The Anti-Empire Report
excerpted from the book
Freeing the World to Death
essays on the american empire
by William Blum
Common Courage Press, 2005, paper
May 12, 2004
God, country and torture
On October 21, 1994, the United States
became a State Party to the "Convention Against Torture and
Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment".
Article 2, section 2 of the Convention states: "No exceptional
circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of
war, internal political instability or any other public emergency,
may be invoked as a justification for torture."
"If you open the window [of torture],
even just a crack, the cold air of the middle ages will fill the
"The thing with the soldiers there,
they think because we're Americans, you can do whatever you want,"
said Spc. Ramon Leal, an MP who served at Abu Ghraib prison in
"You get a burning in your stomach,
a rush, a feeling of hot lead running through your veins, and
you get a sense of power," said another soldier. "Imagine
wearing point-blank body armor, an M-16 and all the power in the
world, and the authority of God. That power is very addictive."'
America and God...Bush, Cheney, Rice,
and other eminences of the imperial mafia know well how to invoke
these feelings; with the help of the rest of flag-wavin' and biblewavin'
America the proper emotions can be easily imparted down to the
ranks. The American part-the mystique of "America"-can
also be exported, and has been for decades. Here's Chief Inspector
Basil Lambrou, one of Athens' well- known torturers under the
infamous Greek junta of 1967-74. Hundreds of prisoners listened
to this little speech given by the Inspector, who sat behind his
desk which displayed the red, white, and blue clasped-hand symbol
of American aid, He tried to show the prisoners the absolute futility
of resistance: "You make yourself ridiculous by thinking
you can do anything. The world is divided in two. There are the
communists on that side and on this side the free world. The Russians
and the Americans, no one else. What are we? Americans. Behind
me there is the government, behind the government is NATO, / behind
NATO is the U.S. You can't fight us, we are Americans."
And here's Cohn Powell at the 1996 Republican
Convention: America is "a country where the best is always
yet to come, a country that exists by divine providence."
He then punched his fist into the air and shouted out, "America!"
Defenders of the American soldiers accused
of abusing the prisoners in Iraq have been insisting that the
soldiers were only following orders. At the end of the Second
World War, however, we read moral lectures to the German people
on the inadmissibility of pleading that their participation in
the Holocaust was in obedience to their legitimate government.
To prove that we were serious, we hanged the leading examples
of such patriotic loyalty and imprisoned many of the rest.
Said the International Military Tribunal:
"The very essence of the Charter is that individuals have
international duties which transcend the national obligations
of obedience imposed by the individual state. He who violates
the laws of war cannot obtain immunity while acting in pursuance
of the authority of the state if the state in authorizing action
moves outside its competence under international law .... The
fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government
or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may
be considered in mitigation of punishment."
What songs are the Iraqis singing?
On February 17, 2003, a month before the
US bombing began, I posted to the Internet an essay entitled "What
Do the Imperial Mafia Really Want?" concerning the expected
war against Iraq. Included in this were the words of Michael Ledeen,
former Reagan official then at the American Enterprise Institute,
one of the leading drum-beaters for attacking Iraq: "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."
I could not resist. I recently sent Mr.
Ledeen an email reminding him of his words and saying simply:
"I'd like to ask you what songs your children are singing
I received no reply.
Has there ever been an empire that didn't
tell itself and the world that it was unlike all other empires,
that its mission was not to plunder and control but to enlighten
April 3, 2004
The Israeli lobby
Philip Zelikow is of the type of whom
it is customarily said: "He has impeccable establishment
credentials". He is currently executive director of the National
Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a body
created by Congress. Between 2001 and 2003 he served on the president's
Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which reports directly to
the president. Before his appointment to the FlAB he was part
of the Bush transition team in January 2001. And in 1995 he coauthored
a book with Condoleezza Rice.
It's recently been revealed that in 2002
he publicly stated that a prime motive for the upcoming invasion
of Iraq was to eliminate a threat to Israel.
"Why would Iraq attack America or
use nuclear weapons against us?" he asked a crowd at the
University of Virginia on September 10, 2002. "I'll tell
you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since
1990-it's the threat against Israel. And this is the threat that
dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply
about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government
doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is
not a popular sell."
And this seems to be the story that dare
not speak its name. The story was revealed on March 29 by Inter
Press Service, a major international news agency that is mainly
published outside the United States. An extensive search of the
Lexis-Nexis database revealed that only one English-language news
source in the world picked up the story: another news agency,
United Press International, on March 30. There thus appears to
be no mainstream newspaper or broadcast medium that used it, though
many subscribe to UPI. Can anything other than fear of the Israeli
lobby account for this?
Guinea pigs fighting for freedom and democracy
Jessica Horjus, a member of the US Air
Force, refused to take the anthrax vaccine before deploying to
a base in Kuwait, about 30 miles from Iraq, primarily because
no anthrax has been found in Iraq; the vaccine, moreover, is a
product that has accumulated thousands of reports of adverse reactions
ranging from headaches and vomiting to severe autoimmune and neurological
problems. Despite this and despite four years service and commendations
and Good Conduct Medals, Horjus' commander demoted her and cut
her pay in half.
In February, she declined a second and
third order. In March, the young mother accepted the Air Force's
offer of an other-than-honorable discharge. Some who have declined
the vaccine have been imprisoned; others have been threatened
with up to 10 years in prison, more than even rape or drug charges
may bring in the military. Soldiers, citizen groups and members
of Congress are increasingly calling upon defense officials to
stop the vaccinations, which have been declined by numerous members
of the armed services. All to no avail.
What lies behind the military's obstinate
refusal to bend and its desire to severely punish? Could it be
that the Pentagon wants the vaccinations to continue so that statistics
can be further compiled and refined about the effects of the vaccine?
