William Blum's Cri de Couer
A review of "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy" by William Blum (Zed Books, London/New York, 2013.)
Reviewed by Gary Corseri
In activist-author-publisher William Blum's new book, America's Deadliest Export: Democracy, he tells the story of how he got his 15 minutes of fame back in 2006. Osama bin Laden had released an audiotape, declaring: "If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security" and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State." Bin Laden then quoted from the Foreword of Blum's 2000 book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, in which he had mused:
"If I were" president, I could stop terrorist attacks [on us] in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize" to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America's global interventions" have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but" a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. " That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated."
Unfortunately, Blum never made it to the White House! But, fortunately, for those who have read his books or follow his "Anti-Empire Reports" on the Web, he was not assassinated! And now he has collected his reports and essays of the last dozen years or so into a 352-page volume that will not only stand the test of time, but will help to define this disillusioned, morose, violent and unraveling Age.
America's Deadliest" is divided into 21 chapters and an introduction--and there's something to underline or memorize on every page! Sometimes it's just one of Blum's irrepressible quips, and sometimes it's a matter of searing American foreign or domestic policiy that clarifies that Bushwhackian question of yore: "Why do they hate us?"
Reading this scrupulously domumented book, I lost count of the times I uttered, "unbelievable!" concerning some nefarious act committed by the US Empire in the name of freedom, democracy and fighting communism or terrorism. Reading Blum's book with an open mind, weighing the evidence, will bleach out any pride in the flag we have planted in so many corpses around the world. The book is a diuretic and emetic!
Blum's style is common sense raised to its highest level. The wonder of America's Deadliest " is that it covers so much of the sodden, bloody ground of America's march across our post-Second-World-War world, yet tells the story with such deftness and grace-under-fire that the reader is enticed--not moralized, not disquisitionally badgered--, but enticed to consider our globe from a promontory of higher understanding.
Some of the themes Blum covers (and often eviscerates) include:
1) Why they hate us;
2) America means well;
3) We cannot permit a successful alternative to the capitalist model to develop anywhere in the world;
4) We will use whatever means necessary--including, lies, deception, sabotage, bribery, torture and war--to achieve the above idea.
Along the way, we get glimpses of Blum's experientially rich life. A note "About the Author" tells us that, "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."
In his chapter on "Patriotism," Blum relates how, after a talk, he was asked: "Do you love America?" He responded with what we may take for his credo: "I don't love any country. I'm a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, meaningful democracy, an economy which puts people before profits."