excerpted from the book
The Greatest Story Never
A People's History of the
American Empire 1945-1999
by Michael K. Smith
Xlibrus Corporation, 2002,
1990 Native Americans
Confined on "reservations,"
they have the lowest annual and lifetime incomes of any sector
of the U.S. population and suffer the worst health conditions.
They have twelve times the national incidence of malnutrition,
nine times the rate of alcoholism, seven times the rate of infant
mortality, five times the rate of exposure deaths, and several
times the incidence of bubonic plague, tuberculosis, typhoid,
diphtheria and other easily preventable diseases. Alcoholism,
drug use, suicide, and family violence are epidemic and Indian
children still die from whooping cough, strep throat, and measles.
One out of four Indian males lives in prison and forty percent
of Indian women of childbearing age have been sterilized. Indian
life expectancy is 46 years.
1990 Russian reform
Old men rummage through trash looking
for discarded food. Elderly women scavenge boxes of bones at meat
markets hoping to salvage enough gristle for a thin soup. The
new rich relax in gated villas with Mercedes-filled garages.
The head of the United States Information
Agency enthuses to a reporter that
U.S. business education stands to benefit the Soviets because,
"the vipers, the bloodsuckers, the middlemen-that's what
needs to be rehabilitated in the Soviet Union. That's what makes
our kind of country click!''
Desert Storm slaughter
American Stealth pilots prepare for the
slaughter watching pornographic movies.
Crisscrossing the sky unchallenged, B-52
and Apache helicopter crews light up the moonless night with bombs,
missiles, rockets, napalm, and liquid phosphorus, watching their
handiwork through night vision goggles on a virtual reality screen-within
a-screen that makes distant targets seem up close.
Jetting out clouds of propane that ignite
with nearly nuclear force, fuel air explosives suck the lung tissue
out of Iraqi conscripts on the ground. Cluster bombs detonate
in mid-air, spitting out hundred-loads of mini-bombs across twelve
football fields of space, which explode in turn, ripping everything
to shreds for a hundred blocks around.
Flying over 100,000 sorties in five weeks,
the U.S. drops fifteen times more explosives than it used in all
of World War II. The Iraqi soldiers, blinded during night attacks,
deaf from destroyed communications, disoriented by sleeplessness
and weakened from hunger, thirst, cold, and stress, die and desert
in droves. When the ground war starts, they flee the hopeless
American troops shoot them in the back.
When it's all over, U.S. bulldozers plow
the living and the dead into the desert sand under an oil blackened
sky. Land mines are scattered everywhere, like confetti on New
Desert Storm - desert slaughter
Commentators bubble excitedly that Baghdad
is lit up like a Christmas tree. Tom Brokaw enthuses at "the
threatening beauty of it," while a CNN reporter in Saudi
Arabia waxes poetic at the "most beautiful sight" of
bombers taking off on their missions of glory. Brent Sadler on
ITN reports that, "The night sky was filled with the star-spangled
display of threatening force. "Jim Stewart of CBS News celebrates
"two days of almost picture-perfect assaults, " while
colleague Charles Osgood characterizes the bombing of Iraq as
'a marvel." Describing the pilots' view of the wreckage,
a network T.V. report comments that the Iraqi soldiers look like
"cockroaches." In the middle of a broadcast, Dan Rather
turns to the camera and salutes the troops.
On Super Bowl Sunday ABC intercuts its
football coverage with news of the war. Sportscasters and newscasters
are indistinguishable with their chalk diagrams and excited voices
describing the heroic trajectory of forward passes and Patriot
missiles. The half-time performance of the sexless Disneyland
singers transmutes the massacre into a precious cure for a diseased
world, generously provided by Commander Bush and his kinder, gentler
Baghdad Scene From A War: Precision Killing
Smoke pours out of the civilian shelter
for days while rescue workers collapse in grief excavating the
remains, pitching their dead cargo to the ground. Some vomit from
the stench of the sizzling corpses, nearly all women, children,
and babies burned beyond identification.
The Bush Administration announces it has
hit a "military command post." Defense Secretary Cheney
blames Saddam Hussein for putting civilians "in harms way"
in a residential neighborhood. White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater
"We don't know why civilians were
at this location, but we do know that Saddam Hussein does not
share our value in the sanctity of life. "
American T.V. commentators dismiss the
footage of children's charred remains as a cynical public relations
ploy by the diabolical Butcher of Baghdad.