This would of course be using members of the armed forces as guinea
pigs, but this is a practice which has a long tradition in the
US military... GIs marched to nuclear explosion sites, subjected
to chemical and biological weapons experiments, radiation experiments,
behavior modification experiments that washed their brains with
LSD, the list goes on... literally millions of experimental subjects,
seldom given a choice or adequate information, often with disastrous
effects to their physical and/or mental health, rarely with proper
medical care or even monitoring.
March 10, 2004
Make him an offer he can't refuse
Statement of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, President
of Haiti, March 5, 2004, from exile in the Central African Republic:
"The 28th of February, at night,
suddenly, American military personnel who were already all over
Port-au-Prince descended on my house in Tabarre to tell me first
that all the American security agents who have contracts with
the Haitian government [to protect Aristide] only have two options.
Either they leave immediately to go to the United States, or they
fight to die. Secondly, they told me the remaining 25 of the American
security agents hired by the Haitian government who were to come
in on the 29th of February as reinforcements were under interdiction,
prevented from coming. Thirdly, they told me the foreigners and
Haitian terrorists alike, loaded with heavy weapons, were already
in position to open fire on Port-au-Prince. And right then, the
Americans precisely stated that they will kill thousands of people
and it will be a bloodbath. That the attack is ready to start,
and when the first bullet is fired nothing will stop them and
nothing will make them wait until they take over, therefore the
mission is to take me dead or alive .... Faced with this tragedy,
I decided to ask, 'What guarantee do I have that there will not
be a bloodbath if I decided to leave?'
"In reality, all this diplomatic
gymnastics did not mean anything because these military men responsible
for the kidnapping operation had already assumed the success of
their mission. What was said was done. This diplomacy, plus the
forced signing of the letter of resignation, was not able to cover
the face of the kidnapping."
A search of the Lexis-Nexis database on
March 10 failed to turn up any article in an American newspaper
or broadcast medium which discussed the contents of Aristide's
statement; this despite news of it being carried by the Associated
Press. Several papers in Canada and the UK did carry stories about
Thus it was that Aristide went into exile.
And then Colin Powell, in the sincerest voice he could muster,
told us that "He was not kidnapped. We did not force him
onto the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly. And that's
the truth." Powell sounded as sincere as he had sounded a
year earlier when he gave the UN a detailed inventory of the chemical,
biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq. He did not explain why
the United States did not protect Aristide from the rebels, which
the US could have done with the greatest of ease, without so much
as firing a single shot. Neither did Powell explain why Aristide
would "willingly" give up his presidency.
Despite all the dishonesty surrounding
Iraq, I'd guess that most Americans tend to believe Bush officials
concerning Haiti because of a couple of reasons. One: Many of
the media accounts of the past few months have mentioned that
in 1994 the US military returned Aristide to power. That sounds
pretty impressive; it indicates that concerning Haiti and Aristide
the United States has its heart in the right place. But "the
US military returned Aristide to power in 1994" is just the
headline. If one reads the story below the headline the picture
looks remarkably different. It's simply not the same story any
longer. It can be read online.
A second reason the public may support
US policy in Haiti is that they've been fed one story after another
about Aristide's government being brutal and corrupt and Aristide
himself being mentally unstable and largely responsible for the
current crisis. That's typical before the US moves to overthrow
a foreign government. It's actually rather easy to plant such
stories in the media, with or without their cooperation. In 1994,
a similar story of Aristide being mentally unstable, a murderer
and psychopath, was created and disseminated by a CIA official
named Brian Latell, without any evidence to back up the charges.
When a government or an individual becomes
an ODE - Officially Designated Enemy - of the United States, one
should take everything one hears about that government or person
with a very large block of salt.
Of course to Washington officials it wouldn't
matter if Aristide were a saint. He's on record as not being a
great lover of globalization or capitalism. This is not the kind
of man the imperial mafia wanted in charge of the assembly plant
of the Western hemisphere. They wanted him out, and out he went.
So in the end, a democratically elected
government was overthrown by the combined effort of the United
States and France, with the help of Canada. Three of the big boys
had something against one of the little boys... and we all know
how such things wind up in this world; the way they always have,
smooth as can be. And as usual, the rest of the big boys of the
world said nothing, not a peep out of the European Union or NATO
about this body blow to democracy, a subject they never tire of
preaching about. France of course is a member of both.
February 17, 2004
George W. Bush, November 19, 2002
"I do not need to explain why I say
things. That's the interesting thing about being the president.
Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something,
but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."
July 22, 2004
Preaching to the converted
"Preaching to the converted Preaching
to the choir"...That's what speakers and writers and other
activists are repeatedly told they're doing; i.e., saying the
same old thing to the same old people, just spinning their wheels.
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 regularly
get from my audiences, via email and in person, and from other
people's audiences where I'm in attendance, I can plainly see
that there are numerous significant gaps and misconceptions in
the choir's thinking, often leaving them confused, unable to understand
or see through the next government lie or shell game, unknowing
or forgetful of what happened in the past that illuminates the
present, or knowing the facts but unable to apply them at the
appropriate moment, vulnerable to being led astray by the next
person who offers a specious argument that opposes what they currently
believe, or think they believe.
As cynical as others or themselves may
think they are, they frequently are not cynical enough about the
power elite's motivations, underestimating the government's capacity
for perfidy, clinging to the belief that their government means
well and doesn't lie directly in their face; while others of the
choir are much too cynical, conspiracy theorists to a ridiculous
degree-their inability to access my website at any time must be
the work of the CIA, they inform me; hardly any political figure
ever dies a natural death; any US policy toward any country is
based on oil (or some similar manifestation of "vulgar Marxism").
