Dear Subscriber to Bill Blum's Anti-Empire Report:

On December 12, as you may remember, Adelheid Blum and I notified you that Bill Blum had died. He will be sorely missed -- not only as editor and publisher of Anti-Empire Report since 1993 -- but also because he was one of my dearest friends for nearly 40 years, and vitally important to CovertAction Magazine, which we relaunched in 2018.


Sadly, there will be no more Anti-Empire Reports. But I would like to share with you one last “report” from Bill. It is his final public speech, characteristically brilliant, with all his signature wit and irony. He delivered it in person, to an appreciative audience (by which I mean standing-room-only), during CovertAction Magazine’s panel at the 2018 Left Forum in June. You can read it HERE.

Following are two more things I need to do for Bill.

1. I would like to invite you to his public memorial, in celebration of a life well-fought. It is being hosted by Covert Action Magazine and will take place on Saint Patrick’s Day, Sunday, March 17, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM, in the Washington Ethical Society building at 7750 16th St. NW (corner Kalmia Street), Washington, D.C. 20012.

We expect several hundred guests and have asked for reminiscences from many of those who knew and worked with Bill throughout his rich and productive life, among them Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, Ray McGovern, Seymour Hersh, Michael Smith, and others.

2. Bill bequeathed to CovertAction Magazine his library and collected papers, which we have taken steps to archive, preserve and make available for public access. He knew that CAM would continue his work in his spirit.

I hope I am not being presumptuous in surmising that you might not truly appreciate how much your readership and support actually meant to Bill, especially in his later years -- not just financially, but also personally, as confirmation and validation that his work – which consumed so many of his waking hours -- was meaningful to you and to the many others who subscribed to his Anti-Empire Report.

Nothing -- and no one -- can take Bill’s place. We will sorely miss his sharp wit and mordant irony, with which he stripped away the lies and hypocrisy that veil so much official behavior in this and other governments around the world. As my friend and close collaborator, he was a vital creative force in launching the original CovertAction Quarterly in 1978, which I helped co-found. And until he passed, he was an equally vital force in its recent relaunch as CovertAction Magazine.

Sadly, in Bill’s later years -- as a result of Osama bin Laden’s having praised his book Rogue State– timid college administrators, who feared they would be labeled “soft on terrorism,” began banning his many campus speaking engagements. And equally timid magazine editors -- for the same reason -- stopped accepting his articles. Very quickly, revenue from these sources – which had provided virtually all of Bill’s income – fell to near zero. Every day became a struggle, but Bill carried on, thanks in part to encouragement and support from Anti-Empire Report subscribers like you.

As we expected, Bill’s obituaries in the New York Times and Washington Post were patronizing and dismissive. (Surely a confirmation that Bill had indeed been annoying the right people for the right reasons!) Instead, you can see Bill’s full-length obituary (which I wrote with Chris Agee, son of legendary CIA whistleblower Philip Agee) on the CovertAction Magazine website HERE.

Stay well, and I hope that we may meet at Bill’s memorial.

Sincerely,


Louis Wolf
Co-Editor and Co-Publisher, CovertAction Magazine

---------------- Event Information ------------------

WILLIAM HENRY BLUM MEMORIAL CELEBRATION
Date: Sunday, March 17, 2019
Time: 4:00 to 7:00 PM
Place: Washington Ethical Society
Address: 7750 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20012 (corner Kalmia Street)
Directions:
-- The S4 bus line stops at 16th St and Kalmia, right in front of the door.
-- The Silver Spring metro station is a short 15-minute walk away.
-- Sunday parking is ample and unrestricted on both sides of the street.

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American Exceptionalism: The Naked Truth

by William Blum • August 11, 2018 • 5 Comments

William Blum
[William Blum left the State Department in 1967 because of his opposition to what the United States was doing in Vietnam. In the mid-1970’s, he worked in London with former CIA officer Philip Agee and his associates on their project of exposing CIA personnel and their misdeeds. Blum has since served as a freelance journalist in the United States, Europe and South America and has published numerous classic anti-establishment gadflies that have been translated into 15 languages. Among them are Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (2005, 2014), America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy – The Truth About U.S. Foreign Policy and Everything Else (2013), and Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II (1995, 2014), which Noam Chomsky called “far and away the best book on the topic.” Blum is a recipient of Project Censored’s award for “exemplary journalism” and you can follow his work atwilliamblum.org. The following is a speech Blum recently delivered at the Left Forum (2018), which you can also watch at our CovertAction Youtube channel. See the final speech on our panel entitled “Covert Action: Persistent Attacks Against ‘Democracy and Freedom,’ Past and Present.”]

We can all agree I think that US foreign policy must be changed and that to achieve that the mind – not to mention the heart and soul – of the American public must be changed. But what do you think is the main barrier to achieving such a change in the American mind?
Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq to Libya; from bombings and invasions to torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves these people.
Now why is that? Do these people have no social conscience? Are they just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.
The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the US does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on many occasions cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.
Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”
And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America — the America they love and worship and trust — they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.
Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football. The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then they wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.
This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at just how exceptional America has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

  • Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
  • Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
  • Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
  • Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
  • Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.
This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record. But it certainly makes it very difficult to believe that America means well.
So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his or her support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. Chances are the US has already done it. Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.
Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?
Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of the women.
After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country has its share of crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists; and women who are not covered up properly are sometimes running a serious risk.
Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do some marvelous things. Gaddafi, for example, founded the African Union and gave the Libyan people the highest standard of living in Africa. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months.
Can anyone say that in all these interventions, or in any of them, the United States of America meant well?
When we attack Iran, will we mean well? Will we have the welfare of the Iranian people at heart? I suggest you keep such thoughts in mind the next time you’re having a discussion or argument with a flag-waving American.

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