William Blum (March 6, 1933 – December 9, 2018) was an American author, historian and critic of United States foreign policy. A former computer programmer at the State Department, he left the organization in 1967 due to his opposition to the Vietnam War.
- We can say that the United States runs the world like the Taliban ran Afghanistan. Cuba is dealt with like a woman caught outside not wearing her burkha. Horrific sanctions are imposed on Iraq in the manner of banning music, dancing, and kite-flying in Kabul. Jean-Bertrand Aristide is banished from Haiti like the religious police whipping a man whose beard is not the right length.
- Introduction to Freeing the World to Death
- 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 the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America's global interventions -- including the awful bombings -- have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but – oddly enough – a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims and repair the damage from the many American bombings and invasions. There would be more than enough money. Do you know what one year of the US 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.
- It was in the early days of the fighting in Vietnam that a Vietcong officer said to his American prisoner: "You were our heroes after the War. We read American books and saw American films, and a common phrase in those days was 'to be as rich and as wise as an American'. What happened?" An American might have been asked something similar by a Guatemalan, an Indonesian or a Cuban during the ten years previous, or by a Uruguayan, a Chilean or a Greek in the decade subsequent. The remarkable international goodwill and credibility enjoyed by the United States at the close of the Second World War was dissipated country by country, intervention by intervention. The opportunity to build the war-ravaged world anew, to lay the foundations for peace, prosperity and justice, collapsed under the awful weight of anti-communism.
- We in the West are never allowed to forget the political shortcomings (real and bogus) of the Soviet Union; at the same time we are never reminded of the history which lies behind it. The anti-communist propaganda campaign began even earlier than the military intervention. Before the year 1918 was over, expressions in the vein of "Red Peril", "the Bolshevik assault on civilization", and "menace to world by Reds is seen" had become commonplace in the pages of the New York Times... Historian Frederick Lewis Schuman has written: "The net result of these hearings... was to picture Soviet Russia as a kind of bedlam inhabited by abject slaves completely at the mercy of an organization of homicidal maniacs whose purpose was to destroy all traces of civilization and carry the nation back to barbarism."
- Literally no story about the Bolsheviks was too contrived, too bizarre, too grotesque, or too perverted to be printed and widely believed—from women being nationalized to babies being eaten (as the early pagans believed the Christians guilty of devouring their children; the same was believed of the Hews in the Middle Ages). The story about women with all the lurid connotations of state property, compulsory marriage, "free love", etc. "was broadcasted over the country through a thousand channels," wrote Schuman, "and perhaps did more than anything else to stamp the Russian Communists in the minds of most American citizens as criminal perverts". This tale continued to receive great currency even after the State Department was obliged to announce that it was a fraud. (That the Soviets eat their babies was still being taught by the John Birch Society to its large audience at least as late as 1978.)
- This, then, was the American people's first experience of a new social phenomenon that had come upon the world, their introductory education about the Soviet Union and this thing called "communism". The students have never recovered from the lesson. Neither has the Soviet Union.
- The fiercely-held conviction inevitably produced by this insidious assault upon the intellect is that a great damnation has been unleashed upon the world, possibly by the devil himself, but in the form of people; people not motivated by the same needs, feats, emotions, and personal morality that govern others of the species, but people engaged in an extremely clever, monolithic, international conspiracy dedicated to taking over the world and enslaving it; for reasons not always clear.
- During the period between the two world wars, US gunboat diplomacy operated in the Caribbean to make "The American Lake" safe for the fortunes...
- By the end of the Second World War, every American past the age of 40 had been subjected to some 25 years of anti-communist radiation, the average incubation period needed to produce a malignancy. Anti-communism had developed a life of its own.
- Washington policy makers and diplomats saw the world out there as one composed of "communists" and "anti-communists", whether of nations, movements or individuals. This comic-strip vision of the world, with righteous American supermen fighting communist evil everywhere, had graduated from a cynical propaganda exercise to a moral imperative of US foreign policy.
- Even the concept of "non-communist", implying some measure of neutrality, has generally been accorded scant legitimacy in this paradigm. John Foster Dulles, one of the major architects of post-war US foreign policy, expressed this succinctly in his typically simple, moralistic way: "For us there are two sorts of people in the world: there are those who are Christians and support free enterprise and there are the others." As several of the case studies in the present hook confirm, Dulles put that creed into rigid practice.
- The word "communist" (as well as "Marxist") has been so overused and so abused by American leaders and the media as to render it virtually meaningless. (The Left has done the same to the word "fascist".)
- Much propaganda mileage has been squeezed out of the Soviet-German treaty of 1939, 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 unite with Moscow in a stand against Hitler; as they likewise refused to come to the aid of the socialist-oriented Spanish government under siege by the German, Italian and Spanish fascists... Stalin realized that if the West wouldn't save Spain, they certainly wouldn't save the Soviet Union.
- From the Red Scare of the 1920s to the McCarthyism of the 1950s to the Reagan Crusade against the Evil Empire of the 1980s, the American people have been subjected to a relentless anti-communist indoctrination. It is imbibed with their mother's milk, pictured in their comic books, spelled out in their school books; their daily paper offers them headlines that tell them all they need to know; ministers find sermons in it, politicians are elected with it, and Reader's Digest becomes rich on it.
