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For over sixty-five years, the United States war machine has been on automatic pilot. Since World War II we have been conditioned to believe that America's motives in 'exporting' democracy are honorable, even noble. In this startling and provocative book, William Blum, a leading dissident chronicler of US foreign policy and the author of controversial bestseller Rogue Stat For over sixty-five years, the United States war machine has been on automatic pilot. Since World War II we have been conditioned to believe that America's motives in 'exporting' democracy are honorable, even noble. In this startling and provocative book, William Blum, a leading dissident chronicler of US foreign policy and the author of controversial bestseller Rogue State, argues that nothing could be further from the truth. Moreover, unless this fallacy is unlearned, and until people understand fully the worldwide suffering American policy has caused, we will never be able to stop the monster.


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For over sixty-five years, the United States war machine has been on automatic pilot. Since World War II we have been conditioned to believe that America's motives in 'exporting' democracy are honorable, even noble. In this startling and provocative book, William Blum, a leading dissident chronicler of US foreign policy and the author of controversial bestseller Rogue Stat For over sixty-five years, the United States war machine has been on automatic pilot. Since World War II we have been conditioned to believe that America's motives in 'exporting' democracy are honorable, even noble. In this startling and provocative book, William Blum, a leading dissident chronicler of US foreign policy and the author of controversial bestseller Rogue State, argues that nothing could be further from the truth. Moreover, unless this fallacy is unlearned, and until people understand fully the worldwide suffering American policy has caused, we will never be able to stop the monster.

30 review for America's Deadliest Export: Democracy – The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else

  1. 4 out of 5

    Randall Wallace

    In 1944, Senator Vandenberg asked in the Senate, when the Pentagon was being proposed, “unless the war is to be permanent, why must we have permanent accommodations for war facilities of such size? Or is the war permanent?” General Douglas McArthur said in 1957: “Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear – kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor – with the cry of grave emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was In 1944, Senator Vandenberg asked in the Senate, when the Pentagon was being proposed, “unless the war is to be permanent, why must we have permanent accommodations for war facilities of such size? Or is the war permanent?” General Douglas McArthur said in 1957: “Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear – kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor – with the cry of grave emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet in retrospect, these disasters never seem to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.” “Propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship.” The Japanese are now in their 72nd year of American Occupation and still there are rapes at Okinawa showing up on CNN news feeds. That we might not “have to” stay there sitting on our almost 800 military bases worldwide making locals hate us, is unthinkable. But, we’ve been in Afghanistan for decades making it unsafe for women to be uncovered, unsafe for kids to play outside. Blum’s thesis is that America says its foreign policy always means well but time and again facts on the ground don’t make it look as if we are there first to help the people. Once you assume “meaning well” is incidental to American foreign policy, then according to Blum, you are free to see the motivations (usually finance or increased perceived power). We keep hearing about “unintended casualties” but our military knows the way America historically fights guarantees civilian casualties, so Blum asks “at what point do you lose the right to say the deaths were …unintended?” America and Israel continue their wars of terror on “terror” because they alone get to define who is a terrorist. Thus, American slavery was never terrorism, nor the genocide of the native American, or Agent Orange, because we did it. If Manning had committed war crimes instead of exposing them, he would have never been imprisoned. Obama not prosecuting Bush officials for torture, means now Trump can do whatever he wants. U.S. missile sorties against Libya since not legally considered as “war”, qualify as murder. What are the two poorest nations in the Americas? Haiti and Nicaragua. Why? They are the two countries in our hemisphere that the U.S. has intervened in and occupied the most. Page after page, you learn why you can’t conclude your government means well just because it says it does. In fact, you will learn that “The Cold War was not a struggle between the Unites States and the Soviet Union. It was a struggle between the United States and the Third World” (blocking political and economic change). The U.S. portrayed the Cold War as a war of ideology, instead it was a war against Human Rights and eradication of poverty. In the 1930’s, Hitler watched closely how the U.S. stayed asleep during the fascist takeover of Spain. From that one event both Hitler and Stalin learned that America’s real enemy was not fascism but the threat of communism. Russia kept getting attacked through Eastern Europe from 1914-1945 yet Americans ignorant of history can’t see why Russia might have wanted to “close that highway down” after WWII. The U.S. violated Yalta in minutes by gross interference with the Greek elections. Blum points out how no one could know what pure Communism or Socialism would look like on this planet because “every socialist experiment of any significance in the past century has been corrupted, subverted, perverted, or destabilized… or crushed, overthrown, bombed, or invaded or otherwise have had life made impossible for it by the United States.” Quiz Time! “Name a single brutal dictator of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported (and even brought to power) by the United States?” If the U.S. disbanded its military tomorrow, muses Blum, who would invade it? Which country? Instead our military wastes more energy than anyone, while polluting the planet more than anyone. The US bombing of Serbia fits “the classical definition of ‘terrorism’ as used by the FBI, the CIA, and the United Nations: the use or threat of violence against a civilian population to induce the government to change certain policies.” Blum calls it “the most ferocious sustained bombing of a nation in the history of the world” and yet Serbia posed had posed no threat of attack to anyone. “Bill Clinton bombed Yugoslavia for seventy-eight days and nights in a row.” Bill Clinton the Democrat. To Blum, when Obama deemed Bush’s crimes as of the past as not to be considered, with Obama’s logic, it could be argued that no criminal can be prosecuted because their crimes would be in the past as well. Obama ignored Nuremberg Principles when stating American torturers get a free pass because they were “following orders” and now “Sam Smith has said that Barack Obama is the most conservative Democratic president we’ve ever had. In an earlier time, there would have been a name for him: Republican.” We think American foreign policy means well but if we read Hitler’s official May 21st 1935 speech not knowing the author’s name, we’d assume he meant well too. We worry about violent jihad by Muslims, yet ignore our own history of violent jihad against more than 50 independent nations guilty of only offering the threat of a good example. An amazing book by a brilliant man; Noam Chomsky loves Bill Blum. You will too by reading this and his “Rogue State” and “Killing Hope”…

