Lendman Sounds Off”
By Jason Miller &
26 December, 2006
had the privilege of conducting a “cyber interview” with
one of the preeminent domestic critics of the American Empire. Despite
his relatively recent start, Stephen Lendman has rapidly become one
of the most ubiquitous and well-respected chroniclers of truth in the
alternative media community. Asserting unflinching support for social
democracy, Hugo Chavez, and the countless victims of US foreign and
domestic policy, Lendman has penned a growing stack of essays assailing
the brutality of American Capitalism and the genocidal crimes of unbridled
United States militarism.
Recently receiving a well-deserved
page on Third World Traveler (1), Stephen Lendman is taking his place
amongst the likes of Petras and Chomsky, men he cites as his inspirations.
Here is a glimpse of Stephen
and his worldview:
What is your educational background and what type of work did
you do in your “former life”?
During my formal working
life I read moderately as able and followed with horror and revulsion
many world and national events but never wrote or spoke out about them.
That began changing when I retired at the end of 1999 at age 65. I began
reading heavily and now have an extensive library that includes many
of the renowned giants I revere like Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Ed Herman,
James Petras, Edward Said, Gore Vidal, Michel Chossudovsky, John Pilger,
and dozens of others including many not as well known to the greater
public like June Jordan, now passed much too young and terribly missed.
Her very name inspires me for who she was and what she stood for and
did in her life. A truly remarkable and courageous woman.
I tell people I never wrote
anything other than business reports, memos and such since finishing
my master's thesis in 1959 till, by accident, late last year I wrote
a long letter to Norman Finkelstein praising one of his books. He asked
permission to post it on his web site and requested I submit it to other
sites which I did, got a few postings, and it all took off from there
but slowly at first.
Please, tell me as
much about your family as you feel comfortable disclosing.
I grew up in Boston in a
low middle-income family, never had any luxuries, but did have loving
parents, never felt or was deprived, and by sheer luck and chance got
into Harvard in 1952 when a full year's tuition was $600. It was $1000
when I graduated in 1956 with a BA. I then got an MBA at the Wharton
School in 1960 with two years in the peacetime Army (thankfully) in
between. I began my formal working life as a marketing research analyst
for about seven years right out of grad school and spent the next 33
as part of a small family business until retiring at end of 1999. Overall,
from back in school till I retired, I led a pretty plain vanilla life
as just another face in a faceless crowd. Then it began to change.
Through your writings
you have expressed your vehement support for Hugo Chavez. How do you
respond to critics who characterize him as another Latin American dictator
in the mold of Fidel Castro?
I'm proud to support Hugo
Chavez and hold him up as a genuine model of a democratic leader the
likes of which we never had in this country from inception. It's because
going back to the beginning of the republic, all the hyperbole about
democracy and such never mentioned all those in the country left out
of it like blacks who were slaves, native Indians who were exterminated
and only white male property owners allowed to vote until that requirement
was dropped in 1850 but not for woman who didn't get the franchise till
1920. I doubt there were long lines at polling stations back in those
Hugo Chavez is demonized
in the US and by the former ruling oligarchs in Venezuela, including
those owning the dominant corporate media there and here, because he's
a real democrat representing the greatest of all threats to the ruling
class in both countries - a good example that won over the hearts and
minds of the great majority of all Venezuelans once he fulfilled his
campaign promises and gave them a real participatory democracy and essential
social services they never had before. He changed their lives dramatically
for the better, so why wouldn't they support him passionately.
Most important to Washington,
his good example is slowly spreading throughout Latin America as more
long-oppressed and denied people there want what Venezuelans now have.
Look at what's happening now in Mexico. I've written it about several
times and characterized it as possibly the early stages of a true transformational
revolution that one day will free the people from the repressive ruling
class and replace it with a Chavez-like government.
