THE AMERICAN EMPIRE’S TERRORIST NETWORK
by John Gerassi
Paper delivered at The Oxford Round Table on Terrorism,
Lincoln College, Oxford University, London
March 29, 2011
The United States of America is the biggest and worst terrorist nation of the world. And most Americans approve enthusiastically. Those two statements need careful corroboration. They need a careful reading of history.
In his 2 December 1823 State of the Union speech, President James Monroe told European nations to stay out of the Americas, and North Americans applauded what rapidly was dubbed The Monroe Doctrine. Of course, most European countries ignored it back then because the US armed forces were not strong enough enforce it. But soon they were, giving President Theodore Roosevelt the opportunity to declare in his infamous 1904 corollary: the US has the right to intervene in Latin America to "stabilize" its economic affairs. As every Latino school kid immediately understood, that corollary meant that the US could decide whatever made the US richer. And it did -- massively.
At first the victims were almost always its close neighbors in Central America. Examples would take hundreds of pages. But let me mention a few. In 1824, Secretary of State, later president, John Quincy Adams told Simon Bolivar that he must not interpret the Monroe Doctrine as “authorization for the weak to be insolent with the strong.” Bolivar wanted to kick out the Spaniards from the Caribbean, but US oligarchs sought those islands for themselves, making Bolivar quip in 1829: “The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.”
In 1833 England invaded the Falkland Islands, which as Las Islas Malvinas, belonged to Argentina. The US did nothing. Nor did it object when England seized a huge chunk of Guatemala, plus also the island of Roatan. The reason was that while abolition of slavery did not become a formal law until the 1840s in Spanish America, Afro-Spaniards had become an integral part of the land ever since the great liberators, San Martin, Belgrano, O’Higgins and Bolivar, made them free because they joined the wars of liberation. Not so in territories dominated by England.
Slavery was firmly outlawed in Mexico by 1830. That did not stop US land-grabbers from pouring over its borders, bringing Negro slaves with them. When Mexico objected, the gringos declared their area independent, calling it Texas, and when war ensued, the US seized over half of independent Mexico – its richest part of course. A few years later, when Mexico sought US residents in what was left of its territory to pay taxes just like all Mexicans, US President Hayes scoffed at “the volatile and childish character of these people” and sent troops across the Rio Grande to teach them a lesson.
In 1854, the US settled a minor argument with Nicaragua, again over taxes, by sending a warship to bombard San Juan del Norte. Three years later, when the US levied a fine of $20,000 because one of its latifundistas refused to pay his taxes and a scuffle ensued, and Nicaragua could not pay, President Buchanan dispatched the navy to flatten that town, and to make sure, sent in US Marines to finish the job.
This was also the years when privateers, paid by US corporations, raised private armies to conquer top land in Central America for exploitation by those corporations. Some were flamboyant. One, John Anthony Quitman, who had fought with Texas, then at Veracruz and at the storming of Chapultepec, was made governor of Mexico City during the 1847-48 US occupation, and organized an invasion of Cuba to make it ”clean,” that is American. Indicted for violating the treaty between Spain and the US, he was never tried, instead was elected to the House of Representatives.
Another filibusterer was William Walker, who raised a private army, invaded Mexico’s California, was defeated and tried for violating neutrality laws. Acquitted, he raised a bigger and better-armed army, paid for by the First Boston Group (later known as the United Fruit Company), seized Nicaragua, had himself “elected president” and asked President Franklin Pierce to admit Nicaragua, which had banned slavery since 1823, as a slave state into the union. Pierce liked the idea but before he could act, Walker was defeated at Santa Rosa by another private army (paid this time by Cornelius Vanderbilt’ massively exploitative Accessory Transit Company) and his Latino allies. Walker surrendered and was again tried for violating neutrality laws.
At his trial, Walker, a trained lawyer, pressed government witnesses to describe exactly what he had done -- and planned to do. When it was turn of the defense, he made himself a witness, told the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) jury of his peers that he was indeed guilty of all the government’s charges and proud of it, then screamed: ”who would not prefer to be a slave in the United States than a free man outside of it.” The jury rose, applauded and shouted “not guilty.”
Walker returned to Central America with yet a bigger force and conquered El Salvador and part of Honduras (where he declared English the official language), as well as Nicaragua, again legalizing slavery -- and burned recalcitrant Granada to the ground. Captured once again, he was turned over to the British Navy, which, taking no chances this time, tried him in British Honduras and promptly executed him by firing squad.
But US bullying interventions were not limited to private filibusterers. In 1871 the US occupied ports in the Dominican Republic to control its sale of sugar. In 1881 it openly sided with Peru in its war against Chile, in exchange for the port of Chimbote, which it turned into a base, the coal mines nearby, and a railroad connecting both. The reason for US intervention was never humanitarian. It was always commercial. In 1884-85 an official US Government commission toured Latin America and reported it ideal for US businesses and “to introduce the use of our goods.”