  2. 4 out of 5

    Deb W

    This is the first time I've given more than two stars to a book that I've left unfinished. William Blum deserves all five stars for the courage he's shown in writing it, and for having the intestinal fortitude to continue to fight the wrongs -- indeed hold the HOPE, that he might make a change. At the risk of comparing myself to a flower, I have to say that I've withered in the face of the facts he's presented much like a potted flower collapses when watered with toxic waste. Indeed, toxic waste This is the first time I've given more than two stars to a book that I've left unfinished. William Blum deserves all five stars for the courage he's shown in writing it, and for having the intestinal fortitude to continue to fight the wrongs -- indeed hold the HOPE, that he might make a change. At the risk of comparing myself to a flower, I have to say that I've withered in the face of the facts he's presented much like a potted flower collapses when watered with toxic waste. Indeed, toxic waste might be easier to read about than the results of OUR US foreign policy over the decades. Fighting for Democracy? Please, I will never be able to look anyone saying that to me in the face. If I were of the type that can memorize facts and re-tell them upon provocation -- I would not for the simple matter that these facts cannot be stomached. KNOWING now what WE've done to destroy democratic governments, destroy the lives of civilians (especially those helpless aged, women, and children), and actually promote oppression and trafficking of drugs, weapons, and human life -- that's right, SLAVERY. Worse, it's destroyed MY belief in OUR democracy. Even after all the disappointments I've had watching American politics I've still been naive enough to think that my vote and my voice would make a change. Now I learn that even those people I've thought were standing for what is right and good in the world -- well, were NOT. Sadly, there's no place to go. We've created enemies on every continent with our actions. And NO, George W. -- they don't hate us for our freedoms, unless you count the liberties we've taken with their lives. I'm not sure that even if we decided to actually become altruistic and spend all the trillions of dollars we gained through our pillage and rape to help the countries we've destroyed -- that would not even be enough.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John

    While very sympathetic to Blum's arguments I found I simply couldn't read his book – I only delved into various chapters in the hope of finding something I could fully engage with that didn't read like a series of short polemics made up of pasted-together magazine articles. Much of what Blum says is true, but unless he gives the background and the counter-evidence (where it exists) he is often simply asserting truths, and not in a convincing way. He also ranges too widely and (to me) frustrating While very sympathetic to Blum's arguments I found I simply couldn't read his book – I only delved into various chapters in the hope of finding something I could fully engage with that didn't read like a series of short polemics made up of pasted-together magazine articles. Much of what Blum says is true, but unless he gives the background and the counter-evidence (where it exists) he is often simply asserting truths, and not in a convincing way. He also ranges too widely and (to me) frustratingly: I like reading material with much more depth to it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eric W

    This book contains strong assertions that I personally subscribe to, but is weak at backing any of them and is overly heavy-handed instead of providing a new, nuanced analysis of our imperialistic foreign policy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Orestes

    A brilliant breakdown of the reality of US foreign policy and our society and culture as a whole I highly recommend this to anyone who's even remotely curious about how the world works. William Blum unlike some other dissidents, I'm looking at you mr. Chomsky, writes in a very down-to-earth straightforward everyday speaking kind of language that's easy to digest and share with your peers. Can't get much better than that.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Priest Apostate

    I would recommend this to anyone wanting to find out about our impact upon the people of the world.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Martinez

