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America's Deadliest Export: Democracy - The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else

America's Deadliest Export: Democracy - The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else

by William Blum

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'A fireball of terse information.'Oliver Stone
'A remarkable collection. Blum concentrates on matters of great current significance, and does not pull his punches.  They land, backed with evidence and acute analysis.'Noam Chomsky
For over sixty-five years, the United States war machine has been on automatic pilot. Since World War II we have been conditioned


'A fireball of terse information.'Oliver Stone
'A remarkable collection. Blum concentrates on matters of great current significance, and does not pull his punches.  They land, backed with evidence and acute analysis.'Noam Chomsky
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.

Editorial Reviews


“If you only read one book about global politics this year make it this one.”
Noam Chomsky

“As in the past, in this remarkable collection Blum concentrates on matters of great current significance and does not pull his punches. They land, backed with evidence and acute analysis. It is a perspective on the world that Westerners should ponder, and take as a guideline for action.”
Political Studies Review - Teodora-Maria Daghie

"Blum's forthright book successfully portrays a non-mainstream image of the US after the Second World War. His blunt analysis of raw data gives us a somewhat inconvenient perspective of Western international affairs. . . . A valuable resource."

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America's Deadliest Export Democracy

The Truth About Us Foreign Policy And Everything Else

By William Blum

Zed Books Ltd

Copyright © 2014 William Blum
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-78032-448-7



Mit der dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens. ('With stupidity, even the gods struggle in vain.')

Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805)

I'm often told by readers of their encounters with Americans who support the outrages of US foreign policy no matter what facts are presented to them, no matter what arguments are made, no matter how much the government's statements are shown to be false. My advice is to forget such people. They would support the outrages even if the government came to their home, seized their firstborn, and hauled them away screaming, so long as the government assured them it was essential to fighting terrorism (or communism), and threw in a little paean to democracy, freedom, and God. My rough guess is that these people constitute no more than 15 percent of the American population. I suggest that we concentrate on the rest, who are reachable.

Inasmuch as I cannot see violent revolution succeeding in the United States (something deep inside tells me that we couldn't quite match the government's firepower, not to mention its viciousness), I can offer no solution to stopping the imperial beast other than: educate yourself and as many others as you can, increasing the number of those in the opposition until it reaches a critical mass, at which point ... I can't predict the form the explosion will take or what might be the trigger.

As to the education, I like to emphasize certain points that try to deal with the underlying intellectual misconceptions and emotional 'hang-ups' I think Americans have which stand in the way of their seeing through the propaganda. Briefly, here are some of the main points (explained in more detail in later chapters):

1. Far and away the most important lesson to impart to the American mind and soul: regardless of our lifetime of education to the contrary, US foreign policy does not 'mean well.' The facts presented in this book should leave no doubt of that thesis, but the progressive political activist must be conscious of it at all times. I like to ask the American True Believers: what would the United States have to do in its foreign policy to cause you to stop supporting it?

2. The United States is not concerned with this thing called 'democracy', no matter how many times every American president uses the word each time he opens his mouth. As noted in the Introduction, since 1945 the US has attempted to overthrow more than fifty governments, most of which were democratically elected, and grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least thirty countries. The question is: 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.

3. Anti-American terrorists are not motivated by hatred or envy of freedom or democracy, or by American wealth, secular government, or culture, as we've been told many times. They are motivated by decades of awful things done to their homelands by US foreign policy. It works the same way all over the world. In the period of the 1950s to the 1980s in Latin America, in response to a long string of harmful American policies, there were countless acts of terrorism against US diplomatic and military targets as well as the offices of US corporations. The US bombing, invasion, occupation, and torture in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in recent years have created thousands of new anti-American terrorists. We'll be hearing from them for a very long time.

4. The United States is not actually against terrorism per se, only those terrorists who are not allies of the empire. There is a lengthy and infamous history of Washington's support for numerous anti-Castro terrorists, even when their terrorist acts were committed in the United States. At this moment, Luis Posada Carriles remains protected by the US government, though he masterminded the blowing up of a Cuban airplane that killed 73 people. He's but one of hundreds of anti-Castro terrorists who've been given haven in the United States over the years. The United States has also provided close support to terrorists, or fought on the same side as Islamic jihadists, in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iran, Libya, and Syria, including those with known connections to al-Qaeda, to further foreign policy goals more important than fighting terrorism.

5. Iraq was not any kind of a threat to the United States. Of the never-ending lies concerning Iraq, this is the most insidious, the necessary foundation for all the other lies.

6. There was never any such animal as the International Communist Conspiracy. There were, as there still are, people living in misery, rising up in protest against their condition, against an oppressive government, a government usually supported by the United States.