Chavez is different from
Castro because Venezuela is a democracy and Cuba is not - with a big
but. Most Cubans love Castro because he ended the brutal, corrupted,
and hated old order under Fulgencio Batista who turned the country into
a brothel and haven for the interests of US capital and the Mafia at
the expense of the people. Castro gave his people the same kinds of
social services Venezuelans now have under a socialist government with
no other kind allowed. I never call him a dictator. Who ever heard of
one loved by his people? When he finally passes, it will be a time of
overwhelming and sincere grief that will be palpable. He'll be hard
to impossible to replace, and Cubans will always revere him as a great
hero. I strongly believe they'll never tolerate a return to the old
order, and if any attempt is made to impose it on them they'll fight
to prevent it. Try getting that reported over the US corporate media
airwaves or the front page of the New York Times that only portrays
Castro as a ruling tyrant over an oppressed and desperate people. Pure
The Bush administration
recently waived a ban on federal funding for right wing military training
in several Latin American nations, ostensibly to counter the “threat”
of the rising Leftist movement. In your opinion how much do those of
us amongst the poor and working class in the United States have to fear
from the likes of Chavez, Morales, and Correa?
I know about the Bush administration's
attempts to fund, train and ally with the military in Latin America
that, of course, means using them, if able, to counter or oust populist
left wing governments if we can't co-opt them another way. I don't think
they have the Pinochet model in mind as times have changed and the Chilean
dictator is now held in such disgrace (even in the grave) by people
throughout Latin America. He ended the most viable democracy in the
region and replaced it with 17 years of ruthless dictatorship only benefiting
those at the top and the well-off middle class getting enough to be
satisfied and quiescent. Today the method of choice is the fig leaf
of democratically elected leaders in suits and ties even if getting
into office through electoral fraud in what Edward Herman calls "demonstration
elections" orchestrated by the lord and master of the universe
headquartered in Washington. It finds these kinds of shenanigans so
effective they're now using them here routinely, the result being eight
years (if he lasts) of George Bush and enough of his "elected"
cronies along with him to give us 'the best democracy money can buy"
and that electronic voting machines (run by giant corporations) can
All ordinary working people
everywhere should pray for the health and survival of leaders like Chavez,
Evo Morales in Bolivia, Raphael Correa in Ecuador, Daniel Ortega in
Nicaragua, and the courageous leaders of the peoples' movements in Mexico
like the APPO leadership in Oaxaca, the masses on the streets of Mexico
City supporting Lopez Obrador denied the presidency he won by massive
fraud, and the "Other Campaign" of Subcomandante Marcos of
the Zapatistas (EZLN) who's a modern-day Emiliano Zapata organizing
a national movement to end Mexico's entrenched unjust system of predatory
capitalism with an iron fist enforcing it and replace it with real social,
economic and political justice for all the people.
These leaders say they stand
for us, ordinary working people whose rights have long been denied.
Hopefully they'll remain true to their public declarations and won't
be pressured enough to weaken in resolve by the forces of capital, especially
out of Washington always looming and threatening. The only heads of
state working people should fear are the oligarch types like the Bush
neocons who serve the rich and powerful and have contempt for the public
welfare. In the halls of power around the world, most leaders support
the privileged, do far too little or nothing for the majority, and that's
the burden that must be overcome.
How much chance do
you give the Bolivarian Revolution of succeeding? [For the purpose of
this question, success would mean that virtually all nations of South
and Central America had converted to a form of social democracy along
the lines of Venezuela, rejected “free trade”, renegotiated
their debt with the World Bank or IMF (or simply defaulted on it), severely
limited or abolished transnational corporate exploitation of their people
and resources, provided education and health care to their poor, and
created more egalitarian societies].
The Bolivarian Revolution
or Project achieved wonders in eight years following on generations
of corrupted oligarch rule by the small slice of the Venezuelan rich
and another 10 - 20% of the population (called sifrinos) at the top
getting enough crumbs or healthy enough servings to want to preserve
the old order while not giving a damn about the poor that at one time
was as much as 80% of the population, many in a desperate state. The
US entered the picture around the early 1920s after oil was discovered
there that even then was too attractive a lure for US interests to ignore.
Chavez changed everything
for the great majority after he took office. He lowered the poverty
rate from about 62% after the crippling 2002 - 03 oil strike and aborted
April, 2002 two-day coup to around one-third of the population plus
all the great social benefits including first class health and dental
care and free education to the highest level - written into the Constitution
to mandate them by law. This is something unimaginable in the US. If
the public here knew what Venezuelans get and they're denied, it has
to be wondered how great a level of outrage they'd be demanding the
same things. Most people here don’t know it because the dominant
media make sure they're kept dumbed-down, distracted and uninformed
about the most essential things they need to know to improve their lives.
