Wednesday, November 12, 2008

William Blum on the USA

Speech delivered at the
"Building a new world" conference
at Radford University, Virginia,

May 23, 2008 William Blum
My assignment here today, as I understand it, is to enlighten you all on how to quickly end the war in Iraq. And how to prevent the United States from attacking Iran. Or Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia. In short, how to put an end to the American empire.

Also, how to impeach Bush and Cheney.

And, while I'm at it, maybe, how to end poverty once and for all, how to save the environment, and how to legalize marijuana.

Well, good luck to us all.

Actually, as fanciful as all that sounds, I think that if the radical left had abundant access to the mass media, for a year or so, we could do it. It wouldn't even have to be sole access, just as much time on radio and TV networks as the conservatives and NPR-type centrists and liberals have.

As some of you may recall, two years ago Osama bin Laden, in one of his audio messages, recommended that Americans should read my book Rogue State. Within hours I was swamped by the media and soon appeared on many of the leading TV news shows, dozens of radio programs, and a long profile in the Washington Post. In the previous 10 years I had sent in dozens of letters to the Post mainly commenting on their less-than-ideal coverage of US foreign policy. Not one was printed. Now my photo was on page one.

A few people who called into the TV and radio programs I was on attacked me as if I and bin Laden were friends and I had asked him for the endorsement. I had to point out that he and I were not really friends; in fact, I hadn't spoken to him in months.

Some of the media hosts wanted me to say that I was repulsed by bin Laden's "endorsement". But I did not say I was repulsed, because I wasn't. What I said was: "There are two elements, involved here: On the one hand, I totally despise any kind of religious fundamentalism and the societies spawned by such, like the Taliban in Afghanistan. On the other hand, I'm a member of a movement which has the very ambitious goal of slowing down, if not stopping, the American Empire, to keep it from continuing to go round the world doing things like bombings, invasions, overthrowing governments, and torture.

To have any success, we need to reach the American people with our message. And to reach the American people we need to have access to the mass media. What has just happened has given me the opportunity to reach millions of people I would otherwise never reach. Why should I not be glad about that? How could I let such an opportunity go to waste?"

But many, perhaps most, of those who called in were not hostile. During a 45-minute interview on C-Span and on some radio programs, several people called in to say how delighted they were to hear views expressed that they had never heard before on that station, or had never heard anywhere. I received more than 1000 emails from people I had never been in contact with before, most of which were supportive. I estimate that I sold about 20,000 copies of my book because of my increased exposure.

In summary, I think that there's a very large audience of Americans out there just waiting for us to reach them. Many of them very much suspect that there are things seriously wrong with what the media, the White House, and the Pentagon tell them, but they don't know enough to really be sure or to try to influence others. And they're weighed down by the myths, the myths surrounding US foreign policy. I've gotten quite a few emails from people who tell me about friends and family who simply refuse to be swayed by the facts in my books or other sources. No matter how much these people are shown that what they believe is fallacious, they still refuse to reconsider their views. They say that the author must be quoting out of context or they simply don't care what the argument is.

Now why is that? Are these people just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions; consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about US foreign policy, and if you don't deal with those basic beliefs you'll be talking to a stone wall. Here are what I think are eight of those basic beliefs, or they can as well be called "myths":

(1) US foreign policy "means well". American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are honorable, if not divinely inspired. Of that most Americans are certain. They genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can't see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. The idea that the United States is seeking to dominate the world, and exploit it economically, and is prepared to use any means necessary, is not something that's easy for most Americans to swallow. They see our leaders on TV and their photos in the press, they see them smiling or laughing, telling jokes; see them with their families, hear them speak of God and love, of peace and law, of democracy and freedom, of human rights and justice and even baseball ... How can such people be called immoral or war criminals?

They have names like George and Dick and Donald, not a single Mohammed or Abdullah in the bunch. And they speak English. Well, George almost does. People named Mohammed or Abdullah cut off an arm or a leg as punishment for theft. We know that that's horrible. We're too civilized for that. But we don't consider that people named George and Dick and Donald drop millions of cluster bombs on cities and villages, and the many unexploded ones become land mines, and before very long a child picks one up or steps on one of them and loses an arm or leg, sometimes worse.

I like to ask the question: What does US foreign policy have in common with Mae West, the Hollywood sexpot of the 1940s? The story is told of a visitor to her mansion, who looked around and said: "My goodness, what a beautiful home you have." And Mae West replied: "Goodness has nothing to do with it."

That's one of the important points you have to make about US foreign policy -- goodness has nothing to do with it.

If I were to write a book called The American Empire for Dummies, page one would say: Don't ever look for the moral factor. US foreign policy has no moral factor built into its DNA. Clear your mind of that baggage which only gets in the way of seeing beyond the clichés and the platitudes they feed us all.