From 1895 the US really got greedy – and intervened in every Latin American country, every single one, either to overthrow a popular democracy or to help an unpopular dictator keep his rule. It seized land in Venezuela for the Rockefellers, fabricated a phony war with Spain (with the agile aid of the Hearst Press), annexed Puerto Rico, and set up Cuba as a “republic” controlled by the Platt Amendment (1901), which gave the US the right to intervene in matters of “life, property and individual liberty” and “Cuban Independence” – that is, in everything. US intentions were certainly clear: in 1848 it had offered Spain $100 million for the island, and when that failed, the non-official but very popular “Ostend Manifesto” asserted that “by every law, human and divine, the United States has the right take it by force.”
After the US did, it forced upon Cuba’s freedom fighters, the survivors of Jose Marti’s victorious struggle for independence from Spain, the Platt Amendment. It then compelled them to grant the US the Bay of Guantanamo for a US base at $2000 per year forever. Marti had died in 1895 so Americans were told that the real victor was none other than Teddy Roosevelt who defeated Spain by his glorious, courageous charge up San Juan Hill. Fact is, contrary to all of American historians’ propagandistic books and the swashbuckling films showing the brave “rough riders” winning battles and charging up San Juan Hill, there was no one on top of the hill and the only shot fired was by one of Teddy’s riders when he got off his horse and shot his own foot.
Once President, Teddy Roosevelt continued to try to dominate all of Central America. He fomented a revolution in the Colombian province of Panama, recognized it as a separate country, sent the US Navy to stop Colombia from trying to get it back, bought the canal from the French company, which was developing it, and imported slaves from English Barbados to work it when Panamanians refused. He proudly boasted “I took the canal.” And years later would have smiled approvingly when President Reagan bellowed “the canal is ours, we paid for it, we built it, we will keep it.”
And so it went. As the much-decorated US Marine General Smedley D. Butler admitted: “I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenue…I helped purify Nicaragua for international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interest in 1919 [occupied officially until 1924, unofficially until 1934]. I helped make Honduras ‘right’ for American fruit companies…”
Those fruit companies often demanded that the US get rid of any Latino leader who tried to regulate land tenure. In Haiti, the sugar interests Gen. Butler mentioned murdered 2000 Caco rebellious patriots and their chief Charlemagne Peralte. In Nicaragua, two US cruisers helped keep extremely unpopular President Emiliano Chamorro in power because he had illegally [it had to be voted by its Parliament] signed the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty whereby the US had the right to build another Atlantic-Pacific canal at any time it found convenient “free from all taxation or other public charge” and “by way of any route over Nicaraguan territory” “in perpetuity and for all time.” When the people rebelled, US Marines were sent to crush them.
But the rebel Augusto Cesar Sandino, an American-trained agronomist and mining engineer, escaped and with his two brothers waged war against both the US and the illegal government. US ships bombed his land and village, US planes strafed his men and farm hands, and bombed 70 towns (including Las Timas in Honduras by mistake). Ever more popular, backed by as many new recruits as he could muster “General de los pueblos libres” Sandino was never defeated. Finally US ambassador Arthur Bliss Lane guaranteed his safety if he and his brothers would come to his neutral embassy grounds for the possibility of a truce. When the three Sandinos arrived, National guardsmen, well concealed in the embassy, opened fire and killed all three. The National Guard’s chief, Anastasio (“Tacho”) Somoza, then seized power and ruled Nicaragua with a brutal iron hand. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to change American habits in Central America, he was asked why he remained in good terms with the dictator. “Somoza may be a son-of-a-bitch,” FDR quipped, “but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.”
Somoza’s son, “Tachito” took over from his father when he died, using the National Guard as his personal, and very vicious, army. But always at the service of the US. It helped train the CIA’s army to overthrow Guatemala’s first and only totally freely elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, denounced by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, CIA boss Allen Dulles, as communists because Arbenz wanted to give untilled land to 300,000 landless peasants, land owned by United Fruit Company, for which the Dulles brothers had worked and in which they owned stock, but to which Arbenz planned to pay the full book value. Tachito also let the CIA train the Cuban exiles who invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs – and got creamed not by Cuba’s regular army, which Fidel purposely held back, but by its peasant militias. After the modern-day Sandinistas overthrew Tachito, and the great defender of freedom, President Reagan, used Tachito’s exiled National Guardsmen, who had become Latin America’s best-trained (by the CIA) torturers, as “contras” to try to bring down the Sandinistas, their agents blew up his armor-platted Mercedes six stories high when he was enjoying a ride in his Paraguay exile.
