"Come Out of the White House with Your Hands
By William Blum
-- -- "I used to be called
brother, John, Daddy, uncle, friend," John Allen Muhammad said
at his trial in Maryland earlier this month. "Now I'm called
Muhammad, formerly known as "the DC Sniper", was on trial for
six slayings in Maryland in 2002. Already sentenced to die in
Virginia for several other murders, he insisted that he was
innocent despite the evidence against him -- including DNA,
fingerprints, and ballistics analysis of a rifle found in his
Bereft of any real political power, I'm reduced to day-dreaming
... a courtroom in some liberated part of the world, in the
not-too-distant future, a tribunal ... a defendant testifying
"I used to be called brother, George, son, Daddy, uncle, friend,
Dubya, governor, president. Now I'm called war criminal," he
says sadly, insisting on his innocence despite the overwhelming
evidence presented against him.
Can the man ever take to heart or mind the realization that
America's immune system is trying to get rid of him? Probably
not. No more than his accomplice can.
Two years ago the vice president visited Yankee Stadium for a
baseball game. During the singing of "God Bless America" in the
seventh inning, an image of Cheney was shown on the scoreboard.
It was greeted with so much booing that the Yankees quickly
removed the image. Yet last month the vice president showed
up at the home opener for the Washington Nationals to throw out
the first pitch. The Washington Post reported that he "drew
boisterous boos from the moment he stepped on the field until he
jogged off. The derisive greeting was surprisingly loud and
long, given the bipartisan nature of our national pastime, and
drowned out a smattering of applause reported from the upper
It will be interesting to see if Cheney shows up again before a
large crowd in a venue which has not been carefully chosen to
insure that only right-thinking folks will be present.
Even that might not help. Twice in the last few months, a public
talk of Donald Rumsfeld has been interrupted by people in the
audience calling him a war criminal and accusing him of lying to
get the United States into war. This happened in a meeting room
at the very respectable National Press Club in Washington and
again at a forum at the equally respectable Southern Center for
International Policy in Atlanta.
In Chile, last November, as former dictator Augusto Pinochet
moved closer to being tried for the deaths of thousands, he
declared to a judge: "I lament those losses and suffer for them.
God does things, and he will forgive me if I committed some
excesses, which I don't believe I did."
Dubya couldn't have said it better. Let's hope that one day we
can compel him to stand before a judge, not one appointed by
But what about the Marshall Plan?
During my years of writing and speaking about the harm and
injustice inflicted upon the world by unending United States
interventions, I've often been met with resentment from those
who accuse me of chronicling only the negative side of US
foreign policy and ignoring the many positive sides. When I ask
the person to give me some examples of what s/he thinks show the
virtuous face of America's dealings with the world in modern
times, one of the things almost always mentioned is The Marshall
Plan. This is explained in words along the lines of: "After
World War II, we unselfishly built up Europe economically,
including our wartime enemies, and allowed them to compete with
us." Even those today who are very cynical about US foreign
policy, who are quick to question the White House's motives in
Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, have no problem in swallowing
this picture of an altruistic America of the period of
After World War II, the United States, triumphant abroad and
undamaged at home, saw a door wide open for world supremacy.
Only the thing called "communism" stood in the way, politically,
militarily, and ideologically. The entire US foreign policy
establishment was mobilized to confront this "enemy", and the
Marshall Plan was an integral part of this campaign. How could
it be otherwise? Anti-communism had been the principal pillar of
US foreign policy from the Russian Revolution up to World War
II, pausing for the war until the closing months of the Pacific
campaign, when Washington put challenging communism ahead of
fighting the Japanese. This return to anti-communism included
the dropping of the atom bomb on Japan as a warning to the
After the war, anti-communism continued as the leitmotif of
foreign policy as naturally as if World War II and the alliance
with the Soviet Union had not happened. Along with the CIA, the
Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, the Council on Foreign
Relations, various corporations, and other private institutions,
the Marshall Plan was one more arrow in the quiver in the
remaking of Europe to suit Washington's desires -- spreading the
capitalist gospel (to counter strong postwar tendencies towards
socialism); opening markets to provide new customers for US
corporations (a major reason for helping to rebuild the European
economies; e.g., almost a billion dollars of tobacco, at 1948
prices, spurred by US tobacco interests); pushing for the
creation of the Common Market and NATO as integral parts of the
West European bulwark against the alleged Soviet threat;
suppressing the left all over Western Europe, most notably
sabotaging the Communist Parties in France and Italy in their
bids for legal, non-violent, electoral victory. Marshall Plan
funds were secretly siphoned off to finance this last endeavor,
and the promise of aid to a country, or the threat of its
cutoff, was used as a bullying club; indeed, France and Italy
would certainly have been exempted from receiving aid if they
had not gone along with the plots to exclude the communists.