In sum, with all of the above, their hearts
may be in the right place, but their heads need working on. And
in any event, very few people are actually born into the choir;
they achieve choir membership only after being preached to, multiple
Dec 1, 2003
The mystique of America
We now know that Iraq tried to negotiate
a peace deal with the United States to avoid the American invasion
in March. Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence
Service, wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons
of mass destruction and offered to allow American troops and experts
to conduct a search; they also offered full support for any US
plan in the Arab-Israeli peace process and handing over a man
accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in
1993, If this is about oil, they said, they would also talk about
US oil concessions.
What is most surprising about this is
not the offers per se, but the naiveté-undoubtedly fueled
by desperation-on the part of the Iraqis that apparently led them
to believe that the Americans were open to negotiation, to discussion,
to being reasonable. The Iraqis apparently were sufficiently innocent
about the fanaticism of the Bush administration that at one point
they pledged to hold UN-supervised free elections; surely free
elections is something the United States believes in, the Iraqis
reasoned, and will be moved by.
Other countries have harbored similar
illusions about American leaders. Over the years, a number of
Third World leaders, under imminent military and/or political
threat by the United States, have made appeals to Washington officials,
even to the president in person, under the apparently hopeful
belief that it was all a misunderstanding, that America was not
really intent upon crushing them and their movements for social
The Guatemalan foreign minister in 1954,
Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana in 1961, and Maurice Bishop of
Grenada in 1983 all made their appeals to Washington to be left
in peace." All were crushed. In 1961, Che Guevara offered
a Kennedy aide several important Cuban concessions if Washington
would call off the dogs of war. To no avail. In 1994, it was reported
that the leader of the Zapatista rebels in Mexico, Subcommander
Marcos, said that "he expects the United States to support
the Zapatistas once US intelligence agencies are convinced the
movement is not influenced by Cubans or Russians." "Finally,"
Marcos said, "they are going to conclude that this is a Mexican
problem, with just and true causes." Yet for many years,
the United States has been providing the Mexican military with
all the training and tools needed to kill Marcos' followers and,
most likely, before long, Marcos himself.
And in 2002, before the coup in Venezuela
that ousted Hugo Chavez, some of the plotters went to Washington
to get a green light from the Bush administration. Chavez learned
of this visit and was so distressed by it that he sent officials
from his government to plead his own case in Washington. The success
of this endeavor can be judged by the fact that the coup took
place shortly thereafter.
In a similar vein, in 1945 and 1946, Vietnamese
leader Ho Chi Minh, a genuine admirer of America, wrote at least
eight letters to President Truman and the State Department asking
for America's help in winning Vietnamese independence from the
French. He wrote that world peace was being endangered by French
efforts to reconquer Indochina and he requested that "the
four powers" (US, USSR, China, and Great Britain) intervene
in order to mediate a fair settlement and bring the Indochinese
issue before the United Nations." He received no reply, for
he was some sort of communist.
Syria today appears to be the latest example
of this belief that somewhere in Washington, somehow, there is
a vestige of human-like reasonableness that can be tapped. The
Syrians turn over suspected terrorists to the United States and
other countries and accept prisoners delivered to them by the
US for the clear purpose of them being tortured to elicit information.
The Syrians make it clear that they do these things in the hope
of appeasing the American beast; this while the United States
continues speaking openly of overthrowing the Syrian government
and imposes strict sanctions against the country.
Was there anything Czechoslovakia could
have done to prevent a Nazi invasion in 1938? Or Poland in 1939?
November 7, 2003
George W. recently designated Otto Reich,
his Special Envoy for Western Hemisphere Initiatives, to lead
a delegation to attend the commemoration ceremony of the 20th
Anniversary of "the restoration of democracy to Grenada".
Bad enough that Reich has on his resumé abetting anti-Castro
Cuban terrorists who bombed a plane out of the air killing 73
people, bad enough that what actually happened in October 1983
in Grenada was the US overthrowing another government which was
not a threat to anyone and covering it up with a campaign of lies
that stood unmatched until the present-day Iraq fiasco, but here's
what "the restoration of democracy to Grenada" looked
like at the time:
In 1984, former Premier Herbert Blaize
was elected prime minister, his party capturing 14 of the 15 parliamentary
seats. Blaize, who in the wake of the invasion had proclaimed
to the United States: "We say thank you from the bottom of
our hearts," had been favored by the Reagan administration.
The candidate who won the sole opposition seat announced that
he would not occupy it because of what he called "vote rigging
and interference in the election by outside forces."
One year later, the Washington-based Council
on Hemispheric Affairs reported on Grenada as part of its annual
survey of human rights abuses:
Reliable accounts are circulating of prisoners
being beaten, denied medical attention and confined for long periods
without being able to see lawyers. The country's new US-trained
police force has acquired a reputation for brutality, arbitrary
arrest and abuse of authority.
The report added that an offending all-music
radio station had been closed and that US-trained counter-insurgency
forces were eroding civil rights.
By the late 1980s, the government began
confiscating many books arriving from abroad, including Graham
Greene's Our Man in Havana and Nelson Mandela Speaks. In April
1989, it issued a list of more than 80 books which were prohibited
from being imported.
Four months later, Prime Minister Blaize
suspended Parliament to forestall a threatened no-confidence vote
resulting from what his critics called "an increasingly authoritarian
April 14, 2003
The Warmongers' need for a justification for the devastation
When you wage a war that is strongly opposed
by the great majority of those on the planet who think about such
things, when your own people are becoming increasingly militant
against your unilateral waging of that war, when you know well
that your war is palpably and embarrassingly illegal, immoral,
illogical and unjust, when you can't admit the real reasons for
the war... then you have a consuming need
to find a moral-sounding and credible selling point-"Regime
change", to remove the evil Saddam, the Iraqi people will
welcome us with flowers and music!