That oh-so-precious world where words have no meaning

In December 1989, two days after bombing and invading the defenseless population of Panama, killing as many as a few thousand totally innocent people, guilty of no harm to any American, President George H.W. Bush declared that his 'heart goes out to the families of those who have died in Panama.' When a reporter asked him, 'Was it really worth it to send people to their death for this? To get [Panamanian leader Manuel] Noriega?' Bush replied: 'Every human life is precious, and yet I have to answer, yes, it has been worth it.'

A year later, preparing for his next worthwhile mass murder, the first US invasion of Iraq, Bush Sr. said: 'People say to me: "How many lives? How many lives can you expend?" Each one is precious.'

At the end of 2006, with Bush's son now president, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel, commenting about American deaths reaching 3,000 in the second Iraq War, said that Bush 'believes that every life is precious and grieves for each one that is lost.' In February 2008, with American deaths about to reach 4,000, and Iraqi deaths as many as a million or more, George W. Bush asserted:

When we lift our hearts to God, we're all equal in his sight. We're all equally precious. ... In prayer we grow in mercy and compassion. ... When we answer God's call to love a neighbor as ourselves, we enter into a deeper friendship with our fellow man.

Inspired by such noble – dare I say precious? – talk from its leaders, the American military machine likes to hire like-minded warriors. Here is Erik Prince, founder of the military contractor Blackwater, whose employees in Iraq killed people like others flick away a mosquito, in testimony before Congress: 'Every life, whether American or Iraqi, is precious.'

While his killing of thousands of Iraqis was proceeding merrily along in 2003, the second President George Bush was moved to say: 'We believe in the value and dignity of every human life.'

Both father and son are on record expressing their deep concern for God and prayer both before and during their mass slaughters. 'I trust God speaks through me,' said Bush the younger in 2004. 'Without that, I couldn't do my job.'

After his devastation of Iraq and its people, Bush the elder said: 'I think that, like a lot of others who had positions of responsibility in sending someone else's kids to war, we realize that in prayer what mattered is how it might have seemed to God.'

God, one can surmise, might have asked George Bush, father and son, about the kids of Iraq. And the adults. And, in a testy, rather ungodlike manner, might have snapped: 'So stop wasting all the precious lives already!'

In the now-famous exchange on television in 1996 between Madeleine Albright and reporter Lesley Stahl, the latter was speaking of US sanctions against Iraq, and asked the then-US ambassador to the UN, and Secretary of State-to-be: 'We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And ... and you know, is the price worth it?'

Albright replied: 'I think this is a very hard choice, but the price ... we think the price is worth it.'

Ten years later, Condoleezza Rice, continuing the fine tradition of female Secretaries of State and the equally noble heritage of the Bush family, declared that the current horror in Iraq was 'worth the investment' in American lives and dollars.

The worldwide eternal belief that American foreign policy has a good side that can be appealed to

On April 6, 2011, in the midst of NATO/US bombing of his country, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi wrote a letter to President Barack Obama in which he said: We have been hurt more morally than physically because of what had happened against us in both deeds and words by you. Despite all this you will always remain our son whatever happened ... Our dear son, Excellency, Baraka Hussein Abu Oubama, your intervention in the name of the U.S.A. is a must, so that Nato would withdraw finally from the Libyan affair.

Gaddafi's hope that writing to Obama could move the American president to put an end to the bombing of Libya turned out, as we know, to be unrealistic.

Before the American invasion in March 2003, Iraq tried to negotiate a peace deal with the United States. Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction and offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct a search; they also offered full support for any US plan in the Arab–Israeli peace process, and to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. If this is about oil, they added, they would also talk about US oil concessions. Washington's reply was its 'Shock and Awe' bombing.

In 2002, before the coup in Venezuela that briefly ousted President Hugo Chávez, some of the plotters went to Washington to get a green light from the Bush administration. Chávez learned of this visit and was so distressed by it that he sent officials from his government to plead his own case in Washington. The success of this endeavor can be judged by the fact that the coup took place very shortly thereafter.

In 1994, it was reported that the spokesperson of the Zapatista rebels in Mexico, Subcomandante Marcos, said that 'he expects the United States to support the Zapatistas once US intelligence agencies are convinced the movement is not influenced by Cubans or Russians.' 'Finally,' Marcos said, 'they are going to conclude that this is a Mexican problem, with just and true causes.' Yet for many years, before and after these remarks, the United States provided the Mexican military with all the tools and training needed to crush the Zapatistas.

Maurice Bishop of Grenada in 1983, Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana in 1961, the Guatemalan foreign minister in 1954, all made their appeals to Washington to be left in peace. The governments of all three countries were overthrown by the United States.