    3.5 stars. "America's Deadliest Export", a collection of Blum's essays on all matters related to US imperialism, makes for an interesting and thought-provoking read, and may well produce some eureka moments for those with any vestigial attachment to the idea that the US is fundamentally a force for good in the world. Harbouring no such illusions, I didn't get as much out of this book as I did out of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II, which should be compulso 3.5 stars. "America's Deadliest Export", a collection of Blum's essays on all matters related to US imperialism, makes for an interesting and thought-provoking read, and may well produce some eureka moments for those with any vestigial attachment to the idea that the US is fundamentally a force for good in the world. Harbouring no such illusions, I didn't get as much out of this book as I did out of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II, which should be compulsory reading. I'm always surprised to find myself agreeing with nearly everything someone writes. Blum is remarkable for having broken entirely free of the intellectual framework of US nationalism; this frees him up to develop a nuanced and realistic view of global history, without the unstated Eurocentrism that usually lies beneath the surface of western history books. His treatment of the Cold War is particularly good. The insistence on Obama being every bit as bad as George W Bush strikes me as unhelpful, especially in the current era where Making America Great Again represents a creeping fascism and an increasingly aggressive, unhinged foreign policy. Bourgeois democracy is pretty bad, but there's worse. Also, Blum's little foray into Malthusianism is unexpected and unwelcome. Minor criticisms aside, it's a useful book, and Bill Blum will be much missed.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    Not bad and some really good points and info. However, a lower rating due to insufficient evidence backing up some assertions as well as the actual writing lacks to some degree. A good copyeditor or perhaps a quality co-author may have improved that area and some more research with listed sources may have improved the other, at which point I would give the book at least four stars. Recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    J

    While the author has a point--that America has done a great deal of damage in the name of freedom and democracy--any credibility he had is completely undermined by his excessive smarm, sarcasm, and hostility. Most authors in this genre have some sort of agenda, in my experience, but Blum clearly made no effort at trying to even fake a balanced approach. In the end, I could not overcome the editorializing and stopped reading it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Disappointing. The author has a lot to say, and may even have some good points buried in the polemic, but it's difficult to tell given the lack of organization and coherence. The work is presented as a book, but reads more like a collection of short essays or blog posts that have been grouped thematically- but beyond that, they are not in any particular order. (Dates wander backwards and forwards at random.) There are strong assertions made, but little presented to back them up. If you're going Disappointing. The author has a lot to say, and may even have some good points buried in the polemic, but it's difficult to tell given the lack of organization and coherence. The work is presented as a book, but reads more like a collection of short essays or blog posts that have been grouped thematically- but beyond that, they are not in any particular order. (Dates wander backwards and forwards at random.) There are strong assertions made, but little presented to back them up. If you're going to present 'the truth' presumably you don't just expect people to take you at your word.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dele Cooke

    Brilliant. If you really want to know why the world is in its current state, this book will tell you. Some excellent statements in here: P252-254 on financial markets P257 on efficiency of the public sector P275 eyebrow raising comment by Rabbi P279 CIA ops and bombing P289 why the USA is responsible for al Qaeda P306 Howard Zinn on Nationalism P308 the Star Spangled Banner was written by a Socialist!!! P310 brilliant comment by John le Carre P333 very funny quote on how to improve the attitude of the ri Brilliant. If you really want to know why the world is in its current state, this book will tell you. Some excellent statements in here: P252-254 on financial markets P257 on efficiency of the public sector P275 eyebrow raising comment by Rabbi P279 CIA ops and bombing P289 why the USA is responsible for al Qaeda P306 Howard Zinn on Nationalism P308 the Star Spangled Banner was written by a Socialist!!! P310 brilliant comment by John le Carre P333 very funny quote on how to improve the attitude of the rich

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gimo Zangana

    Great read. Very educating. Lots of strong facts written in a fun and sarcastic style. Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the ongoing political issues of this age and American dominance.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Should be put right next to ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ on anybody’s shelf of “books you must read to understand how the world works”.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike Haefeli

    Great point of view of U.S. foreign policy that Americans should be exposed to.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Callum Craig

    Changed my outlook on American politics and the exploitation of countries and their people to grow the mass empire of the USA

  16. 4 out of 5

    Vivek Singh

    Great read! Refer to my other reviews on works of Blum.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Niklas Pivic