Thus was it mortifying for the warmongers
that for more than the first two weeks of the war the Iraqi images
shown to the world were largely of the dead, the wounded, the
grief=stricken, the immense piles of rubble, the bombing-produced
homeless, those bitterly angry at the United States. How could
it be otherwise? What kind of people like their loved ones torn
apart by missiles, their children without a limb, their homes,
hospitals, schools and jobs destroyed?
The US-military told its hapless soldiers
and its embedded media that any negative reaction, or lack of
a positive one, was all because the people were afraid of Saddam,
as if one of his agents was standing behind each Iraqi citizen,
gun at the ready. Why did at least hundreds of thousands of people
fight and resist, many to the death, instead of surrendering,
defecting, anything to show their gratitude for their "liberation"?
Now, any teenager flashing a victory sign,
anyone climbing upon a toppled statue of Saddam or smiling for
a camera is an American media star and evidence of the nobility
of the war. But what portion of the Iraqi people are happy about
the invasion-happy about all its effects? What are they happy
about other than the removal of Saddam? And many Iraqis supported
him. Of those "celebrating", how many have been touched
by the death and destruction? How many even know about it? The
US bombed Iraqi and Arabic TV off the air fairly early on for
most of the country. Much of the telephone system was another
early victim. When the Iraqis who were kept in the dark discover
the horror will the American media be there to record the disappeared
As an American, I would also celebrate
if the cruel and ignorant tyrant calling himself my leader were
overthrown. But not if my city were bombed and my house demolished.
No changes in Iraq justify the American onslaught. What kind of
world would we have if any country could invade any other country
because it didn't like the leader of that country?
In any event, the United States was not
motivated at all by Saddam Hussein, or his evilness, or his alleged
weapons of mass destruction, or his alleged threat to the United
States. American officials made it explicitly clear before the
invasion that the US intervention would take place even if Saddam
resigned or chose to go into exile.
April 1, 2003
Do unto others before others do unto you
Here's one of the empire's arrogances
which may have escaped your attention. First we have Robert Kagan,
a leading light of the American foreign-policy establishment and
an intellectual architect of an interventionism that seeks to
impose a neo-conservative agenda upon the world, by force if necessary.
Kagan declares 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."
Now we have Robert Cooper, a senior British
diplomat and key foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Tony
Blair. 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
simply that some state, somewhere, is not doing what the American
Empire and its junior partner in London wish. 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.
Noam Chomsky has spoken of "the principle
of universality: if an on is right (or wrong) for others, it is
right (or wrong) for us. Those who do not rise to the minimal
moral level of applying to themselves the standards they apply
to others plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of
appropriateness of response; or of right and wrong, good and evil."
Robert Kagan and Robert Cooper and their
ilk of course know this. A 7-year-old child, with his or her acute
sense of unfairness, knows it very well. It's usually called hypocrisy.
So why do the empire's intellectuals peddle this double-standard
silliness? I'd put it this way: They, like most people, have a
vision for the kind of world they'd like to live in; let's call
it a laissez-faire, globalized, Judeo-Christian, law and order,
white -man's-burden, ridding the planet of all governments not
subservient to Washington, world. Now most of the world's people
have experienced this stuff quite enough already, thank you. The
imperial mafia thus have a very difficult time selling or defending
their utopia on the basis of legal, moral, ethical or fairness
standards. So what to do? Aha! They decide that they're not bound
by such standards. But the rest of the world is.
Americans exempt from war crimes
The new International Criminal Court is
the culmination of a campaign for a permanent war crimes tribunal
that began with the Nuremberg trials after World War II. But the
US government has refused to join, claiming that they're afraid
of it being used "frivolously" to charge US soldiers
with war crimes for actions during an American intervention. But
I think their real concern is not that it will be used frivolously,
but that it will be used seriously; and not against soldiers,
but against leaders in Washington, and there are quite a few who
The new court will not have any powers
to judge past behavior, but based on the past, on the recent past,
one can see why the powers that be in the United States would
be uneasy. Of those that are still living, you have people like
Reagan and Bush and Clinton and Cohn Powell and Caspar Weinberger
and Elliot Abrams and a whole bunch of other people who can easily
have a case made against them for war crimes or crimes against
In any event, a reading of the court's
charter makes it clear that "frivolous prosecutions"
was a danger thought of in advance and enough safeguards are provided
to prevent such from happening.
Terrorists in their own words
Former US president Jimmy Carter told
the New York Times in a 1989 interview:
We sent Marines into Lebanon and you only
have to go to Lebanon, to Syria or to Jordan to witness first-hand
the intense hatred among many people for the United States because
we bombed and shelled and unmercifully killed totally innocent
villagers-women and children and farmers and housewives-in those
villages around Beirut .... As a result of that... we became kind
of a Satan in the minds of those who are deeply resentful. That
is what precipitated the taking of our hostages and that is what
has precipitated some of the terrorist attacks.
Colin Powell has also revealed that he
knows better. Writing of this same Lebanon debacle in his memoir,
he forgoes clichés about terrorists hating democracy: "The
U.S.S. New Jersey started hurling 16-inch shells into the mountains
above Beirut, in World War II style, as if we were softening up
the beaches on some Pacific atoll prior to an invasion. What we
tend to overlook in such situations is that other people will
react much as we would."
The ensuing terrorist attack against US
Marine barracks in Lebanon took the lives of 241 American military
The bombardment of Beirut in 1983 and
1984 is but one of many examples of American violence against
the Middle East and/or Muslims since the 1980s. The record includes:
o the shooting down of two Libyan planes
o the bombing of Libya in 1986
o the bombing and sinking of an Iranian ship in 1987
o the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in 1988
o the shooting down of two more Libyan planes in 1989
o the massive bombing of the Iraqi people in 1991
o the continuing bombings and sanctions against Iraq for the next
o the bombing of Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998
o the habitual support of Israel despite the routine devastation
and torture it inflicts upon the Palestinian people
o the habitual condemnation of Palestinian resistance to this
o the abduction of "suspected terrorists" from Muslim
countries, such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Albania, who
are then taken to places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where they
o the large military and hi-tech presence in Islam's holiest land,
Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region
o the support of undemocratic, authoritarian Middle East governments
from the Shah of Iran to the Saudis.