President Bush announces that he is "concerned
about the suffering of innocents.
Kuwait Scene From A War: The Shooting
With the enemy in headlong retreat, U.S.
pilots cut off escape and slaughter Iraqi soldiers, Asian workers,
and Kuwaiti hostages fleeing along the highway. Bombarding the
trapped traffic for hours they annihilate anything that moves,
leaving the roads awash in blood.
One pilot exclaims: "It was like
shooting fish in a barrel. "
Colin Powell, commenting on the number
of dead Iraqis in Operation Desert Storm
"It's really not a number I'm terribly
1991 Los Angeles
from the Christopher Commission Report
A Sampling Of L.A.P.D. Computer transmissions
"I'm off this Friday. Lets do lunch.
Do you still have that KKK meeting?"
'A day without violence is like a day
without sunshine. "
"They had another shooting here....
I love it when good things happen. It clears the air and gives
me more space to breathe when one more asshole dies."
"I'd love to drive down Slauson (in
Watts) with a flame thrower. We could have a barbecue."
"I almost got me a Mexican, but he
dropped the gun too quick, lots of witnesses."
"I left a 14-year-old girl I met
yesterday handcuffed naked to my chinning bar wearing nothing
but a blindfold and salad oil. I'd like to check on her."
[referring to black people] "Monkeys
in the trees, monkeys in the trees, hiho the dario, monkeys in
1992 Republican Convention
For good measure they pour out their hatred
of gays, feminists, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Commander-in-Chief
Pat Robertson warns that feminism "encourages women to leave
their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy
capitalism, and become lesbians."
A conservative British daily describes
Republican delegates as "the stormtroopers of family values."
1992 Noam Chomsky
He always felt completely out of tune
with the world. At ten he wrote a lament on the defeat of the
anarchists in the Spanish civil war. At sixteen he went off by
himself when he got the news about Hiroshima, unable to share
in the jubilation attending the event. At twenty-four he abandoned
a Harvard Fellowship to go work on a kibbutz, returning only by
chance to fulfill an academic career.
Now ensconced in a comfortable university
life as Institute Professor at M.I.T., an ivory tower position
usually reserved for Nobel Laureates, Noam Chomsky despises establishment
intellectuals, railing against their gullibility, dishonesty,
He dismisses the American intelligentsia
as a class of intellectual prostitutes so hypocritical they make
Hitler appear sane by comparison.
His rebellion is so thorough that he dissents
even from the dissident movements he seeks to encourage. He calls
the Vietnam war a U.S. invasion of South Vietnam and says the
U.S. won the war by destroying the country. He says Pentagon spending
is not defense, but a forced taxpayer subsidy of high-technology
industry. He describes Israel as a modern-day Sparta, a U.S. appendage
on a path to self-destruction. He declares post-WWII presidents
a succession of gangsters worthy of execution if only the Nuremburg
principles could be taken seriously.
He advances the apparently startling thesis
that the rich steal to get ahead and protect their loot with illegitimate
Dismissed as a lunatic by pundits and
scholars, Chomsky's political lectures are sold out years in advance
to overflow audiences throughout the world.
1992 Lawrence Summers
A confidential memo written by Lawrence
Summers, chief economist at the World Bank, is leaked to the Economist.
Summers, noted for his brilliance, writes
that African countries are "vastly underpolluted." Since
cancer-causing agents have a greater economic impact where people
survive to old age than they do where infant mortality rates are
twenty percent, Summers argues that it is only reasonable to encourage
"dirty industries" to migrate to the Third World where
premature death means less foregone earnings and lost productivity.
"The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste
in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up
to that, " he declares nonchalantly.
Development theorist Susan George of the
Transnational Institute disagrees with calls for Summers' resignation:
"Mr. Summers is a perfect example of what the Bank thinks
and is, except that the PR staff usually manages to hide the reality.
Its been a long time since we've had such an unreconstructed and
frank free-marketer and I say, keep him talking."
1993 "Justice" system
The world's proudest democracy runs neck
and neck with Russia for the highest incarceration rate on the
planet. With crime holding steady the number of Americans behind
bars has nearly tripled in the past 15 years. Nonviolent offenses
and minor parole violations account for the vast majority of jailed
The typical inmate is a young, nonwhite
male who becomes involved in petty crime because no avenues to
a legal life of conventional satisfactions exist. He has usually
not finished high school, has no job skills, has never had steady
employment, and is not working at the time of his arrest. The
top five predictors of his crime refer to economic conditions:
business failure rate, number of unemployment claims, number of
workers on strike, number of personal bankruptcies, incidence
of mortgage foreclosure.
