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by William Blum
Tuesday, Apr. 01, 2003 at 9:39 PM
It is remarkable that the US government is still going around dropping huge amounts of exceedingly powerful explosives on the heads of defenceless people. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
In the late 1980s Mikhail Gorbachev put an end to the Soviet police state; then the Berlin Wall came down and people all over Eastern Europe were joyfully celebrating; 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 then as pessimism is today.
And the United States joined this celebration by invading and bombing Panama. At the same time it 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 put it, dared to elect governments not acceptable to Washington, Washington just stepped in and overthrew those governments. Soon came the bombing of the people of Iraq for 40 horrible days without mercy.
And that was that for our hopes of a different and better world.
But our leaders were not finished. They were soon bombing and killing in Somalia; they intervened to put down dissident movements in Peru, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia; they bombed the people of Yugoslavia for 78 days and nights and then they bombed Afghanistan for many months - and in all likelihood have by now killed more innocent civilians in that sad country than were killed here on September 11.
There was none of the peace dividend we had been promised for the end of the cold war, not for Americans and not for the rest of the world.
We had been taught since childhood that the cold war involving huge military budgets, foreign invasions and overthrow of governments was all to fight the "International Communist Conspiracy", headquarters in Moscow.
So what happened? The Soviet Union was dissolved. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved. The East European Soviet satellites became independent. The former communists even became capitalists.
... and nothing changed in American foreign policy. Even NATO, created to protect western Europe against a Soviet invasion, remained.
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.
You think the American Empire is against terrorists? What do you call a man who blows up an aeroplane killing 73 people? Who attempts assassinations against several diplomats? Who fires cannons at ships docked in American ports? Who places bombs in numerous commercial and diplomatic buildings in the US and abroad?
His name is Orlando Bosch, he's Cuban and lives in Miami, unmolested by the authorities. The city of Miami once declared a day in his honour - Orlando Bosch Day. He was freed from prison in Venezuela, where he had been held for the aeroplane bombing, partly because of pressure from the American ambassador, Otto Reich, who earlier this year was appointed to the State Department by George Bush.
After Bosch returned to the US in 1988, the Justice Department condemned him as a totally violent terrorist and was about to deport him but was blocked by the former President Bush with the help of son, Jeb Bush in Florida.
So are 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 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 US 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?
The only conclusion to draw from all these contradictions is that US foreign policy has no moral factor built into its DNA.
It's not easy for most Americans to accept this. 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 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 as punishment for theft. We know that that's horrible.
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 worse.
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.
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. They just don't care about it happening to other people, including the American soldiers whom they throw into wars.
Our leaders would not be in the positions they hold if they were bothered by such things.
And the regime change they accomplished in Afghanistan has really gone to their heads. Today Kabul, tomorrow the world.
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".
I'd like to propose a radical solution to anti-American terrorism - stop giving terrorists the motivation to attack America.
Our leaders and often the media would have us believe that we're targetted because of our freedom, democracy, wealth, our modernity, secular government or just our simple goodness.
George W. is still repeating these cliches long after 9-11 and he may believe it but other officials have known better for some time.
A department of defence study in 1997 concluded "Historical data show a strong correlation between US involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States".
The attacks are not going to end until we stop bombing innocent people and devastating villages and grand old cities. And they are not going to end until we stop supporting gross violators of human rights who oppress their people. We'll keep on adding to the security operations that are turning our society into a police state - and it won't make us much safer.
If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologise - 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 I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90 per cent 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 that one year's military budget is equal to more than $US20,000 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.
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 and 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 region.
Fifty-seven years after World War II ended, the US still has major bases in Germany and Japan and 49 years after the Korean War ended the US military is still in Korea.
Now the imperial mafia have their eyes on Iraq. If the US overthrows Saddam Hussein and installs a puppet government, as it did in Afghanistan, the American oil companies will move into Iraq and the American empire will acquire another country and a few more bases.
We've gone through many months now of a song-and-dance show that passes for debate about whether to attack a sovereign nation that has not attacked us, that knows it would mean instant mass suicide for them if they did.
This debate is absurd not simply because Iraq is not a threat but because our imperial mafia know that Iraq is not a threat.
Our leaders have been telling us one story after another about why Iraq is a threat, a nuclear threat, a terrorist state, tied to al Qa'ida - 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 it agreed to this they said "No, no, that isn't good enough". And now that the inspectors can't find any prohibited weapons, is that good news for our peace-loving government leaders? Of course not. They hate it.
Does this sudden urgency of fighting a war in the absence of a fight make sense? It does, I suggest, only if you understand that this is not about Saddam Hussein but about ambitious US leaders with Iraq and its oil in their sights, needing a pretext to satisfy gullible people. Oil would not be the only reason for taking over Iraq. The country would be opened up for globalisation and the multinationals would march in and privatise everything in sight, not to mention the further benefit of disabling Israel's arch enemy.
In conclusion, I offer up two laws of politics, courtesy of the Watergate scandal of the 70s:-
"No matter how paranoid you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine".
"Don't believe anything until it's been officially denied".
Both laws are still on the books.
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