    The introduction to this book snared me - as well as an endorsement of the book, courtesy of Noam Chomsky: INTRODUCTION The secret to understanding US foreign policy is that there is no secret. Principally, one must come to the realization that the United States strives to dominate the world, for which end it is prepared to use any means necessary. Once one understands that, much of the apparent confusion, contradiction, and ambiguity surrounding Washington’s policies fades away. To express this s The introduction to this book snared me - as well as an endorsement of the book, courtesy of Noam Chomsky: INTRODUCTION The secret to understanding US foreign policy is that there is no secret. Principally, one must come to the realization that the United States strives to dominate the world, for which end it is prepared to use any means necessary. Once one understands that, much of the apparent confusion, contradiction, and ambiguity surrounding Washington’s policies fades away. To express this striving for dominance numerically, one can consider that since the end of World War II the United States has •    endeavored to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically elected •    grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries •    attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders •    dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries •    attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries. In total: since 1945, the United States has carried out one or more of the above-listed actions, on one or more occasions, in seventy-one countries (more than one-third of the countries of the world), in the process of which the US has ended the lives of several million people, condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair, and has been responsible for the torture of countless thousands. US foreign policy has likely earned the hatred of most of the people in the world who are able to more or less follow current news events and are familiar with a bit of modern history. Well. This is quite the contrast to the current reports of ISIS (Islamic State), another horrid, squalid terroristic band. Blum is good at making us remember history, not merely as told by the so-called victors. Also, his best talent in this book, is displaying propaganda as what it really is by contrasting it. An example: All countries, it is often argued, certainly all powerful countries, have always acted belligerent and militaristic, so why condemn the United States so much? But that is like arguing that since one can find anti-Semitism in every country, why condemn Nazi Germany? Obviously, it’s a question of magnitude. [...] After the attacks of September 11, 2001 many Americans acquired copies of the Quran in an attempt to understand why Muslims could do what they did. One can wonder, following the invasion of Iraq, whether Iraqis bought Christian bibles in search of an explanation of why the most powerful nation on the planet had laid such terrible waste to their ancient land, which had done no harm to the United States. Also, letting persons of interest display their own thoughts is often an extremely interesting thing: Future president Theodore Roosevelt, who fought in Cuba at the turn of the last century with the greatest of gung-ho-ism, wrote: ‘It is for the good of the world that the English-speaking race in all its branches should hold as much of the world’s surface as possible.’ Apropos why the USA is being attacked: The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window. On what the duality of the two main political parties of the USA really mean: One reason for confusion among the electorate is that the two main parties, the Democrats and Republicans, while forever throwing charges and counter-charges at each other, actually hold indistinguishable views concerning foreign policy, a similarity that is one of the subjects of this book. What is the poor voter to make of all this? Apropos of this we have the view of the American electoral system from a foreigner, Cuban leader Raúl Castro. He has noted that the United States pits two identical parties against one another, and joked that a choice between a Republican and Democrat is like choosing between himself and his brother Fidel. ‘We could say in Cuba we have two parties: one led by Fidel and one led by Raúl, what would be the difference?’ he asked. ‘That’s the same thing that happens in the United States … both are the same. Fidel is a little taller than me, he has a beard and I don’t.’ Some background info on why the Marshall Plan is to be considered not entirely about help and altruism: Suppressing the left all over Western Europe, most notably sabotaging the Communist parties in France and Italy in their bids for legal, non-violent, electoral victory. Marshall Plan funds were secretly siphoned off to finance this endeavor, and the promise of aid to a country, or the threat of its cutoff, was used as a bullying club; indeed, France and Italy would certainly have been exempted from receiving aid if they had not gone along with the plots to exclude the Communists from any kind of influential role. [...] The CIA also skimmed large amounts of Marshall Plan funds to covertly maintain cultural institutions, journalists, and publishers, at home and abroad, for the omnipresent and heated propaganda of the Cold War; the selling of the Marshall Plan to the American public and elsewhere was entwined with fighting ‘the red menace’. Moreover, in their covert operations, CIA personnel at times used the Marshall Plan as cover, and one of the Plan’s chief architects, Richard Bissell, then moved to the CIA, stopping off briefly at the Ford Foundation, a long-time conduit for CIA covert funds. ’Twas one big happy, scheming family. [...] The great bulk of Marshall Plan funds returned to the United States, or never left, being paid directly to American corporations to purchase American goods. The US Agency for International Development (AID) stated in 1999: ‘The principal beneficiary of America’s foreign assistance programs has always been the United States.’ On Yugoslavia, and the Clinton administration's record-breaking bombing: Bill Clinton bombed Yugoslavia for seventy-eight days and nights in a row. His military and political policies destroyed one of the most progressive countries in Europe. And he called it ‘humanitarian intervention.’ It’s still regarded by almost all Americans, including many, if not most, ‘progressives,’ as just that. Propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship. [...] In 1999, NATO (primarily the United States) bombed the Yugoslav republic of Serbia for seventy-eight consecutive days, ruining the economy, the ecology, power supply, bridges, apartment buildings, transportation, infrastructure, churches, schools, pushing the country many years back in its development, killing hundreds or thousands of people, traumatizing countless children, who’ll be reacting unhappily to certain sounds and sights for perhaps the remainder of their days; the most ferocious sustained bombing of a nation in the history of the world, at least up to that time. Nobody has ever suggested that Serbia had attacked or was preparing to attack a member state of NATO, and that is the only event which justifies a reaction under the NATO treaty. Speaking of NATO, a clear-headed thought: If NATO had never existed, what argument could be given today in favor of creating such an institution? Another clear-headed one-liner: Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good. ...plus: What do the CEOs do all day that they should earn a thousand times more than schoolteachers, nurses, firefighters, street cleaners, and social workers? Reread some medieval history, about feudal lords and serfs. ...and: The more you care about others, the more you’re at a disadvantage competing in the capitalist system. ...also: Communist governments take over companies. Under capitalism, the companies take over the government. And on the Obama administration: As we’ll see from State Department cables in the WikiLeaks chapter, the Obama administration renewed military ties with Indonesia in spite of serious concerns expressed by American diplomats that the Indonesian military’s human rights abuses in the province of West Papua were stoking unrest in the region. The United States also overturned a ban on training the Indonesian Kopassus army special forces – despite the Kopassus’s long history of arbitrary detention, torture, and murder – after the Indonesian president threatened to derail President Obama’s trip to the country in November 2010. On Guantánamo: It was recently disclosed that an Iraqi resident of Britain is being released from Guantánamo after four years. His crime? He refused to work as an informer for the CIA and MI5, the British security service. His business partner is still being held in Guantánamo, for the same crime. [...] David Hicks is a 31–year-old Australian who in a plea-bargain with a US military court served nine months in prison, largely in Australia. That was after five years at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, without being charged with a crime, without a trial, without a conviction. Under the deal, Hicks agreed not to talk to reporters for one year (a terrible slap in the face of free speech), to forever waive any profit from telling his story (a slap – mon Dieu! – in the face of free enterprise), to submit to US interrogation and testify at future US trials or international tribunals (an open invitation to the US government to hound the young man for the rest of his life), to renounce any claims of mistreatment or unlawful detention (a requirement which would be unconstitutional in a civilian US court). ‘If the United States were not ashamed of its conduct, it wouldn’t hide behind a gag order,’ said Hicks’s attorney Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union. About Iraq, it's interesting to read facts as opposed to prejudice about what life was like, before and after the first American invasion: Women’s rights, previously enjoyed, fell under great danger of being subject to harsh Islamic law. There is today a Shiite religious ruling class in Iraq, which tolerates physical attacks on women for showing a bare arm or for picnicking with a male friend. Men can be harassed for wearing shorts in public, as can children playing outside in shorts. On Julian Assange and Sweden: One further consequence of Assange’s predicament may be to put an end to the widespread belief that Sweden, or the Swedish government, is peaceful, progressive, neutral, and independent. Stockholm’s behavior in this matter and others has been as American-poodle-like as London’s, as it lined itself up with an Assange accuser who has been associated with right-wing anti-Castro Cubans, who are of course US-government-supported. This is the same Sweden that for some time in recent years was working with the CIA on its torture-rendition flights and has about 500 soldiers in Afghanistan. Sweden is the world’s largest per capita arms exporter, and for years has taken part in US/NATO military exercises, some within its own territory. The left should get themselves a new nation to admire. Try Cuba. However, Blum's sexist approach to rape charges against Assange make for a very, very sad read: There’s also the old stereotype held by Americans of Scandinavians practicing a sophisticated and tolerant attitude toward sex, an image that was initiated, or enhanced, by the celebrated 1967 Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow), which had been banned for a while in the United States. And now what do we have? Sweden sending Interpol on an international hunt for a man who apparently upset two women, perhaps for no more than sleeping with them both in the same week. By quickly googling some, ending up at, for example, The Enliven Project, one quickly finds that there's greater risk of being hit by lightning than being falsely accused of rape. The two women did not know each other, and have rendered quite similar stories of how Assange purportedly assaulted them. Blum's "no more than sleeping with them both in the same week" is as tragic as reading how he deals with the US government's downplays, for example, when writing about Guantanámo inmates. So, sadly, there is a waft and complete shame about Blum's writing on women. It's really beyond sad. However, his humanitarian views beyond that seems OK, which feels tainted to say. ‘We came, we saw, he died.’ The words of US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, giggling, as she spoke of the depraved murder of Muammar Gaddafi. Or this: This also really happened: Jay Leno on his August 7, 2006 television program: ‘There’s news of a major medical crisis from Cuba concerning Fidel Castro. It looks like he’s getting better.’ Think of a US president battling a serious ailment and a broadcaster on Cuban TV making such a remark. Like I stated, Blum’s way of contrasting statements by displaying how they’d look through someone else’s mouth is one of his his fortés. On the "Cuban missile crisis", which shows the necessity for Iran to acquire nuclear arms to preserve their peace: Arthur Schlesinger, Jr, historian and adviser to President Kennedy, termed it ‘the most dangerous moment in human history.’ But I’ve never believed that. Such a fear is based on the belief that either or both of the countries was ready and willing to unleash their nuclear weapons against the other. However, this was never in the cards because of MAD – mutually assured destruction. By 1962, the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union had grown so large and sophisticated that neither superpower could entirely destroy the other’s retaliatory force by launching a missile first, even with a surprise attack. Retaliation was certain, or certain enough. Starting a nuclear war was committing suicide. If the Japanese had had nuclear bombs, Hiroshima and Nagasaki would not have been destroyed. Also, on that "crisis": John Gerassi, professor of political science at Queens College in New York City, wrote a letter to the New York Times: To the Editor, In his ‘A Spy Confesses’ (Week in Review, September 21, 2008), Sam Roberts claims that folks ‘fiercely loyal to the far left believed that the Rosenbergs were not guilty…’ I am and have always been, since my stint as a correspondent and editor in Latin America for Time and Newsweek, a ‘far leftist,’ and I have never claimed the Rosenbergs were not guilty. Nor have any of my ‘far leftist’ friends. What we always said, and what I repeat to my students every semester, is that ‘if they were guilty, they are this planet’s great heroes.’ My explanation is quite simple: The US had a first-strike policy, the USSR did not (until Gorbachev). In 1952, the US military, and various intelligence services, calculated that a first strike on all Soviet silos would wipe out all but 6 percent of Russian atomic missiles (and, we now know, create enough radiation to kill us all). But those 6 percent would automatically be fired at US cities. The military then calculated what would happen if one made a direct hit on Denver (why they chose Denver and not New York or Washington was never explained). Their finding: 200,000 would die immediately, two million within a month. They concluded that it was not worth it. In other words, I tell my students, you were born and I am alive because the USSR had a deterrent against our ‘preventive’ attack, not the other way around. And if it is true that the Rosenbergs helped the Soviets get that deterrent, they end up among the planet’s saviors. John Gerassi It will not come as a great surprise to learn that the New York Times did not allow such thoughts to appear in its exalted pages. Some thinking words on sexuality and US politics: ‘Do you think homosexuality is a choice, or is it biological?’ was the question posed to presidential candidate Bill Richardson by singer Melissa Etheridge. ‘It’s a choice,’ replied the New Mexico governor at the August 9, 2007 forum for Democratic candidates. Etheridge then said to Richardson, ‘Maybe you didn’t understand the question,’ and she rephrased it. Richardson again said he thought it was a choice.6 The next time you hear someone say that homosexuality is a choice, ask them how old they were when they chose to be heterosexual. When they admit that they never made such a conscious choice, the next question to the person should be: ‘So only homosexuals choose to be homosexual? Heterosexuals do not choose to be heterosexual? But what comes first, being homosexual so you can make the choice, or making the choice and thus becoming homosexual?’ Blum delivers very severe and well-deserved critique to Obama. Examples: When, in 2005, the other Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin, stuck his neck out and compared American torture at Guantánamo to ‘Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime – Pol Pot or others – that had no concern for human beings,’ and was angrily denounced by the right wing, Obama stood up in the Senate and… defended him? No, he joined the critics, thrice calling Durbin’s remark a ‘mistake.’ Since taking office in January 2005, he has voted to approve almost every war appropriation the Republicans have put forward. He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state despite her complicity in the Bush administration’s false justifications for going to war in Iraq. In doing so, he lacked the courage of twelve of his Democratic Party Senate colleagues who voted against her confirmation. [...] keep in mind that as a US Senate candidate in 2004 he threatened missile strikes against Iran[...] Another prominent Obama adviser – from a list entirely and depressingly establishment-imperial – is Madeleine Albright, who played key roles in the merciless bombings of Iraq and Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Is anyone keeping count? I am. Libya makes six. Six countries that Barack H. Obama has waged war against in his twenty-six months in office. (To anyone who disputes that dropping bombs on a populated land is an act of war, I would ask what they think of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.) America’s first black president has now waged war in Africa. Is there anyone left who still thinks that Barack Obama is some kind of improvement over George W. Bush? I could go through the Cairo speech and point out line by line all the political and moral shortcomings, the plain nonsense, and the rest. (‘I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States.’ No mention of it being outsourced to various countries, likely including the very country in which he was speaking. ‘No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons.’ But this is precisely what the United States is trying to do concerning Iran and North Korea. All in all, Blum is bitter, yes, but he's got his head where it should be, apart from where women are, apparently, being dealt with. His words on the Assange affair taint the entire book, but other than that, it's a good book, although more fractured than, say, a Chomsky book would be.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    An absolute must-read. William Blum hits the nail on the head with every word.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Donald