President Clinton calls for 100,000 new
cops on the beat, boot camps for juveniles, expanded prison construction,
an extension of the death penalty to dozens of new offenses, and
the criminalization of gang membership.
Arafat capitulates, ending the intifada
and reducing the Palestine Liberation Organization to a municipal
government. Recognizing Israel's "right to exist" he
renounces the PLO Charter, the right to forceful resistance, and
all relevant UN resolutions except 242 and 338, which make no
mention of the Palestinians. He accepts responsibility for guaranteeing
Israeli security, turning his countrymen into police for their
There is no guarantee of Palestinian security,
no Palestinian sovereignty, and no autonomous economy. Israeli
companies will set up sweatshops in the Occupied Territories and
the Palestinians will continue to supply the $6-a-day coolie labor.
Richard Nixon shuffles off his mortal
coil and is eulogized as a great American. Pundits mourn him as
an insightful elder statesman, a figure of "historic proportions"
and "towering size, "who weathered the storms of scandal
and defeat to emerge a benevolent sage and ultimate success. Columnist
William Safire salutes Nixon's 'gutsy engagement with life. "The
New York Times declares that Nixon "Inspired and inflamed
the American imagination for half a century" and was 'a giant,
right up there with Citizen Kane and Moby Dick. " Times Hugh
Sidey says all he needed was love: "He would have been a
great, great man had somebody loved him. "
At a banquet in Washington President Clinton
pays homage, confessing that Nixon "taught me what it means
to be an American. "
Choking up at the funeral, Henry Kissinger
praises Nixon for his "visionary dream" of a new world
order that would 'give new hope to mankind. " A tearful Senator
Dole declares the second half of the twentieth century "the
age of Nixon."
Nixon's own words to White House Counselor
Chuck Colson during the Watergate era immortalize his spirit better
than all the eulogies: "One day we will get them . . . Get
them on the floor and step on them, crush them, show no mercy.
And we'll stick our heels in, step on them hard and twist. . .
right, Chuck, right?"
1994 New York City - Bob Grant
Week after week Bob Grant instructs his
one million radio listeners in the art of vengeful hatred.
He refers to Mayor David Dinkins as "the
washroom attendant." Affecting an Amos 'n Andy dialect, he
stereotypes blacks as criminals and drug addicts, calling them
"mutants" and 'animals. " Commenting on blacks
attending a celebrity basketball game involving rap artists he
says: "We have in our nation . . . millions of sub-humanoids,
savages who really would feel more at home careening along the
sands of the Kalahari or the dry deserts of eastern Kenya-people
who . . . have not become civilized." He says Haitians living
in the U.S. "multiply . . . like maggots on a hot day, "
and he yearns for the police to machine-gun New York City's gay
New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman
appears on Grant's show thanking him for helping her win election.
A regular and friendly guest, New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato
announces that Mayor Dinkins ought to visit Africa 'and stay there."
While Grant vents his bigotry unchallenged,
the mainstream media inveigh against "black racism"
in the Nation of Islam.
American soldiers arrive in the Haitian
capital to bolster Haitian elites who overthrew President Aristide
in a 1991 coup. President Carter, on hand as a mediator, declares
that "our troops are working with full cooperation with the
Haitian military, " the same military he describes as "armed
thugs" who have "conducted a reign of terror, executing
children, raping women, killing priests."
After three years of state violence, the
popular organizations that swept Aristide to power have been wiped
out. With the men who overthrew him still firmly controlling the
military, a neutralized Aristide is allowed back in office to
serve his final two years as a lame duck.
I995 Corporate welfare
Ninety-one corporations take out huge
ads in the New York Times and other major newspapers declaring
ominously that, "Without a Balanced Budget the Party's Over.
"While President Clinton and Newt Gingrich wrangle, their
corporate masters announce that 'America must begin to live within
its means, " and demand that the partisan chieftains impose
deep cuts in Medicare to bring the era of big government to an
end. Deeply distressed at the nation's fiscal irresponsibility,
the signers declare their "common concern for America's future.
Ralph Nader responds by personal letter.
