by William Blum
July 9, 2007
Neocons, theocons, Demcons, excons, and future cons
Who do you think said this on June 20? a) Rudy Giuliani; b) Hillary Clinton; c) Mitt Romney; or d) Barack Obama?
“The American military has done its job. Look what they accomplished. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. They gave the Iraqis a chance for free and fair elections. They gave the Iraqi government the chance to begin to demonstrate that it understood its responsibilities to make the hard political decisions necessary to give the people of Iraq a better future. So the American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions which are important for their own people.”
Right, it was the woman who wants to be president because … because she wants to be president … because she thinks it would be nice to be president … no other reason, no burning cause, no heartfelt desire for basic change in American society or to make a better world … she just thinks it would be nice, even great, to be president. And keep the American Empire in business, its routine generating of horror and misery being no problem; she wouldn’t want to be known as the president that hastened the decline of the empire.
And she spoke the above words at the “Take Back America” conference; she was speaking to liberals, committed liberal Democrats. She didn’t have to cater to them with any flag-waving pro-war rhetoric; they wanted to hear anti-war rhetoric (and she of course gave them a bit of that as well out of the other side of her mouth), so we can assume that this is how she really feels, if indeed the woman feels anything.
Think of why you are opposed to the war. Is it not largely because of all the unspeakable suffering brought down upon the heads and souls of the poor people of Iraq by the American military? Hillary Clinton couldn’t care less about that, literally. She thinks the American military has “succeeded”. Has she ever unequivocally labeled the war “illegal” or “immoral”? I used to think that Tony Blair was a member of the right wing or conservative wing of the British Labour Party. I finally realized one day that that was an incorrect description of his ideology. Blair is a conservative, a bloody Tory. How he wound up in the Labour Party is a matter I haven’t studied. Hillary Clinton, however, I’ve long known is a conservative; going back to at least the 1980s, while the wife of the Arkansas governor, she strongly supported the death squad torturers known as the Contras, who were the empire’s proxy army in Nicaragua.
Now we hear from America’s venerable conservative magazine, William Buckley’s “National Review”, an editorial by Bruce Bartlett, policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan; treasury official under President George H.W. Bush; a fellow at two of the leading conservative think-tanks, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute; you get the picture. Bartlett tells his readers that it’s almost certain that the Democrats will win the White House in 2008. So what to do? Support the most conservative Democrat. He writes: “To right-wingers willing to look beneath what probably sounds to them like the same identical views of the Democratic candidates, it is pretty clear that Hillary Clinton is the most conservative.”
We also hear from America’s premier magazine for the corporate wealthy, “Fortune”, whose recent cover features a picture of Clinton and the headline: “Business Loves Hillary”.
Do those in love with the idea of a woman president care about such things? Have they never heard of Margaret Thatcher, who tried her best to cripple the UK’s marvelous National Health Service, amongst a hundred other reactionary policies? Most of Clinton’s supporters would love to see the end of the Iraqi daily horror and so they presumably will also ignore Ted Koppel, the newsman of impeccable establishment credentials, who reported recently that he was told by someone who had held a senior position at the Pentagon and occasionally briefs Hillary Clinton on Gulf area matters, that she expects US troops to still be in Iraq at the end of her first term and even at the end of her second term.
The eternal struggle between the good guys and the bad guys
The United States and its wholly owned subsidiary, NATO, regularly drop bombs on Afghanistan which kill varying amounts of terrorists (or “terrorists”, also known as civilians, also known as women and children). They do this rather often, against people utterly defenseless against aerial attack. In the first half of this year, US/NATO forces killed more people than the Taliban and others opposed to the Western occupation did. This was immediately followed by a reported 133 additional bombing victims in the first week of July.
US/NATO spokespersons tell us that these unfortunate accidents happen because the enemy is deliberately putting civilians in harm’s way to provoke a backlash against the foreign forces. We are told at times that the enemy had located themselves in the same building as the victims, using them as “human shields”. Therefore, it would seem, the enemy somehow knows in advance that a particular building is about to be bombed and they rush a bunch of civilians to the spot before the bombs begin to fall. Or it’s a place where civilians normally live and, finding out that the building is about to be bombed, the enemy rushes a group of their own people to the place so they can die with the civilians. Or, what appears to be much more likely, the enemy doesn’t know of the bombing in advance, but then the civilians would have to always be there; i.e., they live there; they may even be the wives and children of the enemy. Is there no limit to the evil cleverness and the clever evilness of this foe?
