Bill Blum: Anti-Empire Report, No. 21


Richard Moore

From: •••@••.•••
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 23:30:05 EDT
Subject:    Anti-Empire Report, May 13, 2005
To: •••@••.•••

                Anti-Empire Report, No. 21, May 13, 2005
                                   by William Blum

The American myth industry

Good ol' George W. was traveling around Eastern Europe this
past week celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of World
War II, spouting a lot of Cold War anti-Communist myths,
principal among them being: The Soviet Union signed a pact
with the devil, Nazi Germany, in 1939 for no reason other than
the commies and the Nazis were just two of a kind who wanted
to carve up Poland together.

Without any justification, the Soviet Union occupied the three
Baltic nations in 1940. Without any justification the Soviet
Union occupied the rest of Eastern Europe after the Second
World War. 

All done, apparently, because the Soviets were an
expansionist, brutal empire which liked to subjugate foreign
peoples for no particularly good reason; i.e., an "evil
empire".  "The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern
Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of
history," said Bush while in Latvia.{1}

These tales are all set in marble in American media,
textbooks, and folklore, but please humor me as I engage in my
usual futility of trying to correct some of the official

Much Western propaganda mileage has been squeezed out of the
Soviet-German treaty of 1939.  This is made possible only by
entirely ignoring the fact that the Russians were forced into
the pact by the repeated refusal of the Western powers,
particularly the United States and Great Britain, to sign a
mutual defense treaty with Moscow in a stand against
Hitler.{2}  The Russians had good reasons -- their legendary
international espionage being one of them -- to believe that
Hitler would eventually invade them and that that would be
just fine with the Western powers who, at the notorious 1938
Munich conference, were hoping to nudge Adolf eastward.  (Thus
it was Western "collusion" with the Nazis, not the
oh-so-famous "appeasement" of them; the latter of course has
been invoked over the years on numerous occasions to justify
American military action against the dangerous enemy of the
month.)  The Soviets, consequently, felt obliged to sign the
treaty with Hitler to be able to stall for time while they
built up their defenses.  (Hitler, for his part, was motivated
by his plans to invade Poland.)  Similarly, the Western
"democracies" refused to come to the aid of the
socialist-leaning Spanish government under siege by the
German, Italian and Spanish fascists.  Hitler derived an
important lesson from these happenings.  He saw that for the
West the real enemy was not fascism, it was communism and
socialism.  Stalin got the same message.

The Baltic states -- Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- were
part of the Russian empire from 1721 up to the Russian
Revolution of 1917, in the midst of World War I.  When the war
ended in November 1918, and the Germans had been defeated, the
victorious Allies (US, Great Britain, France, et al.)
permitted/encouraged the German forces to remain in the
Baltics for a full year to crush the spread of Bolshevism
there; this, with ample military assistance from the Allies. 
In each of the three republics, the Germans installed
collaborators in power who declared their independence from
the Bolshevik state which, by this time, was so devastated by
the World War, the revolution, and the civil war (exacerbated
and prolonged by Allied intervention) that it had no choice
but to accept the fait accompli.  The rest of the fledgling
Soviet Union had to be saved.  To at least win some propaganda
points from this unfortunate state of affairs, the Russians
announced that they were relinquishing the Baltic republics
"voluntarily" in line with their principles of
anti-imperialism and self-determination.  But is should not be
surprising that the Russians continued to regard the Baltics
as a rightful part of their nation or that they waited until
they were powerful enough to reclaim the territory.

Within the space of 25 years, Western powers invaded Russia
three times -- World War I, 1914-18; the "intervention" of
1918-20; and World War II, 1939-45 -- inflicting some 40
million casualties in the two world wars alone.  (The Soviet
Union lost considerably more people on its own land than it
did abroad.  There are not too many great powers who can say
that.)  To carry out these invasions, the West used Eastern
Europe as a highway.  Should it be any cause for wonder that
after World War II the Soviets wanted to close this highway
down?  In almost any other context, Americans would have no
problem in seeing this as an act of self defense.  But in the
context of the Cold War such thinking could not find a home in
mainstream discourse.

Faith-based economics: Our salvation cometh from the private sector

From the Washington Post:
            April 9 - "Stocks fell yesterday even though oil prices were
                           down for a fifth straight day."
            May 12 - "Stocks bounce back as oil prices decline"
I present such information to try to induce some skepticism
about the many economic ideas or "laws" that we're all raised
to believe.  These ideas are a form of control over people's
thinking, to pre-empt the tendency some might have to question
the wisdom and real beneficiary of events in the economic
sphere.  The ideas, we are assured, are in the natural order
of things, the default setting for the universe, a matter of
mathematics that can't be altered to suit the needs or
aspirations of the community.

