William Blum served the US establishment for many years; in 1967, however, in opposition to the US government’s war in Vietnam, Blum quit his job working for the State Department. He went on to become an historian and author, exposing the horrific realities of US imperialism through his work. His two books, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Intervention Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, are two of the most well-documented indictments of US foreign policy ever published. Blum opens Rogue State with: “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 millions of other victims of American imperialism.” RNP reporter Jill Bostridge interviews William Blum, the author whose work has earned him praise from such notable figures as Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone, and even the infamous Osama Bin Laden.
In your book, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Intervention Since World War II, you discuss over 50 unjust and inhumane US interventions around the world. Do you think that the Second World War marked the beginning of corrupt US foreign policy, and if so, why?
Not at all. The US has been engaging in such interventions since 1898 against Spain: even earlier against Mexico. But the present US regime is the worst: the least principled, the most lying, the least respect for world opinion, the worst torturers, the most empire driven, etc.
You discuss in great detail the US's unprovoked horrific attacks on Panama in 1989. Why do so many Americans remain unaware of atrocities such as these?
Many Americans are just not interested in anything far away, but they're not a large group. Most of the others would like to keep up but the media makes it very difficult in two main ways. The media repeats the US government party line without questioning it enough, even ignoring obvious lies. And the media does an awful job of reminding people of the past history of a current issue, which could be very enlightening.
You also discuss many illegal US interventions all throughout Latin America, including Panama, Guatemala, Chile, and Ecuador. What motivates the US's obsession to obtain total control over Latin America?
Oil hasn't been much of a motivator in Latin America, only in the Middle East. Benefiting US corporations in various ways has long been a factor; just building up the military to intervene makes defense corporations wealthy. Or scaring countries into buying US military equipment.
You also discuss the US's never-ending attempts to suppress the Cuban revolution. Why does the US administration seem to feel so threatened by the communist revolution of such a small country, which poses no real military or economic threat to the US?
They don't feel threatened at all. It's all ideology and domestic politics; mainly stamping out what might be a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model: can't give other countries the wrong idea.
You have referred to your book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, as “a mini-encyclopedia of all the unhumanitarian acts of the US government over the past 60 years.” With the vast amounts of undeniable information available to the American people, why do you think so many Americans still truly believe that US foreign policy is altruistic and benevolent? What role does the media play in this nationwide misconception?
Books like mine can't overcome a lifetime of indoctrination and can't compete with the mass media, which assures that the indoctrination continues. People in the mass media would not hold the positions they do if they were not true believers; the mass media would not, and does not, hire people like me.
Earlier this year it was reported that Osama Bin Laden allegedly suggested that “it would be useful” for Americans to read your book, Rogue State. How did it feel to have the world's so-called #1 terrorist publicly endorsing your work?
There are two elements involved here: On the one hand, I totally despise any kind of religious fundamentalism and the societies spawned by such, like the Taliban in Afghanistan. On the other hand, I'm a member of a movement which has the very ambitious goal of slowing down, if not stopping, the American Empire, to keep it from continuing to go around the world doing things like bombings, invasions, overthrowing governments, and torture. To have any success, we need to reach the American people with our message. And to reach the American people we need to have access to the mass media. What has just happened has given me the opportunity to reach millions of people I would otherwise never reach. Why should I not be glad about that? How could I let such an opportunity go to waste?
Rogue State includes a chapter on war criminals, where you discuss many US politicians who could be put on trial for war crimes, including former US president Bill Clinton. Why Bill Clinton?
His 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia was just as much a “war of aggression” as the US invasion of Iraq, and just as much based on lies. A war of aggression was defined by the WWII Nuremberg Tribunal as the worst international crime of all.
Do you think there is any chance that the world will ever bring some of these war criminals, including US President George W. Bush, to justice? What would it take to make that happen?
It's conceivable, although not likely. It's very unpredictable.
As an historian, you have studied and documented human atrocity throughout the world. Do you see any historical patterns which lead you to believe that the US global empire will end in the future?
Yes, the American public and world opinion show many signs of waking up; many signs. I'm optimistic.
What is the best way for our readers to purchase your books?
-- I sign the books and mail them immediately.
1st August 2006