Redemption arcs are some of the most beloved types of stories in our myths. The following quotes come from people who've worked for the U.S. empire in different capacities, before deciding that they can no longer be part of this machine that routinely snuffs out millions of lives for profit. They're the confessions of those who've been in the heart of the beast.
I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. 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 revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
-Smedley Butler, the U.S. general who would go on to write War is a Racket. (This quote is from that book.)
In 1993, I came across a review of a book about people who deny that the Nazi Holocaust actually occurred. I wrote to the author, a university professor, telling her that her book made me wonder whether she knew that an American holocaust had taken place, and that the denial of it put the denial of the Nazi one to shame. So broad and deep is the denial of the American holocaust, 1 said, that the denyers are not even aware that the claimers or their claim exist. Yet, a few million people have died in the American holocaust and many more millions have been condemned to lives of misery and torture as a result of US interventions extending from China and Greece in the 1940s to Afghanistan and Iraq in the 1990s. I enclosed a listing of these interventions, which is of course the subject of the present book.
-William Blum, who worked as a computer programmer for the U.S. State Department before becoming disillusioned with the American empire.
This happened after he got involved with anti-Vietnam War activism, and was consequently pressured to quit his job. Despite having at one point wanted to become a Foreign Service Officer so he could "take part in the great anti-Communist crusade," he would write a book exposing the atrocities of U.S. anti-communist tactics titled Killing Hope: U.S. Military & CIA Interventions since World War II. (The above quote is from that book.)
Chris Driscoll, my podcast partner, told me last night during our latest show that he was friends with Blum when he was alive, and that Blum had done a "180" in terms of his former allegiance to imperialism. Driscoll also said that he thinks Blum was "getting into heaven" after the actions he took to atone for serving the empire.
Is anyone in the U.S. innocent? Although those at the very pinnacle of the economic pyramid gain the most, millions of us depend--either directly or indirectly--on the exploitation of the LDCs [neo-colonial countries] for our livelihoods. The resources and cheap labor that feed nearly all our businesses come from places like Indonesia, and very little ever makes its way back. The loans of foreign aid ensure that today's children and their grandchildren will be held hostage. They will have to allow our corporations to ravage their natural resources and will have to forego education, health, and other social services merely to pay us back. The fact that our own companies already received most of this money to build the power plants, airports, and industrial parks does not factor into this formula. Does the excuse that most Americans are unaware of this constitute innocence? Uninformed and intentionally misinformed, yes--but innocent?
-John Perkins, who served as Chief Economist at Chas. T. Main
Chas. T. Main was a consulting firm that facilitated the assimilation of numerous formerly colonized countries into the grip of U.S. corporate neo-colonialism throughout the mid-to-late 20th century. This quote is from Confessions of an Economic Hitman, the book he wrote after becoming too overcome by guilt from carrying out this pillaging.
Many CIA agents and senior officers disappeared simply because they refused to conduct propaganda against the Serbs in Yugoslavia. Personally I was shocked at the dose of lies being fed from our agencies and politicians! Many CIA agents were directing propaganda without being aware of what they were doing. Everyone knew just a fraction of the story and only the one who created the whole story knew the background - they are [the] politicians... The aim of the propaganda was to divide the republics so they would break away from the motherland Yugoslavia. We had to choose a scapegoat who would be blamed for everything. Someone who would be responsible for the war and violence. Serbia was chosen because in some ways it is a successor to Yugoslavia.
-Robert Baer, the former CIA operative who helped conduct the U.S.-engineered breakup of socialist Yugoslavia, speaking to an interviewer in 2015
Baer's claims of a concerted plot to frame Serbia and its leader Milosevic have since been vindicated, with Milosevic having been exonerated by an international tribunal in 2016.
Here is what it [the empire] has decided for Afghanistan... we are in Afghanistan as we were in Germany post-World War II, that is for half a century. It has nothing to do with Kabul and state building, nothing to do with fighting the Taliban or proving that we can reconcile with the Taliban, and nothing to do with fighting any terrorist groups. Because it is the only hard power the United States has that sits proximate to the Central Base Road Initiative of China that runs across central Asia. If we had to impact that with military power, we are in position to do that in Afghanistan. And second reason we're there is because we're cheek-in-jowl with the potentially most unstable nuclear stockpile on the face of the earth in Pakistan. We want to be able to leap on that stockpile, and stabilize it if necessary.
And the third reason we're there is because there are over 20 million Uyghurs, and they don't like Han Chinese in Xinjiang Province in Western China. And if the CIA has to mount an operation using those Uyghurs, as Erdogan has done in Turkey against Assad... well, the CIA would want to destabilize China and that would be the best way to do it. To foment unrest, and to join with those Uyghurs in pushing the Han Chinese in Beijing from internal places rather than external. Not saying it's going on right now, you didn't hear that. But it is a possibility. So that is why we're there, and I'll wager there are not a handful of Americans who realize that we, our military, has decided that for these strategic reasons, which are well thought out, we're gonna be in Afghanistan for the next half-century.
-Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as a U.S. colonel under Colin Powell, speaking at the Ron Paul Institute in 2018
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).