Blum: Against terrorism or expansion of the American Empire?


Richard Moore

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Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 14:27:19 -0800
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Subject: Fw" ''Against terrorism or expansion of the American Empire?''
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''Against terrorism or expansion of the American Empire?''
Date: Tuesday, October 22, 2002 @ 02:13:09 EDT
Topic: Guest Editorial

By William Blum
Guest Columnist (United States)

( – Editors note: William Blum,
established scholar and author of three books covering
U.S. foreign policy, gave the following speech at the
University of Colorado in Boulder on October 16, 2002.

Good evening, it's very nice to be here, especially
since the bombs have not yet begun to fall; I mean in
Iraq, not Boulder; Boulder comes after Iraq and Iran if
you folks don't shape up and stop inviting people like
me to speak.

The first time I spoke in public after September 11 of
last year, I spoke at a teach-in at the University of
North Carolina. As a result of that, I and some of the
other speakers were put on a list put out by an
organization founded by Lynne Cheney, the wife of you
know who. The organization's agenda can be neatly
surmised by a report it issued, entitled "Defending Our
Civilization: How Our Universities are Failing America
and What Can Be Done About It." In the report and on
their website they listed a large number of comments
made mainly by faculty and students from many schools
which indicated that these people were not warmly
embracing America's newest bombing frenzy. These people
were guilty of suggesting that some foreigners might
actually have good reason for hating the United States,
or what I call hating U.S. foreign policy.

Because of that listing, as well as things I wrote
subsequently, I've gotten a lot of hate mail in the
past year, hate e-mail to be exact. I'm waiting to
receive my first e-mail with anthrax in it. Well, there
are viruses in e-mail, why not bacteria?

The hate mail almost never challenges any fact or idea
I express. They attack me mainly on the grounds of
being unpatriotic. They're speaking of some kind of
blind patriotism, but even if they had a more balanced
view of it, they would still be right about me. I'm not
patriotic. I don't want to be patriotic. I'd go so far
as to say that I'm patriotically challenged.

Many people on the left, now as in the 1960s, do not
want to concede the issue of patriotism to the
conservatives. The left insists that they are the real
patriots because of demanding that the United States
lives up to its professed principles. That's all well
and good, but I'm not one of those leftists. I don't
think that patriotism is one of the more noble sides of
mankind. George Bernard Shaw wrote that patriotism is
the conviction that your country is superior to all
others because you were born in it. And remember that
the German people who supported the Nazi government can
be seen as being patriotic, and the German government
called them just that.

The past year has not been easy for people like me,
surrounded as we've been by an orgy of patriotism. How
does one escape "United We Stand," and "God Bless
America"? And the flag - it's just all over - I buy a
banana and there it is, an American flag stuck on it.

We're making heroes out of everyone - the mayor of New
York, Rudy Giuliani, became a hero. On Sept. 10 he was
an arrogant, uncompassionate reactionary - suddenly he
was a hero, even a statesman, speaking before the U.N.
George Bush also became a hero. People who called him a
moron on September 10 welcomed him as hero and dictator
after the eleventh.

In the play, Galileo, by Bertolt Brecht, one character
says to another: "Unhappy the land that has no heroes."
The other character replies: "No. Unhappy the land that
needs heroes."

Although I'm not loyal to any country or government,
like most of you I am loyal to certain principles, like
political and social justice, economic democracy, human

The moral of my message to you is this: If your heart
and mind tell you clearly that the bombing of
impoverished, hungry, innocent peasants is a terrible
thing to do and will not make the American people any
more secure, you should protest it in any way you can
and don't be worried about being called unpatriotic.

