excerpts from the book
A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
by William Blum
Common Courage Press, 2000
Neither is it that US foreign policy is cruel because American
leaders are cruel. It's that our leaders are cruel because only
those willing to be inordinately cruel and remorseless can hold
positions of leadership in the foreign policy establishment; it
might as well be written into the job description. People capable
of expressing a full human measure of compassion and empathy toward
faraway powerless strangers - (let alone American soldiers - do
not become president of the United States, or vice president,
or secretary of state, or national security adviser or secretary
of the treasury. Nor do they want to.
Propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship.
... at the beginning of the 21st century do the American people
really need to be reminded that governments lie, that great powers
lie greater, that the world's only superpower has the most to
lie about, i.e., cover up?
... doing the right thing is not a principle of American foreign
policy, not an ideal or a goal of policy in and of itself. If
it happens that doing the right thing coincides with, or is irrelevant
to, Washington's overriding international ambitions, American
officials have no problem walking the high moral ground. But this
is rarely the case. ... the engine of American foreign policy
has been fueled not by a devotion to any kind of morality, nor
even simple decency, but rather by the necessity to serve other
America cherishes her enemies. Without enemies, she is a nation
without purpose and direction. The various components of the National
Security State need enemies to justify their swollen budgets,
to aggrandize their work, to protect their jobs, to give themselves
a mission in the aftermath of the Soviet Union ...
American foreign-policy makers are exquisitely attuned to the
rise of a government, or a movement that might take power, that
will not lie down and happily become an American client state,
that will not look upon the free market or the privatization of
the world known as "globalization" as the summum bonum,
that will not change its laws to favor foreign investment, that
will not be unconcerned about the effects of foreign investment
upon the welfare of its own people, that will not produce primarily
for export, that will not allow asbestos, banned pesticides and
other products restricted in the developed world to be dumped
onto their people, that will not easily tolerate the International
Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organization inflicting a scorched-earth
policy upon the country's social services or standard of living,
that will not allow an American or NATO military installation
upon its soil... Given the proper pretext, such bad examples have
to be reduced to basket cases, or, where feasible, simply overthrown.
It can be argued-based on the objective facts of what Washington
has inflicted upon the world for more than half a century [that]
American foreign policy has, in actuality, been clinically mad.
There appears to be something about launching bombs or missiles
from afar onto cities and people that appeals to American military
and political leaders. In part it has to do with a conscious desire
to not risk American lives in ground combat. And in part, perhaps
not entirely conscious, it has to do with not wishing to look
upon the gory remains of the victims, allowing American Gls and
TV viewers at home to cling to their warm fuzzy feelings about
themselves and their government.
A terrorist is someone who has a bomb but doesn't have an air
... in 1982 and 1983 [in the UN] the US was alone in voting against
a declaration that education, work, health care, proper nourishment
and national development are human rights.
What keeps most Americans from being shocked by the shredding
of the Bill of Rights is that they have yet to feel the consequences,
either personally or through someone close to them. It would appear,
however, that they only have to wait.
President Reagan, 1983, about the UN vote on the bombing of Grenada
(Rogue State, p185)
"One hundred nations in the UN have not agreed with us on
just about everything that's come before them where we're involved,
and it didn't upset my breakfast at all.''
George Orwell - from his book 1984
Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper,
would be picked up by it... There was of course no way of knowing
whether you were being watched at any given moment...You had to
live - did live, from habit that became instinct-in the assumption
that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness,
every movement scrutinized.
First Lady Hillary Clinton said about the medical and insurance
industries for putting their profits ahead of the public's health.
"The market knows the price of everything but the value
Inspector Basil Lambrou, Greece, 1960s
"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."
Dan Mitrione, an employee of the US Office of Public Safety
(part of the Agency for International Development), which trained
and armed foreign police forces, was stationed in Montevideo,
Uruguay - late 1960s
"The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise
amount, for the desired effect," was Mitrione's motto.
"When you get what you want, and I always get it,"
he said, "it may be good to prolong the session a little
to apply another softening-up. Not to extract information now,
but only as a political measure, to create a healthy fear of meddling
in subversive activities."
C. Douglas Lummis, political scientist (Rogue State, p92)
... while "wanton destruction of towns, cities and villages"
is a war crime of long standing, the bombing of cities from airplanes
goes not only unpunished but virtually unaccused. Air bombardment
is state terrorism, the terrorism of the rich. It has burned up
and blasted apart more innocents in the past six decades than
have all the anti-state terrorists who ever lived. Something has
benumbed our consciousness against this reality. In the United
States we would not consider for the presidency a man who had
once thrown a bomb into a crowded restaurant, 5. but we are happy
to elect a man who once dropped bombs from airplanes that destroyed
not only restaurants but the buildings that contained them and
the neighborhoods that surrounded them. I went to Iraq after the
Gulf War and saw for myself what the bombs did; "wanton destruction"
is just the term for it.
Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), during a congressional debate in
1998 about imposing sanctions against countries that allow religious
persecution. The sanctions were opposed by US business interests.
"We've got to figure out what we believe in our country.