So when American officials state or imply benevolent motivations behind their foreign policy, we should not let them get away with claiming such intentions. Supporters of US policies have that rationale profoundly embedded in their thinking, and I find it very useful in discussions with such people to raise moral questions about the government's motivations. These people are not used to hearing such an argument. The media almost never mentions it. It's almost disorienting for Americans. Or I sometimes ask them what the United States would have to do abroad to lose their support? What for them would be too much? Try that.

(2) The United States is really concerned with this thing called "democracy". Even though in the past 60 years, the US has attempted to overthrow literally dozens of democratically-elected governments, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and grossly interfered in as many democratic elections in every corner of the world. Moreover, it would be difficult to name a brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th century that was not supported by the United States. Not just supported, but put into power, and kept in power, against the wishes of the population.

The question is: What do the Busheviks mean by "democracy"?

Well, the first thing they have in mind is making sure the country in question is hospitable to corporate globalization and American military bases; and if this means forcing a regime change, so be it. The last thing they have in mind is any kind of economic democracy, the closing of the gap between the desperate poor and those for whom too much is not enough.

(3) Anti-American sentiment in the Middle East comes from hatred of our alleged freedom and democracy, or our wealth, or our secular government, or our culture. George W. has declared this many times. But polls taken in many Middle East countries in recent years, by respected international polling organizations, show again and again that the great majority of those people really admire American society. There's no clash of civilizations. It's much simpler. What bothers them about the United States are the decades of appalling things done to their homelands by US foreign policy. That's what motivates anti-American terrorists. It's not the sex in American films and TV; it's the American bombs dropping on their homes and schools. It's not the alcohol and the miniskirts. It's the American invasions and occupations; American torture; support of Middle East dictators; unmitigated support of Israel.

It works the same all over the world. In the period of the 1950s to the 1980s in Latin America, in response to a long succession of Washington's awful policies, there were countless acts of terrorism against US diplomatic and military targets as well as the offices of US corporations. No one likes being invaded or bombed or tortured or having their government overthrown by a foreign power. Why should there be any doubt about this? But Americans have to be reminded of it.

I don't think, by the way, that poverty plays much of a role in creating terrorists. The 9-11 hijackers, or alleged hijackers, were not a bunch of poor peasants; they were largely middle and upper class, and educated. Bin Laden himself is, or was, a millionaire. So we shouldn't confuse terrorism with revolution.

(4) The United States has been pursuing a War on Terror. But the fact is the US is not actually against terrorism per se, they're against only those terrorists who are not allies of the American empire. For example, there is a lengthy and infamous history of Washington's support for numerous anti-Castro terrorists, even when their terrorist acts were committed in the United States. At this moment, Luis Posada Carriles remains protected by the US government in Florida, though he masterminded the blowing up of a Cuban airplane that killed 73 people. Venezuela, a key location in this murder plot, has asked Washington to return Posada to Caracas. But the US has refused. He's but one of hundreds of anti-Castro terrorists who've been given haven in the United States over the years along with many other terrorists from Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, and other countries.

The United States has also provided support of terrorists in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iran, Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, including those with known connections to al Qaeda. All to further foreign policy goals more important than fighting terrorism. What's happened is that the War on Terror has served as a cover for the expansion of the empire.

Supporters of the War on Terror tell us that it's been a success because there hasn't been a terrorist attack in the US in the six -plus years since 9-11. Well, there wasn't a terrorist attack in the US in the six-plus years before 9-11 either. So what does that prove? More importantly, since the first American bombs fell on Afghanistan in October 2001 there have been scores of terrorist attacks against American institutions in the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific -- military, civilian, Christian, and other targets associated with the United States, including two very major attacks in Indonesia with large loss of life.

But the worst failure of the War on Terror is that American actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, including all the torture, have probably created thousands of new anti-American terrorists. We'll be hearing from them for a terribly long time.

(5) If Saddam Hussein had in fact possessed all the terrible weapons the US claimed he had, the invasion and occupation of Iraq would then have been justified. Of the numerous lies we've been told about the war in Iraq, this is the biggest one, this is the most insidious, the necessary foundation for all the other lies. Think about it -- What possible reason could Saddam Hussein have had for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? Because that's what would have followed an Iraqi attack on the US or Israel -- if not a nuclear devastation of Iraq, then a non-nuclear devastation of Iraq. But if in fact Iraq was not a threat to attack the US or Israel, then all we've been told about the war, before it began, and afterwards, is totally meaningless; all the accusations and discussions about whether the intelligence was right or wrong about this or that, or whether the Democrats also believed the lies, all meaningless.

And keep in mind, the same question applies to Iran: What possible reason could Iran have for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? Of course, what worries Tel Aviv and Washington is not so much the danger of such an attack, but the fact that some day Israel might not be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, a serious loss of their ability to dominate.

Sometimes, when I have a discussion with a person who supports the war in Iraq, and the person has no other argument left to defend US policy there he may say something like: "Well, just tell me one thing, are you glad that Saddam Hussein was overthrown?"

And I say "No".

And he says "No?"