Still in Venezuela, despite
all the great advances benefiting those most in need of them, the problems
facing the Chavez government are daunting. Massive corruption is endemic
and the bureaucracy is stifling and entrenched - because it was that
way for generations before Chavez was elected, and it will take a great
many more years of determined effort and committed leadership to overcome
most of it. Add to that the long shadow from Washington where the Bush
administration has already tried and failed three times to oust Chavez
with another attempt sure to come sometime ahead by whatever new devious
scheme they'll cook up. Chavez at times must feel like a man almost
alone in hostile territory, surrounded by a legion of high-level opponents,
many unidentified, including some in key positions in his government.
He understands the problems and must think he's infiltrated by a host
of Brutuses ready to pounce on him if given a chance.
As for the Revolution spreading
across Latin America, there have been baby steps only. Chavez and Castro
are unique in their attention to addressing the social needs of their
people, but while Castro rejects capitalism, Chavez, so far, coexists
with it wanting it on the basis of fairness including the rules for
foreign investors requiring them to pay an equitable amount of taxes
and to be minority partners when in joint ventures with the government.
Only Evo Morales is close to Chavez in commitment in South America,
but James Petras points out he's disappointed his people by relenting
to the entrenched interests on some things going back on his word.
Rafael Correa is still an
unknown entity as he only takes office in mid-January, and it will be
a while to see if his policy backs his rhetoric. The pressure on him
will be intense to prevent it as is now being applied to Daniel Ortega
ahead of his tenure also beginning in January. It's the same thing that
happened to Lula in Brazil, Nestor Kirtchner in Argentina, and Michelle
Bachelet in Chile to keep them a part of the Washington Consensus in
large measure in spite all the past horrific fallout from it on their
people still without redress.
Even knowing that, those
leaders haven't embraced anything like Venezuela has under Chavez, but
they have advanced beyond the bad old days when governments in the region
only served the wealthy and powerful, ignoring the needs of their people.
There have also been more enlightened policies on trade in the region
with FTAA effectively dead thanks to efforts from people like Chavez
promoting his "fair trade" policy of ALBA, or the Bolivarian
Alternative for the Americas, as well as ALBA initiatives among the
Mercosur Southern Common Market countries of Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina,
Uruguay and Paraguay. But Washington policy makers are never idle and
have been able to sign countries on to mini-FTAA agreements through
bilateral deals showing the struggle to be free from Global North dominance
has a long way to go even in areas where advances have been made.
Chavez is gaining allies
by using his nation's oil wealth to offer favorable loans to some of
his neighbors freeing or reducing their burden from effective enslavement
by the Washington-controlled IMF, World Bank and other international
lending agencies. In sum, there are miles to go for the Latin American
nations to emerge out of the dark ages of Global North dominance and
exploitation led by the US and no guarantee they'll get there even in
Venezuela that will always be threatened with the possibility of losing
what they've already gained - as long as the US remains the imperial
power in the region and corporate interests prevail.
Do you consider yourself
to be a socialist, or perhaps a social democrat?
I consider myself a social
democrat bordering on believing in a modified socialist philosophy.
I was a "capitalist" for 33 years with a very small "c."
I believe in that kind of capitalism because it's not predatory, and
it’s the kind Adam Smith espoused. He hated the savage kind of
his day like the monopolistic practices of the British East India Company
and believed in many small, local businesses competing fairly with each
other. If he were alive today he'd be railing against the neoliberal
Washington Consensus model including the destructive policies under
"globalization" that exploit the vulnerable multitudes as
just another commodity for the interests of "big" capital.
Briefly, what are
some of your thoughts on Fidel Castro and what do you think of the years
of US sponsored state terrorism against Castro?
I covered Castro briefly
above. Overall, I support him for what he's done. If there were no oppressive
US embargo, Cuba would be a wonderful country to live in even under
one-party rule as long as you support that kind of governance, which
I do. I hope Fidel recovers fully and lives 100 years or longer. The
great majority of Cubans do too.
US policy against Cuba for
nearly a half century has been brutal, unrelenting and, of course, illegal.
It's a wonder Castro was able to survive the hundreds of US attempts
to kill him including a nearly successful one when the assassin had
a hidden gun in a camera, got to within a few feet of him in a clear
line of unobstructed sight, and then chickened out at the last moment.