FDR did dump the Platt Amendment and did sign Reciprocal Trade Agreements with most Central American countries. But he plotted against Cuba’s mildly decent but equally mildly corrupt President Grau San Martin (who had replaced the dictator Gerardo Machado after a popular rebellion) and supported Grau’s successor, dictator Fulgensio Batista, who became one of Latin America’s most vicious dictators. On the other hand, FDR defended Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas’ 1938 nationalization of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil officially because Cardenas was willing to abide by the World Court’s evaluation of its worth. The real reason was no way an act of friendship; it was based on FDR’s foreboding of the lack of oil in the coming world war. (The World Court sustained Mexico’s figures, and the US accepted the verdict – the first and only time that the US respected an international treaty. Question: why did the US not accept the same procedure when Fidel Castro nationalized US refineries in Cuba, which was long before Fidel asked for Russian economic help and declared Cuba communist in exchange?).
The history of US plots and interventions after World War II is well known. The US overthrew Peron, calling him a fascist, mainly because of his reforms; he organized unions in every industry, spread social security to cover all activities, made education free and compulsory, launched and completed low-income housing projects and actually did turn them over to low-income earners, made paid vacations a law, gave working students a week off before exams, and mothers-to-be three months paid before and after giving birth. Peron guaranteed free medical care for everyone and half of workers’ vacation trip expenses, and built worker colonies all over Argentina. Outraged by such social-minded reforms, the US pushed “los gorilas,” nickname of Argentina’s generals who served US interests, to overthrow all Peronist leaders, organized the generals’ Revolucion Libertadora and ordered the CIA to plot the dirty war which disappeared at least 30,000 people, though today the US denounces it as loudly as any media will listen.
In Brazil, the US arranged for the overthrow of presidents Vargas, Quadros, Goulart, and anyone else fighting for a better life of its commoners. The generals took over and started executing liberals, socialists, anyone who liked democracy, but not one member of the Communist Central Committee, in a plot so carefully worked out in Washington and at the US embassy in Rio that both President Johnson and US Ambassador Lincoln Gordon congratulated Gen. Humberto Castelo Branco, the gorilla who was made boss by the rest of the gorillas, the day before they had actually seized power and Goulart was still in his office in Brazil.
Vargas was deposed by the army twice: the first time in 1945 after the US Congress called him a fascist because he had freed the thousands of political prisoners who had been arrested by the oligarchy-controlled previous governments, and the second time in 1954 because the US and Brazil’s oligarchy dubbed him a communist, after he had returned from exile and won overwhelmingly a second term, and launched a Brazilian oil company, Petrobras, which would compete with US oil companies. Vargas was also hated in Washington because he invited world-renowned sociologist Gilberto Freryre to map out a land reform, a nono to every US government. As army tanks surrounded the presidential palace, Vagas got on a nationwide radio hook-up, accused a battery of US economic and financial groups allied to native oligarchs of “domination and looting” Brazil’s economy, and said: “I gave you my life. Now I give you my death.” And he shot himself dead on the air.
In 1962 it was Quadros’ turn. A conservative but honest politician, he had tried to better Brazilians’ lot. But, he said on the radio, he was constantly hampered by former US ambassadors John Moors Cabot and Adolf Berle, Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon and his own oligarchs, including Carlos Lacerda, whom Washington and Time magazine adored. Quadros did not shoot himself on the air, but simply quit; he walked out of his palace and disappeared, “on a slow boat to China,” the right-wing press celebrated. His successor, vice-president Joao “Jango” Goulart, was a former trade unionist and Labor Minister, so US plotters went to work immediately.
The military, which learned how to torture from CIA experts, as massively documented by New York Timesman A.J. Langguth, in his book Hidden Terror, used their new skills throughout the continent: In Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Guiana. In Ecuador they got President Velasco Ibarra overthrown three times. Uruguay, one of the world’s best and least disturbing democracies, the very first country to make the eight-hour work-day a law (in 1916), obviously didn’t please the US. But it got the military to establish a vicious dictatorship because Uruguay refused to break relations with Cuba; the police was then trained in torture by former FBI captain and CIA torture expert Dan Mitrioni who was captured, tried and executed by the Tupamaros resistance movement in 1970. In Peru military coups succeeded each other rapidly, always because US mining enterprises sought bigger and better deals to make more and more profits. In my Great Fear in Latin America, in which the US’s self-serving interventions are carefully recounted (with sources), I detailed one such company, the Marcona Mining, which in six years on an investment of $500,000 made more than $30 million after taxes, a return on no less than 6,000 percent. I also showed how US corporations use huge amounts of the continent’s potable water, then dump it back into the area’s rivers with all the toxic poisons they need for their extractions; the result is that 5 million children die each year from that poison. When my book was published in 1963 (and again in 1965 and 1967) I was sued for liable by various US corporations, but the suits were all dismissed when I showed my evidence, usually the formal statistical accounts filed by the mines themselves to the appropriate Ministries of Interior; in Peru wherein all ministries served US interests (or faced US intervention) the documentation had been stolen and given me by a Peruvian patriot.