    A different look at the history of American foreign policy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bit more flamboyant and loose than Phil Agee, but some good facts here and there none the less. I would probably have preferred one of his books intended to be books rather than this collection of blog posts. Hating ameriKKKa is a good thing

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mrinal

    This book chronicles and details various political aspects of U.S foreign policy over the years, across the globe. Personally, I have always admired the U.S for its ruthless pursuit of national interests but loathed them for their moral hectoring by regular releases of Human rights and religious freedom reports in their unofficial role as a global arbiter of the same. The book was a eye opener even for me in terms of 1. Scale of U.S covert activities around the world (I was aware of only a small p This book chronicles and details various political aspects of U.S foreign policy over the years, across the globe. Personally, I have always admired the U.S for its ruthless pursuit of national interests but loathed them for their moral hectoring by regular releases of Human rights and religious freedom reports in their unofficial role as a global arbiter of the same. The book was a eye opener even for me in terms of 1. Scale of U.S covert activities around the world (I was aware of only a small part prior to this). 2. The depth of such activities in the countries they target or the influence of their propaganda. The author forces you to rethink your views about tricky subjects like Cuba, Venezuela and Iran by presenting new ideas & overturning information accepted by us as facts. He also lays bare the extreme duplicity and hypocrisy of the U.S foreign policy by making direct comparison of their actions with certain professed U.S principles, actions of other dictatorial governments and certain landmark judgments on war crimes. After reading the book, it is not possible to view U.S policies as promoting anything except capitalist models & profits for their corporations. There are some places where the author fumbles 1. Having a simplistic view of cause-effect and seeing all that is wrong with the world as being a result of U.S foreign policy. He does not give much importance to the domestic strife's in some countries that are taken as examples. 2. He seems quite forgiving of many kinds of Islamist violence as he attributes the root cause of them as U.S interventions (somehow implying that the counter reaction and terrorism we are seeing across the globe are more justifiable due to this) 3. He conflates the big picture with the daily on ground reality - While the case he makes for prosecuting George Bush or Dick Cheney for war crimes is very strong, he argues that the U.S soldier too cannot absolve himself of any responsibility as they are all taking part in an unjust war (The points he makes are very debatable) The author has a knack for sarcasm and dark humor which makes the whole read even better. Overall a very informative & effective read for an alternative (Truthful?) view on U.S foreign policy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Rizzo

    There is a much darker side to United States foreign policy than many of us know. I think a lot of us don't want to know, or refuse to believe to see things in an objective light because of our bias towards nationalism. William Blum continues to shine a light on the sins of our nation. His perspective is coming from a firmly leftist, socialist perspective, and while I disagree with much that he has to say with regard to domestic policy, economics, or morality, I think he has much of importance t There is a much darker side to United States foreign policy than many of us know. I think a lot of us don't want to know, or refuse to believe to see things in an objective light because of our bias towards nationalism. William Blum continues to shine a light on the sins of our nation. His perspective is coming from a firmly leftist, socialist perspective, and while I disagree with much that he has to say with regard to domestic policy, economics, or morality, I think he has much of importance to share with regard to US foreign policy, especially of the post world war II era. We have a long history of bombings, interventions, invasion, incursions, and government overthrows. Though the stated goal is for stability, freedom, democracy, human rights, etc., a lot of the actions of the government don't align with these values, and have at time run directly counter to them. And a lot of the current entanglements have a long history that we were involved in long ago. Our behavior and our application of power across the globe are the behavior of an empire. Blum is a communist, socialist apologist, and while I don't care for much of that, it was good for me to read a perspective that I disagreed with. American's should read material like this, because we all need to think more. Read what you disagree with and you might be surprised that you agree with some or it might just strengthen your thinking.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sovatha