In 1945 and 1946, Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, a genuine admirer of America and the Declaration of Independence, wrote at least eight letters to President Harry Truman and the State Department asking for America's help in winning Vietnamese independence from the French. He wrote that world peace was being endangered by French efforts to reconquer Indochina and he requested that 'the four powers' (US, USSR, China, and Great Britain) intervene in order to mediate a fair settlement and bring the Indochinese issue before the United Nations. Ho Chi Minh received no reply. He was, after all, some kind of communist.

The myth of the good war

The reason so many Americans support US war crimes is that they're convinced that no matter how bad things may look, the government means well. And one of the foundation stones for this edifice of patriotic faith is the Second World War, a historical saga that all Americans are taught about from childhood on. We all know what its real name is: 'The Good War.'

Which leads me to recommend a book, The Myth of the Good War, by Jacques Pauwels, published in 2002. It's very well done, well argued and documented, an easy read. I particularly like the sections dealing with the closing months of the European campaign, during which the United States and Great Britain contemplated stabbing their Soviet ally in the back with maneuvers like a separate peace with Germany, using German troops to fight the Russians, and sabotaging legal attempts by various Communist parties and other elements of the European left to share in (highly earned) political power after the war; the most dramatic example of this being the US taking the side of the Greek neo-fascists against the Greek left, who had fought the Nazis courageously. Stalin learned enough about these schemes to at least partially explain his postwar suspicious manner toward his 'allies.' In the West we called it 'paranoia.'

The enduring mystique of the Marshall Plan

Amidst all the political upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East in 2011 the name 'Marshall Plan' kept being repeated by political figures and media around the world as the key to rebuilding the economies of those societies to complement the supposed political advances. But caveat emptor; let the buyer beware.

During my years of writing and speaking about the harm and injustice inflicted upon the world by unending United States interventions, I've often been met with resentment from those who accuse me of chronicling only the negative side of US foreign policy and ignoring the many positive sides. When I ask the person to give me some examples of what s/he thinks show the virtuous face of America's dealings with the world in modern times, one of the things mentioned – almost without exception – is the Marshall Plan. This is usually described along the lines of: 'After World War II, the United States unselfishly built up Europe economically, including its wartime enemies, and allowed them to compete with the US.' Even those today who are very cynical about US foreign policy, who are quick to question the White House's motives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, have little problem in accepting this picture of an altruistic America of the period 1948–1952. But let us have a closer look at the Marshall Plan.

After World War II, the United States, triumphant abroad and undamaged at home, saw a door wide open for world supremacy. Only the thing called 'communism' stood in the way, politically, militarily, economically, and ideologically. Thus it was that the entire US foreign policy establishment was mobilized to confront this 'enemy', and the Marshall Plan was an integral part of this campaign. How could it be otherwise? Anti-communism had been the principal pillar of US foreign policy from the Russian Revolution up to World War II, pausing for the war until the closing months of the Pacific campaign when Washington put challenging communism ahead of fighting the Japanese. Even the dropping of the atom bomb on Japan – when the Japanese had already been defeated – can be seen as more a warning to the Soviets than a military action against the Japanese.

After the war, anti-communism continued as the leitmotif of American foreign policy as naturally as if World War II and the alliance with the Soviet Union had not happened. Along with the CIA, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, the Council on Foreign Relations, certain corporations, and a few other private institutions, the Marshall Plan was one more arrow in the quiver of those striving to remake Europe to suit Washington's desires:

1. Spreading the capitalist gospel – to counter strong postwar tendencies toward socialism.

2. Opening markets to provide new customers for US corporations – a major reason for helping to rebuild the European economies; e.g. a billion dollars (at twenty-first-century prices) of tobacco, spurred by US tobacco interests.

3. Pushing for the creation of the Common Market (the future European Union) and NATO as integral parts of the West European bulwark against the alleged Soviet threat.

4. 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.


Excerpted from America's Deadliest Export Democracy by William Blum. Copyright © 2014 William Blum. Excerpted by permission of Zed Books Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

William Blum left the State Department in 1967 in opposition to the Vietnam war. He then became founder and editor of the Washington Free Press. He is the author of  Killing Hope (Zed, 2014) and Rogue State (Zed, 2014).
William Blum is one of the United States’ leading non-mainstream experts on American foreign policy. He left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer because of his opposition to what the US was doing in Vietnam. He then became a founder and editor of the Washington Free Press, the first ‘alternative’ newspaper in the capital. Blum has been a freelance journalist in the US, Europe and South America. He currently sends out a free monthly newsletter, The Anti-Empire Report. To be put on Blum’s mailing list, send him an email. Previous issues of the report can be read on his website. email bblum6@aol.com website williamblum.org Other books by William Blum Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir

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