Things You Need To Know Before The World Ends
By William Blum
27 November, 2006
Would Jesus get out of Iraq?
good news is that the Republicans lost.
The bad news is that the Democrats won.
The burning issue -- US withdrawal from Iraq -- remains as far from
resolution as before.
A clear majority of Americans
are opposed to the war and almost all of them would be very happy if
the US military began the process of leaving Iraq tomorrow, if not today.
The rest of the world would breathe a great sigh of relief and their
long-running love affair with the storybook place called "America"
could begin to come back to life.
A State Department poll
conducted in Iraq this past summer dealt with the population's attitude
toward the American occupation. Apart from the Kurds -- who assisted
the US military before, during, and after the invasion and occupation,
and don't think of themselves as Iraqis -- most people favored an immediate
withdrawal, ranging from 56% to 80% depending on the area.
The State Department report
added that majorities in all regions except Kurdish areas said that
the departure of coalition forces would make them feel safer and decrease
George W. is on record declaring
that if the people of Iraq ask the United States to leave, the US will
leave. He also has declared that the Iraqis are "not happy they're
occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either."
Yet, despite all this, and
much more, the United States remains, with predictions from Pentagon
officials that American forces will be in Iraq for years. Large US military
bases are being constructed there; they're not designed as temporary
structures. Remember that 61 years after the end of World War II the
United States still has major bases in Germany. Fifty-three years after
the end of the Korean War the US has tens of thousands of troops in
Washington insists that
it can't leave Iraq until it has completed training and arming a police
force and army which will keep order. Not only does this inject thousands
more armed men -- often while in uniform -- into the raging daily atrocities,
it implies that the United States is concerned about the welfare and
happiness of the Iraqi people, a proposition rendered bizarre by almost
four years of inflicting upon those same people a thousand and one varieties
of hell on earth, literally destroying their ancient and modern civilization.
We are being asked to believe that the American military resists leaving
because some terrible thing will befall their beloved Iraqi brethren.
("We bomb you because we care about you" ... suitable to be
inscribed on the side of a cruise missile.) Even as I write this, on
November 14, I read: "An overnight US raid killed six people in
mainly-Shia east Baghdad, sparking angry anti-US protests. Thirty died
in a US raid on the Sunni stronghold of Ramadi, Iraqi officials said."
At the same time, the American
occupation fuels hostility by the Sunnis toward Shiite "collaborators"
with the occupation, and vice-versa. And each attack of course calls
for retaliation. And the bodies pile up. If the Americans left, both
sides could negotiate and participate in the reconstruction of Iraq
without fear of being branded traitors. The Iraqi government would lose
its quisling stigma. And Iraq's security forces would no longer have
the handicap of being seen to be working on behalf of foreign infidels
against fellow Iraqis.
So why don't the Yanquis
just go home? Is all this not rather odd? Three thousand of their own
dead, tens of thousands critically maimed. And still they stay. Why,
they absolutely refuse to even offer a timetable for withdrawal. No
exit plan. No nothing.
No, it's not odd. It's oil.
Oil was not the only motivation
for the American invasion and occupation, but the other goals have already
been achieved -- eliminating Saddam Hussein for Israel's sake, canceling
the Iraqi use of the euro in place of the dollar for oil transactions,
expansion of the empire in the middle east with new bases.
American oil companies have
been busy under the occupation, and even before the US invasion, preparing
for a major exploitation of Iraq's huge oil reserves. Chevron, ExxonMobil
and others are all set to go. Four years of preparation are coming to
a head now. Iraq's new national petroleum law -- written in a place
called Washington, DC -- is about to be implemented. It will establish
agreements with foreign oil companies, privatizing much of Iraq's oil
reserves under exceedingly lucrative terms. Security will be the only
problem, protecting the oil companies' investments in a lawless country.
For that they need the American military close by.
What a mad raving dinosaur am I!
Democratic Party leaders
think that the election validates their pursuing a centrist path. Arnold
Schwarzenegger credits his re-election as California governor to his
moving to the center (or at least pretending to do so). They and their
colleagues would have us all believe that the American people have resolutely
moved to the center, abandoning the "extremes". But is that
really so? I maintain that most Americans are liberal, and many even
further left. I think that this would be revealed if the public was
asked questions along the following lines?