That was in the 1970s if I recall. There have also been hundreds of
US state terror attacks against Cuba of all sorts causing destruction,
great hardship and disruption. Castro overcame all of them and achieved
nothing short of a miracle. He'll be a hero to millions of Cubans for
generations to come, and he should be.
What are your thoughts
on the disturbing trend in the United States socioeconomic structure
toward extreme economic polarization? And what do you think of the Paul
Krugman article, The Great Wealth Transfer(2), which recently appeared
in Rolling Stone?
I'm appalled about the socio-economic
disparities in the US that have become so extreme economist Paul Krugman
calls them "unprecedented." I've written before about them
in much detail and am doing it again in a year end article called A
Look Back and Ahead in an Age of Neocon Rule. The state of the country
is appalling and disturbing. Abroad we're fighting two wars already
lost with the possibility of a third one or more. We're bankrupting
the country paying for them along with the tax revenue lost from the
outlandish tax cuts for the rich and corporate giants. We've also lost
our civil liberties in the oppressive age of George Bush and a servile
Congress and judiciary rubber-stamping his hellish agenda and now live
under Sparta-like militarism including brutish "Homeland Security"
enforcers empowered above the law to "keep the rabble in line",
including employing illegal surveillance on everyone.
Noted author, academic, and
by his own characterization former "spear-carrier for the empire"
Chalmers Johnson refers to the leader of this Neocon administration,
George Bush, as "the boy emperor." He also says the neocons
allied with him are fascists - using sanitized language to hide the
We've been slashing essential
social benefits since the Reagan years, and it's all contributing to
the greatest wealth and income disparity at least since the 19th Gilded
Age of the first generation Robber Barons. We're destroying the nation's
industrial base and exporting millions of jobs abroad, including many
high-paying ones, as this country hurtles toward "banana republic
third world status and not giving a damn how many have to suffer for
the greed and lust for power of the few at the top.
Do you think that
the United States will eventually reach the point that the levels of
plutocratic domination, corruption, and tyranny rival those of so-called
“Third World” nations? Or do you think we are already there?
I mentioned Paul Krugman
above and quoted from his Great Wealth Transfer article in my year end
one to be finished right after Christmas. He's outraged and so am I,
even more than he is. I think we're getting very close to the level
of "plutocratic domination" in third world countries and exceed
any of them in the level of federal government and corporate corruption
(mostly below the radar) and a state of tyranny following the same path
as Nazi Germany did in the 1930s. Most people haven't a clue that the
parallels to that era are frightening as hell, and I've written several
times that the US today is a national security fascist police state
that so far is just short of sending the jackboots and tanks to the
streets, stripping off the mask of respectability so even the dumbed-down
public finally knows the score.
You have written
well-researched articles exposing how fraudulent and farcical federal
elections have become in the United States. Do you vote? Why or why
I've abstained from voting
since I learned how corrupted the process was, and that was even before
the 2000 election and the dominance of privatized and rigged electronic
voting machines that now count over 80% of the votes. The most fundamental
of all bedrock rights in a democracy is to have free, fair and open
elections denying no citizen for any reason their constitutional right
to vote. We never had that, but today no semblance of democracy exists
and any pretense it does is just an illusion that sadly still too many
in the country believe in. But many, like me, refuse to go along any
more and choose instead to boycott federal elections. The only hope
for real change ahead has to come from the bottom up. History shows
it's always been that way, and it's why we once had a revolution in
this country. I'm sure one day we will again and equally sure we'll
never get the kind of society and culture we deserve from the kinds
of elected officials we now have from either party, equally corrupted.
Many loyalists of
American Capitalism and the Empire often challenge domestic critics
of the United States with questions such as: “If you hate the
United States so much, why don’t you just leave?” As a powerful
voice of dissent against many aspects and dynamics of the United States,
how do you respond to this question?
I've been asked at times
why I don't leave and move to Venezuela, Cuba or anywhere I think I
can get relief from what I rail against here justifiably. I've asked
myself that too and would never rule it out. Still, I've lived here
all my life, am 72, have roots, and it would be a tough adjustment living
in a new society, having to learn a new language if moved to a non-English
speaking country, and needing to make new friends and connections from
When did you first
become aware that the United States was not exporting “freedom
and liberty: through its economic policies and military interventions?