And I say: Tell me, if you went into surgery to correct a knee problem and the surgeon mistakenly amputated your entire leg, what would you think if someone asked you afterward: Well, aren't you glad that you no longer have a knee problem? It's the same with the Iraqi people. They no longer have a Saddam Hussein problem. In general, the great majority of Iraqis had a much better life under Saddam Hussein than they've had under US occupation. That's been confirmed again and again.

(6) There are many who believe that invading and occupying Iraq has been a horrible mistake, but that doing the same in Afghanistan has been justified. Afghanistan has become "the good war". It was to revenge the deaths of September 11, 2001, was it not? Of course -- in a rational world -- revenge should be taken against those responsible for what happened on that infamous date. But of the tens of thousands of people killed by the US and its allies in Afghanistan the past six-plus years, how many, can it be said, had anything to do with the events of September 11? My rough estimate is ... none. So what kind of revenge is that?

Yes, Osama bin Laden had been living in Afghanistan and that's where the attack had been partially planned. But consider ... If Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the terrible bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, had not been quickly caught, would the government have bombed the state of Michigan or any of the other places McVeigh had called home and where he had planned his attack?

Whatever one thinks of the appalling society the Taliban created, they had not really been associated with terrorist acts, and the masses of Taliban supporters shouldn't have been held responsible if their leader, Mohammed Omar, one person, allowed foreign terrorists into the country, any more than I would want to be held responsible for all the Cuban terrorists in Miami. And most of the foreigners had probably come to Afghanistan in the 1990s to help the Taliban in their civil war -- a religious mission for them -- nothing the US government should have been concerned about. And remember, Mohammed Omar offered to turn bin Laden over to the United States if Washington presented proof of bin Laden's involvement in 9-11. The United States did not accept the offer.

(7) In the Cold War, the United States defeated what was known as the International Communist Conspiracy. The legacy of the Cold War is still with us; it keeps coming up, often used by conservatives in one way or another as an argument in support of the War on Terror.

Let me take you back a bit now. If you think what you have now is government lying and deceit, let me tell you that in my day, during the cold war, the big lie, the big huge lie they pounded into our heads from childhood on was that there was something out there called The International Communist Conspiracy, headquarters in Moscow, and active in every country of the world, looking to subvert everything that was decent and holy, looking to enslave us all. That's what they taught us, in our schools, our churches, on radio, TV, newspapers, in our comic books -- The Communist Menace, the red menace, more dangerous than al Qaeda is presented to us today.

The Communist Menace was international, you couldn't escape it. And almost every American believed this message unquestioningly. I was a good, loyal anti-communist until I was past the age of 30. In fact, in the 1960s I was working at the State Department planning on becoming a foreign service officer so I could join the battle against communism, until a thing called Vietnam came along and changed my mind, and my life.

It was all a con game. There was never any such animal as The International Communist Conspiracy. What there was, was people all over the Third World fighting for economic and political changes which didn't coincide with the needs of the American power elite, and so the US moved to crush those governments and those movements, even though the Soviet Union was playing hardly any role at all in those scenarios.

Washington officials of course couldn't say that they were intervening somewhere to block social change, so they called it fighting communism, fighting a communist conspiracy, and of course fighting for freedom and democracy. Just like now the White House can't say that it invaded Iraq to expand the empire, or for the oil, or for the corporations, or for Israel, so it says it's fighting terrorism.

Remember: The cold war ended in 1991 ... the International Communist Conspiracy was no more ... no more red threat ... and nothing changed in American foreign policy. Since that time the US has been intervening, bombing, and overthrowing governments just as often as during the cold war. What does that tell you? It tells me that the so-called "communist threat" was just a ploy, an excuse for American imperialism.

Keep this in mind:
Following its bombing of Iraq in 1991 -- after the cold war was ended -- the United States wound up with military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Following its bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the United States wound up with military bases in Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Bosnia and Croatia.

Following its bombing of Afghanistan in 2001-2, the United States wound up with military bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Yemen and Djibouti.

Following its bombing and invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States wound up with Iraq.

This is not very subtle foreign policy. It's certainly not covert. The men who run the American Empire are not easily embarrassed.

And that's the way the empire grows -- a base in every region, ready to be mobilized to put down any threat to imperial rule, real or imagined. 63 years after World War II ended, the United States still has major bases in Germany and Japan; 55 years after the end of the Korean War, tens of thousands of American armed forces continue to be stationed in South Korea.

(8) The last myth I'd like to mention has to do with the media, and it affects the political views of Americans as much as any of the previously mentioned myths. It's the idea that conservatives and liberals are ideological polar opposites. In actuality, conservatives, especially of the neo- kind, are far to the right on the political spectrum, while liberals are ever so slightly to the left of center. Yet, we are led to believe that a radio or TV talk show on foreign policy with a conservative and a liberal is offering a "balanced" point of view. But a more appropriate balance to a neo-conservative would be a left-wing radical or progressive. American liberals are typically closer to conservatives on foreign policy than they are to these groups on the left, and the educational value of such supposedly balanced media can be more harmful than beneficial as far as seeing through the empire's actions and motives. The listener thinks he's getting more or less a full range of opinion on the topic and doesn't realize that there's a whole world outside the narrow box he's being placed in.