- Moreover, any appearance or claim by these people to be rational human beings seeking a better kind of world or society is a sham, a cover-up, to delude others, and proof only of their cleverness; the repression and cruelties which have taken place in the Soviet Union are forever proof of the bankruptcy of virtue and the evil intentions of these people in whichever country they may be found, under whatever name they may call themselves: and, most important of all, the only choice open to anyone in the United States is between the American Way of Life and the Soviet Way of Life, that nothing lies between or beyond these two ways of making the world.
- To the mind carefully brought to adulthood in the United States, the truths of anticommunism are self-evident, as self-evident as the flatness of the world once was to an earlier mind...
- The foregoing slice of American history must be taken into account if one is to make sense of the vagaries of American foreign policy since the end of World War II, specifically the record, as presented in this book, of what the US military and the CIA and other branches of the US government have done to the peoples of the world.
Chapter 5. Korea 1945-1953: Was it all that it appeared to be?
- How is it that the Korean War escaped the protests which surrounded the war in Vietnam? Everything we've come to love and cherish about Vietnam had its forerunner in Korea: the support of a corrupt tyranny, the atrocities, the napalm, the mass slaughter of civilians, the cities and villages laid to waste, the calculated management of the news, the sabotaging of peace talks. But the American people were convinced that the war in Korea was an unambiguous case of one country invading another without provocation. A case of the bad guys attacking the good guys who were being saved by the even better guys...
Chapter 19. Vietnam 1950-1973: The Hearts and Minds Circus
- Two Vietcong prisoners were interrogated on an airplane flying toward Saigon. The first refused to answer questions and was thrown out of the airplane at 3,000 feet. The second immediately answered all the questions. But he, too, was thrown out.. Variations of the water torture were also used to loosen tongues or simply to torment... Other techniques, usually designed to force onlooking prisoners to talk, involve cutting off the fingers, ears, fingernails or sexual organs of another prisoner.
- During the Vietnam war, a number of young Americans refused military service on the grounds that the United States was committing war crimes in Vietnam and that if they took part in the war they too, under the principles laid down at Nuremberg, would be guilty of war crimes. One of the most prominent of these cases was that of David Mitchell of Connecticut. At Mitchell's trial in September 1965, Judge William Timbers dismissed his defense as "tommyrot" and "degenerate subversion", and found the Nuremberg principles to be "irrelevant" to the case. Mitchell was sentenced to prison.
- In 1971, Telford Taylor, the chief United States prosecutor at Nuremberg, suggested rather strongly that General William Westmoreland and high officials of the Johnson administration such as Robert McNamara and Dean Rusk could be found guilty of war crimes under criteria established at Nuremberg. Yet every American court and judge, when confronted by the Nuremberg defense, dismissed it without according it any serious consideration whatsoever.
- The West has never been allowed to forget the Nazi holocaust. For 55 years there has been a continuous outpouring of histories, memoirs, novels, feature films, documentaries, television series ... played and replayed in every Western language; there have been museums, memorial sculptures, photo exhibitions, remembrance ceremonies ... Never Again! But who hears the voice of the Vietnamese peasant? Who has access to the writings of the Vietnamese intellectual? What was the fate of the Vietnamese Anne Frank? Where, asks the young American, is Vietnam?
Chapter 30. Cuba 1959 to 1980s: The unforgivable revolution
- Throughout the 1960s, the Caribbean island was subjected to countless sea and air commando raids by exiles, at times accompanied by their CIA supervisors, inflicting damage upon oil refineries, chemical plants and railroad bridges, cane fields, sugar mills and sugar warehouses; infiltrating spies, saboteurs and assassins ... anything to damage the Cuban economy, promote disaffection, or make the revolution look bad ... taking the lives of Cuban militia members and others in the process ... pirate attacks on Cuban fishing boats and merchant ships, bombardments of Soviet vessels docked in Cuba, an assault upon a Soviet army camp with 12 Russian soldiers reported wounded... a hotel and a theatre shelled from offshore because Russians and East Europeans were supposed to be present there.
- These actions were not always carried out on the direct order of the CIA or with its foreknowledge, but the Agency could hardly plead "rogue elephant". It had created an operations headquarters in Miami that was truly a state within a city—over, above, and outside the laws of the United States, not to mention international law, with a staff of several hundred Americans directing many more Cuban agents in just such types of actions, with a budget in excess of $50 million a year, and an arrangement with the local press to keep operations in Florida secret except when the CIA wanted something publicized.
- Title 18 of the US Code declares it to be a crime to launch a "military or naval expedition or enterprise" from the United States against a country with which the United States is not (officially) at war.
- The commando raids were combined with a total US trade and credit embargo, which continues to this day, and which genuinely hurt the Cuban economy and chipped away at the society's standard of living.