I've known for ages how oppressive
US policies have been abroad and at home as well. But during my formal
working life I never wrote or spoke out against them beyond occasional
private conversations with friends or family that never went into depth
or got heated. Only over time did things boil over for me once I spent
more time focusing on them and then later saw them getting worse.
I was appalled to learn the
"Cold War" was a fraud and the Russians were never coming,
but we needed to convince people they were or might to justify all the
harsh policies we followed in the name of national security. I was even
more outraged when the "Cold War" ended but the need for enemies
to scare the public didn't, we never got the promised "peace dividend,"
and we managed to find a way to stay in a permanent state of war. Later
I was astonished to learn this country was at war with one or more adversaries
every year since we became a nation in 1776. That's besides all the
mischief we generated abroad through agencies like the CIA created in
In your view, what
is the US actually “exporting” through its foreign and economic
The US emerged after WW II
as the only dominant nation left standing. It was decided, maybe in
the late 1930s, that policies would be pursued to make this country
the world's preeminent political and economic power, and during the
war the most powerful military one as well. It worked, and we've kept
that status since. I believe our preeminence reached a peak sometime
in the late 60s or early 70s and has been declining since because of
the Vietnam disaster. It accelerated in the last six years under the
disastrous Bush administration agenda worrying the hell out of the country's
power structure because they know how badly these incompetents messed
things up for them.
All US policies since WW
II were intended to build and maintain American supremacy including
the "world" institutions set up supposedly for other purposes
like the UN, NATO, IMF, World Bank and others completely dominated by
Washington under all administrations. Since that time, this country's
goal has been to pursue policies serving the interests of wealth and
power and give back as little as possible to the people, only enough
"to keep the rabble in line." Even in The Great Depression,
FDR got important social policies enacted only because he and some enlightened
business leaders were scared into doing it. Economic conditions were
so bad, they feared a Russian-style revolution unless they acted to
prevent it. The New Deal was a plan to save capitalism, and the idea
was better to give back enough than do too little and risk losing everything.
We know now other corporate
interests weren't so enlightened, planned a coup against FDR to depose
him and tried recruiting General Smedley Butler to lead it who exposed
it. Butler later wrote a book on my shelf called War Is A Racket in
which he denounced the kind of military adventurism he once led saying
things like he once "helped in the raping of half a dozen Central
American (banana) republics for the benefit of Wall Street....and purify
Nicaragua (for the bankers)" and much more. Butler was awarded
two Congressional Medals of Honor for his service. For his post-military
nobility, he really ended up deserving them. Where are the leaders like
him today in any part of the government or military? None I know of,
and that goes to the heart of the problem.
Despite the 1930s New Deal
age of enlightenment, things began changing after the war. It moved
slowly at first with measures like the harsh anti-labor Taft-Hartley
Act in 1947 (passed over Harry Truman's veto) that began reversing the
great labor benefits under the Wagner Act of the 30s (that to this day
was the high water mark for organized labor rights). Today, worker rights
have been crushed as the corporate threat to export jobs leaves many
unions with little option but to surrender to management. The ones able
to fight back and win at times are those representing the kinds of service
jobs (mostly low-paying) that can't be offshored, like restaurant and
What are your thoughts
on the mainstream media in the United States?
It's no surprise the state
of the dominant media in the country is appalling. Moneyed interests
own or run it, and they control how it's used. It represents state and
corporate interests, and no one is allowed air time on it or space in
it if they are not of a single mind (with very little wiggle room allowed).
I'm writing a long article on it called The Spirit of Tom Paine. In
it I say things like the corporate-controlled media (including the corrupted
NPR, PBS and BBC) function as a national thought-control police, but
look why. In Britain from inception, the BBC had a stated policy of
serving as a voice for its government and through the years it fulfilled
it using all the technological advances that came along to do it even
The same is true here in
the US where the dominant media is either corporate-owned (now by five
goliaths plus cable giant Comcast serving my building with no other
choice allowed--if it even mattered) or controlled including so-called
public radio and TV (other than Pacifica Radio, the original and still
credible public radio). They're heavily dependent on government and
corporate funding to operate and thus are servile to the interests of
both. It gets even worse with NPR and PBS that defraud the public, on
the one hand, and regularly go to it asking for generous donations to
help them keep us dumbed-down, in the dark, uninformed, well-distracted
and believing the most outrageous government policies are only done
in the public interest. No one should buy this baloney or ever support
the NPR or PBS affiliates feeding it to us. Whenever they want your
money, respond if you must with a strong show of contempt and rejection
and a message to their management that one day we’re coming to
get you, and we intend reclaiming our public airwaves, there to serve
our interests ill-served under their aegis.