The worst US intervention, of course, was the military coup, which overthrew and killed the popularly and freely elected president, Salvador Allende. Not only were 30,000 so-called leftists tortured to death in the infamous sport stadium, but thousands more simply disappeared because they were at best democrats. The list of those who should die was prepared by the CIA, which organized the plot through the good offices of IT&T (at least part-owner of the biggest open copper mines in the world, Chuquicamata, el Tenente, and Salvador all on Chile) at the behest of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who then convinced the South America’s military dictatorship to set up an organization of special squads of police in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay, to assassinate each other’s exiled leftists.
In fact, that’s what the CIA did in every Third World country, which tried to steer an independent course. For example, the list of “communists” in Indonesia ruled by its wartime hero Sukarno was at least half a million according to Time and probably closer to two million, as claimed by Seth Mydans of the NY Times, and both reported that the list had been prepared by the CIA. Sukarno, who had led the fight against the Dutch imperialists before World War II and the Japanese invaders during the war, was guilty, according to US politicians, of being a neutralist, meaning an independent. What that means is selling to the highest bidder and buying from the lowest, a perfectly natural economic principle – except that US corporations are used to selling high and demand to buy cheap. The CIA repeatedly tried to throw him out, once painting a fake sign on one of its planes and bombing the palace (1958), another time making a porno film featuring Sukarno making love over and over again (the film actually increased Sukarno’s popularity because most Indonesians did not know that scenes can be stopped and spliced together later, hence saw him as a man with extraordinary vigor who could just keep making love).
The man the CIA chose to replace him, Gen Suharto, a Japanese collaborator during the war, proceeded to rule with a vicious police and military for 31 years, invaded independent East Timor and, armed by the US, murdered one-third of its population. What especially pleased US investors was Suharto’s policy of killing union organizers and keeping wages low. One of the many US firms, which took advantage, was Nike, which paid its workers 80 cents to make $100 sneakers. Always obeying US orders, Suharto helped CIA overthrow democracy in Fiji (2006), when, like New Zealand, it passed a law declaring the island nuclear-free. Reagan denounced New Zealand and banned its main products (lamb and butter). But New Zealand refused to comply, bringing an end to SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization, similar to NATO and considered even by conservatives to be a US front for dominating the Pacific). It still refuses, whether its elected officials are liberals or conservatives. Fiji, however, was not strong enough to say no to the US, so its democratic government was abolished.
Today, as we watch dictators in the Middle East beat and murder its population, mostly the young, who seek democracy and freedom, it is crucial that we remember that the US is to blame for every death caused by the repressive regimes -- except in Algeria, where the culprit is France, which would not honor a free election which tossed out the old pro-France FLN (Front for National Liberation) and helped it remain in power, causing a massive resistance movement which has resorted to terror. Everywhere else, though, the US gave military, financial, political and intelligence aid to vicious dictators who are now being combated by the pro-democrats.
Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak was especially loved by the CIA. Having turned over to the CIA his jails and jailers, it kidnapped thousands of innocent folk off the streets of foreign lands, shipped them to Egypt where they were tortured for months (and often died) in what became known as the Rendition program. More people were sent there by the CIA than in all other secret jails combined. In exchange Egypt got more arms, more dollars (about $2 billion a year), more advice from torture experts than any other friendly dictator (the one country which got a bit more: Israel). And for 40 years Mubarak killed, tortured, jailed his own countrymen with impunity, making himself and his family extremely rich in the process.
But he was not alone: in Saudi Arabia, by far the most disgustingly retrograde country in the world, where the religious police can arrest anyone it dislikes, where the US accepts the kingdom’s no-women rule to maintain its biggest base in the world, where no one whose ancestors do not go back at least four Saudi-born generations can be a citizen, where women cannot drive, cannot work, cannot ask for divorce, cannot accuse men of beating them, cannot have bank accounts, and where a few years ago a royal princess was decapitated in the main public square because she wanted to marry a Lebanese commoner, who had been her classmate in Beirut from where they were both kidnapped by Saudi secret cops (he too was killed). In Saudi Arabia the US says yes Sir, and does not criticize, even when the Saudi army is sent to Bahrain to crush a popular peaceful protest.
By the time the US, England and France had decided to intervene in Libya and started killing more people than the madman Gaddafi had, the repressive forces of Bahrain and Yemen had also butchered theirs. Yemen had been especially cruel. Yet the Triumvirate of those rich countries did not intervene in either Bahrain or Yemen, where more democratic protesters had been slaughtered than in Libya. Why? Because the US Fifth Fleet lodges in Bahrain’s ports, and Yemen president is fighting our enemies and lies about it to its own people.
What turned Iran into a such pariah nation, as we all know, was not just the result of the CIA’s coup which overthrew the first genuinely honest, freely and overwhelmingly elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq in 1951, but the reason: he dared to nationalize England’s hold on Iran’s oil. The coup gave the oil to the US (why England did not protest shows what a puppet of the US that country had become), but, because every Iranian quickly learned, it was the CIA which then trained the SAVAK, admitted by all as the most vicious blood-thirsty intelligence agency in the world. When I went to Iran with the Ramsy Clark delegation in 1980, I was shown film footage, made by the CIA and its “experts” guiding SAVAK agents in methods of torturing -- on live prisoners. Obviously all Iranians also saw that film, and never forgot.