The CIA also skimmed large amounts of Marshall Plan funds to
covertly maintain cultural institutions, journalists, and
publishers, at home and abroad, for the heated and omnipresent
propaganda of the Cold War; the selling of the Marshall Plan to
the American public and elsewhere was entwined with fighting
"the red menace". Moreover, in its covert operations, CIA
personnel at times used the Marshall Plan as cover, and one of
the Plan's chief architects, Richard Bissell, then moved to the
CIA, stopping off briefly at the Ford Foundation, a long time
conduit for CIA covert funds; one big happy family.
The Marshall Plan imposed all kinds of restrictions on the
recipient countries, all manner of economic and fiscal criteria
which had to be met, designed for a wide open return to free
enterprise. The US had the right to control not only how
Marshall Plan dollars were spent, but also to approve the
expenditure of an equivalent amount of the local currency,
giving Washington substantial power over the internal plans and
programs of the European states; welfare programs for the needy
survivors of the war were looked upon with disfavor by the
United States; even rationing smelled too much like socialism
and had to go or be scaled down; nationalization of industry was
even more vehemently opposed by Washington. The great bulk of
Marshall Plan funds returned to the United States, or never
left, to purchase American goods, making American corporations
among the chief beneficiaries.
It could be seen as more a joint business operation between
governments, with contracts written by Washington lawyers, than
an American "handout"; often it was a business arrangement
between American and European ruling classes, many of the latter
fresh from their service to the Third Reich, some of the former
as well; or it was an arrangement between Congressmen and their
favorite corporations to export certain commodities, including a
lot of military goods. Thus did the Marshall Plan lay the
foundation for the military industrial complex as a permanent
feature of American life.
It is very difficult to find, or put together, a clear, credible
description of how the Marshall Plan was principally responsible
for the recovery in each of the 16 recipient nations. The
opposing view, no less clear, is that the Europeans -- highly
educated, skilled and experienced -- could have recovered from
the war on their own without an extensive master plan and aid
program from abroad, and indeed had already made significant
strides in this direction before the Plan's funds began flowing.
Marshall Plan funds were not directed primarily toward feeding
individuals or building individual houses, schools, or
factories, but at strengthening the economic superstructure,
particularly the iron-steel and power industries. The period was
in fact marked by deflationary policies, unemployment and
recession. The one unambiguous outcome was the full restoration
of the propertied class.
Is someone finally learning a lesson ?
The United States has been pushing the UN Security Council to
invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter against Iran because of its
nuclear research. Chapter VII ("Action with Respect to Threats
to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression")
can be used to impose sanctions and take military action against
a country deemed guilty of such violations (except of course if
the country holds a veto power in the Security Council). The
United States made use of Chapter VII to bomb Yugoslavia in 1999
and to invade Iraq in 2003. On both occasions, the applicability
of the chapter and the use of force were highly questionable,
but to placate Council opponents of military action the US
agreed to some modifications in the language of the Council
resolution and refrained from stating explicitly that it
intended to take military action. Nonetheless, in each case,
after the resolution was passed, the US took military action.
Severe military action.
In early May, John Bolton, the US ambassador to the UN,
asserted: "The fundamental point is for Russia and China to
agree that this [Iran's nuclear research] is a threat to
international peace and security under Chapter VII." However,
Yury Fedotov, the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom,
declared that his country opposed the Chapter VII reference
because it evoked "memories of past UN resolutions on Yugoslavia
and Iraq that led to US-led military action which had not been
authorised by the Security Council."