Because they failed in their
mandate to serve us, the result overall is the US public is the most
uninformed and dumbed-down in the developed world and a good part of
the rest of it as well. Voices opposing state policy or corporate interests
are verboten beyond an occasional sound bite that slips through the
cracks and never resonates. The same thing is true in the other dominant
institutions that influence the public like academia, the clergy, and
the think tank community, mostly right wing, with generous funding to
spew their business-friendly agenda and government policies supporting
I can attest to the way it
was in school when I was at Harvard in the 1950s. I recall only one
outstanding professor on the left, and his field was biology. His name
was George Wald, and he later won a Nobel Prize in his field. I took
a required sophomore natural sciences course with him and to this day
remember how he startled us in class one day when he said in 1953 "there
is no such thing as a safe amount of radiation." He became a strong
nuclear power opponent for any purpose as I've been for many years after
learning this is a technology from hell that will end up sending us
there if we don't end its use for military or commercial purposes.
I recall one other professor
in the social sciences who went part way to the left but not nearly
enough for me today. At the Wharton School, no explanation is needed
about the philosophy espoused there. Only rarely were professors like
Ed Herman allowed on the faculty, but even he felt he was only tolerated
and decided finally to retire early because he'd had enough.
He fared much better than
Scott Nearing, an extraordinary man most people never heard of but should
make an effort to find out about. He lived an exemplary life of about
100 years until 1983 and taught at the Wharton School after graduating
from it from 1906 till at the end of the 1915 June semester when he
got a brief note from the Provost advising him his contract wouldn't
be renewed. It was because he spoke out against the abuses of that time
including child labor. Later in life in 1972, he wrote a magnificent
political autobiography called The Making of a Radical, that I read,
recommend and have on my shelves along with seven of his other important
books. He wrote many and lectured constantly. You might call him a Noam
Chomsky before the real one emerged. But unlike Chomsky's experience
at MIT, Nearing's philosophy didn't go down well in the Wharton environs.
And having lived in it for a time, it's easy to know why. He also ended
up being unwelcome on any faculty, was a pacifist speaking out against
war, and once said he felt like he was "living as an unwilling
citizen in a warfare state." I share that view but chose to stay
here just as Nearing did.
What do you think
of the Bush administration’s consistent refusal to engage in direct
negotiations with nations it has designated as “enemies”
The Bush administration,
and others preceding it, usually refuse to negotiate with nations it
vilifies using language like sponsors of state terrorism. It doesn't
mean they are, just that we say they are with the corporate-controlled
media picking up the line and echoing it. In the Reagan years we had
"the evil empire" we only negotiated with reluctantly and
even then never in good faith. Today we have an axis of evil that began
with Iraq, Iran and North Korea and now is down to the latter two. Never
reported is the fact that both these nations for at least the past 20
years or so tried and failed to normalize relations with the US, wanting
to live in peace with us. It never happened because that state would
run contrary to this country's agenda needing enemies to scare the public
enough to go along with whatever outrageous schemes the administration
in power wishes to pursue.
It's an old and dirty business
that Nazi Hermann Goering explained in the Nuremberg dock (before he
took his own life) when asked by a Tribunal psychologist how his regime
convinced the German people to go along with all their abuses. He explained
it's as easy in a democracy as in a dictatorship. He said "the
people don't want war (but they) can always (be manipulated by telling)
them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of
patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger." It always
works and shows how easily the public can be duped to believe almost
anything fed to them if it's done effectively and repeated often enough.
