William Blum

The Anti-Empire Report #52

By William Blum – Published December 11th, 2007

Another peace scare. Boy, that was close.

The US intelligence community’s new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) – “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities” – makes a point of saying up front (in bold type): “This NIE does not (italics in original) assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons.” The report goes on to state: “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program .”

Isn’t that good news, that Iran isn’t about to attack the United States or Israel with nuclear weapons? Surely everyone is thrilled that the horror and suffering that such an attack – not to mention an American or Israeli retaliation or pre-emptive attack – would bring to this sad old world. Here are some of the happy reactions from American leaders:

Senate Republicans are planning to call for a congressional commission to investigate the NIE’s conclusion that Iran discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003. 1

National Security Adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, said: The report “tells us that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem.” 2

Defense Secretary Robert Gates “argued forcefully at a Persian Gulf security conference … that U.S. intelligence indicates Iran could restart its secret nuclear weapons program ‘at any time’ and remains a major threat to the region.” 3

John R. Bolton, President Bush’s former ambassador to the United Nations and pit bull of the neo-conservatives, dismissed the report with: “I’ve never based my view on this week’s intelligence.” 4

And Bush himself added: “Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. The NIE says that Iran had a hidden – a covert nuclear weapons program. That’s what it said. What’s to say they couldn’t start another covert nuclear weapons program? … Nothing has changed in this NIE that says, ‘Okay, why don’t we just stop worrying about it?’ Quite the contrary. I think the NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously. My opinion hasn’t changed.” 5

Hmmm. Well, maybe the reaction was more positive in Israel. Here’s a report from Uri Avnery, a leading Israeli columnist: “The earth shook. Our political and military leaders were all in shock. The headlines screamed with rage. … Shouldn’t we be overjoyed? Shouldn’t the masses in Israel be dancing in the streets? After all, we have been saved! … Lo and behold – no bomb and no any-minute-now. The wicked Ahmadinejad can threaten us as much as he wants – he just has not got the means to harm us. Isn’t that a reason for celebration? So why does this feel like a national disaster?” 6

We have to keep this in mind – America, like Israel, cherishes its enemies. Without enemies, the United States appears to be a nation without moral purpose and direction. The various managers of the National Security State need enemies to protect their jobs, to justify their swollen budgets, to aggrandize their work, to give themselves a mission, to send truckloads of taxpayer money to the corporations for whom the managers will go to work after leaving government service. And they understand the need for enemies only too well, even painfully. Here is US Col. Dennis Long, speaking in 1992, just after the end of the Cold War, when he was director of “total armor force readiness” at Fort Knox:

For 50 years, we equipped our football team, practiced five days a week and never played a game. We had a clear enemy with demonstrable qualities, and we had scouted them out. [Now] we will have to practice day in and day out without knowing anything about the other team. We won’t have his playbook, we won’t know where the stadium is, or how many guys he will have on the field. That is very distressing to the military establishment, especially when you are trying to justify the existence of your organization and your systems. 7

In any event, all of the above is completely irrelevant if Iran has no intention of attacking the United States or Israel, even if they currently possessed a large stockpile of nuclear weapons. As I’ve asked before: What possible reason would Iran have for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide?

The crime of GWS: Governing While Socialist

In Chile, during the 1964 presidential election campaign, in which Salvador Allende, a Marxist, was running against two other major candidates much to his right, one radio spot featured the sound of a machine gun, followed by a woman’s cry: “They have killed my child – the communists.” The announcer then added in impassioned tones: “Communism offers only blood and pain. For this not to happen in Chile, we must elect Eduardo Frei president.” 8 Frei was the candidate of the Christian Democratic Party, the majority of whose campaign costs were underwritten by the CIA according to the US Senate. 9 One anti-Allende campaign poster which appeared in the thousands showed children with a hammer and sickle stamped on their foreheads. 10

The scare campaign played up to the fact that women in Chile, as elsewhere in Latin America, are traditionally more religious than men, more susceptible to being alarmed by the specter of “godless, atheist communism”.

Allende lost. He won the men’s vote by 67,000 over Frei (in Chile men and women vote separately), but amongst the women Frei came out ahead by 469,000 … testimony, once again, to the remarkable ease with which the minds of the masses of people can be manipulated, in any and all societies.