There was, sadly, very little protest against the
bombing of Afghanistan. I think it was a measure of how
the events intimidated people, events, along with their
expanding police powers, led by Ayatollah John
Ashcroft. I think it was also due to the fact that
people felt that whatever horrors the bombing caused,
it did get rid of some really nasty anti-American

But of the thousands in Afghanistan who died from
American bombs, how many do you think had any part in
the events of 9-11? I'll make a rough guess and say
"none." How many do you think ever took part in any
other terrorist act against the United States? We'll
never know for sure, but my guess would be a number in
the very low one digits, if that. Terrorist acts don't
happen very often after all, and usually are carried
out by a handful of men. So, of all those killed by the
American actions, were any of them amongst any of those
few handfuls of terrorists, many of whom were already
in prison?

Keep in mind that the great majority of those who were
at a training camp of al Qaeda in Afghanistan were
there to help the Taliban in their civil war, nothing
to do with terrorism or the United States. It was a
religious mission for them, none of our business. But
we killed them or have held them under terrible
conditions at the Guantanamo base in Cuba for a very
long time now, with no end in sight, with many attempts
at suicide there amongst the prisoners.

It is remarkable indeed that what we call our
government is still going around dropping huge amounts
of exceedingly powerful explosives upon the heads of
defenseless people. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
Beginning in the late 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev put an
end to the Soviet police state, then the Berlin Wall
came down. People all over Eastern Europe were joyfully
celebrating a NEW DAY, and South Africa freed Nelson
Mandela and apartheid began to crumble, and Haiti held
its first free election ever and chose a genuine
progressive as president ... it seemed like anything
was possible; optimism was as widespread as pessimism
is today.

The United States joined this celebration by invading
and bombing Panama, only weeks after the Berlin Wall

At the same time, the U.S. was shamelessly intervening
in the election in Nicaragua to defeat the Sandinistas.

Then, when Albania and Bulgaria, "newly freed from the
grip of communism," as our media would put it, dared to
elect governments not acceptable to Washington,
Washington just stepped in and overthrew those

Soon came the bombing of the people of Iraq for 40
horrible days without mercy, for no good or honest
reason, and that was that for our hopes of a different
and better world.

But our leaders were not through. They were soon off
attacking Somalia, more bombing and killing.

Meanwhile they continued bombing Iraq for years.

They intervened to put down dissident movements in
Peru, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia, just as if it were
the cold war in the 1950s in Latin America, and the
1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, and still doing it in the

Then they bombed the people of Yugoslavia for 78 days
and nights.

And once again, last year, they grossly and openly
intervened in an election in Nicaragua to prevent the
left from winning.

Meanwhile, of course, they were bombing Afghanistan
and, in all likelihood, have now killed more innocent
civilians in that sad country than were killed here on
Sept. 11, with more to come as people will continue to
die from bombing wounds, cluster-bomb landmines, and
depleted-uranium toxicity.

All these years, they're still keeping their choke hold
on Cuba. And that's just a partial list.

There was none of the peace dividend we had been
promised, not for Americans nor for the rest of the

What the heck is going on here? We had been taught
since childhood that the cold war, including the Korean
War, the Vietnam War, the huge military budgets, all
the foreign invasions and overthrows of governments -
the ones we knew about - was all to fight the same
menace: The International Communist Conspiracy,
headquarters in Moscow.

So what happened? The Soviet Union was dissolved. The
Warsaw Pact was dissolved. The East European satellites
became independent. The former communists even became
capitalists....yet nothing changed in American foreign
policy. Even NATO remained, NATO which had been created
- so we were told - to protect Western Europe against a
Soviet invasion, even NATO remains, bigger than ever,
getting bigger and more powerful all the time, a NATO
with a global mission. The NATO charter was even
invoked to give a justification for its members to join
the U.S. in the Afghanistan invasion.