"How do I respond when I see that
in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America?"
asked George W. "I'll tell you how I respond: I'm amazed.
I'm amazed that there's such misunderstanding of what our country
is about that people would hate us. I am-like most Americans,
I just can't believe it because I know how good we are.""
The Iraqi resistance
The official Washington mentality about
the motivations of individuals they call terrorists is also manifested
in current US occupation policy in Iraq. Secretary of War Donald
Rumsfeld has declared that there are five groups opposing US forces-looters,
criminals, remnants of Saddam Hussein's government, foreign terrorists
and those influenced by Iran." An American official in Iraq
maintains that many of the people shooting at US troops are "poor
young Iraqis" who have been paid between $20 and $100 to
stage hit-and-run attacks on US soldiers. "They're not dedicated
fighters," he said. "They're people who wanted to take
a few potshots."22
With such language do American officials
avoid dealing with the idea that any part of the resistance is
composed of Iraqi citizens who are simply demonstrating their
resentment about being bombed, invaded, occupied, and subjected
to daily humiliations.
Some officials convinced themselves that
it was largely the most loyal followers of Saddam Hussein and
his two sons who were behind the daily attacks on Americans, and
that with the capture or killing of the evil family, resistance
would die out; tens of millions of dollars were offered as reward
for information leading to this joyful prospect. Thus it was that
the killing of the sons elated military personnel. US Army trucks
with loudspeakers drove through small towns and villages to broadcast
a message about the death of Hussein's sons. "Coalition forces
have won a great victory over the Baath Party and the Saddam Hussein
regime by killing Uday and Qusay Hussein in Mosul," said
the message broadcast in Arabic. "The Baath Party has no
power in Iraq. Renounce the Baath Party or you are in great danger."
It called on all officials of Hussein's government to turn themselves
What followed was several days of some
of the deadliest attacks against American personnel since the
guerrilla war began. Unfazed, American officials in Washington
and Iraq continue to suggest that the elimination of Saddam will
write finis to anti-American actions.
Another way in which the political origins
of terrorism are obscured is by the common practice of blaming
poverty or repression by Middle Eastern governments (as opposed
to US support for such governments) for the creation of terrorists.
Defenders of US foreign policy cite this also as a way of showing
how enlightened they are. Here's Condoleezza Rice:
[The Middle East] is a region where hopelessness
provides a fertile ground for ideologies that convince promising
youths to aspire not to a university education, a career or family,
but to blowing themselves up, taking as many innocent lives with
them as possible. We need to address the source of the problem.
Many on the left speak in a similar fashion,
apparently unconscious of what they're obfuscating. This analysis
confuses terrorism with revolution.
In light of the several instances mentioned
above, among others which could be cited, of US officials giving
the game away, in effect admitting that terrorists and guerrillas
may be, or in fact are, reacting to actual hurts and injustices,
it may be that George W. is the only true believer among them,
if in fact he is one. The thought may visit leaders of the American
Empire, at least occasionally, that all their expressed justifications
for invading Iraq and Afghanistan and for their "War on Terrorism"
are no more than fairy tales for young children and grown-up innocents.
But officialdom doesn't make statements to represent reality.
It constructs stories to legitimize the pursuit of interests.
And the interests here are irresistibly compelling: creating the
most powerful empire in all history, enriching their class comrades,
remaking the world in their own ideological image.
Being the target of terrorism is just
one of the prices you pay for such prizes, and terrorist attacks
provide a great excuse for the next intervention, the next expansion
of the empire, the next expansion of the military budget.
A while ago, I heard a union person on
the radio proposing what he called "a radical solution to
poverty-pay people enough to live on."
Well, I'd like to propose a radical solution
to antiAmerican terrorism-stop giving terrorists the motivation
to attack America. As long as the imperial mafia insist that antiAmerican
terrorists have no good or rational reason for retaliation against
the United States for anything the US has ever done to their countries,
as long as US foreign policy continues with its bloody and oppressive
interventions, the "War on Terrorism" is as doomed to
failure as the war on drugs has been.
If I were the president, I could stop
terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently.
I would first apologize-very publicly and very sincerely-to all
the widows and orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and
all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism.
Then I would announce to every corner of the world that America's
global military interventions have come to an end. I would then
inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union
but-oddly enough-a foreign country. Then I would reduce the military
budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations
to the victims and repair the damage from the many American bombings,
invasions and sanctions. There would be more than enough money.
One year's military budget in the United States is equal to more
than $20,000 per hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born.
That's one year.
That's what I'd do on my first three days
in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated.
There's the story from the Cold War about a group of Russian writers
touring the United States. They were astonished to find, after
reading the newspapers and watching television, that almost all
the opinions on all the vital issues were the same. "In our
country," said one of them, "to get that result we have
a dictatorship. We imprison people. We torture them. Here you
have none of that. How do you do it? What's the secret?
Following their 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 their bombing of Yugoslavia
in 1999, the United States wound up with military bases in Kosovo,
Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Bosnia, and Croatia.
Following their bombing of Afghanistan,
the United States appears on course to wind up with military bases
in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan,
Kyrgyzstan, and elsewhere in the area.
What Do the Imperial f Mafia Really Want.?