Western officials also tell us that the enemy deliberately attacks from civilian areas, even hoping to draw fire to drive a wedge between average Afghans and international troops. Presumably the insurgents are attacking nearby Western military installations or troop concentrations. This raises the question: Why are the Western forces building installations and/or concentrating troops near civilian areas, deliberately putting civilians in harm’s way?
US/NATO military leaders argue that any comparison of casualties caused by Western forces and by the Taliban is fundamentally unfair because there is a clear moral distinction to be made between accidental deaths resulting from combat operations and deliberate killings of innocents by militants. “No [Western] soldier ever wakes up in the morning with the intention of harming any Afghan citizen,” said Maj. John Thomas, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. “If that does inadvertently happen, it is deeply, deeply regretted.”
Is that not comforting language? Can any right-thinking, sensitive person fail to see who the good guys are?
During its many bombings from Vietnam to Iraq, Washington has repeatedly told the world that the resulting civilian deaths were accidental and very much “regretted”. But if you go out and drop powerful bombs over a populated area, and then learn that there have been a number of “unintended” casualties, and then the next day drop more bombs and learn again that there were “unintended” casualties, and then the next day you bomb again … at what point do you lose the right to say that the deaths were “unintended”?
During the US/NATO 78-day bombing of Serbia in 1999, which killed many civilians, a Belgrade office building — which housed political parties, TV and radio stations, 100 private companies, and more — was bombed. But before the missiles were fired into this building, NATO planners spelled out the risks: “Casualty Estimate 50-100 Government/Party employees. Unintended Civ Casualty Est: 250 — Apts in expected blast radius.” The planners were saying that about 250 civilians living in nearby apartment buildings might be killed in the bombing, in addition to 50 to 100 government and political party employees, likewise innocent of any crime calling for execution. So what do we have here? We have grown men telling each other: We’ll do A, and we think that B may well be the result. But even if B does in fact result, we’re saying beforehand — as we’ll insist afterward — that it was unintended.
It was actually worse than this. As I’ve detailed elsewhere, the main purpose of the Serbian bombings — admitted to by NATO officials — was to make life so difficult for the public that support of the government of Slobodan Milosevic would be undermined. This, in fact, is the classic definition of “terrorism”, as used by the FBI and the United Nations: The use or threat of violence against a civilian population to induce the government to change certain policies.
Another example of how “the enemy” can’t be trusted to act as nice as god-fearing regular Americans … “Defense officials said they believe at least 22 — and possibly as many as 50 — former Guantánamo detainees have returned to the battlefield to fight against the United States and its allies.” The Defense Department has at times used the possibility of this happening as an argument against releasing detainees or closing Guantánamo.
But is it imaginable, not to mention likely, that after three, four or five years in the hell on earth known as Guantánamo, even detainees not disposed to terrorist violence — and many of them were picked up for reasons having nothing to do with terrorist violence — left with a deep-seated hatred of their jailors and a desire for revenge?
Don’t believe anything until it’s been officially denied.
Those of you who’ve been reading my musings over the years know that the bombing of PanAm flight 103 in December 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which took the lives of 270 people, has been a major interest of mine. When The Black Book of The American Empire is written someday there should be a mention of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, a Libyan who has spent the last six years in prison charged with the Lockerbie bombing. I and many others, including a number in establishment legal positions, have been arguing for years that the evidence against Megrahi is very thin and unpersuasive. Now a court in Scotland has agreed and has ordered a new appeal for Megrahi. I and other so-called “conspiracy theorists” have been vindicated, although Megrahi is not yet free.
Briefly, the key international political facts are these: For well over a year after the bombing, the US and the UK insisted that Iran, Syria, and a Palestinian group had been behind the bombing, which was widely regarded as an act of revenge for the US shooting down an Iranian passenger plane over the Persian Gulf in July 1988, killing 290 people. (An act the US calls an accident, but which came about because of deliberate American intrusion into the Iran-Iraq war on the side of Iraq.) Then the buildup to the US invasion of Iraq came along in 1990 (how quickly do nations change from allies to enemies on the empire’s chessboard) and the support of Iran and Syria was desired for the operation. Suddenly, in October 1990, the US declared that it was Libya — the Arab state least supportive of the US build-up to the Gulf War and the sanctions imposed against Iraq — that was behind the bombing after all. Megrahi and another Libyan were fingered.