In Venezuela, during the recent campaign concerning the constitutional reforms put forth by Hugo Chávez, the opposition played to the same emotional themes of motherhood and “communist” oppression. (Quite possibly because of the same CIA advice.) “I voted for Chávez for President, but not now. Because they told me that if the reform passes, they’re going to take my son, because he will belong to the state,” said a woman, Gladys Castro, interviewed in Venezuela before the December 2 vote which rejected the reforms; this according to a report of Venezuelanalysis.com, an English-language news service published by Americans in Caracas. “Gladys is not the only one to believe the false rumors she’s heard,” the report added. “Thousands of Venezuelans, many of them Chávez supporters, have bought the exaggerations and lies about Venezuela’s Constitutional Reform that have been circulating across the country for months. Just a few weeks ago, however, the disinformation campaign ratcheted up various notches as opposition groups and anti-reform coalitions placed large ads in major Venezuelan papers. The most scandalous was … (a) two-page spread in the country’s largest circulation newspaper, Últimas Noticias, which claimed about the Constitutional Reform: ‘If you are a Mother, YOU LOSE! Because you will lose your house, your family and your children. Children will belong to the state’.” This particular ad was placed by a Venezuelan business organization, Cámara Industrial de Carabobo, which has among its members dozens of subsidiaries of the largest US corporations operating in Venezuela. 11

Chávez lost the December 2 vote (in part, I believe, because of his unrelenting bravado, which turned off any number of his supporters) but he’s still a marked man in Washington, which can not stomach the prospect of five more years of the man and his policies. It’s not because the United States is looking to grab Venezuela’s oil. It’s because Chávez is completely independent of Washington and has used his oil wealth to become a powerful force in Latin America, inspiring and aiding other independent-minded governments in the region, like Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador, as well as carrying on close relations with the likes of China, Russia, and Iran. The man does not show proper understanding that he’s living in the Yankee’s back yard; indeed, in the Yankee’s world. The Yankee empire grew to its present size and power precisely because it did not tolerate men like Salvador Allende and Hugo Chávez and their quaint socialist customs. Despite their best efforts, the CIA was unable to prevent Allende from becoming Chile’s president in 1970. When subsequent parliamentary elections made it apparent to the Agency and their Chilean conservative allies that they would not be able to oust the left from power legally, they instigated a successful military coup, in 1973.

Here for the record is a brief summary of Washington’s charming history in relation to such men, their foreign ideas, and their dubious governments since the end of World War Two:

Although Chávez has spoken publicly about his being assassinated, and his government has several times uncovered what they perceived to be planned assassination attempts, from both domestic and foreign sources, the Venezuelan president has continued to take repeated flights and attend numerous conferences and meetings all over the world, exposing himself and his airplane again and again. The cases of Jaime Rold—s, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, military leader of Panama, should perhaps be considered. Both were reformers who refused to allow their countries to become client states of Washington or American corporations. Both were firm supporters of the radical Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua; both banned an American missionary group, the Summer Institute of Linguistics – long suspected of CIA ties – because of suspicious political behavior; both died in mysterious plane disasters during the Reagan administration in 1981, Torrijos’ plane exploding in mid-air. 13 Torrijos had earlier been marked for assassination by Richard Nixon. 14

Who would have thought? Bush has been vindicated.

We’re making progress in Iraq! The “surge” is working, we’re told. Never mind that the war is totally and perfectly illegal. Not to mention totally and perfectly, even exquisitely, immoral. It’s making progress. That’s a good thing, is it not? Meanwhile, the al Qaeda types have greatly increased their number all over the Middle East and South Asia, so their surge is making progress too. Good for them. And speaking of progress in the War on Terror, is anyone progressing faster and better than the Taliban?

The American progress is measured by a decrease in violence, the White House has decided – a daily holocaust has been cut back to a daily multiple catastrophe. And who’s keeping the count? Why, the same good people who have been regularly feeding us a lie for the past five years about the number of Iraqi deaths, completely ignoring the epidemiological studies. (Real Americans don’t do Arab body counts.) A recent analysis by the Washington Post left the administration’s claim pretty much in tatters. The article opened with: “The U.S. military’s claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends.” The article then continued in the same critical vein. 15

To the extent that there may have been a reduction in violence, we must also keep in mind that, thanks to this lovely little war, there are several million Iraqis either dead or in exile abroad or in bursting American and Iraqi prisons; there must be as well a few million more wounded who are homebound or otherwise physically limited; so the number of potential victims and killers has been greatly reduced. Moreover, extensive ethnic cleansing has taken place in Iraq (another good indication of progress, n’est-ce pas? nicht wahr?) – Sunnis and Shiites are now living more in their own special enclaves than before, none of those stinking mixed communities with their unholy mixed marriages, so violence of the sectarian type has also gone down. 16 On top of all this, US soldiers have been venturing out a lot less (for fear of things like … well, dying), so the violence against our noble lads is also down. Remember that insurgent attacks on American forces is how the Iraqi violence all began in the first place.