In the age of George Bush,
Iran and North Korea are still villains (plus Syria) along with Hezbollah
in South Lebanon and the democratically elected Hamas government in
the Palestinian Occupied Territories (OPT). They all share one common
denominator making them enemies of the US Empire. They maintain their
independence as Saddam did refusing to give it up to bow to the wishes
of the ruling authority in Washington. As a result, their leaders remain
in our cross hairs and are used to scare the public to go along with
all the outrageous policies the Bush administration followed since the
9/11 attack. The only way this country will ever agree to negotiate
with any of them, or any other less developed country we can’t
intimidate, is if they'll renounce their national sovereignty and agree
to go along with US policies and interests - in other words, surrender
unconditionally and betray the interests of their people.
What do you think
of Noam Chomsky’s 1990 assertion: “If the Nuremberg laws
were applied, then every post-war American president would have been
I've used Chomsky's assertion
and fully support the notion that "If the Nuremberg laws were applied
(that convicted Nazi war criminals), then every post-war American president
would have been hanged." But I'd go even further and say most every
one of them pre-WW II should be as well because their actions were hardly
any different than the post-war leaders.
Chomsky posited the notion
of applying the Nuremberg laws to US Presidents prior to Bush II’s
rise to power. What (if any) war crimes do you believe Bush and members
of his administration have committed?
No US administration has
been more egregious in its foreign and domestic policy initiatives than
the Neocon-led one under George Bush. The International Criminal Court
(ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands was established in 2002 to prosecute
individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for
those who committed these acts and aren't held to account for them in
an existing national tribunal. George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld
and many others in the current administration, past and present, are
guilty of all these offenses as are those in the Congress who went along
with them by their complicity or silence. They should all be made to
answer for their crimes, and if found guilty in fair trials with competent
counsel, be made to pay for them. My own view is an unqualified opposition
to the death penalty for any crime. If fairly convicted, I want them
to spend the rest of their lives in prison on hard labor.
Shifting our perspective
to the Bush Regime’s actions and policies on the domestic side,
do you believe that they will utilize the power they have acquired under
the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act to essentially abolish
the Bill of Rights, eradicate habeas corpus, declare martial law, imprison
and torture US citizens with impunity, and suspend the 2008 election
to remain in power?
I've written a lot about
Patriot (I and II), Military Commissions and (revised) Insurrection
Acts along with the new National ID Act and other abuses against the
public. I've also explained Bush declared himself a "unitary executive"
claiming the right to go around the law on his own authority pursuing
whatever policies he wishes in the name of national security with no
corroborating evidence to show justification and no checks and balances
allowed to challenge him. Is there any better definition of a dictator
than that? He's using this authority to subvert the Constitution making
no one in the country or around the world safe from the power he's given
himself to inflict his harsh summary judgment on anyone without cause
or restraint. So far, it's selectively aimed at so-called "Islamofascists,"
illegally-immigrating dark-skinned people (mainly NAFTA-impoverished
Mexicans) and poor people of color in general always unable to defend
themselves against state-inflicted abuses. The Constitution and Bill
of Rights have effectively been suspended, and we're at the mercy of
a rogue leader and his government that, at their discretion, can reach
out and snatch any of us, secretly rendition us to an offshore torture-prison
without anyone knowing where we are, try us in a military tribunal without
competent counsel or right of appeal, convict us and dispense with us
as they please.
If impeaching Bush
and Cheney was a realistic possibility, what then?
I believe nothing will happen
from the top down, and it's up to the public en masse to make things
happen from the bottom up. That applies to impeaching Bush and Cheney
as the new Democrat-led 110th Congress took that off the table including
by new House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers who once advocated holding
them to account and now backed off after getting the authority to do
it. And he's one of the good ones in the Congress. It shows what the
public is up against going into the new year. Expect nothing substantive
from the new Democrat Congress that, on issues that matter most, will
be little different than the Republican one preceding it. It's part
of the culture of corruption infesting both dominant parties in collusion
with the other institutions of power in the country equally corrupted.
If we lived in an
ideal world, what consequences would you like to see Bush, Cheney and
their numerous accomplices face?
In a perfect world, I want
Bush, Cheney and all those complicit with them held fully to account
and made to pay like the criminals they are. We should demand the book
be thrown at them all showing them the same kind of mercy they inflicted
on millions of others - none at all.