The Scottish Court’s recent ruling, as logical and justified as it is, is still a great surprise. When it comes to anything associated with the War on Terrorism, the UK and the US are not particularly noted for logic or justice. So what might be the reason they’re doing, or allowing, “the right thing” for a change? Could it be that Iran will now be charged with being the instigator and paymaster for the crime and that this will be used to hammer them into submission concerning nuclear power and weapons? Or justify an American attack? But then of course the United States would have to explain why it falsely accused Libya and allowed, and pushed for, an innocent man to be sent to prison for life. A very interesting dilemma. It would be great entertainment to hear George W. Bush trying to explain that one. (Cheney would just refuse to discuss the matter, saying it’s “classified”. Or tell the questioner to go fuck himself.) The dilemma is further heightened by the fact that it was the administration of George Bush Senior which made the accusation against Libya. His secretary of defense at the time was a gentleman named Richard B. Cheney.
A marriage made in heaven
Former White House counsel Harriet Miers once called George W. Bush the most brilliant man she has ever known. She’s now no longer alone in her bizarre little padded cell. On June 10, during the president’s visit to Albania — arguably the most backward country in all of Europe, today as well as when it was a Soviet satellite — the joyous townspeople of Fushe Kruje yelled “Bushie! Bushie!” and Albania’s prime minister gushed over the “greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times.”
This was reported by Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, and prompted a letter from a reader, which said in part: “Regarding Eugene Robinson’s June 12 op-ed … It was inevitable that somebody would sneer at the Albanian reception of President Bush … [Robinson] patronizingly writing of ‘a wonderful reverse-Borat moment’. … U.S. support for Albania following the collapse of communism explains Albanian gratitude to the United States.”
Ah yes, the wonderful collapse of communism and the even more wonderful birth of democracy, freedom, capitalism, and widespread poverty and deprivation in the former Soviet dominion. What actually happened is that the first election in “Free Albania”, in March 1991, resulted in an overwhelming endorsement of the Communists. And what did the United States then do? Of course, it proceeded to undertake a campaign to overthrow this very same elected government. The previous year in neighboring Bulgaria, another former Soviet satellite, the communists also won the election. And the United States overthrew them as well. These were the first of the non-violent overthrows of governments of the former Soviet Union and its satellites directed and financed by the United States.
“The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.” Oscar Wilde
Some international stories never come to an end, relegated to the history books and stamped finis. They keep popping up in the news of the day, each time igniting controversy and confusion anew. The dropping of atomic bombs on Japan in World War 2 is a prime example. On June 30, the Japanese Defense Minister, Fumio Kyuma, declared in a speech: “I understand that the bombing ended the war, and I think that it couldn’t be helped.” Kyuma’s remark offended survivors of the bombings in Japan who believe the use of atomic weapons was excessive, and he soon had to resign. At the same time, it has undoubtedly pleased many American nationalists who insist that the United States had no choice but to use the bomb, and who resent the stigma the world has long attached to the US for being the first to employ such a dreadful weapon of mass destruction.
Kyuma was correct about one thing. The bombings did end the war. But that’s only because the United States wanted the war to end that way, partly so they could see how well the bomb worked, but principally to put the Soviet Union on notice that after the war, if the Russkis put up too much resistance to American imperialistic ambitions, this was a sample of what they could expect. Kyuma could just as correctly have said: “I understand that if the United States had accepted Japan’s peace overtures the war could have ended without the use of the atomic bomb.” As opposed to the American nationalists’ version of history, this version is well documented and established.
The first item of the last edition of this report included a couple of examples of stereotypical cold war anti-communist thinking. I did not realize it at the time but the examples are derived in large part from an excellent book by Michael Parenti, “The Anti-Communist Impulse”, published in 1969, which should have been credited.
 Speaking at the “Take Back America” conference, organized by the Campaign for America’s Future, June 20, 2007, Washington, DC; this excerpt can be heard at democracynow.org/ – June 21.
 Roger Morris, former member of the National Security Council, “Partners in Power” (1996), p.415
 National Review Online, May 1, 2007
 Fortune magazine, July 9, 2007
 National Public Radio, “All Things Considered”, June 11, 2007
 Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2007
 Washington Post, July 8, 2007, p.16
 Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2007
 Chicago Tribune, July 8, 2007, article by Kim Barker
 Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2007
 Washington Post, April 22, 1999, p.18
 William Blum, Rogue State, p.103-4
 Washington Post, June 22, 2007, p.3
 For an account of the case written in 2001, see: http://members.aol.com/bblum6/panam.htm. For a slightly updated account written in 2004, see: William Blum, Freeing the World to Death, chapter 10
 Copley News Service, October 10, 2005
 Washington Post, June 16, 2007, letter from Andrew Apostolou
 For further discussion of this, see Freeing the World to Death, p.166-71
 Associated Press, July 2, 2007
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