The whole thing had been a con game. The Soviet Union
and something called communism per se had not been the
object of our global attacks. There had never been an
International Communist Conspiracy. The enemy was, and
remains, any government or movement, or even
individual, that stands in the way of the expansion of
the American Empire; by whatever name we give to the
enemy - communist, rogue state, drug trafficker,

You think the American Empire is against terrorists?
What do you call a man who blows up an airplane killing
73 people, who attempts assassinations against several
diplomats, who fires cannons at ships docked in
American ports? What do you call a man who places bombs
in numerous commercial and diplomatic buildings in the
U.S. and abroad? Dozens of such acts. His name is
Orlando Bosch, he's Cuban and he lives in Miami,
unmolested by the authorities. The city of Miami once
declared a day in his honor - Orlando Bosch Day. He was
freed from prison in Venezuela, where he had been held
for the airplane bombing, partly because of pressure
from the American ambassador, Otto Reich, who earlier
this year was appointed to the State Dept. by George W.

After Bosch returned to the U.S. in 1988, the Justice
Dept condemned him as a totally violent terrorist and
was all set to deport him, but that was blocked by
President Bush, the first, with the help of son Jeb
Bush in Florida. So is George W. and his family against
terrorism? Well, yes, they're against those terrorists
who are not allies of the empire.

The plane that Bosch bombed, by the way, was a Cuban
plane. He's wanted in Cuba for that and a host of other
serious crimes, and the Cubans have asked Washington to
turn him over to them; to Cuba he's like Osama Bin
Laden is to the United States. But the U.S. has
refused. Can you imagine the reaction in Washington if
bin Laden showed up in Havana and the Cubans refused to
turn him over? Can you imagine the reaction in the
United States if Havana proclaimed Osama Bin Laden Day?

Washington's support of genuine terrorist organizations
has been very extensive. To give just a couple of
examples of the past few years - The ethnic Albanians
in Kosovo have carried out numerous terrorist attacks
for years in various parts of the Balkans, but they've
been our allies because they've attacked people out of
favor with Washington.

The paramilitaries in Colombia, as vicious as they
come, could not begin to carry out their dirty work
without the support of the Colombian military, who are
the recipients of virtually unlimited American support.
This, all by itself, disqualifies Washington from
leading a war against terrorism.

Bush also speaks out often and angrily against
harboring terrorists. Does he really mean that? Well,
what country harbors more terrorists than the United
States? Orlando Bosch is only one of the numerous
anti-Castro Cubans in Miami who have carried out
hundreds, if not thousands of terrorist acts, in the
U.S., in Cuba, and elsewhere; all kinds of arson
attacks, assassinations and bombings. They have been
harbored here in safety for decades as have numerous
other friendly terrorists, torturers and human rights
violators from Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti, Indonesia
and elsewhere, all allies of the Empire.

The CIA is looking for terrorists in caves in the
mountains of Afghanistan at the same time as the Agency
sits in bars in Miami having beers with terrorists.

What are we to make of all this? How are we to
understand our government's foreign policy? Well, if I
were to write a book called The American Empire for
Dummies, page one would say: Don't ever look for the
moral factor. U.S. foreign policy has no moral factor
built into its DNA. Clear your mind of that baggage
which only gets in the way of seeing beyond the clichés
and the platitudes.

I know it's not easy for most Americans to take what I
say at face value. It's not easy to swallow my message.
They see our leaders on TV and their photos in the
press; they see them smiling or laughing, telling
jokes; see them with their families, hear them speak of
God and love, of peace and law, of democracy and
freedom, of human rights and justice and even baseball
... How can such people be moral monsters; how can they
be called immoral?

They have names like George and Dick and Donald, not a
single Mohammed or Abdullah in the bunch. And they even
speak English. Well, George almost does. People named
Mohammed or Abdullah cut off arms or legs as punishment
for theft. We know that that's horrible. We're too
civilized for that. But people named George and Dick
and Donald drop cluster bombs on cities and villages,
and the many unexploded ones become land mines, and
before very long, a child picks one up or steps on one
of them and loses an arm or leg, or both arms or both
legs, and sometimes their eyesight. The cluster bombs
which actually explode do their own kind of horror.