Do we believe in capitalism and money or do we believe in human
From each according to his ability, to each according to his
Joseph Schumpeter, 1919
The Roman Empire
There was no corner of the known world where some interest
was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the
interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies; and
if Rome had no allies, the allies would be invented. When it was
utterly impossible to contrive such an interest - why, then it
was the national honor that had been insulted. The fight was always
invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked
by evil-minded neighbors. . .The whole world was pervaded by a
host of enemies, it was manifestly Rome's duty to guard against
their indubitably aggressive designs...Even less than in the cases
that have already been discussed, can an attempt be made here
to comprehend these wars of conquest from the point of view of
concrete objectives. Here there was neither a warrior nation in
our sense, nor, in the beginning, a military despotism or an aristocracy
of specifically military orientation. Thus there is but one way
to an understanding: scrutiny of domestic class interests, the
question of who stood to gain.
Arnold Toynbee, 1961
America is today the leader of a world-wide anti-revolutionary
movement in the defense of vested interests. She now stands for
what Rome stood for. Rome consistently supported the rich against
the poor in all foreign communities that fell under her sway;
and, since the poor, so far, have always and everywhere been far
more numerous than the rich, Rome's policy made for inequality,
for injustice, and for the least happiness of the greatest number.
H.L. Mencken, 1920
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed
(and hence, clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with
an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.
General Douglas MacArthur, speaking of large Pentagon budgets,
(William Manchester, , American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, Dell
Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear-kept
us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor-with the cry of
grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible
evil. . . to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it
by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect,
these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have
been quite real.
From a 1995 study by the U.S. Strategic Command, the headquarters
responsible for the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal
Because of the value that comes from the ambiguity of what
the US may do to an adversary if the acts we seek to deter are
carried out, it hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational
and cool-headed. The fact that some elements may appear to be
potentially "out of control' can be beneficial to creating
and reinforcing fears and doubts within the minds of an adversary's
decision makers. This essential sense of fear is the working force
of deterrence. That the US may become irrational and vindictive
if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national
persona we project to all adversaries.
From the Pentagon (Rogue State, p 25)
US Space Command-dominating the space dimension of military operations
to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces
into war-fighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict...During
the early portion of the 21st century, space power will also evolve
into a separate and equal medium of warfare...The emerging synergy
of space superiority with land, sea and air superiority will lead
to Full Spectrum Dominance...Development of ballistic missile
defenses using space systems and planning for precision strikes
from space offers a counter to the worldwide proliferation of
WMD [weapons of mass destruction]...Space is a region with increasing
commercial, civil, international and military interests and investments.
The threat to these vital systems is also increasing...Control
of Space is the ability to assure access to space, freedom of
operations within the space medium and an ability to deny others
the use of space, if required...Control of Space is a complex
mission that casts USCINCSPACE [US Commander-in-Chief of space]
in a classic war-fighter role and mandates an established AOR
[area of responsibility]....With regard to space dominance, we
have it, we like it, and we're going to keep it....We will engage
terrestrial targets someday-ships, airplanes, land targets-from
space...We're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from
space and we're going to fight into space.
Jose Barrera, Honduran torturer(Rogue State, p 49)
"They always asked to be killed. Torture is worse than death."
FBI definition of terrorism (Rogue State, p 32)
The FBI defines international terrorism as "the unlawful
use of force or violence committed by a group or individual, who
has some connection to a foreign power or whose activities transcend
national boundaries, against persons or property to intimidate
or coerce a government, the civilian population or any segment
thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."
The FBI definition, although meant to describe acts directed
against the United States, would seem to cover rather well countless
acts of the US government itself. Many of these acts will be found
in the pages of this book, under the headings of bombings, interventions,
torture, chemical and biological warfare, etc.
From 1954 White House commission to study the ClA's covert activities
(Doolittle Report) (Rogue State, p 42)
It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose
avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at
whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable
norms of human conduct do not apply. If the United States is to
survive, long-standing American concepts of "fair play"
must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and
counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage
and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated, and
more effective methods than those used against us. It may become
necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand
and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.
CIA "Study of Assassination", written early 1950 (Rogue
State, p 43)
"For secret assassinations...the contrived accident is
the most effective technique. When successfully executed, it causes
little excitement and is only casually investigated. The most
efficient accident...is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard
surface. Elevator shafts, stair wells, unscreened windows and
bridges will serve...The act may be executed by sudden, vigorous
grabbing of the ankles, tipping the subject over the edge. If
the assassin immediately sets up an outcry, playing the 'horrified
witness', no alibi or surreptitious withdrawal necessary."
"Drugs can be very effective. If the assassin is trained
as a doctor or nurse and the subject is under medical care, this
is an easy and sure method. An overdose of morphine administered
as a sedative will cause death without disturbance and is difficult
to detect. The size of the dose will depend upon whether the subject
has been using narcotics regularly. If not, two grains will suffice.
If the subject drinks heavily, morphine or a similar narcotic
can be injected at the passing out stage, and the cause of death
will often be held to be acute alcoholism."
"Edge weapons: Any legally obtained edge device may be
successfully employed. A certain minimum of anatomical knowledge
is needed for reliability. Puncture wounds of the body cavity
may not be reliable unless the heart is reached. The heart is
protected by the rib cage and is not always easy to locate...Absolute
reliability is obtained by severing the spinal cord in the cervical
region. This can be done with the point of a knife or a light
blow of an axe or hatchet. Another reliable method is the severing
of both jugular and carotid vessels on both sides of the windpipe."