The fundamental political difference between liberalism and Marxism is that liberalism sees a problem -- such as America's role as the world's bully -- simply as bad policy, while the Marxist sees it as something that flows out logically from US economic and military interests.

When a liberal sees a beggar, he says the system isn't working. When a Marxist sees a beggar, he says the system is working.

Ideology is a very important concept and I think that most people are rather confused by it, which is due in no small measure to the fact that the media are confused by it, or they at least pretend to be confused. The official ideology of the American media is that they don't have any ideology.

So all this I hope is ammunition you can use in trying to win over new recruits for the cause. And don't be shy about raising such points even when "preaching to the choir" or "preaching to the converted". That's what speakers and writers are often scoffed at for doing -- saying the same old thing to the same old people, just spinning their wheels. That's what some would say I'm doing at this very moment. You are part of the choir, are you not?

But long experience as speaker, writer and activist in the area of foreign policy tells me it just ain't so. From the questions and comments I often get from my audiences, in person and via email, and from other people's audiences as well, I can plainly see that there are numerous significant information gaps and misconceptions in the choir's thinking, often leaving them unable to see through the newest government lie or propaganda scheme. They're unknowing or forgetful of what happened in the past that illuminates the present. Or they may know the facts but are unable to apply them at the appropriate moment. Or they're vulnerable to being confused by the next person who comes along with a specious argument that opposes what they currently believe, or think they believe. In short, the choir needs to be frequently reminded and enlightened.

So that's your assignment. Go out there and educate, and agitate, and subvert. There's no magical tactic, only persistence. As the Quakers are fond of saying: If not now, when? If not here, where? If not you, who?

I thank you very much.

The American Empire:
1992 to present

from the book
Killing Hope
by William Blum
2004 edition
Following its bombing of Iraq in 1991, the United States wound up with military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Following its bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the United States wound up with military bases in Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Bosnia and Croatia.

Following its bombing of Afghanistan in 2001-2, the United States wound up with military bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Yemen and Djibouti.

Following its bombing and invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States wound up with Iraq.

This is not very subtle foreign policy. Certainly not covert. The men who run the American Empire are not easily embarrassed.

And that is the way the empire grows-a base in every neighborhood, ready to be mobilized to put down any threat to imperial rule, real or imagined. Fifty-eight years after world War II ended, the United States still has major bases in Germany and Japan; fifty ears after the end of the Korean War, tens of thousands of American armed forces continue to be stationed in South Korea.
"America will have a continuing interest and presence in Central Asia of a kind that we could not have dreamed of before," US Secretary of State Colin Powell declared in February 2002. Later that year, the US Defense Department announced: "The United States Military is currently deployed to more locations then it has been throughout history."
Equally unsubtle are the announcements beginning in the early 1990s-coinciding with he pivotal demise of the Soviet Union-and continuing to the present, trumpeting Washington's desire, means, and intention for world domination, while assuring the world of the noble purposes behind this crusade. These declarations have been regularly put forth in policy papers emanating from the White House and the Pentagon, as well as from government-appointed commissions and think tanks closely associated with the national security establishment.

Here is the voice of the empire in 1992
"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union.... we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order.... we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."
1996: "We will engage terrestrial targets someday-ships, airplanes, land targets-from space.... We're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space.

1997: "With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it, and we're going to keep it."

2000: "The new [military preparedness] standard is to maintain military superiority over all potential rivals and to prepare now for future military rivalries even if they can not yet be identified and their eventual arrival is only speculative.... Military requirements have become detached from net assessments of actual security threats. Generic wars and generic capabilities are proffered as the basis for planning.... Particularities of real threat scenarios have become secondary to the generalized need to show raw U.S. power across the globe.

2001: "The presence of American forces in critical regions around the world is the visible expression of the extent of America's status as a superpower and as the guarantor of liberty, peace and stability."

2001: "If we just let our own vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don't try to be clever and piece together clever diplomatic solutions to this thing, but just wage a total war against these tyrants, I think we will do very well, and our children will sing great songs about us years from now."

2001: The Bush administration's "Nuclear Posture Review", directing the military to prepare contingency plans to use nuclear weapons against at least seven countries- China, Russia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria-and to build smaller nuclear weapons for use in certain battlefield situations.

2002: In September, the White House issued its "National Security Strategy", which declared: Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.... America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.... We must deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed.... We cannot let our enemies strike first.... To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.

Preemptiveness is essentially the rationale imperial Japan, without being overly paranoid, used to justify its attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and which Nazi Germany, as a sham pretext, used to justify its invasion of Poland in 1939.

To one observer, the meaning of the "National Security Strategy" was this:
It dashes the aspirations of those who had hoped that the world was moving toward a system of international law that would allow for the peaceful / resolution of conflicts, through covenants and courts. In place of this, single power that shuns covenants and courts has proclaimed that it intends to dominate the world militarily, intervening preemptively where | necessary to exorcise threats.... Those who want a world in which no | power is supreme and in which laws and covenants are used to settle conflicts will begin a new debate-about how to contend with imperial America.