But our leaders are perhaps not so much immoral as they
are amoral. It's not that they take pleasure in causing
so much death and suffering. It's that they just don't
care ... if that's a distinction worth making. As long
as the death and suffering advance the agenda of the
Empire, as long as the right people and the right
corporations gain wealth and power and privilege and
prestige, as long as the death and suffering aren't
happening to them or people close to them ... then they
just don't care about it happening to other people,
including the American soldiers whom they throw into
wars and who come home - the ones who make it back -
with Agent Orange or Gulf War Syndrome eating away at
their bodies. Our leaders would not be in the positions
they hold if they were bothered by such things.

It must be great fun to be one of the leaders of an
empire, glorious in fact ... intoxicating ... the
feeling that you can do whatever you want to whomever
you want for as long as you want for any reason you
care to give ... because you have the power ... for
theirs is the power and the glory.

When I was writing my book "Rogue State" a few years
ago, I used the term "American Empire," which I don't
think I had seen in print before. I used the term
cautiously because I wasn't sure the American public
was quite ready for it. But I needn't have been so
cautious. It's now being used proudly by supporters of
the empire.

There's Dinesh D'Souza, the conservative intellectual
at the Hoover Institution, who became well-known with
his theories on the "natural" inferiority of
Afro-Americans. Earlier this year, he wrote an article
entitled "In praise of American empire," in which he
argued that Americans must finally recognize that the
U.S. "has become an empire, the most magnanimous
imperial power ever."

Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment writes: "And the
truth is that the benevolent hegemony exercised by the
U.S. is good for a vast portion of the world's
population. It is certainly a better international
arrangement than all realistic alternatives."

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer speaks of
America's "uniquely benign imperium."

So that's how people who are wedded to American foreign
policy are able to live with it - they conclude, and
proclaim, and may even believe, that our foreign policy
is a benevolent force, an enlightened empire, bringing
order, prosperity and civilized behavior to all parts
of the globe, and if we're forced to go to war we
conduct a humanitarian war.

Well, inasmuch as I've devoted much of my adult life to
documenting in minute detail the exact opposite, to
showing the remarkable cruelty and horrific effects of
U.S. interventions on people in every corner of the
world, you can understand, I think, that my reaction to
such claims is ... Huh? These conservative
intellectuals ... Is that an oxymoron? They are as
amoral as the folks in the White House and the
Pentagon. After all, the particles of depleted uranium
are not lodging inside their lungs to keep radiating
for the rest of their lives; the International Monetary
Fund is not bankrupting their economy and slashing
their basic services; it's not their families wandering
in the desert as refugees.

The leaders of the empire, the imperial mafia - Bush
and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Powell and Rice and
Wolfowitz and Perle - and their scribes as well, are as
fanatic and as fundamentalist as Osama Bin Laden. And
the regime change they accomplished in Afghanistan has
really gone to their heads. Today Kabul, tomorrow the

So get used to it, world. The American Empire. Soon to
be a major motion picture, coming to a theatre near

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 anti-American terrorism -
stop giving terrorists the motivation to attack

Now our leaders and often our media would have us
believe that we're targeted because of our freedom, our
democracy, our wealth, our modernity, our secular
government, our simple goodness, and other stories
suitable for schoolbooks. George W. is still repeating
these clichés a year after 9-11. Well, he may believe
it but other officials have known better for some time.
A Department of Defense study in 1997 concluded:
"Historical data show a strong correlation between U.S.
involvement in international situations and an increase
in terrorist attacks against the United States."

Jimmy Carter, some years after he left the White House,
was unambiguous in his agreement with such a
conclusion. He said:

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

The terrorists responsible for the bombing of the World
Trade Center in 1993 sent a letter to the New York
Times which stated, in part: "We declare our
responsibility for the explosion on the mentioned
building. This action was done in response for the
American political, economical, and military support to
Israel the state of terrorism and to the rest of the
dictator countries in the region."