In the past, the United States had argued that the reference to
Chapter VII in a Council resolution was needed to obtain "robust
language," said Fedotov, but "afterwards it was used to justify
unilateral action. In the case of Yugoslavia, for example, we
were told at the beginning that references to Chapter VII were
necessary to send political signals, and it finally ended up
with the Nato bombardments."
It remains to be seen whether the Russians or any other Security
Council members have taken this lesson to heart and can stand up
to the schoolyard bully's pressure by refusing to give the
United States another pretext for expanding the empire's control
over the Middle East.
You can love your mom, eat lotsa apple pie, and wave the
American flag, but if you don't believe in God you are a hell
A recent study by the University of Minnesota department of
sociology has identified atheists as "America's most distrusted
minority". University researchers found that Americans rate
atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, homosexuals and other
minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society."
Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least
willing to allow their children to marry. The researchers
conclude that atheists offer "a glaring exception to the rule of
increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years."
Many of the study's respondents associated atheism with an array
of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant
materialism and cultural elitism. The study's lead researcher
believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder
is behind the findings. "Americans believe they share more than
rules and procedures with their fellow citizens, they share an
understanding of right and wrong. Our findings seem to rest on a
view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not
concerned with the common good."
Hmmm. I've been a political activist for more than 40 years.
I've marched and fought and published weekly newspapers
alongside countless atheists and agnostics who have risked jail
and being clubbed on the head, and who have forsaken a much
higher standard of living, for no purpose other than the common
good. Rampant materialism? Hardly. "Secular humanism", many
atheists call it. And we don't read about mobs of atheists
stoning, massacring, or otherwise harming or humiliating human
beings who do not share their non-beliefs.
The public attitude depicted by this survey may derive in part
from the Cold-War upbringing of so many Americans -- the idea
and the image of the "godless atheistic communist". But I think
more than that is the deep-seated feeling of insecurity, even
threat, that atheists can bring out in the religioso, putting
into question, consciously or unconsciously, their core beliefs.
You must wonder at times, as I do, how this world became so
unbearably cruel, corrupt, unjust, and stupid. Can it have
reached this remarkable level by chance, or was it planned? It's
enough to make one believe in God. Or the Devil.
Manure of the taurus
The US Interests Section in Havana has been flashing electronic
messages on its building for the benefit of Cubans passing by.
One recent message said that Forbes, the weekly financial
magazine, had named Fidel Castro the world's seventh-wealthiest
head of state, with a fortune estimated at $900 million. This
has shocked Cuban passersby, as well it should in a socialist
society that claims to have the fairest income distribution in
the world. Are you not also shocked, dear readers?
What's that? You want to know exactly what Forbes based their
rankings on? Well, as it turns out, two months before the
Interests Section flashed their message, Forbes had already
stated that the estimates were "more art than science". "In the
past," wrote the magazine, "we have relied on a percentage of
Cuba's gross domestic product to estimate Fidel Castro's
fortune. This year, we have used more traditional valuation
methods, comparing state-owned assets Castro is assumed to
control with comparable publicly traded companies." The magazine
gave as examples state-owned companies such as retail and
pharmaceutical businesses and a convention center. So there
you have it. It was based on nothing. Inasmuch as George W.
"controls" the US military shall we assign the value of all the
Defense Department assets to his personal wealth? And Tony
Blair's wealth includes the BBC, does it not?
Another message flashed by the Interests Section is: "In a free
country you don't need permission to leave the country. Is Cuba
a free country?" This too is an attempt to blow smoke in
people's eyes. It implies that there's some sort of blanket
government restriction or prohibition of travel abroad for
Cubans, a limitation on their "freedom". However, the reality is
a lot more complex and a lot less Orwellian. The main barrier to
overseas travel for most Cubans is financial; they simply can't
afford it. If they have the money and a visa they can normally
fly anywhere, but it's very difficult to obtain a visa from the
United States unless you're part of the annual immigration
quota. Cuba being a poor country concerned with equality tries
to make sure that citizens complete their military service or
their social service. Before emigrating abroad, trained
professionals are supposed to give something back to the country
for their free education, which includes medical school and all
other schools. And Cuba, being unceasingly threatened by a
well-known country to the north, must take precautions: Certain
people in the military and those who have worked in intelligence
or have other sensitive information may also need permission to
travel; this is something that is found to one extent or another
all over the world.