[written Feb. 17, 2003; the invasion of Iraq took place on March
Which is the more remarkable-that the
United States can openly announce to the world its determination
to invade a sovereign nation and overthrow its government in the
absence of any attack or threat of attack from the intended target?
Or that for an entire year the world has been striving to figure
out what the superpower's real intentions are?
There are of course those who accept at
face value Washington's stated motivations of "liberating"
the people of Iraq from a dictatorship and bestowing upon them
a full measure of democracy, freedom, prosperity and other eternal
joys which are the stuff of American folklore. In light of a century
of well-documented US foreign policy which reveals a virtually
complete absence of such motivations, along with repeated opposite
consequences resulting from such policies, we can dispense with
this endeavor to appeal to the terminal gullibility of the American
people; similarly with the government's attempt at humor by warning
us that Iraq is an imminent military threat.
Presented here are some reflections about
several of the causes that make the hearts of the imperial mafia
beat faster in regard to Iraq, which may be helpful in arguing
the anti-war point of view:
Expansion of the American Empire: adding
more military bases and communications listening stations to the
Pentagon's portfolio, setting up a command post from which to
better monitor, control and intimidate the rest of the Middle
Idealism: the imperial mafia fundamentalists
remaking the world in America's image, with free enterprise, belief
in a political system straight out of an American high-school
textbook, and Judeo-Christianity as core elements. They assume
that US moral authority is as absolute and unchallengeable as
its military power. Here is Michael Ledeen, former Reagan official,
now at the American Enterprise Institute (one of the leading drum-beaters
for attacking Iraq): "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."
Oil: to be in full control of Iraq's vast
reserves, with Saudi oil and Iranian oil waiting defenselessly
next door; OPEC will be stripped of its independence from Washington
and will no longer think about replacing the dollar with the Euro
as its official currency, as Iraq has already done; oil-dependent
Europe may think twice next time about challenging Washington's
policies; the emergence of the European Union as a competing superpower
may be slowed down.
Globalization: Once relative security
over the land, people and institutions has been established, the
transnational corporations will march into Iraq ready to privatize
everything at fire-sale prices, followed closely by the IMF, World
Bank, World Trade Organization and the rest of the international
Arms industry: As with each of America's
endless wars, military manufacturers will rake in their exorbitant
profits, then deliver their generous political contributions,
inspiring Washington leaders to yet further warfare, each war
also being the opportunity to test new weapons and hand out contracts
for the rebuilding of the country just demolished. As an added
bonus, Pentagon officers have jobs waiting for them with the same
companies when they retire.
Israel: The men driving Bush to war include
long-time militant supporters of Israel, such as Richard Perle,
Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith, who, along with the rest of
the powerful American- Israeli lobby, have advocated striking
Iraq for years. Israel has been playing a key role in the American
military buildup to the war. Besides getting rid of its arch enemy,
Israel may have the opportunity after the war to carry out its
final solution to the Palestinian question-transferring them to
Jordan, ("liberated") Iraq, and anywhere else that expanded
US hegemony in the Middle East will allow. At the same time, Iraq's
abundant water could be diverted to relieve a parched Israel and
an old Iraqi-to-Israel oil pipeline could be rejuvenated.
Setting a High (Double) Standard
Supplying Saddam Hussein with Weapons of Mass Destruction
[A version of this essay appeared in The Progressive, April 19981
After her now-infamous 1996 remark that
the "price" of American sanctions against Iraq-the death
of half a million children-"is worth it", Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright travels around the world to gather
support for yet more punishment of a country where American bombings
and seven years of sanctions have left about a million men, women
and children dead and a previously well-off nation plunged into
poverty, disease, and malnutrition.
Their crime? They have a leader who refuses
to cede all sovereignty to the United States (acting under its
usual United Nations cover) which demands that every structure
in Iraq, including the presidential palaces, be available for
inspection for "weapons of mass destruction". After
more than six years of these inspections, and significant destruction
of stocks of forbidden chemical, biological, and nuclear weapon
material, as well as weapons research and development programs,
the UN team still refuses to certify that Iraq is clean enough.
Inasmuch as the country is larger than
California, it's understandable that the inspectors cannot be
certain that all prohibited weapons have been uncovered. It's
equally understandable for Iraq to claim that the United States
can, and will, continue to find some excuse not to give Iraq the
certification needed to end the sanctions. Indeed, President Clinton
has said more than once that the US will not allow sanctions to
be lifted as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power.
It can be said that the United States
has inflicted more vindictive punishment and ostracism upon Iraq
than upon Germany or Japan after World War II.
The Saddam Hussein regime must wonder
at the high (double) standard set by Washington. Less than a year
ago, the US Senate passed an act to implement the "Convention
on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling
and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction" (Short
title: Chemical Weapons Convention), an international treaty which
had been ratified by more than 100 nations in its five-year life.
The Senate act, Section 307, stipulates
that "the President may deny a request to inspect any facility
in the United States in cases where the President determines that
the inspection may pose a threat to the national security interests
of the United States." Saddam has asked for no more than
that for Iraq. Presumably, under the Senate act, the White House,
Pentagon, etc. would be off limits, as Saddam insists his presidential
palaces should be, as well as the military unit responsible for
his personal security, which an American colonel demanded to visit.
Moreover, Section 303 states that "Any
objection by the President to an individual serving as an inspector...
shall not be reviewable in any court." Again, this echoes
a repeated complaint from the Iraqis-a recent team of 16 inspectors
included 14 from the US and Britain, Saddam's two principal adversaries
who are, at this very moment, busily planning new bombing raids
on Iraq. The team was led by a US Marine Corps captain, a veteran
of the Gulf War, who has been accused of spying by Iraq. But the
Iraqis do not have a corresponding right of exclusion. The same
section of the Senate act also provides that an FBI agent "accompanies
each inspection team visit" in the United States.
