to modern times, Chomsky explains that “only acts committed by their side count as terrorism” and that “it is not terrorism when paramilitary forces operating from US bases and trained by the CIA bombard Cuban hotels, sink fishing boats and attack Russian ships in Cuban harbors, poison crops and livestock, attempt to assassinate Castro, and so, in missions that were running almost weekly at their peak.”
Further elucidating his point, Chomsky points to 1985, where “one of the suspects in the bombing of the Air India jumbo jet near Ireland” that killed 329 people was trained at an anti-communist mercenary training camp in Alabama. Also in 1985, a car bomb was detonated outside a mosque in Beirut killing 80 people and wounding hundreds, which was approved by then-CIA director William Casey. Stripping away the Orwellian “their side” terrorism, Chomsky illuminates the omitted side of emperor terrorism by keeping the definition equal with pirate terrorism, “the threat or use of violence to intimidate or coerce (generally for political, religious, or other such ends),” showing a much different narrative of history.