    Before you start reading this book, you should be warned that whatever you learned and understood about the US of A might not be the same after you finish reading it. Everything you come to understand about this super power might have been fed through corporate media outlets one way or another. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that whatever was fed to you might not be the whole picture of what you should know. Well, at least that's what William Blum will be telling you in this boo Before you start reading this book, you should be warned that whatever you learned and understood about the US of A might not be the same after you finish reading it. Everything you come to understand about this super power might have been fed through corporate media outlets one way or another. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that whatever was fed to you might not be the whole picture of what you should know. Well, at least that's what William Blum will be telling you in this book. You might have doubts about those sources that Blum based his arguments or statements on, but as any book written and published, you are welcomed to dig through those sources before you come to believe if they are legitimate or not (I didn't do the digging and I prefer it that way). If you have those doubts, you should also ask why such an anti-American book is allowed to be published in the US in the first place. Blum also addresses that point in the book too. Don't be discouraged by the 338 page size of the book. It's a very easy read, a compilation of various essays written throughout a period of time. Therefore, you don't need to read the whole book in continuity. Overall, I found the book a enjoyable read. Just remember to read something else on pro-US or anti-China after you read this, and your views will be balanced again.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Nothing new or surprising. The US gov constantly and deliberately interferes in the affairs of dozens of other countries for their own profit, benefit, and exploitation-even to the point where its actions cause the evil, scum-of-the-earth terrorist groups and not many people even realize that. I particularly had no idea how America tried to isolate Cuba over the years and now I know. it discussed the affairs in many countries, Iraq, Iran, Yugoslavia, El Salvador, etc. However, I'm not sure if it' Nothing new or surprising. The US gov constantly and deliberately interferes in the affairs of dozens of other countries for their own profit, benefit, and exploitation-even to the point where its actions cause the evil, scum-of-the-earth terrorist groups and not many people even realize that. I particularly had no idea how America tried to isolate Cuba over the years and now I know. it discussed the affairs in many countries, Iraq, Iran, Yugoslavia, El Salvador, etc. However, I'm not sure if it's just me, but Blume came off as..kinda dismissing the atrocious actions of Saddam Hussein and Godaffi and other tyrants? He was explaining how poor Iraq suffered through unspeakable things and things were much calmer and better before the US invaded, and when Saddam was in power. I assume that wasn't his intention, but it's important to highlight these terrible tyrants actions and crimes because Saddam was a terrible, atrocious man and had blood on his hands (The Iraqi Kurds, Shia's, etc) as well. Otherwise, overall I agreed with the assertions and premise of the book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    JmeDoom

    My first time reading William Blum, and I have to say I was impressed. This is a scathing analysis of US Foreign policy over the last century. Particularly enlightening were the passages on former Yugoslavia. This books has meticulous endnotes and references. I particularly enjoyed his point that at some point, regarding US foreign policy, we have to stop saying we "mean well." It has wrecked far too many sovereign nations and caused far too much harm around the world for these policies to keep My first time reading William Blum, and I have to say I was impressed. This is a scathing analysis of US Foreign policy over the last century. Particularly enlightening were the passages on former Yugoslavia. This books has meticulous endnotes and references. I particularly enjoyed his point that at some point, regarding US foreign policy, we have to stop saying we "mean well." It has wrecked far too many sovereign nations and caused far too much harm around the world for these policies to keep being referred to as mistakes or bad decisions. As an American, I should be most critical of my own government because that is the government I am responsible for and have the ability to influence (maybe?).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Swhirsch

    There is nothing really new in this book. America. Foreign Policy is ripped to shreds in a way that would make Chomsky proud. One sided to the extreme the author presents the far left version of world affairs and does so cogently, it's really to his disservice that al queda so publicly endorses it, although to a half awake reader the endorsement is unnecessary. Anyway though one sided I found some truly insightful analysis here. After all being so biased toward the left doesn't nullify all of hi There is nothing really new in this book. America. Foreign Policy is ripped to shreds in a way that would make Chomsky proud. One sided to the extreme the author presents the far left version of world affairs and does so cogently, it's really to his disservice that al queda so publicly endorses it, although to a half awake reader the endorsement is unnecessary. Anyway though one sided I found some truly insightful analysis here. After all being so biased toward the left doesn't nullify all of his arguments! Also I love the dark humor and engrossing writing style of the author. For these reasons it gets 5 stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Wood

    "What do American leaders mean by democracy? The last thing they have in mind is any kind of economic democracy - the closing of the gap between the desperate poor and those for whom too much is not enough. The first thing they have in mind is making sure the target country has the political, financial, and legal mechanisms in place to make it hospitable to corporate globalization." This was an interesting book; written with a sarcastic tone which weakened its journalistic credibility yet made it "What do American leaders mean by democracy? The last thing they have in mind is any kind of economic democracy - the closing of the gap between the desperate poor and those for whom too much is not enough. The first thing they have in mind is making sure the target country has the political, financial, and legal mechanisms in place to make it hospitable to corporate globalization." This was an interesting book; written with a sarcastic tone which weakened its journalistic credibility yet made it livelier to read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    David

    While I agree with almost the entire content of this book, I feel that the narrative is too subjective in tone and provides many, but not all, "facts" with little reference or merit. I agree with the premise, but the support comes from sometimes intangible statements.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alex Price

    I truly feel that every American should read this book. It's a very interesting perspective and gives way to plenty of important questions to ask when looking at US foreign policy. The design of the book is very raw and the language isn't jargon filled, you just get his blunt thoughts.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zobair

    Really good book by Blum - explains all the different types of methods America uses Democracy as a way to get what it wants in the name of democracy yet it self doesn't even follow the principle of democracy. Really interesting and a easy read.

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