Americans need permission to travel to Cuba. Is the United
States a free country? Washington makes it so difficult for its
citizens to obtain permission to travel to Cuba it's virtually a
prohibition. I have been rejected twice by the US Treasury
Americans on the "No-fly list" can't go anywhere.
All Americans need permission to leave the country. The
permission slip -- of which one must have a sufficient quantity
-- is green and bears the picture of a US president.
Save this for that glorious day when more than two centuries of
American "democracy" reaches its zenith with a choice between
Condi and Hillary.
Condoleezza Rice, testifying April 5 before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee about the US-India nuclear deal:
"India's society is open and free. It is transparent and stable.
It is multiethnic. It is a multi-religious democracy that is
characterized by individual freedom and the rule of law. It is a
country with which we share common values. ... India is a rising
global power that we believe can be a pillar of stability in a
rapidly changing Asia. In other words, in short, India is a
natural partner for the United States."
And here is a State Department human rights report -- released
the very same day -- that had this to say about India:
"The Government generally respected the rights of its citizens
and continued efforts to curb human rights abuses, although
numerous serious problems remained. These included extrajudicial
killings, disappearances, custodial deaths, excessive use of
force, arbitrary arrests, torture, poor prison conditions, and
extended pretrial detention, especially related to combating
insurgencies in Jammu and Kashmir. Societal violence and
discrimination against women, trafficking of women and children
for forced prostitution and labor, and female feticide and
infanticide remained concerns. Poor enforcement of laws,
widespread corruption, a lack of accountability, and the
severely overburdened court system weakened the delivery of
Is it not enough to murder your brain?
For the record
In March I agreed to speak on a panel at the American-Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee convention, to be held in June in
Washington, DC. The panel is called: "America, Empire, Democracy
and the Middle East". Then someone at the ADC apparently
realized that I was the person whose book had been recommended
by Osama bin Laden in January, and they tried to cancel my
appearance with phoney excuses. I objected, calling them
cowards; they relented, then changed their mind again, telling
me finally "all of the seats on the journalism panel, for the
ADC convention, are filled." Two months after our agreement,
they had discovered that all the panel seats were filled.
American Muslims are very conservative. 72% of them voted for
Bush in 2000, before they got a taste of a police state. Now,
they're still very conservative, plus afraid.
University officials are also conservative, or can easily be
bullied by campus conservative organizations which are part of a
well-financed national campaign (think David Horowitz) to attack
the left on campus, be they faculty, students or outside
speakers. Since the bin Laden recommendation, January 19, I have
not been offered a single speaking engagement on any campus; a
few students have tried to arrange something for me but were not
successful at convincing school officials. This despite
January-May normally being the most active period for me and
other campus speakers.
Speakout, a California agency which places progressive speakers
on campuses, informs me that the Horowitz-type groups have
succeeded in cutting sharply into their business.
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.
 (Thanks to Kevin Barrett of the Muslim-Jewish-Christian
Alliance for 9/11 Truth for the title of this section)
Washington Post, May 5, 2006, p.B1
 New York Times, June 30, 2004
 Washington Post, April 12, 2006, p.C3
 Associated Press, November 16, 2005
 See my essay on the use of the atomic bomb: http://members.aol.com/essays6/abomb.htm
 See, for example, Joyce & Gabriel Kolko, "The Limits of
Power: The World and US Foreign Policy 1945-1954" (1972),
chapters 13, 16, 17; Sallie Pisani, "The CIA and the Marshall
Plan" (1991) passim; Frances Stoner Saunders, "The Cultural Cold
War: The CIA and the world of arts and letters" (2000) passim
 The Independent (London), May 8, 2006
 Washington Post, May 13, 2006, p.10
 Reuters, March 17, 2006
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