And finally, several members of al Qaeda have
repeatedly made it quite plain in the past year that
it's things like U.S. support of Israeli massacres and
the bombing of Iraq that makes them hate the United

I present more evidence of the same sort in one of my
books along with a long list of U.S. actions in the
Middle East that has created hatred of American foreign

I don't think, by the way, that poverty plays much of a
role in creating terrorists. We shouldn't confuse
terrorism with revolution.

And the attacks are not going to end until we stop
bombing innocent people and devastating villages and
grand old cities and poisoning the air and the gene
pool with depleted uranium. The attacks are not going
to end until we stop supporting gross violators of
human rights who oppress their people, until we stop
doing a whole host of terrible things. We'll keep on
adding to the security operations that's turning our
society into a police state, and it won't make us much

It's not just people in the Middle East who have good
reason for hating what our government does; we've
created huge numbers of potential terrorists all over
Latin America during a half century of American actions
far worse than what we've done in the Middle East. I
think that if Latin Americans shared the belief of many
Muslims that they will go directly to heaven for giving
up their life and acting as a martyr against the great
enemy, by now we would have had decades of repeated
terrorist horror coming from south of the border. As it
is, there have been many non-suicidal terrorist attacks
against Americans and their buildings in Latin America
over the years.

There's also the people of Asia and Africa. The same

The State Department recently held a conference on how
to improve America's image abroad in order to reduce
the level of hatred; image is what they're working on,
not change of policies.

But the policies scorecard reads as follows: From 1945
to the end of the century, the United States attempted
to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to
crush more than 30 populist movements fighting against
insufferable regimes. In the process, the U.S. bombed
about 25 countries, caused the end of life for several
million people, and condemned many millions more to a
life of agony and despair.

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 tortured
and impoverished, and all the many millions of other
victims of American imperialism. Then I would announce
that America's global interventions have come to an end
and inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state
of the union but - believe it or not - a foreign
country. I would then reduce the military budget by at
least 90 percent and use the savings to pay reparations
to our victims and repair the damage from our bombings.
There would be enough money. Do you know what one
year's military budget is equal to? One year. It's
equal to more than $20,000 per hour for every hour
since Jesus Christ was born.

That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White
House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated.

On page two of The American Empire for Dummies, I'd put
this in a box outlined in bright red: Following its
bombing of Iraq, the United States wound up with
military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar,
Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Following its bombing of Yugoslavia, the United States
wound up with military bases in Kosovo, Albania,
Macedonia, Hungary, Bosnia and Croatia.

Following its bombing of Afghanistan, the United States
is now winding up with military bases in Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan,
Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and perhaps elsewhere in the

That's not very subtle, is it? Not really covert. The
men who run the empire are not easily embarrassed. And
that's the way the empire grows, a base on every
corner, ready to be mobilized to put down any threat to
imperial rule, real or imagined. Fifty-seven years
after World War II ended, the U.S. still has major
bases in Germany and Japan; and 49 years after the
Korean War ended, the U.S. military is still in Korea.

A Pentagon report of a few years ago said: Our first
objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new
rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet
Union or elsewhere ... we must maintain the mechanisms
for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring
to a larger regional or global role.

The bombing, invasion and occupation of Afghanistan
have served the purpose of setting up a new government
that will be sufficiently amenable to Washington's
international objectives, including the installation of
military bases and communications listening stations
and, perhaps most important of all, the running of
secure oil and gas pipelines through Afghanistan from
the Caspian Sea region, which I'm sure many of you have
heard about.

For years, the American oil barons have had their eyes
on the vast oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea
area, ideally with an Afghanistan-Pakistan route to the
Indian Ocean, thus keeping Russia and Iran out of the
picture. The oilmen have been quite open about this,
giving very frank testimony before Congress for

Now they have their eyes on the even greater oil
reserves of Iraq. If the U.S. overthrows Saddam Hussein
and installs a puppet government, as they did in
Afghanistan, the American oil companies will move into
Iraq and have a feast and the American empire will add
another country and a few more bases.

