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 whole room."

"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 Iraq.

"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 these days."

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 and liberate?


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 the statement.

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 times.


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 change.

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
Interventionism revisionism

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 style".

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 smiles?

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 would qualify.

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 humanity.

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 personnel.

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 in 1981
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 12 years
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 are tortured
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 in."

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 20]

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 East.

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 financial extortionists.

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 again."

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 bacterial DNA.

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 security.)

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 use force.

"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 crowd.

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 it."

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 fig."

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 Boutros-Ghali.'

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.

Freeing the World to Death

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