Oh, did I mention that 2007 has been the deadliest year for US troops since the war began? 17 It’s been the same worst year for American forces in Afghanistan.

One of the signs of the reduction in violence in Iraq, the administration would like us to believe, is that many Iraqi families are returning from Syria, where they had fled because of the violence. The New York Times, however, reported that “Under intense pressure to show results after months of political stalemate, the [Iraqi] government has continued to publicize figures that exaggerate the movement back to Iraq”; as well as exaggerating “Iraqis’ confidence that the current lull in violence can be sustained.” The count, it turns out, included all Iraqis crossing the border, for whatever reason. A United Nations survey found that 46 percent were leaving Syria because they could not afford to stay; 25 percent said they fell victim to a stricter Syrian visa policy; and only 14 percent said they were returning because they had heard about improved security. 18

How long can it be before vacation trips to “Exotic Iraq” are flashed across our TVs? “Baghdad’s Beautiful Beaches Beckon”. Just step over the bodies. Indeed, the State Department has recently advertised for a “business development/tourism” expert to work in Baghdad, “with a particular focus on tourism and related services.” 19

We’ve been told often by American leaders and media that the US forces can’t leave because of the violence, because there would be a bloodbath. Now there’s an alleged significant decrease in the violence. Is that being used as an argument to get out – a golden opportunity for the United States to leave, with head held high? Of course not.

I almost feel sorry for them. They’re “can-do” Americans, accustomed to getting their way, accustomed to thinking of themselves as the best, and they’re frustrated as hell, unable to figure out “why they hate us”, why we can’t win them over, why we can’t at least wipe them out. Don’t they want freedom and democracy? At one time or another the can-do boys have tried writing a comprehensive set of laws and regulations, even a constitution, for the country; setting up mini-bases in neighborhoods; building walls to block off areas; training and arming “former” Sunni insurgents to fight Shias and al Qaeda; enlisting Shias to help fight, against whomever; leaving weapons or bomb-making material in public view to see who picks it up, then pouncing on them; futuristic vehicles and machines and electronic devices to destroy roadside bombs; setting up their own Arabic-language media, censoring other media; classes for detainees on anger control, an oath of peace, and the sacredness of life and property; regularly revising the official reason the United States is in the country in the first place … one new tactic after another, and when all else fails they call it a “success” and give it a nice inspiring action name, like “surge” … and nothing helps. They’re can-do Americans, using good ol’ American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home; employing psychologists and anthropologists … and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you’re selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you’re totally ruining your customers’ lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality. They’re can-do Americans, accustomed to playing by the rules – theirs; and they’re frustrated as hell.

Once is an accident; twice is a coincidence; three times is a conspiracy.

All science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided. – Karl Marx 20

I believe in conspiracies. So do all of you. American and world history are full of conspiracies. Watergate was a conspiracy. The cover-up of Watergate was a conspiracy. So was Enron. And Iran-Contra. The October Surprise really took place. For a full year, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney conspired to invade Iraq while continually denying that they had made any such decision. The Japanese conspired to attack Pearl Harbor while negotiating with Washington to find peaceful solutions to the issues separating the two governments. There are many people sitting in prison at this very moment in the United States for having been convicted of “conspiracy” to commit this or that crime.

However, it doesn’t follow that all conspiracy theories are created equal, all to be taken seriously. Many people send me emails which I’m unable to take seriously. Here are a few examples:

If they try to access my website a few times and keep getting an error message, they ask me if the FBI or Homeland Security or America Online has finally gotten around to shutting me down.

If they send me an email and it’s returned to them, for whatever reason, they wonder if AOL is blocking their particular mail or perhaps blocking all my mail.

If they fail to receive a copy of this report, they wonder if AOL or some government agency is blocking it.