The wishes of the Iraqi government to
place certain sites off limits and to have less partisan inspectors
have been dismissed out of hand by US government spokespersons
and the American media. The prevailing attitude has been: "What
do they have to hide?" (chuckle, chuckle).
The hypocrisy runs deeper yet. In his
recent State of the Union address, President Clinton spoke of
how we must "confront the new hazards of chemical and biological
weapons and the outlaw states, terrorists and organized criminals
seeking to acquire them." He castigated Saddam Hussein for
"developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons"
and called for strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention.
"You cannot defy the will of the world," the president
proclaimed to Hussein. "You have used weapons of mass destruction
before. We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them
Who among the president's listeners knew,
who among the media reported, that the United States had been
the supplier to Iraq of much of the source biological and other
materials and equipment Saddam's scientists required to create
biological and chemical warfare programs?
According to a Senate Report of 19942:
From 1985, if not earlier, through 1989, a veritable witch's brew
of biological materials was exported to Iraq by private American
suppliers pursuant to application and licensing by the US Department
of Commerce. Amongst these materials, which often produce slow
and agonizing deaths, were:
o Bacillus Anthrocis, cause of anthrax.
o Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin. o Histoplasma
Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs, brain, spinal
cord and heart. o Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage
major organs. o Clotsridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria
causing systemic illness. o Clostridium tetani, highly toxigenic.
o Also, Escherichia Coli (E.Coli); genetic materials; human and
Dozens of other pathogenic biological
agents were shipped to Iraq during the 1980s. The Senate Report
pointed out: "These biological materials were not attenuated
or weakened and were capable of reproduction."' "It
was later learned," the committee stated, "that these
microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to
those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the
Iraqi biological warfare program." Additionally, United States
exports to Iraq in this period included:
o Chemical warfare agent precursors. o
Chemical warfare agent production facility plans and technical
drawings. o Chemical warhead filling equipment.
These exports continued to at least November
28, 1989 despite the fact that Iraq had been reported to be engaging
in chemical warfare and possibly biological warfare against Iranians,
Kurds, and Shiites since the early 1980s.
During the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-88, the
United States gave military aid and intelligence information to
both sides, hoping that each would inflict severe damage on the
other, in line perhaps with what Noam Chomsky has postulated:
It's been a leading, driving doctrine
of US foreign policy since the 1940s that the vast and unparalleled
energy resources of the Gulf region will be effectively dominated
by the United States and its clients, and, crucially, that no
independent, indigenous force will be permitted to have a substantial
influence on the administration of oil production and price.
This policy, as well as financial considerations,
were likely the motivating forces behind selling Iraq the biological
and chemical materials. (Iran was at that time regarded as the
greater threat to the seemingly always threatened US national
Indeed, there is evidence that Washington
encouraged Iraq to attack Iran and ignite the war in the first
place. A recently discovered Department of State document from
Secretary of State Alexander Haig to President Reagan about Haig's
trip to the Middle East in April 1981, said: "It was also
interesting to confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a
green light to launch the war against Iran through Fahd [Saudi
Arabia's crown prince, later king]."'
As the American public and media are being
prepared to accept and cheerlead the next bombing of the people
of Iraq, the stated rationale, the official party line, is that
Iraq is an "outlaw" state (or "rogue" state,
or "pariah" state-the media obediently repeats all the
White House and State Department buzz words), which is ignoring
a United Nations Security Council resolution. Israel, however,
has ignored many such resolutions without the US bombing Tel Aviv,
imposing sanctions, or even cutting back military aid. But by
some arcane ideological alchemy, Israel is not deemed an "outlaw"
state by Washington.
Neither does the United States regard
itself as such for turning its back on a ruling of the U.N.'s
World Court in 1984 to cease its hostile military actions against
Nicaragua, or for the numerous times the US has totally ignored
overwhelming General Assembly resolutions, nor for its repeated
use of chemical and biological agents against Cuba since the 1960s.
In any event, the weapons monitoring disagreement
is between Iraq and the United Nations, not Iraq and the United
States. And the U.N. has not authorized any of its members to
"What gives Britain and the United
States the right to go it alone on this?" asked an unusually
brave reporter at a February 6 Clinton/Blair press conference.
President Clinton offered no direct reply
to the question. Prime Minister Blair gave no reply at all.
The bombing looks to be inevitable; the
boys are busy moving all their toys into position. Of course,
no one knows what it will accomplish besides more death and destruction,
and perhaps distracting the media from L'Affaire Clinton-Lewinsky.
Saddam will remain in power. He'll be more stubborn than ever
about the inspections. There may be one consolation for the Iraqi
people. Discussing Secretary of Defense William Cohen's view of
the matter, the press said: "U.S. officials remain wary as
he recalled they were during the 1991 war that evicted Iraqi forces
from Kuwait-of doing so much military damage to Iraq to weaken
its regional role as a counterweight to Iran."
Madeleine Albright, Ethically Challenged
[written 1998-1999} 1)
1) "Asked if it is not hypocritical
to punish Burma for human rights violations while refraining from
sanctions on China for similar actions, Albright replied, 'We
have consistent principles and flexible tactics'."
The same "flexible tactics"
(English translation: hypocrisy) are evident in the policies embraced
by Albright toward Cuba, Libya, Iraq, et al, as opposed to the
policies toward Turkey, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia.
2) At a "Town Hall" meeting,
held in Columbus, Ohio, February 18, 1998, concerning impending
American bombing strikes against Iraq, Aibright was heckled and
asked critical, and perhaps uncomfortable, questions. At one point,
her mind and her integrity could come up with no better response
than to make something up: "I really am surprised,"
she declared, "that people feel that it is necessary to defend
the rights of Saddam Hussein,"
At another point, a besieged Albright
was moved to yell: "We are the greatest country in the world
and what we are doing is serving the role of the indispensable
nation to see what we can do to make the world safer for our children
and grandchildren and for those people around the world who follow
the ç rules."' On TV the next morning, she reiterated:
"If we have to ) use force, it is because we are America!