But then, why Libya?
The issue goes way back, but let’s begin with Pres. Eisenhower’s 1957 declaration that the US would protect all Middle Eastern countries from communism or “its agents.” Nasser, who had been chosen leader of the Free Officers, had led Egypt’s 1952 revolution and was certainly no communist; in fact, once president, he had executed all the members of the party’s Central Committee he could find. But he advocated Arab nationalism as an independent force, and ever since the great liberal Secretary of State, Gen. George Marshall (in a speech written by Charles Bohlen, US Ambassador to the Philippines, Russia, France), declared that neutralists were America’s enemies, Nasser’s independence was viewed as antagonistic by Washington (Bush II was not the first to bellow “you’re either with us of against us”).
For US corporations, Washington was right, as Nasser nationalized all foreign holdings, including its oil and the Suez canal, and established diplomatic relations with both left and right. Becoming president in 1954, after Gen. Naguib, the figure-head of the Free Officers, was made to resign for lack of Arab “verve,” Nasser was determined to develop his country into the major force in all of Arab countries. He was helped by an attempted assassination: delivering a speech in Alexandria, celebrating the British withdrawal, a gunman, only 25 feet away, fired eight shots, which all missed. Panic broke out in the mass audience but Nasser raised his voice and shouted "If Abdel Nasser dies -- each of you is Gamal Abdel Nasser -- Nasser is of you and from you and he is willing to sacrifice his life for the nation." The crowd roared in approval and the assassination attempt backfired, vastly increasing his popularity.
It increased even more after his nemesis, Pres. Eisenhower, ordered the French. English and Israeli forces, which had invaded Suez in their hope of retaking the canal from Egypt, ordered them to stop. After that there was no stopping Nasser. He helped Syrian officers rebel and join the United Arab Republic (UAR), which Nasser created and of which he was chosen president. He gave the various factions of the Palestine Liberation Front arms, money and asylum in Egypt. He invited Saddam Hussein, after his first attempted coup to keep Iraq in the UAR failed, and George Habash, after Jordan’s King Hussein crushed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, to live in Cairo. He repeatedly invited representatives from all Arab countries, friends and foes alike, to come to Cairo to discuss their differences – and join the world’s Non-Aligned group.
That institution, started by Indonesia’s Sukarno, by Morocco’s leading opposition leader Ben Barka (murdered in Paris by King Hassan’s principle aide who was allowed to escape by Pres. De Gaulle who wanted to keep Morocco’s assets flowing to France), by Ben Bella, head of Algeria’s Front National de Liberation (FLN), and by the world’s most admired (or hated) Third World revolutionary, Frantz Fanon, author of the one volume which best explains the need for armed struggle in Asia, Africa and Latin America , “The Wretched of the Earth”, first met formally in Bandung. Nasser then got it to move to Cairo, not only spreading his prestige in Arab countries but also throughout that part of the world which saw the Cold War as an excuse for the US to dominate all non-communist countries.
Through his speeches and his actions, and because he was able to symbolize the popular Arab will, Nasser inspired several nationalist revolutions in the Arab world. Muammar al-Gaddafi, who overthrew the monarchy of King Idris in Libya in 1969, considered Nasser his hero and after his death, sought to succeed him as the "leader of the Arabs." Ahmed Ben Bella who led Algeria to independence from France in 1962 was a staunch Nasserist and held him in great esteem. Abdullah as-Sallal drove out the king of North Yemen in the name of Nasser's pan-Arabism. All were strong supporters of the Egyptian president and advocated pan-Arab unity. Nasser remained a neutralist, executed the head of the Islamic Brotherhood, and after the US stopped helping him build the Aswan Damn because he refused to vote in the UN as the US told him to, completed the damn with Russian money and was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title.
No wonder the US wanted him dead. Did the CIA kill him as Arabs – and most Europeans – believe? The US tells the world over and over again that he died of a heart attack brought about by his diabetes and three packs of cigarettes a day. No Arab, and most Europeans believe it. No proof exists either way – but plenty of other examples do. Among them is the death of Frantz Fanon. Born in Martinique, educated in France, Fanon was so vociferously an African liberationist, that the FLN made him minister without portfolio, free to travel the world and preach revolution to all peoples subjugated by the white race, specifically England, France and the US. Early in 1961, Fanon came down with leukemia, went to Moscow for treatment and did experience remission. Though not confined to bed, he knew he would eventually die of the disease and so dictating his famous work, a work absolutely crucial to anyone who wants to understand why subjugated people revolt. He spoke various times to the Algerian Liberation Army, went to Rome to talk with his admirer, France’s foremost novelist-playwright-philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, then journeyed to Maryland in December 1961 to be treated at the Bethesda Navy Hospital, reputed to be the top center for treatment of leukemia. He was pronounced dead the very next day. No one who can walk into a hospital without help, say those who claim he was murdered, and die in one day. So too told me his absolutely charming and dedicated wife French wife, Josie, when I went to interview her, before she committed suicide in 1989.