He congratulates the Financial Titans on their call for across-the-board
belt-tightening and identifies ten corporate welfare programs
costing taxpayers a total of $51 billion and asks them to sign
a pledge card renouncing the aid: "To help balance the budget,
I have identified the federal subsidies and tax expenditures that
currently benefit my corporation and selected the subsidies and
tax expenditures that my corporation agrees to begin to forego
No one signs.
1996 Iraq sanctions / Albright
Six hundred thousand children have died
from malnutrition and disease since George Bush implemented economic
sanctions against the people of Iraq. A U.N. Food and Agricultural
Organization report states that Iraqi children under five are
plagued by "wasting" severe hunger, visible in the ribs
and limbs. "Iraq," the report says, "is increasingly
becoming like a concentration camp. " The continued silence
of the international community, it warns, "results in genocide."
On 60 Minutes Lesley Stahl asks U.S. Ambassador
to the U.N. Madeleine Albright if the political gain is worth
"more children than died in Hiroshima." Albright is
firm in her professional determination: "I think this is
a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth
Roger Rector of the Heritage Foundation
"There is a liberal myth that poverty
is bad for kids, " he says dismissively.
1997 Rich country, Poor people
Average real wages have been in decline
for two decades.
The top one percent of families possess
almost as much wealth as the bottom 95 percent.
Drowning in capital, multi-millionaire
CEOs fire workers by the thousands and watch their stock prices
skyrocket. The Federal Reserve Board keeps business costs low
holding millions of workers in unemployment, underemployment,
and underpayment. Full-time jobs shrink to part-time, part-time
to "contingent," contract work to "leased"
employment at a fraction of its former wage. Benefit packages
shrivel and disappear.
Saluting the booming market, Chairman
Alan Greenspan attributes unprecedented stock growth to 'greater
With less than 15% of Americans belonging
to a union, the U.S. is the only industrial nation without a national
health plan. A Harvard medical study indicates 100,000 Americans
a year die from lack of access to treatment.
Prison labor is a growth industry. Chain
gangs are in vogue North and South. A generation of black males
is herded into jail: one out of three in his twenties finds himself
in prison, paroled, or on probation.
Indians exist hopelessly on "reservations"
with a life expectancy in the forties, infant mortality seven
times the national average, and the worst poverty of any ethnic
group in the nation.
Washington funnels subsidies to planet-spanning
corporations bidding down wages, shredding workplace safety standards,
and laying waste to a fragile ecology.
1998 US - Human Rights violator
"The U.S.A. has refused to recognize
any regional human rights treaties: it has not ratified the American
Convention on Human Rights, adopted 6y the OAS (Organization of
American States) in 1969, and / has not even signed the Inter-American
Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, the Inter-American Convention
on Forced Disappearance of Persons and the Inter-American Convention
to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women. "
Amnesty International, October, 1998
1999 Iraq sanctions
An epidemic of dysentery, cholera, typhoid
fever, and malaria sweeps through sanctions-devastated Iraq. Since
the start of the U.S. embargo 750,000 Iraqi children under age
five have died. UNICEF predicts another 1.5 million will suffer
malnutrition and other diseases from lack of medicine.
Radioactive dust from depleted uranium
shells is a major killer, with soil samples in the capital registering
84 times background radiation. Entering the food chain through
soil and water, it sends malignancy rates through the roof. A
rarity before the Gulf War, leukemia now abounds, with doctors
reporting ten new cases a month. While cancer, miscarriage, and
birth defects are common, antibiotics and painkillers with which
to treat them are virtually non-existent, consequence of the economic
From the moment their eyes open on the
world, starvation and disease stalk the children of Iraq. Full-term
babies emerge stunted from the womb: a baby is born with no face;
another is a tiny mite with a huge head but no brain; others have
no eyes, twisted limbs, or no limbs. The traumatized parents report
no history of abnormalities in their families.
At the Basra Pediatric and Maternity Hospital
a woman stands in a darkened corner while her five-year-old son,
face swollen, the sides of his mouth caked with blood, clings
to his father in a ward full of children dying of leukemia.
With each new baby born, mothers anxiously
inquire: Is it all right?
Two Columbine High students kill thirteen
With American bombs exploding over Iraq
and Yugoslavia, President Clinton consoles a shocked nation
"We must teach our children to settle
their differences through words and not weapons."
Befuddled media commentators wring their
hands and ask why American children are so violence prone. They
dare not even notice the vastly greater adult violence rapidly
bringing the species to the verge of extinction.
Greatest Story Never Told