So intoxicated with the idea of dominance is the US national security state that when it announced, in November 2002, the formation of a public affairs group that would travel to battlefields "to interact with journalists, assist U.S. commanders and send news and pictures back to headquarters for dissemination," it described the operation as an attempt at "information dominance".

The Cold War is Over. Long live the Cold War.
It is remarkable indeed that in the 21st century the government of the United States is still going around dropping huge amounts of exceedingly powerful explosives upon the heads of innocent and defenseless people. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
In the mid 1980s, Michael Gorbachev's reforms instituted the beginning of the end for the Soviet police state. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, and people all over Eastern Europe were joyfully celebrating "a new day". The United States then joined this celebration by invading and bombing Panama, only weeks after the Wall fell. At the same time, the US was shamelessly intervening in the election in Nicaragua to defeat a leftist government.

Soon thereafter, South Africa freed Nelson Mandela and apartheid began to crumble, and before the year 1990 was over Haiti held its first free election ever and chose a genuine progressive as president. It seemed like anything was possible, optimism was as widespread as pessimism is today.

However, when Bulgaria and Albania, "newly freed from the grip of communism", as the American media would put it, dared to elect governments not acceptable to Washington, Washington just stepped in and overthrew those governments.

The same period found the US bombing Iraq and its people, 40 days and nights without mercy, for no good or honest reason.

And that was that for our hope for a different and better world.

But the American leaders were not through. In 1993 they were off attacking Somalia, trying to rearrange the country's political map, more bombing and killing.

They intervened to put down dissident movements in Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador, just as if it were the Cold War in the 1950s in Latin America, and the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, still doing it in the 1990s, and into the new century.

In the latter part of the 1990s, Washington could be found engaged in serious meddling in the elections in territories which had once been part of the Soviet sphere: Russia, Mongolia, and Bosnia.

In 1999, they bombed the people of Serbia and Kosovo for 78 seemingly endless days, the culmination of Washington's master plan of breaking up the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, demonized as "the last of the Communists".

And once again, in the fall of 2001, grossly and openly intervened in an election in Nicaragua to prevent the left from winning.

At the same time, bombarding Afghanistan, and in all likelihood killing more innocent civilians than were killed in the United States on 11 September 2001,~3 as well as taking the lives of countless "combatants" (i.e., anyone who defended against the invasion of the land they were living in). Most of the so-called "terrorists" of foreign nationality residing in Afghanistan at the time, including those training at al Qaeda camps, had come there to fight against the Soviet forces or to help the Taliban in their later civil war; for them these were religious missions, nothing to do with terrorism or the United States.

Amongst the thousands of victims of the American invasion, not one has been identified as having a connection to the events of that tragic day. The 11 September terrorists had chosen symbolic buildings to attack and the United States then chose a symbolic country to retaliate against.

While continuing to savage Afghanistan in 2002, Washington found time to lend its indispensable support to a plot to overthrow Hugo Chavez and his populist government in Venezuela, Chavez having made it abundantly clear that Venezuela was not prepared to become a foreign outpost of the empire.

And all these years, still keeping a choke hold on Cuba; still, after a century of imperialist occupation, refusing to vacate Guantanamo Base in Cuba, converting it in 2002 to a modern Devil's Island for the illegal and grim imprisonment of men, as well as several children, kidnapped in various localities of the world in the so-called War on Terrorism.

There was none of the "peace dividend" that had been promised for the end of the Cold War, not for Americans nor for the rest of the world.

What do we have here? The American people had been taught for nearly half a century that the Cold War, including the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the huge military budgets, all the US invasions and overthrows of governments-the ones they knew about-they were taught that this was all to fight the same menace: The International Communist Conspiracy, headquarters in Moscow.

But then the Soviet Union was dissolved. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved as well. The East European satellites became independent. The former communists even became capitalists.

And nothing changed in American foreign policy.

Even NATO remained, NATO which had been created-so we were told-to protect Western Europe against a Soviet invasion, even NATO remained, ever increasing in size and military power, a treaty on wheels which could be rolled in any direction to suit Washington's current policy-acting as a US surrogate ruling over the Balkans as a protectorate, invoking its charter to justify its members joining the US in the Afghanistan invasion.

And as Russia closed down its Cold War bases in Eastern Europe, Vietnam and Cuba, the United States was opening military bases in the territories of the former Soviet Union and in other regions of the world. While Russia closed down its radio intelligence station at Lourdes, Cuba, the United States was building a powerful communications listening station in Latvia, on the Russian border, as part of Washington's worldwide eavesdropping system.

The whole thing had been a con game. The Soviet Union and something called communism per se had not been the object of Washington's global attacks. There had never been an International Communist Conspiracy. The enemy was, and remains, any government or movement, or even individual, that stands in the way of the expansion of the American Empire; by whatever name the US gives to the enemy-communist, rogue state, drug trafficker, terrorist .