Or as General William Looney, the head of the U.S.-U.K.
operation that flies over Iraq and bombs them every few
days, said several years ago: If they turn on their
radars we're going to blow up their goddamn missiles.
They know we own their country. We own their airspace.
... We dictate the way they live and talk. And that's
what's great about America right now. It's a good
thing, especially when there's a lot of oil out there
we need.

We've gone through a few months now of a song and dance
show that passes for debate, a debate about whether to
attack a sovereign nation that has not attacked us,
that has not threatened to attack us, that knows it
would mean instant mass suicide for them if they
attacked us. This debate is absurd not simply because
Iraq is not a threat - by now, even the Martians must
know that - but because our imperial mafia know that
Iraq is not a threat, at all. They've been telling us
one story after another about why Iraq is a threat, an
imminent threat, a nuclear threat, a threat increasing
in danger with each passing day, that Iraq is a
terrorist state, that Iraq is tied to al Qaeda, only to
have each story amount to nothing; they told us for a
long time that Iraq must agree to having the weapons
inspectors back in, and when Iraq agreed to this they
said "No, no, that isn't good enough."

How soon before they blame the horror in Bali on Iraq?

Does any of this make sense? This sudden urgency of
fighting a war in the absence of a fight? It does, I
suggest, only if you understand that this is not about
Saddam Hussein and his evilness, or his weapons, or
terrorism. What it's about is that the empire is still
hungry and wants to eat Iraq and its oil and needs to
present excuses to satisfy gullible people. And then
they want to eat Iran. And then? ... I understand when
George W. was asked: "Who next?" he said "Whatever."

The empire, in case you missed it, is not content with
merely the earth; the empire has been officially
extended to outer space. The Pentagon proudly admits
this and they have a nice name for it. They call it
"full-spectrum dominance," and for years now they've
been planning to fight wars in space, from space, and
into space. And that's a quote.

And if you're wondering "Why now?" about Iraq. I think
- as many have said - that the coming election plays a
role. It's going to decide which party will control
congress and there's nothing like a lot of talk about
war and defending America to sway voters, and make them
forget about the economy and health care at the same

In addition to all the absurdities and lies they've
been throwing at us, what I've found most remarkable
and disturbing about this period has been the great
absence in the mass media of the simple reminder that a
U.S. attack upon Iraq means bombs falling on people,
putting an end to homes, schools, hospitals, jobs,
futures. The discussion has focused almost entirely on
whether or not to go after the evil Saddam and his
supposed evil weapons. What it all means in terms of
human suffering is scarcely considered worthy of
attention. Is that not odd?

Also absent from the discussion is that over the course
of several years in the 1990s, the U.N. inspectors
found and destroyed huge amounts of chemical,
biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq. I'm sure that
most Americans are convinced that Saddam got away with
hiding virtually all his weapons and that he'll get
away with it again if there's a resumption of the
inspections. But that's not what happened. Scott
Ritter, chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, recently
stated that "since 1998 Iraq has been fundamentally
disarmed; 90-95 percent of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction have been verifiably eliminated. This
includes all of the factories used to produce chemical,
biological and nuclear weapons, and long-range
ballistic missiles; the associated equipment of these
factories; and the vast majority of the products coming
out of these factories."

And we have similar testimony from others who were
involved in the inspections.

Each of the big American bombing campaigns carries its
own myths with it, but none so big as the one before
last. I must remind you of that.

