An Introduction to William Blum's
When Osama bin Laden recommended that Americans read Bill Blum’s “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,” he was doing no more than asking them to broaden their understanding of the history that led up to 9/11. So how did this product of the enlightenment, this grand democratic experiment called the United States of America, this truth seeking cultural missile react? The U.S. oligarchy, media and political, impugned bin Laden’s motive and ridiculed the gesture. The American public did what it does best, it consumed Blum’s book, catapulting it from 205,763 to number 26 on Amazon’s best seller list overnight. To be honest, the American oligarchy doesn’t give a shit what the facts are leading up to 9/11, as witnessed by the ‘ahistorical rationalism’ of the official report. Nor does the oligarchy care that thousands of Americans bought bin Laden’s book club suggestion. Buying is not reading, and reading Blum’s book is not happening in a vacuum. Corporate media’s agitprop is ubiquitous. This includes the idea that you are free to buy Blum’s book while never mentioning you are not free to put its program into action. So the American oligarchy doesn’t care. As Blum’s title suggests, they don’t have to care. As Noam Chomsky points out, this global condition has been in the making for 500 years, ending providentially with the broad, fertile, high-jacked North American continent as its terminal exemplar.
For all of its bullshit sophistication, western epistemology has the effect of further dividing and isolating discretions even as it deludes itself into believing its prescriptions reveal and promote harmony, both in Nature and cultural interaction. In sync with most of the non-western world, Blum does not suffer from this delusion when it comes to U.S. foreign policy, nor does he suffer its pathologies in others.
On the cover of his book “Freeing the World to Death: Essays on The American Empire” Blum is quoted: “If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize – very publicly and very sincerely – to all the widows and orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many other victims of American imperialism.”
Through its simple decency and recognition of the ‘other,’ his pronouncement quite clearly illuminates what’s willfully lacking in U.S. foreign policy. Of course, without its imperial policy, the maintenance of empire would be impossible and the whole reason for the existence of the policy apparatus, from the diplomatic to the military to intelligence, would be rendered obsolete. U.S. foreign policy exists only to maintain the empire.
Therefore attitudes toward ‘the other’ can remain crude and self-serving. Henry Kissinger’s pronouncements on Southeast Asia or Ed Lansdale’s cultural and political terrorism of the same attest to arrogance and ignorance behind U.S. foreign policy.
As bin Laden acknowledges, for the U.S. accommodation must always come from the ‘other,’ never within. The context of cultural superiority must always be determined within the framework of imperial power, whether that context be ideological, technological or religious. This is the lesson re-established by the Project for a New American Century, the architects of the invasion of Iraq. The experience of others is never valid, especially if that experience contains a tale of brutality at the hands of the Americans, whether it be their Marines or their banks. This is the ultimate message of U.S. foreign policy to the ‘other;’ and since this is the credo of the pre-eminent power, there will be no peace in the world until the world has been subjugated by the dominant epistemology, as expressed by American political and scientific culture.
Bill Blum often points up the contradictions of this epistemology, and the humor he generates by such ironies is engaging. But, more importantly, as he chronicles the U.S. litany of crimes in the pursuit and maintenance of empire, he points up the disconnect, the delusion, the pathology of the whole western epistemological project. Whether it’s the U.S. gluttony in the face of global climate change, or the pan-terra slaughter of decades of low intensity conflict at the hands of U.S. principals and proxies, in the eyes of the world America has become the apocalyptic beast, the very archetype and final agent of the cruelty and shortsightedness of the western project. If this assessment is true, it is also true that it can mean absolutely nothing to the beast. C.P.
The Anti-Empire Report