Is the United States Against Terrorism?
Are we now to believe that the American Empire is against terrorism? What does one call a man who blows up an airplane killing 73 civilians for political reasons; who attempts assassinations against several diplomats; who fires cannons at ships docked in American ports; who places bombs in numerous commercial and diplomatic buildings in the US and abroad? Dozens of such acts. His name is Orlando Bosch, he's Cuban and he lives in Miami, unmolested by the authorities. The city of Miami once declared a day in his honor-Dr. Orlando Bosch Day.

He was freed from prison in Venezuela in 1988, where he had been held for the airplane bombing, partly because of pressure from the American ambassador at the time, Otto Reich, who in 2002 was appointed to a high position in the State Department by President Bush.

After Bosch returned to the US in 1988, the Justice Department condemned him as a totally violent terrorist and was all set to deport him, but that was blocked by President Bush, the first, with the help of son Jeb Bush in Florida. So is President Bush, the second, and his family against terrorism? Well, yes, they're against those terrorists who are not allies of the empire.

The plane that Bosch bombed, in 1976, was a Cuban plane. He's wanted in Cuba for that and a host of other serious crimes, and the Cubans have asked Washington to extradite him. To Cuba he's like Osama bin Laden is to the United States. But the US has refused. Imagine the reaction in the United States if bin Laden showed up in Havana and the Cubans refused to turn him over. Imagine the reaction in the United States if Havana proclaimed Osama bin Laden Day?

Washington's commitment to fighting terrorism can be further questioned in light of its support of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo who comprised the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA, in furtherance of its political-ethnic agenda, have carried out numerous terrorist attacks for years in various parts of the Balkans, but they've been US allies because they've attacked people out of favor with Washington. This despite the fact that the KLA has had ideological and personal ties to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, and despite being categorized as a terrorist organization by the US State Department.

Moreover, in the 1980s and 90s, anti-communist Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians resident in the United States financed and instigated their countrymen abroad in bombings and other attacks on their governments and citizens, hoping to destabilize those governments; at times they traveled from the US to those countries to carry out attacks themselves; these actions-terrorism by definition-were carried out with the tacit approval of the American government, which turned a blind eye to the Neutrality Act, which prohibits American citizens or residents from using force to overthrow a foreign government.

George W. Bush has also spoken out vehemently against harboring terrorists-"those who harbor terrorists threaten the national security of the United States". Does he really mean that?

We must ask: Which country harbors more terrorists than the United States? Orlando
Bosch is only one of the numerous anti-Castro Cubans in Miami who have carried out many hundreds of terrorist acts, in the US, in Cuba, and elsewhere; all kinds of arson attacks, assassination attempts and bombings. They have been harbored in the US in safety for decades; as have numerous other friendly terrorists, torturers and human rights violators from Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti, Indonesia and elsewhere, all allies of the empire.

The CIA was busy looking for terrorists in caves in the mountains of Afghanistan at the same time as the Agency sat in bars in Miami having drinks with terrorists.

The Imperial Mafia
What are we to make of all this? How are we to understand United States foreign policy? Well, if one were to write a book called "The American Empire for Dummies", page one should say: Don't ever look for the moral factor. US foreign policy has no moral factor built into its DNA. One must clear one's mind of that baggage which only gets in the way of seeing beyond the clichés and the platitudes.

It's rather difficult for most Americans and Americophiles throughout the world to accept such a notion. They see American leaders on television smiling and laughing, telling jokes; they see them with their families, hear them speak of God and love, of peace and law, of democracy and freedom, of human rights and justice, and even baseball. These leaders know how to condemn the world's atrocities in no uncertain terms, with just the right words that decent people love to hear, just the right catch in their throat to show how moved they are. How can such people be monsters, how can they be called immoral?

They have names like George and Dick and Donald, not a single Mohammed or Abdullah in the bunch. And they all speak English. People named Mohammed or Abdullah cut off people's hands as punishment for theft. Americans know that that's horrible.

Americans are too civilized for that.

But people named George and Dick and Donald drop cluster bombs on cities and villages, and the many unexploded ones become land mines, and before very long a child picks one up or steps on one of them and loses an arm or a leg, or both arms or both legs, and sometimes their eyesight; while the cluster bombs which actually explode create their own kind of high-velocity, jagged steel horror.

But these men [ American leaders] are perhaps not so much immoral as they are amoral. It's not that they take pleasure in causing so much death and suffering. It's that they just don't care ... the same that could be said about a sociopath. As long as the death and suffering advance the agenda of the empire, as long as the right people and the right corporations gain wealth and power and privilege and prestige, as long as the death and suffering aren't happening to them or people close to them ... then they just don't care about it happening to other people, including the American soldiers whom they throw into wars and who come home-the ones who make it back alive-with Agent Orange or Gulf War Syndrome eating away at their bodies. American leaders would not be in the positions they hold if they were bothered by such things.