Would you like to have a
government-run health care system, which put an end to the for-profit
health care corporations and hospitals, and which covered all residents
for all ailments at very affordable premiums?
Do you think that when corporations
are faced with a choice between optimizing their revenue and doing what's
best for the environment and public health, that they should always
choose in favor of the environment?
Do you think that abortion
is a question best left up to a woman and her doctor?
Do you think that the United States should officially be a totally secular
nation or one based on religious beliefs?
Do you think that big corporations
and their political action committees exercise too much political power?
Do you think that corporate
executive salaries are highly excessive?
Do you think that the tax
cuts for the super rich instituted by the Bush administration should
be cancelled and their taxes then increased?
Do you think that the minimum
wage should be increased to what is called a "living wage",
which would be at least $10 per hour?
Do you think that all education,
including medical school and law school, should be free, subsidized
by the government?
Do you think that the government
should take all measures necessary to guarantee that
corporations have retirement
plans for all workers and that the retirement funds are safeguarded?
Do you think that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a mistake?
Do you think that United
States support of Israel is excessive?
Do you approve of the treatment
of people captured by the United States as part of its so-called War
on Terror -- the complete loss of legal and human rights, and subjected
For those readers who think
that I'm presuming too much about Americans' disenchantment with their
economic system, I suggest they have a look at my essay: "The United
States invades, bombs, and kills for it, but do Americans really believe
in free enterprise?"
And for those readers who
wonder where all the money would come from to pay for the education,
medical care, etc., keep in mind that one year of the US military budget
-- that's one year -- is equal to more than $30,000 per hour for every
hour since Jesus Christ was born.
The Great Decider
Earlier this month the US
State Department dropped Vietnam from its blacklist of nations that
it judges to be serious violators of religious freedom. This occurred
just days before a visit to Vietnam by President Bush. The Department
denied any connection between the two events. However, to quote George
Bernard Shaw: "Not bloody likely."
In removing Vietnam from
the list, the State Department was ignoring the US government's own
Commission on International Religious Freedom, a congressionally mandated
advisory body, which had called for Vietnam to be kept on the list.
The Commission also called for Pakistan and Turkmenistan to be added.
This, too, was ignored by the White House.
Foreign policy considerations
routinely play a decisive role in determining who's included and who's
not on various State Department lists. This is no small matter, for
inclusion on one of the lists can lead to economic and other sanctions.
It's thus another weapon Washington has available to bend the world
to its will.
In addition to the report
on religious freedom, the State Department self-righteously issues annual
reports which rate the countries of the world on human rights, the war
on drugs, trafficking in persons, and the war on terrorism, as well
as maintaining a list of "terrorist" groups. The Department
has placed Venezuela in the worst category on the trafficking-in-persons
list, stating that "Venezuela is a source, transit, and destination
country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual
exploitation and forced labor" and that "The Government of
Venezuela does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination
of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so."
It's all rather arbitrary
and most of what the State Department report says about Venezuela could
be said as well about the United States and other developed countries.
In Washington, DC, for many years, there have regularly been cases of
foreign diplomats "enslaving" and sexually abusing young women
whom they brought with them from abroad to work in their home. This
keeps happening again and again and there does not appear to be a clear
and tough policy of the State Department to make sure it doesn't happen
again. The stories are reported each time a young woman, after years
of "slavery" in a Washington suburb, escapes. "Slavery"
is indeed the term used by the legal authorities.
thusly is as arbitrary as including Cuba on the list of state supporters
of terrorism because a few American Black Panthers hijacked planes to
Cuba 25 or 30 years ago, and a Basque activist lives in Cuba, which
Spain has no problem with, but which the US wants to make political
Caution: extremist statement ahead. (You may never see this
in print again, so clip and save)
France is on the verge of approving legislation which makes it a crime
to deny the Turkish genocide of Armenians at the time of the First World
Denying the German Holocaust
of Jews is a crime in Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France,
Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland,
In the United States it's
not a crime to deny the American holocaust, although this particular
historical phenomenon encompasses Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, North Korea,
Guatemala, El Salvador, Grenada, Indonesia, Iraq, Brazil, Chile, Cuba,
Greece, East Timor, Angola, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yugoslavia,
Colombia, and several other countries upon whom Washington has bestowed
its precious gifts of freedom and democracy.