So why Gaddafi? As of the decision by France, England and the US to go after him, he had killed far less than US allies had in Bahrain and Yemen. Even by the time that US B-2s had flown all the way from the US and dropped thousands of tons of blockbuster bombs on his people, he had mostly fired his cannons at the wind and sand. But US and French missiles and bombs did hit people, lots of people, mostly innocents, so much so that the Arab League, which had called for a no-fly zone over Libya in the first place, was shocked to see US flying cowboys plaster the country and butcher civilians. The League protested – to no avail.
So what was the real reason to go after Gaddafi. He had never completely joined the UAR, and certainly never helped Arab nationalists after the death of Nasser. True, he was an independent loco who liked shooting from the hip. But not at Americans. Yes, he helped Irish revolutionaries fighting English domination, yes he helped France’s rebellious Action Directe. Yes, he helped the Red Brigades and the Red Army Faction. He supported the old Yugoslavia which, he said correctly, was really dismembered to reinforce German and US corporations in Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina (and the heroin traders of the KLA who are now the established leaders of Kosovo). He did send his henchmen all over Europe to murder his opponents, and did eliminate brutally all domestic rivals.
His only crime against the US, however, was not allowing US corporations make money in his country, and selling his oil to France, not the US. That is until he supposedly bombed “La Belle” nightclub in West Berlin in l986, killing three American soldiers and wounding more than 200. President Reagan used that as an excuse to bomb Tripoli, killing Gaddafi’s adopted daughter and a score of his military staffers.
But Europeans didn’t buy the affair. First, as reported in Der Spiegel and various other media sources on the Continent, the night club was a hangout for black American soldiers who had come to the conviction that the US wars were racist. Secondly, upon serious investigation by neutral detectives hired by the soldiers’ families, it turned out that the US-made trigger mechanisms were not available in Germany or on any US overseas base but were readily available in CIA training camps.
Not satisfied with that, the CIA, convinced the world would believe its fantasy because the US had blown up an Iranian airliner in international air space, which then sought revenge, next concocted a really perverse and outrageous coup: putting bombs on Pan Am 103 which blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. Anyone who studies the evidence in the documentary “The Maltese Double Cross,” which meticulously shows every bit of evidence, must come to the conclusion that something is wrong in the official version. The most damning evidence are the packages of heroin which fell on Lockerbie’s surroundings and were at first openly shown by the Scottish police. The film documents that neither of the two Libyans, presumably loaned to Iran by Gaddafi, accused of placing the bomb in luggage of the plane were in a position to do so. It further documents that both the CIA and the DEA (the Drug Enforcement Agency) did have such access both in Malta, where the feeder flight originated, and in Frankfurt where PanAm 103 took off, and that there was a major rivalry between the two US “investigating” agencies for control of the heroin trade.
It is important to know that both agencies spend a huge amount of money not voted by Congress and hence not part of any overseeing commission. For example, the CIA’s secret war in Laos cost $1 billion a day, but the whole budget of the CIA then was $44 billion, and the war lasted more than 44 days. So what money did the CIA use for anything besides Laos? Various other documentaries by the BBC Channel Four and Boston’s Frontline, plus a brilliant book by Alfred W. McCoy, “The Politics of Heroin and the CIA,” convincingly show that the biggest pusher of heroin in the US is non-other than the CIA, which, incidentally, is why “the war of drugs” never did include heroin. Even today, despite all the pictures showing those beautiful lakes of poppies caressed by their well-fed Afghani cultivators, never show their eradication, because the CIA arranges for their transport to labs in Pakistan and shipment to the US. McCoy thinks the CIA ships in about 60% of US addicts’ needs. (In one TV commercial program, “Law and Order,” the claim was 85%.) In the “Maltese Double Cross,” the evidence shows that the DEA had placed a lot of heroin on that plane for their network in Detroit, so the CIA blew up the plane.
If the US only intervenes out of a sense of morality, to stop unjust wars, and not just because it has something to gain -- oil, minerals, access to the area’s domination -- why did it not intervene in the massacres of Tutsis and Hutus, the war between Burundi and Rwanda? In the Congo? In Ivory Coast? Why did it not stop the massacres in Sudan? On the other hand why did it encourage Africa’s biggest gangster, Savimbi, head of the UNITA, supported by Apartheid South Africa and Africa’s most vicious and corrupt dictator, Zaire’s Mobutu, to pillage and murder the poor people of Angola, who while dying, still protected US oil (Gulf) interest in its island of Cabinda by inviting Cuban volunteers to defend it? Why?