When I was writing my book Rogue State during 1999-2000 I used the term "American Empire" with some caution because it was not in common usage and I wasn't sure the American public was quite ready for the idea. But I needn't have been so cautious.
The idea of United States world hegemony has come to be discussed not only openly, but proudly, by supporters of the empire-prominent American intellectuals such as Dinesh D'Souza of the Hoover Institution, who wrote an article entitled "In praise of American empire", in which he argued that "America is the most magnanimous imperial power ever."

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer has spoken of America's "uniquely benign imperium.

Michael Hirsch, editor of Newsweek magazine, added to the chorus of self-love songs with this:
"U.S. allies must accept that some U.S. unilateralism is inevitable, even desirable. This mainly involves accepting the reality of America's supreme might-and truthfully, appreciating how historically lucky they are to be protected by such a relatively benign power. "
Robert Kagan, a leading light of the American foreign policy establishment, had written earlier: "And the truth is that the benevolent hegemony exercised by the United States is good for a vast portion of the world's population. It is certainly a better international arrangement than all realistic alternatives."

In this way are people who are wedded to American foreign policy able to live with it-they conclude, and proclaim, and may even believe, that such policies produce a humane force, an enlightened empire, bringing order, prosperity and civilized behavior everywhere, and if the US is forced to go to war it conducts it in a humanitarian manner.... the present book documents in minute detail the exact opposite, showing the remarkable violence and cruelty, the suppression of social change, and the many other abhorrent consequences of US interventions for people in every corner of the globe for half a century.

The empire's scribes appear to be as amoral as the officials in the White House and the Pentagon. After all, the particles of depleted uranium are not lodging inside their lungs to radiate for the rest of their lives; the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are not bankrupting their economy and slashing their basic services; it's not their families wandering as refugees in the desert.

The leaders of the empire, the imperial mafia-George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, et al.- and their scribes as well, are as fanatic and as fundamentalist as Osama bin Laden. Allah Akhbar! God is great! ... USA! USA! USA!

[Robert] Kagan, an intellectual architect of an interventionism that seeks to impose a neo-conservative agenda upon the world, by any means necessary, has declared that the United States must refuse to abide by certain international conventions, like the international criminal court and the Kyoto accord on global warming. The US, he says, "must support arms control, but not always for itself. It must live by a double standard."

There is also Robert Cooper, a senior British diplomat and advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blalr. Cooper writes:
The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. When dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era-force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself.
His expression, "every state for itself", can be better understood as any state not willing to accede to the agenda of the American Empire and the school bully's best friend in London.

So there we have it. The double standard is in. The golden rule of do unto others as you would have others do unto you is out.

The imperial mafia, and their court intellectuals like Kagan and Cooper, have a difficult time selling or defending their world vision on the basis of legal, moral, ethical or fairness standards. Thus it is that they decide they're not bound by such standards.

The Liquid Gold, Again
The American occupation of Afghanistan served the purpose of setting up a new government that would be sufficiently amenable to Washington's international objectives, including the installation of military bases and listening stations and the running of secure oil and gas pipelines through Afghanistan from the Caspian Sea region once the country had been pacified.

For years, the American oil barons had had their eyes on the vast oil and gas reserves around the Caspian Sea, envisioning an Afghanistan-Pakistan route to the Indian Ocean. The oilmen had been quite open about this, giving frank testimony before Congress on the matter.

After Afghanistan, they turned their lust to the even greater oil reserves of Iraq. Once again, the American public had to be primed. Renowned espionage novelist John le Carre has observed: "How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history."

As this is written in April 2003, the United States has just completed the bombing, invasion and takeover of the beleaguered Iraqi society, causing great destruction, killing thousands of innocent people-civilians and soldiers-in the process, leaving countless others maimed and otherwise ruined. "It looks like it's a bombing of a city, but it isn't," declared US Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld, in defense of American "precision bombing."

Washington looked at the results of its military actions, which others would call horrific, and labeled it "liberation", because the Saddam Hussein regime had been overthrown.

Prior to this, the imperial mafia had staged a year-long propaganda show to convince Americans and the world that the world's only superpower had no choice but to attack a sovereign and crippled country that had not attacked the United States, that had not threatened to attack the United States, that knew it would mean instant mass suicide for them if they attacked the United States. The imperial mafia's thesis was odd not simply because Iraq was not a threat-as the war's easy military victory demonstrated-but because the imperial mafia knew that Iraq was not a threat, at all.

They'd been telling the world one story after another about why Iraq was a threat, an imminent threat, a threat increasing in danger with each passing day, a nuclear threat, a chemical threat, a biological threat, that Iraq was a terrorist state, that Iraq was tied to al Qaeda ... only to have each story amount to nothing. They insisted repeatedly that Iraq must agree to having the UN weapons inspectors back in, and when Iraq agreed to this the imperial mafia declared that it wasn't good enough and proceeded to disparage the effort.