We were told that the U.S./NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
in 1999 was to save the people of Kosovo from ethnic
cleansing by the Serbs. And since the ethnic cleansing
finally came to an end, the bombing seems to have
worked. Right? First there was the ethnic cleansing,
then came the bombing, then came the end of the ethnic
cleansing. What could be simpler? I'm sure that about
90 percent of those Americans who think about such
things firmly believe that, including many of you, I

But it was all a lie. The bombing didn't end the ethnic
cleansing. The bombing caused the ethnic cleansing! The
systematic forced deportations of large numbers of
Kosovars - what we call ethnic cleansing - did not
begin until about two days after the bombing began, and
was clearly a reaction to it by the Serb forces, born
of great anger and feelings of powerlessness due to the
heavy bombardment. This is easily verified by looking
at a daily newspaper for the few days before the
bombing began the night of March 23/24, and the few
days after. Or simply look at the New York Times of
March 26, page 1, which reads:

... with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening
sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of
Kosovo] that the Serbs would NOW vent their rage
against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation.

The next day, March 27, we find the first reference to
a "forced march" or anything of that sort.

How is it possible that such a powerful lie could be
told to the American people and that the people would
swallow it without gagging? One reason is that the
media don't explicitly point out the lies; at best you
have to read between the lines.

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

Can any of you name a single American daily newspaper
that unequivocally opposed the U.S.-NATO bombing of
Yugoslavia three years ago?

Can any of you name a single American daily newspaper
that unequivocally opposed the U.S. bombing of Iraq
eleven years ago?

Can any of you name a single American daily newspaper
that unequivocally opposed the U.S. bombing of

Isn't that remarkable? In a supposedly free society,
with a supposedly free press, with about 1500 daily
newspapers, the odds should be way against that being
the case. But that's the way it is.

I suppose that now some of you would like me to tell
you how to put an end to all these terrible and absurd
things I've talked about. Well, good luck to all of us.

I could say that personally I proceed from the
assumption that if enough people understand what their
government is doing and the harm that it causes, at
some point the number of such people will reach
critical mass and some changes can be effectuated. But
that may well be a long way off. I hope I live to see

I'm sure that if all Americans could see their
government's bomb victims up close, see the body
fragments, smell the burning flesh, see the devastated
homes and lives and communities, there would be a
demand to end such horror so powerful that even the
imperial mafia madmen couldn't ignore it. But how to
get Americans to see the victims? I and many of you
don't need to see those terrible sights to be opposed
to the madmen's policies, but most Americans do. If we
could figure out why we have this deep empathy for the
victims, this imagination, it might be a very good
organizing tool.

Gandhi once said that "Almost anything you do will be
insignificant, but you must do it." And the reason I
must do it is captured by yet another adage, cited by
various religious leaders: "We do these things not to
change the world, but so that the world will not change

Sam Smith, a journalist in Washington, whom some of you
are familiar with, in his new book makes the point that
"Those who think history has left us helpless should
recall the abolitionist of 1830, the feminist of 1870,
the labor organizer of 1890, and the gay or lesbian
writer of 1910. They, like us, did not get to choose
their time in history but they, like us, did get to
choose what they did with it."

He then asks: Knowing what we know now about how
certain things turned out, but also knowing how long it
took, would we have been abolitionists in 1830, or
feminists in 1870, and so on?

We don't know what surprises history has in store for
us when we give history a little shove, just as history
can give each of us a little shove personally. In the
1960s, I was working at the State Department, my heart
set on becoming a Foreign Service Officer. Little did I
know that I would soon become a ranting and raving
commie-pinko-subversive-enemy of all that is decent and
holy because a thing called Vietnam came along. So
there is that kind of hope as well.

Let me close with two of the laws of politics which
came out of the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, which I
like to cite:

The First Watergate Law of American Politics states:
"No matter how paranoid you are, what the government is
actually doing is worse than you imagine."

The Second Watergate Law states: "Don't believe
anything until it's been officially denied."

Both laws are still on the books.

[William Blum left the U.S. State Department in 1967,
abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service
Officer, because of his opposition to what the United
States was doing in Vietnam. He is the author of
Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since
World War II, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only
Superpower, and West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War
Political Memoir. A personalized and signed copy of
these books can be acquired through

William Blum encourages your comments:
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