If they come upon a news item on the Internet which exposes really bad behavior of the powers-that-be, they point out how “the mainstream media is completely ignoring this”, even though I may already have read it in the Washington Post or the New York Times. To make the claim that the mainstream media is completely ignoring a particular news item, one would need to have access to the full version of a service like Lexis-Nexis and know how to use it expertly. Google often won’t suffice if the news item has not appeared on the website of any mainstream media even though it may be in print or have been broadcast, although the recent creation of Google News has improved chances of finding an item.

With every new audiotape or videotape from Osama bin Laden my correspondents are sure to inform me that the man is really dead and that the tape is a CIA fabrication. In January 2006, when bin Laden, on an audiotape, recommended that Americans read my book Rogue State, the mainstream media were eager to interview me. But a number of my correspondents were quick to inform me and the entire Internet that the tape was phony, implying that I was being naive to believe it; this continues to this day. When I ask them why the CIA would want to publicize and enrich a writer like myself, who has been exposing the intelligence agency’s crimes his entire writing life, I get no answer that’s worth remembering, often not even understandable.

“Why do you bother criticizing Bush? He’s not the real power. He’s just a puppet,” they ask me. The real power behind the throne, I’m told, is [Dick Cheney, David Rockefeller, the Federal Reserve, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberger Group, the Trilateral Commission, Bohemian Grove, et al.] Why, I wonder, are the annual meetings of the Bilderberger Group, et al., thought to be so vital to their members and so indicative of their power? To the extent that the Bilderbergerites have access to those in power and are able to influence them, they have this access and power all year long, whether or not they gather together in a once-a-year closed meeting. I think their meetings are primarily a social thing. Money and power likes to enjoy cocktails with money and power. Of course many important political and historical events are indeed the result of certain people of money and power talking to each other and secretly deciding what course of action would be most advantageous to their collective interests, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that those who hold public office are merely puppets of these interests. Bush displays his independence every day of the week – independence from Congress, the Constitution, the Republican Party, classic conservative economic policies, the American people, election results, the facts, logic, humanity. George W. is his own [sociopathic] man.

Finally, there’s September 11, 2001. Amongst those in the “9/11 Truth Movement” I am a sinner because I don’t champion the idea that it was an “inside job”. I think it more likely that some individuals in the Bush administration knew that something was about to happen involving airplanes – perhaps an old fashioned hijacking with political demands – and they let it happen, to make use of it politically, as they certainly have. But I do wish you guys in the 9/11 Truth Movement luck; if you succeed in proving that it was an inside job, that would do more to topple the empire than anything I have ever written.


  1. Washington Post, December 7, 2007, p.8
  2. New York Times, December 3, 2007
  3. Washington Post, December 9, 2007, p.27
  4. Washington Post, December 4, 2007, p.1
  5. Washington Post, December 5, 2007, p.23
  6. “How they stole the bomb from us”, December 8, 2007, http://zope.gush-shalom.org/index_en.html
  7. New York Times, February 3, 1992, p.8
  8. Paul Sigmund, “The Overthrow of Allende and the Politics of Chile, 1964-1976” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977) p.297
  9. Covert Action in Chile, 1963-1973, a Staff Report of The Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (US Senate)”, December 18, 1975, p.4
  10. Sigmund, op. cit., p.34
  11. Venezuelanalysis.com, November 27, 2007, article by Michael Fox
  12. In sequence, details of the five items can be found in Blum’s books:”Freeing the World”, chapter 15; “Rogue State”, chapters 18, 3, 11, 17; see also “Killing Hope” for further details.
  13. For further information, see John Perkins, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” (2004), passim
  14. Newsweek magazine, June 18, 1973, p.22
  15. Washington Post, September 6, 2007, p.16
  16. For a good discussion of this see the Inter Press Service report of November 14, 2007 by Ali al-Fadhily
  17. Associated Press, November 6, 2007
  18. New York Times, November 26, 2007
  19. Washington Post, December 5, 2007, p.27
  20. Capital, Vol. III

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to williamblum.org is provided.

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Books by William Blum

America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy

America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy

The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else

Rogue State

Rogue State

A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower

Killing Hope

Killing Hope

U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II

Freeing the World to Death

Freeing the World to Death

Essays on the American Empire

West-Bloc Dissident

West-Bloc Dissident

A Cold War Memoir