Do you believe the
collapse of the American Empire is imminent, and if so, how do you envision
I believe the US Empire is
in decline and has been for over 30 years, but the Bush administration
greatly accelerated the process. In the Middle East alone, I go along
with expert Gilbert Achcar who believes the Bush administration was
so incompetent and "stupid" it will go down as the "undertaker"
of US interests in the region. The only area we'll end up being superior
in at some point is the military one, and that won't last forever. My
greatest fear is that as we head toward losing it and the empire, we
may unleash it full force and end up destroying the planet in trying
to save ourselves unless we first do it environmentally. This is how
Chomsky feels, and I agree with him along with the other great loss
he fears - our democracy. I think that's already lost.
I don't think the US Empire
will implode any more than I feel the economy or weak US dollar will
either. I believe these things will happen slowly over time including
at some point reaching an economic calamity great enough to make The
Great Depression seem like a garden party. We don't have space enough
to discuss this here in detail, but this is a view shared by astute
observers whom I agree with.
What are your views
I absolutely agree with people
like David Ray Griffin that either the Bush administration knew in advance
about the 9/11 attack and did nothing to prevent it or their operatives
actually were behind it. Unlike Chomsky, who thinks it's near impossible
the Bush administration was behind it because if it had been someone
high up enough would have leaked the truth by now. I think that hasn't
happened (yet) out of fear of retribution, including to the families
of those involved, but one day maybe it will be.
Frankly, I don't know or
care who was on those planes any more than I care who pulled the triggers
killing JFK, RFK or MLK. I only care who ordered the "hits."
Paid assassins are a dime a dozen. It's the paymasters and their motives
that matter. In the case of 9/11, the Neocons tipped their hand well
in advance in their Project for a New American Century think tank document
called Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources
for a New Century that was and is an imperial grand strategy for US
global dominance to extend well into the future to be enforced with
unchallengeable military power. In the document they practically preordained
the future saying to pull this scheme off they needed a "new Pearl
Harbor," and they'd hardly settled into high administration positions
before, low and behold, their fondest wish came true - happenstance
or a little advance planning? I made my choice.
If you had the judicial
authority, what you would you do with members of the Bush administration?
If I had judicial authority,
I'd throw the book at these people. The evidence against them is so
overwhelming and their crimes are so many I think prosecuting them on
them all might take the rest of their natural lives to have enough time
to get it done. It's time we got on with it.
A final comment from
One more thought on a major
issue you didn't ask me about. I'm a committed pacifist (except in self-defense--if
attacked for real). I'm passionately anti-war and believe as Tom Paine
did, quoting him in my new article and have done it before. He wrote
as an anti-militarist that all nations should reduce their armaments
by 90% to ensure world peace. No other way will do it. Wars are fought
for wealth and power because those winning them get it. If the profit
alone were taken out of wars most all of them would never be fought.
Cut down the size of the
military to a small national defense force in all nations, and they
all may end, or close to it. Doing it would also free up those resources
to devote to people needs as well as end up making the world a much
safer place for everyone. What could be more wonderful than a world
at peace with governments of the people, by the people and working for
all the people serving their needs? That's the kind of world I want
to live in and pass on to the next generation and all the ones after
that. I know you feel the same way Jason.
My final comments:
Steve, I appreciate the opportunity to pick your brain and
share the enriching experience with readers. And yes, I share your feelings
and views on many of the issues we explored in this interview. I stand
with you shoulder to shoulder in your ardent support of social justice
and human rights. If we reach the point that the United States abandons
the pretenses of “democracy”, I hope to find myself in the
same gulag as Mr. Stephen Lendman.
of Stephen Lendman:
Chavez Landslide Tops All In US History:
Omissions in the Iraq Study Group Report
The Spirit of Democracy in
The End of the Bush Dynasty
New Faces—Same Agenda
James Petras' New Book -
the Power of Israel in the U.S.
The Shame of the Nation: A Collective Perversion
Afghanistan: The Other Lost War
Cuba Under Castro
Democracy In America - It's
It's Time to End the "Last
Taboo" and Hold Israel Accountable for Its Actions
Dirty Secrets of the Temple
Stephen Lendman is a 72 year old, retired, progressive
small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues,
committed to speak out and write about them. He maintains a Website
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire
who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He writes prolifically,
his essays have appeared widely on the Internet, and he volunteers at
homeless shelters. He welcomes constructive correspondence at firstname.lastname@example.org
or via his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/
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