- Moreover, pressure was brought to bear upon other countries to conform to the embargo, and goods destined for Cuba were sabotaged: machinery damaged, chemicals added to lubricating fluids to cause rapid wear on diesel engines, a manufacturer in West Germany paid to produce ball-bearings off-center, another to do the same with balanced wheel gears—"You're talking about big money," said a CIA officer involved in the sabotage efforts, "when you ask a manufacturer to go along with you on that kind of project because he has to reset his whole mold. And he is probably going to worry about the effect on future business. You might have to pay him several hundred thousand dollars or more."
- What undoubtedly was an even more sensitive venture was the use of chemical and biological weapons against Cuba by the United States....The full extent of American chemical and biological warfare against Cuba will never be known. Over the years, the Castro government has in fact blamed the United States for a number of other plagues which afflicted various animals and crops. And in 1977, newly-released CIA documents disclosed that the Agency "maintained a clandestine anti-crop warfare research program targeted during the 1960s at a number of countries..."
- Cuba had become what Washington had always feared from the Third World—a good example. Parallel to the military and economic belligerence, the United States has long maintained a relentless propaganda offensive against Cuba. A number of examples of this occurring in other countries can be found in other chapters of this book. In addition to its vast overseas journalistic empire, the CIA has maintained anti-Castro news-article factories in the United States for decades.
Chapter 33. Uruguay 1964-1970: Torture—as American as apple pie
"The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect." The words of an instructor in the art of torture... the head of the Office of Public Safety (OPS) mission in Montevideo. Officially, OPS was a division of the Agency for International Development, but the director of OPS in Washington... was an old CIA hand. His organization maintained a close working relationship with the CIA, and Agency officers often operated abroad under OPS cover... OPS had been operating formally in Uruguay since 1965, supplying the police with the equipment, the arms, and the training it was created to do.
Chapter 34. Chile 1964-1973: A hammer and sickle stamped on your child's forehead
- Washington knows no heresy in the Third World but independence. In the case of Salvador Allende independence came clothed in an especially provocative costume—a Marxist constitutionally elected who continued to honor the constitution. This would not do. It shook the very foundation stones upon which the anti-communist tower is built: the doctrine, painstakingly cultivated for decades, that "communists" can take power only through force and deception, that they can retain that power only through terrorizing and brainwashing the population. There could be only one thing worse than a Marxist in power—an elected Marxist in power.
Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower (2000)
- For more than 70 years, the United States convinced much of the world that .. it somehow needed the United States to save it from communist darkness. "Just buy our weapons," said Washington, "let our military and our corporations roam freely across your land, and give us veto power over who your leaders will be, and we'll protect you."
- Third Edition (2006), p. 1
- Between 1945 and 2005 the United States has attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes. In the process, the U.S. caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.
- Third Edition (2006), p. 1-2
- No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine.
- There have also been cases where the United States, while (perhaps) not interfering in the election process, was, however, involved in overthrowing a democratically-elected government, such as in Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, the Congo 1960, Ecuador 1961, Bolivia 1964, Greece 1967, and Fiji 1987.
- Third Edition (2006), p. 286
- I was quite surprised and even shocked and amused when I found out what he'd said [...] I was glad. I knew it would help the book's sales and I was not bothered by who it was coming from. If he shares with me a deep dislike for the certain aspects of US foreign policy, then I'm not going to spurn any endorsement of the book by him. I think it's good that he shares those views and I'm not turned off by that.
- [https://www.smh.com.au/world/bin-laden-plug-boosts-book-sales-20060121-gdmtlf.html On Osama bin Laden's endorsement of Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower cited in "Bin Laden plug boosts book sales" The Sydney Morning Herald (Reuters) (January 21, 2006).
Quotes about William Blum
- The world has lost an antiwar legend. The renowned historian and journalist William Blum died on December 9 at the age of 85. He was a lifelong anti-imperialist committed to exposing U.S. war crimes and CIA covert activities across the globe. Blum was the author of several influential books, including Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, and Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.
Most outrageously, The New York Times published an obituary with the title William Blum: U.S. Policy Critic Cited By Bin Laden Dies at 85. So we have the U.S. newspaper of record reducing the entire decades-long career of this renowned historian who reported on U.S. war crimes, reducing him simply to someone who was once cited by Osama bin Laden, as if that summarizes his whole legacy.
- There are many Americans who would be mortified to be associated with their government's policies. The most scholarly, scathing, incisive, hilarious critiques of the hypocrisy and the contradictions in U.S. government policy come from American citizens. When the rest of the world wants to know what the U.S. government is up to, we turn to Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, Howard Zinn, Ed Herman, Amy Goodman, Michael Albert, Chalmers Johnson, William Blum, and Anthony Arnove to tell us what's really going on.
- Arundhati Roy War Talk (2003)
- Most importantly, he wrote amazing, two amazing books that I know of. Rogue Nation which was 2000, I believe (when it) came out... A listing of all crimes of the CIA. Amazing story, amazing amount of detail and research. Very specific. He followed that up with Killing Hope, where he repeated many of these themes, and he added information from that period; it came out in 2003. Both books really belong in universities, to be studied by major universities. Everybody across the board, even high schools. This is important stuff, and it’s been ignored. This is, I would call it, a dissident historian, if you’d like... He was a true dissident, because he called things as it was....Very important that we continue this sort of...tradition... of telling the truth.