Millions and millions of people are killed, maimed, deprived of food and shelter because the US government is interested not in its people but in its corporations. The US causes massive deaths, more than the crusades, more than the 100-year war, more than the Holocaust, more than world war one or two, more than Stalin’s gulags and executions walls for just one reason: the dollar. It does so by always arming and aiding the world’s worst scum bags, by using such weapons of mass destruction as anti-personnel mines and fragmentation bombs, which, after they were declared crimes against humanity by the UN because their victims were mostly children playing in the fields after the bombing had stopped but the bombs had yet to detonate, sold them to Israel, which used them in its war in Gaza. (Today, the US uses a new weapon of mass destruction, the Drone, which in Afghanistan and Pakistan has a record of one militant for every 14 innocents, mostly children).
As for the bombing of 9/11, that was payback. And the war against Taliban? Created by the US with the four worst, most narrow-minded, religiously-fanatic tribes to fight the Russians, who had supported the best government Afghanistan ever had, they were meant to let UNOCAL build a pipeline through the Khyber Pass once they had won. But Afghanis do not want foreigners on their soil. So Obama lied. Starting with his presidential acceptance speech, he has deliberately identified al Qaeda with Taliban, thus claiming that Taliban attacked the US.
Yet the typical American wants to believe that the US is good, helpful, and friendly, that it sends its tomahawk and cruise missiles, its Marines and secret CIA armies all over the world only to help the unfortunate. Yes, the US today is helping devastated Japan, an important ally. But after the Pakistan earthquake, which killed 8 million people, it sent $800 million, a hundred bucks per dead, not even enough to bury them. And in Haiti? US private charity organizations raised $7.2 but the US military, which occupied the island without invitation or UN mandate, has so far distributed only two. Ah yes, but it send a great gift: former presidents Bush I and Clinton, who walked around the disaster area shaking hands like potentates greeting their flock. But the US did more serious damage: the first doctors on the scene were Cuban; after working day and night they ran out of medicine; when they asked permission from the uninvited but occupying US forces to bring in more, the US said no!
Ordinary Americans are hurting today. Since 2006, about 6 million families have lost their homes to the banks. At least fifteen million are unemployed. Neo-fascist governors are trying to crush unions. Reactionary politicians want to get rid of all government aid to health care, abolish public schools, let the infrastructure rot, rather than raise taxes on the top 1 percent of the population, whose total yearly income averages around 12 million dollars each. That 1 percent owns more than half of the country’s assets. There is a bigger gap between the average corporation head and his workers than in any other country of the world. Yet average Joe American supports the rich. Why?
Because the dominant force, the establishment WASPs and their stooges, convince average Joe American to love wars, to “kick ass,” their favorite expression. One of my best friends, who got drafted into the Korean War at the same time I did, was not as lucky as I was. He died in Korea. When I came home I went to see his wife. She showed me his last letter: “Everyone around here is dying, my love, men women and children. We are ordered to shoot at anything that moves. We hate them all, both sides. We just like to kill. We get off on it. We shriek with joy when we wipe out a whole family. You can’t imagine how cruel we have become, how cruel I am, killing children while thinking of my little Wally riding piggy-back on me and junior crawling to his daddy. We didn’t come here to save anybody but to destroy. Our friend, their dictator Syngman Rhee, whom you are all told is a great defender of democracy, is a scumbag of the worst kind. He hates us just as much as we hate him. But as long as we kill for him, he pretends to love us, and as long as he lets us kill for him, we pretend we love him. Killing has become so much of my way of life that, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, my love, but I have no doubt, no doubt at all, that I will die here myself, and my love, please, please don’t morn, I deserve it. I really do. Raise the kids with the love I should have given them, and try to make them understand that I was a good guy before they sent me to this place” No wonder ordinary USA service men, “grunts”, committed so many “My Lai” massacres in Vietnam.
As the Quakers calculated, the War in Afghanistan is costing $1 million per soldier per day, every single day. That’s $140 million a day. The US maintains 760 foreign bases, fully armed and equipped. That’s $6 million a week, or $857,000 per day each, which is about $141 million per day, $515 billion a year more or less. (Which should remind us of General de Gaulle’s affirmation that “no country with a foreign base on its land is free”). If the US did not go to war and closed its bases, the $5i5 billion per year would be enough to triple all entitlements, open fully staffed 100 bed hospitals in every city of 100,000 people or more and keep them going, quadruple the number of schools, septuple the number of teachers thus keeping classrooms occupied by 15 or less, and still have enough money left over to modernize its crumbling infrastructure.
The reason that it is not a choice for Americans is because, as Pres. Eisenhower warned us all in his farewell speech, the industrial-military complex wants permanent war to keep increasing its profits. The neo-cons of the “New American Century” made that very clear. In a 1998 letter to Pres. Clinton letter, signed by many of the neocons who ended up in Bush II’s cabinet, they insisted that war, in the Middle East, was the only way that the US can remain leader of the world. And the average American, they said, will approve, because America is the best country of the world. (That is probably the reason why most Americans did not gripe when President Obama created an assassination squad, a sort of “Murder Incorporated” of CIA and private thugs, to go kill –without a trial -- American citizens in foreign countries who dare to denounce his Afghanistan policy.)
