[vorbis] Our Sympathies

Randolph Carter mythos at zxmail.com
Fri Sep 14 23:16:07 PDT 2001


                                                      Edward S. Herman


       One of the most durable features of the U.S. culture is the
inability or refusal to recognize U.S. crimes. The
       media have long been calling for the Japanese and Germans to
admit guilt, apologize, and pay reparations. But
       the idea that this country has committed huge crimes, and that
current events such as the World Trade Center and
       Pentagon attacks may be rooted in responses to those crimes, is
close to inadmissible. Editorializing on the
       recent attacks ("The National Defense," Sept. 12), the New York
Times does give a bit of weight to the end of
       the Cold War and consequent "resurgent of ethnic hatreds," but
that the United States and other NATO powers
       contributed to that resurgence by their own actions (e.g.,
helping dismantle the Soviet Union and pressing
       Russian "reform"; positively encouraging Slovenian and Croatian
exit from Yugoslavia and the breakup of that
       state, and without dealing with the problem of stranded
minorities, etc.) is completely unrecognized.

       The Times then goes on to blame terrorism on "religious
fanaticism...the anger among those left behind by
       globalization," and the "distaste of Western civilization and
cultural values" among the global dispossessed.
       The blinders and self-deception in such a statement are truly
mind-boggling. As if corporate globalization,
       pushed by the U.S. government and its closest allies, with the
help of the World Trade Organization, World Bank
       and IMF, had not unleashed a tremendous immiseration process on
the Third World, with budget cuts and import
       devastation of artisans and small farmers. Many of these hundreds
of millions of losers are quite aware of the
       role of the United States in this process. It is the U.S. public
who by and large have been kept in the dark. 

       Vast numbers have also suffered from U.S. policies of supporting
rightwing rule and state terrorism, in the
       interest of combating "nationalistic regimes maintained in large
part by appeals to the masses" and threatening
       to respond to "an increasing popular demand for immediate
improvement in the low living standards of the
       masses," as fearfully expressed in a 1954 National Security
Council report, whose contents were never found to
       be "news fit to print." In connection with such policies, in the
U.S. sphere of influence a dozen National
       Security States came into existence in the 1960s and 1970s, and
as Noam Chomsky and I reported back in 1979, of
       35 countries using torture on an administrative basis in the late
1970s, 26 were clients of the United States.
       The idea that many of those torture victims and their families,
and the families of the thousands of
       "disappeared" in Latin America in the 1960s through the 1980s,
may have harbored some ill-feelings toward the
       United States remains unthinkable to U.S. commentators.

       During the Vietnam war the United States used its enormous
military power to try to install in South Vietnam a
       minority government of U.S. choice, with its military operations
based on the knowledge that the people there
       were the enemy. This country killed millions and left Vietnam
(and the rest of Indochina) devastated. A Wall
       Street Journal report in 1997 estimated that perhaps 500,000
children in Vietnam suffer from serious birth
       defects resulting from the U.S. use of chemical weapons there.
Here again there could be a great many people
       with well-grounded hostile feelings toward the United States.

       The same is true of millions in southern Africa, where the United
States supported Savimbi in Angola and carried
       out a policy of "constructive engagement" with apartheid South
Africa as it carried out a huge cross-border
       terroristic operation against the frontline states in the 1970s
and 1980s, with enormous casualties. U.S.
       support of "our kind of guy" Suharto as he killed and stole at
home and in East Timor, and its long warm
       relation with Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, also may have
generated a great deal of hostility toward
       this country among the numerous victims.

       Iranians may remember that the United States installed the Shah
as an amenable dictator in 1953, trained his
       secret services in "methods of interrogation," and lauded him as
he ran his regime of torture; and they surely
       remember that the United States supported Saddam Hussein all
through the 1980s as he carried out his war with
       them, and turned a blind eye to his use of chemical weapons
against the enemy state. Their civilian airliner 655
       that was destroyed in 1988, killing 290 people, was downed by a
U.S. warship engaged in helping Saddam Hussein
       fight his war with Iran. Many Iranians may know that the
commander of that ship was given a Legion of Merit
       award in 1990 for his "outstanding service" (but readers of the
New York Times would not know this as the paper
       has never mentioned this high level commendation).

       The unbending U.S. backing for Israel as that country has carried
out a long-term policy of expropriating
       Palestinian land in a major ethnic cleansing process, has
produced two intifadas-- uprisings reflecting the
       desperation of an oppressed people. But these uprisings and this
fight for elementary rights have had no
       constructive consequences because the United States gives the
ethnic cleanser arms, diplomatic protection, and
       carte blanche as regards policy.

       All of these victims may well have a distaste for "Western
civilization and cultural values," but that is
       because they recognize that these include the ruthless imposition
of a neoliberal regime that serves Western
       transnational corporate interests, along with a willingness to
use unlimited force to achieve Western ends. This
       is genuine imperialism, sometimes using economic coercion alone,
sometimes supplementing it with violence, but
       with many millions--perhaps even billions--of people "unworthy
victims." The Times editors do not recognize
       this, or at least do not admit it, because they are spokespersons
for an imperialism that is riding high and
       whose principals are unprepared to change its policies. This
bodes ill for the future. But it is of great
       importance right now to stress the fact that imperial terrorism
inevitably produces retail terrorist responses;
       that the urgent need is the curbing of the causal force, which is
the rampaging empire.

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