But how long before the
neo-Cons and the neo-Dems of America put their heads together and make
it a crime to affirm the American holocaust? Politicians and media people
carry around ten-foot poles to not touch this with.
The case that is still not closed
I have closely followed and
often written about the case of PanAm Flight 103, blown out of the sky
by a terrorist bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, taking the lives
of 270 people. For well over a year afterward, the US and the UK insisted
that Iran, Syria, and a Palestinian group had been behind the bombing,
until the buildup to the Gulf War came along in 1990 and the support
of Iran and Syria was desired for the operation. Suddenly, in October
1990, the US declared that it was Libya -- the Arab state least supportive
of the US build-up to the Gulf War and the sanctions imposed against
Iraq -- that was behind the bombing after all.
Eventually, in 2001, a Libyan,
Abdelbaset al Megrahi, was sentenced to life in prison for the crime,
although his Libyan co-defendant, charged with the same crime and with
the same evidence, was acquitted. The trial was the proverbial travesty
of justice, which I've discussed in detail elsewhere. ("I am absolutely
astounded, astonished," said the Scottish law professor who was
the architect of the trial. "I was extremely reluctant to believe
that any Scottish judge would convict anyone, even a Libyan, on the
basis of such evidence.") The prosecution's star witness, Libyan
defector Abdul Majid Giaka, groomed and presented by the CIA, was a
thoroughly dubious character who didn't know much or have access to
much, and who pretended to be otherwise just to get more CIA payments.
And the CIA knew it. The Agency refused to fully declassify documents
about him, using their standard excuse -- that it would reveal confidential
sources and methods. It turned out they were reluctant because the documents
showed that the CIA thought him unreliable.
Then, in 2005, we learned
that a key piece of evidence linking Libya to the crime had been planted
by the CIA. Just like in movie thrillers. Just like in conspiracy
For anyone still in doubt
about the farcical nature of the trial, now comes along Michael Scharf,
an attorney who worked on the 103 case at the State Department and was
the counsel to the counter-terrorism bureau when the two Libyans were
indicted for the bombing. In the past year he trained judges and prosecutors
in Iraq in the case that led to the conviction and death sentence of
Saddam Hussein. Scharf recently stated that the Panam case "was
largely based on this inside guy [Giaka]. It wasn't until the trial
that I learned this guy was a nut-job and that the CIA had absolutely
no confidence in him and that they knew he was a liar. It was a case
that was so full of holes it was like Swiss cheese." He says that
the case had a "diplomatic rather than a purely legal goal".
Victor Ostrovsky, formerly
with the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, has written of Mossad
what one could just as correctly say of the CIA: "This feeling
that you can do anything you want to whomever you want for as long as
you want because you have the power."
So, let's hope that Abdelbaset
al Megrahi is really guilty. It would be a terrible shame if he spends
the rest of his life in prison simply because back in 1990 Washington's
hegemonic plans for the Middle East needed a convenient scapegoat, which
just happened to be his country. However, the Scottish Criminal Cases
Review Commission is to report in the coming months on whether it believes
there was a miscarriage of justice in the case.
And by the way, my usual
reminder, Libya has never confessed to having carried out the act. They've
only taken "responsibility", in the hope of getting various
sanctions against them lifted.
 Washington Post, September
27, 2006, p.22, article plus chart; also August 4, 2006, p.10 for Iraqis'
desire for US to leave.
 Washington Post, April 14, 2004
 BBC, November 14, 2006
 Antonia Juhasz, "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy
at a Time", chapter 6;
Greg Muttitt, "Oil Pressure", Foreign Policy In Focus, August
28, 2006, www.fpif.org;
Joshua Holland, "Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil",
AlterNet, October 16, 2006, www.alternet.org/story/43045
 Agence France Presse, Nov 13, 2006
 State Department report on Trafficking in persons, from the Department's
website, accessed November 21, 2006
 The Herald (Glasgow), August 19, 2005; Scotland on Sunday (Glasgow)
August 28, 2005
 Sunday Herald (Glasgow), November 12, 2006
 Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy, "By Way of Deception"
William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire
Portions of the books can be read, and copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org
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