We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall, and we see further
into the future,"
Patriotism is indeed the last refuge of
a scoundrel, though her words didn't quite have the ring of "Deutschland
über alles" or "Rule Britannia".
Finally, unable to provide answers that
satisfied or quieted the questioners at the Town Hall, Aibright
stated that she would meet with some of them after the meeting
to answer their questions. But as soon as the meeting ended, the
Secretary of State was out of there, posthaste. Her offer, it
would seem, had just been a tactic to try and pacify the hostile
3) Television interview, "60 Minutes",
May 12, 1996:
Lesley Stahl, speaking of US sanctions against lraq: "We
have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's
more children than died in Hiroshima. And-and you know, is the
price worth it?"
Madeleine Albright: "I think this
is a very hard choice, but the price-we think the price is worth
Yet, at the Town Hall meeting referred
to above, Aibright was seemingly not embarrassed to declare: "I
am willing to make a bet to anyone here that we care more about
the Iraqi people than Saddam Hussein does. He does not care a
4) Albright in Guatemala, talking to a
group of impoverished children: "Why would [I] and the United
States care about what is happening here? The reason is we are
all one family and when one part of our family is not happy or
suffers, we all suffer."
Thus spaketh the principal foreign policy
officer of the country directly responsible for bringing more
than 40 years of poverty, torture, death squads, massacres and
disappeared people to Guatemala, all extremely well documented.
5) "To a student who asked [Aibrighti
whether the United States was not spending too much of its resources
on being the world's policeman and too little on more pressing
domestic concerns, Albright asked him in return to estimate what
share of the federal budget goes to foreign policy. When he guessed
15 or 20 percent, Aibright pounced."
"It's 1 percent, 1 percent of the
entire budget," Aibright said.
Her reply was conspicuously disingenuous.
At best, she was referring to the budget of only the State Department,
concealing what everyone knows, even the teenage student she browbeat-US
foreign policy expenditures must include the Defense Department,
the CIA, the National Security Agency, and a host of other government
agencies. Together they consume more than 50 percent of the budget.
6) In February 1996, as UN ambassador, Albright reacted with righteous
indignation against the Cuban pilots who expressed satisfaction
after shooting down two planes of Cubans from Florida which were
headed toward Cuba. "This one won't miss around any more,"
one of the attacking pilots is reported to have exclaimed.
"I was struck by the joy of these
pilots in committing cold-blooded murder," Albright said,
accusing the Cuban pilots of "cowardice."
What, one may ask, did she think of the
American pilots who, while bombing and strafing helpless retreating
Iraqis in 1991, exclaimed: "we toasted him"..."we
hit the jackpot"... "a turkey shoot", "shooting
fish in a barrel"... "basically just sitting ducks"...
"There's just nothing like it. It's the biggest Fourth of
July show you've ever seen, and to see those tanks just boom',
and more stuff just keeps spewing out of them ...they just become
white hot. It's wonderful."
7) On October 8, 1997, in announcing the
designation of 18 additional foreign political organizations as
terrorist- supporting groups, Secretary of State Albright declared
that she wanted to help make the United States a "no support
for terrorism zone". It could be suggested that if the Secretary
were truly committed to this goal, instead of offering her usual
lip service, she should begin at home-the anti-Castro community
in Miami, collectively, is one of the longest-lasting and most
prolific terrorist organizations in the world. Over the years
they've carried out hundreds of bombings, arson attacks, shootings,
and murders, blown up an airplane, killing 73 people, fired a
bazooka at the United Nations, and much more. But Madame Albright
will not lift a finger against them.
The State Department designates Cuba as
one of the states which harbors terrorists.
8) As UN Ambassador, Albright informed
the Security Council during a 1994 discussion about Iraq: "We
recognize this area as vital to US national interests and we will
behave, with others, multilaterally when we can and unilaterally
when we must."
Albright was thus stating that the United
States recognizes no external constraints on its behavior, when
it decides that a particular area of the world is "vital
to US national interests". It would of course be difficult
to locate a spot on the globe that Aibright and the United States
do not regard as "vital to US national interests."
9) On more than one occasion while UN
ambassador, Albright has yelled at UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghaii
that he must not publish the report about Israel's bombing of
the UN-run refugee camp in Qana, Lebanon, in April 1996, which
killed more than 100 refugees. The UN report said that the attack
was not a mistake, as Israel claimed. Albright-who has surrounded
herself with alumni of Israeli and Jewish lobbies-warned the Secretary-
General that if the report came out, the US would veto him for
his second term.
The report came out, and so did Boutros
10) And here we have Madeleine the humanitarian:
It is not a good idea" to link human rights and trade issues."
A philosophy that could have been used
to justify trade with Nazi Germany... or anyone else... or with
a country doing anything.
11) Albright To Cohn Powell who felt that
the US should not commit military forces to Bosnia until there
was a clear 'j political objective: "What's the point of
having this superb military that you're always talking about if
we can't use it?"
"I thought I would have an aneurysm,"
Powell later wrote.
"American GIs were not toy soldiers
to be moved around on some sort of global game board."
All of the above, however, may be regarded
as mere peccadilloes of Madame Albright when compared to her roles
in: (a)blocking UN reinforcements going to Rwanda during the infamous
massacre of 1994; (b)getting the US involved in its bloody debacle
in Somalia in 1993; (c)pushing hard for the bombing of Yugoslavia,
78 days of horrific death and destruction for the people of Serbia
and Kosovo for no reason honorable enough to admit to.
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