For it was war that the White House yearned for, and it was war that they got, as they thumbed their nose at the greatest anti-war protests the world has ever seen as well as the sweeping opposition of the United Nations and humanity's hard-won concepts of international law and collaboration for a more peaceful planet. It remains to be seen whether and how the world body will survive being relegated to humiliating irrelevance on the most important question that it can face, the UN being an institution which declared in the very first sentence of its Charter the determination "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life-time has brought untold sorrow to mankind."

Did any of Washington's policy make sense? This sudden urgency of fighting a war in the absence of a fight? It did if one understood that the invasion was not about Sadaam Hussein's evilness or his alleged weapons of mass destruction. When weeks of US military occupation of Iraq failed to uncover any such weapons, the White House declared that WMD were not, after all, the real reason for the invasion. What they were really doing, they assured the world, was delivering various blows to terrorism. "We were not Iying," said one official. "But it was just a matter of emphasis."

Amongst other reasons, the war was about the US replacing Hussein and installing a puppet government, as it did in Afghanistan; in this case an American occupation government, enabling American oil companies to move into Iraq to enjoy a laissez-faire feast; at the same time opening the country to all manner of transnational corporations as Iraq takes its place in the new world order of globalized economies, and the American Empire adds another country and a few more bases from which to further control and remake the Middle East in the imperial mafia's endearing amoral style, for which, presumably, the children of the region will sing great songs in years to come.

US agreement to allow the UN weapons inspectors to return to Iraq in December 2002 had been no more than a bluff to cater to unexpectedly strong world opposition to Washington's planned invasion. Three months of inspections before the invasion began turned up nothing in the way of unambiguously prohibited weapons. Over the course of about seven years in the 1990s the UN inspectors had found and destroyed huge amounts of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq. Scott Ritter, chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, stated in 2002 that:

Since 1998 Iraq has been fundamentally disarmed; 90-9S% of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been verifiably eliminated. This includes all of the factories used to produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and long-range ballistic missiles; the associated equipment of these factories; and the vast majority of the products coming out of these factories.

In the same period, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei, reported that his agency had:
dismantled extensive nuclear weapons-related facilities. We neutralized Iraq's nuclear program. We confiscated its weapon-usable material. We destroyed, removed or rendered harmless all its facilities and equipment relevant to nuclear weapons production.
This, then, was the alarming threat of Iraq which had to be wiped out, a society already terribly enfeebled by 12 years of sanctions, which US National Security Advisor Samuel Berger called "the most pervasive sanctions ever imposed on a nation in the history of mankind".

US Foreign Policy: A Laboratory for Growing the Anti-American Terrorism Virus
"We leveled it. There was nobody left, just dirt and dust."

US Army Major Gen. Franklin Hagenbeck, speaking of the destruction of three villages in the Shahikot Valley in Afghanistan.
The American bombing of Afghanistan, begun on 7 October 2001 and followed by a military occupation of much of the country, gave rise to dozens of terrorist actions against American individuals and institutions, as well as Christian and other Western targets, in South Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere; a dozen or so attacks in Pakistan alone (including the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pear and the most disastrous one in Bali, Indonesia, on 12 October, which killed more than 180 people, almost all Australians, Americans, or British; the two leading suspects arrested in that case each stated that he had acted in retaliation for the US attack on Afghanistan and Muslims.
The subsequent attack on Iraq-a war nobody wanted except the imperial mafia-may have recruited thousands more throughout the Muslim world as the next generation of terrorists to carry out the jihad against The Great Satan.

Has the American power elite learned anything from being the frequent target of terrorism over the years? Here's James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA and member of the Defense Department's Policy Board, speaking two months after the beginning of the US bombing of Afghanistan, advocating an invasion of Iraq and unconcerned about the response of the Arab world: The silence of the Arab public in the wake of America's victories in Afghanistan, Woolsey said, proves that "only fear will re-establish respect for the U.S."

In a similar light, a phrase attributed to various leaders of the Roman Empire has been used by Bush administration officials: oderint dum metuant-"Let them hate so long as they fear."

The State Department may have learned something. At the time of the first anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack and subsequently as well, the Department held conferences on how to improve America's image abroad in order to reduce the level of hatred. But it's image they were working on, not change of policies.

And the policies scorecard reads as follows: From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.

"The idea is to build an antiterrorist global environment," a senior Defense Department official told the New York Times in 2003, "so that in 20 to 30 years, terrorism will be like slave-trading, completely discredited."

The world can only wonder this: When will American wars of aggression, firing missiles into the heart of a city, and using depleted uranium and cluster bombs against the population become completely discredited?

They already have become such, but the United States, which wages war on the same scale other nations apply to mere survival, does not yet know it. Instead, it practices perpetual war for perpetual peace.

No comments:


All blogs are really just small snapshots of a person's mind, heart and soul as they evolve together through life....

Small bits of the thread of life we weave together into the fabric of ourselves, in the hope we will make sense of our existence, individual and collective.

On this page, is the cloak I have fashioned from my fabric to warm myself in a universe which often makes little sense.

Inside my cloak, it is warm enough to face the blistering cold winds of the insane world in which I find myself.

If you find some a bit of 'the good stuff' here, it has been my pleasure.