Like the law of supply and demand.  As consumers struggle
painfully with high gasoline prices, ExxonMobil announces that
its revenue for the first quarter totaled more than $82
billion, with its profit 44 percent higher than the
corresponding quarter a year ago.  But can one argue that
ExxonMobil should therefore perform a marvelous public service
and reduce the price of gasoline?  Of course not, the "law" of
supply and demand dictates that they are fully entitled to
this money.  You wouldn't want them to break the law, would

Another economic idea that is rarely questioned is that of
private efficiency vs. government inefficiency.  How often
have we all read of a call for certain government enterprises
to be privatized because they were "inefficient"?   To many it
must seem so right.  But then shouldn't private enterprises
which are inefficient be nationalized?  The housing industry
in the United States, for example, is clearly unable to make a
decent profit and at the same time provide affordable housing
for all of the American people.  Not even close.  Many
millions are either homeless, living in terribly crowded
conditions to save money, or spending anywhere from 30 to 70
percent of their disposable income for rent, thus forced to
cut back on food and other necessities. 

The airlines are another case in point.  An utter, maddening
mess.  We desperately need a subsidized national airline.  The
best airlines in the world used to be the European national
airlines like British Airways, KLM, Air France, SAS.  Then
Margaret Thatcher came along and instigated "revolutionary"
changes.  Air travel hasn't recovered from them yet.  Health
care delivery is of course another example.  Need I go into
detail about the (literally) deadly inefficiency of that

Look at how our national parks have been laid out by civil
servants not pressured by the market: camping grounds, boating
areas, unspoiled hiking trails, fishing areas, artificial
lakes, tastefulness of selling sites, nature studies, etc. 
And look at the commercial areas in any city.  Who would you
rather have do your planning?

Washington's bombing targets

For many years, going back to at least the Korean war, it's
been fairly common for accusations to be made against the
United States that it chooses as its bombing targets only
people of color, those of the Third World, or Muslims.  Many
anti-war activists, in the US and abroad, as well as Muslims
have made such an accusation.  But it must be remembered that
in 1999 one of the most sustained and ferocious American
bombing campaigns ever was carried out against the people of
the former Yugoslavia -- white, European, Christians.  The
United States is in fact an equal-opportunity bomber.  The
only qualifications for a country to become an American target
appear to be: (A)It poses a sufficient obstacle to the desires
of the American Empire; (B)It is virtually defenseless against
aerial attack.

The hopeless Democrats, again

On April 23, speaking in Minneapolis before the ACLU,
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean declared:
"Now that we're there [in Iraq], we're there and we can't get
out. ... I hope the President is incredibly successful with
his policy now." That can mean one of two things: It could
mean that Dean believes that the intentions of the Bush
administration in Iraq are honorable, that they mean well by
the Iraqi people, that the bombing, invasion, occupation,
torture, and daily humiliation have all been acts of love; and
that oil and the care and feeding of American corporations
play no role.  Or it can mean that he supports the objectives
of US imperialism and is opposed to abandoning them. During
the 2004 presidential primaries it was stated repeatedly that
Dean was "against the Iraq war".  I was never interested
enough in him or the Democrats to track down just what this
really meant, to pinpoint precisely what the basis of his
opposition to the war was, but I assumed it was not anything
approaching the unequivocal opposition that characterized the
majority of the anti-war movement, including many of Dean's
supporters.  I hope that their disillusionment has at least
been enlightening.

Yet another glorious chapter in the Wonderful War on Terrorism

Vice President Cheney, speaking of Saddam Hussein and his
alleged terrorist allies, told an audience on January 10,
2003: "The gravity of the threat we face was underscored in
recent days when British police arrested ... suspected
terrorists in London and discovered a small quantity of ricin,
one of the world's deadliest poisons."

A week later at the White House, press secretary Ari Fleischer
told reporters, "When you read about people in London being
arrested for possession of ricin, there clearly remain people
in the world who want to inflict as much harm as they can on
the Western world and on others."

Then, in his much-publicized February 5 speech to the UN
Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell put up a
slide that linked a "U.K. poison cell" to alleged master
terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi.

After the war in Iraq began in March and US troops seized a
northern Iraq camp linked to Zarqawi, Gen. Richard B. Myers,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN: "We think
that's probably where the ricin that was found in London came
[from]. ... At least the operatives and maybe some of the
formulas came from this site."

On April 13, 2005, at the London trial of the arrested
"terrorists", it was disclosed that there had been a mistake. 
No ricin had actually been found in their apartment and all
charges pertaining to this were dropped.  It turned out,
moreover, that the claim about ricin having been found in
January 2003 had been shown to be false that very same day by
chemical weapons experts.{3} In the run-up to Washington's war
against the people of Iraq the principal need of those
planning and selling the war was to whip up enough fear and
loathing so that the American people would buy it.  Thus it
was that a great big stew was cooked up ... September 11 ...
terrorists ... chemical weapons ... al Qaeda ... Iraq ... Abu
Musab Zarqawi ... biological weapons ... Saddam Hussein ...
Osama bin Laden ... ricin ... imminent danger ... nuclear
danger ... all part of one vast conspiracy, all part of a very
filling dish to feed the public.  It's comforting now to
realize how many people decided that the meal did not pass the
smell test.

NOTES {1} White House press release, May 7, 2005

{2} See the British Cabinet papers for 1939, summarized in the
Washington Post, January 2, 1970 (reprinted from the
Manchester Guardian); also D. F. Fleming, The Cold War and its
Origins, 1917-1960, Vol. 1, pp. 48-97.

{3} Washington Post, April 14, 2005, United Press
International, April 18, 2005

William Blum is the author of:

Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World
War 2

Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower

West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir

Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire
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