In all my years as a newsman, I never came across a WASP American who did not agree. Their faith dates back to the first colonizer.
Three years before she was hanged in Boston, Dorothy Talbye had been a revered member of the Salem church, esteemed for her devotion to her husband and admired for her care of her children. Then one day she asked why should my husband be master of my life? The answer then – enforced by the church, by the governor, and by the court –was clear: by the laws of Moses. But the same Puritan code proclaimed that any full member of the church who discovered grace was no more fallible than any minister. Dorothy had experienced grace and refused to obey her husband. She was flogged, shunned by other women, lived in misery until one day in early Fall of 1638, she took her daughter, Difficult, to a secluded gulley and quietly broke her neck. No one, she declared, should be forced to live in the misery suffered by women in Puritan America.
“She was possessed by Satan,” wrote Governor John Winthrop in his journal, as if that explained her aberrant behavior in the “citty upon a Hill,” he hoped to create in America. A gaunt, ascetic, forty-two year-old lawyer and self-trained physician turned preacher, Winthrop who would become the first Massachusetts governor had defined that hope to his ocean-weary Puritan flock, swaying gently aboard the 150-ton Arbella as it approached their colony-to-be. Create the model of Christian charity, he asked his voyagers, the embodiment of a covenant with God and men, a Bible society of justice and mercy, where would reign pure law and pure relationships of harmony and brotherhood. He and his fellow conquerors of North America believed that they had been chosen by God to form a covenant amongst themselves to purify the action and mores of their homeland churches and of those rulers back there who falsely claimed to have inherited God’s wisdom -- and His divine power.
Thus it became clear that Dorothy Talbye’s real crime had not been the murder, but her challenging of that political stability, authority of church and governor, whose code of imposed harmony demanded a wife’s total obedience to her husband. For all their heralding of freedom and equality in the “citty upon a Hill,” Winthrop and his peers could not allow their society’s way of life to be questioned. The America they had founded and used the courts to preserve was based on the dual principles of individual freedom and collective obedience to its ruling elites.
Indeed within ten years of Winthrop’s death, those elites who never betrayed doubts over the righteousness of their mission, had fought off what they believed were false faiths and all insidious forms of corruption that might have subverted their adventure in the wilderness. But in the process they had instituted a code of behavior that considered rebellion, antisocial activity, and irreverent talk as synonymous with crime. What’s more, because of their emphasis on dedication to the building of a successful “citty,” they established in practice a dual system of justice – those who achieved material success had proved their dedication and were treated much more leniently than those who failed – a system of justice whose underlying philosophy – “the rich deserve their wealth, the poor are lazy” – was to permeate the American way of life. And so no one criticized Reagan when he spouted: “the rich work hard, the poor are lazy” It also explains why the courts send a homeless hungry unemployed worker to jail for up to five years for stealing a steak from a supermarket but give a Wall Street financer who embezzles $3 billion two years in a “country-club” prison, allowing him to serve only one because he gave back two billions, and while there used his stolen fortune to order his meals from his favorite restaurant. That same Puritan spirit, meaning holders of the true faith, has led all US politician to end their major speeches with “God Bless America” as if God blesses no other.
And that’s the key. Only America is blessed. To early Americans, the native population was known as “hostiles,” which the early dictionaries defined as “half savage humans.” Blacks were inferior, even to Abraham Lincoln though he conceded that they should not be used as slaves despite that. Foreigners only want “our goods,” most WASPs used to say; recently they changed it to “want our freedoms.” But only WASPs think they have freedom. Legally-admitted foreigners know differently; they can easily get arrested by America’s Gestapo, the INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service) thugs who need no warrant to ship anyone who looks too brown out of the country. No one on earth can possibly be as noble, as moral, as we white Americans, claim the WASPs. Yes, just like Filibusterer Walker shouted at his trial, it is better to be a slave in America than free outside of it. And, conclude the neocons, the Tea Party lupen, all those who feel only contempt for other skins and other religions, we descendants from those Puritans who made America strong and great, are the best. We have the right to police the world.
The unemployed worker, whose home was taken over by the bank, whose CEO yearly grabs never less than a billion dollars, says, yea, life’s tough, I know that the folks in other countries are guaranteed health insurance even if they are unemployed, I know that in other countries a home or tools of his trade, including his car, cannot be seized by a bank if the occupant cannot pay for it, I know that in other countries the established media gives all sides whereas our free-enterprise press just gives our establishment’s views, I know that our children mortality rate is twice as high as in Cuba, I know all that but the US of A is the best country in the world and we have a right, a god-given right, to bomb those who disagree.