Wil­liam Blum In­ter­view

Trillions - - Table Of Contents -

Amer­ica’s for­eign pol­icy watch­dog tells it like it is.

Wil­liam Blum has been one of the most lit­er­ate and out­spo­ken crit­ics of Amer­i­can For­eign Pol­icy for over 50 years. His orig­i­nal plans to be­come a For­eign Ser­vice Of­fi­cer shifted di­rec­tion rad­i­cally dur­ing the early days of the Viet­nam war, and pushed him to be­come one of the founders and ed­i­tors of the Washington Free Press, the first al­ter­na­tive news­pa­per in Washington, D.C.

Since that time his move into free­lance jour­nal­ism brought him on a jour­ney tak­ing him to the United States, Europe and South Amer­ica as he places to call ‘home’. And in the mid-1970s he did some of his ear­li­est ground-break­ing ‘be­hind the scenes’ jour­nal­ism work­ing with for­mer CIA of­fi­cer Philip Agee in a ma­jor ex­pose’ of the CIA and their crimes out­side of the U.S. Since then he has con­tin­ued his in-depth jour­nal­ism, fol­lowed by book pub­lish­ing and now blog­ging at his web­site Wil­liamblum.org. He is the au­thor of Killing Hope: U.S. Mil­i­tary and CIA In­ter­ven­tions Since World War II (1995), West-bloc Dis­si­dent: A Cold War Mem­oir (2002), Free­ing the World to Death: Es­says on the Ameri-

can Em­pire (2004), Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Su­per­power (up­dated edition in 2005), and Amer­ica’s Dead­li­est Ex­port: Democ­racy – The Truth About U.S. For­eign Pol­icy and Ev­ery­thing Else (2013).

Tril­lions Mag­a­zine re­cently had the honor to speak with Mr. Blum at his of­fices in Washington, D.C. The con­ver­sa­tion cov­ered his ca­reer all the way from his ear­li­est days as for­eign pol­icy ac­tivist to the cur­rent bat­tle for the Pres­i­dency of the United States.

Tril­lions: As a start­ing point for our read­ers, can you tell us some about how you started this long jour­ney of study of Amer­i­can democ­racy? You were in public ser­vice for the U.S. gov­ern­ment in the early days, but what ex­actly was it that launched you on this path?

Bill Blum: I was a good, loyal Amer­i­can back in the 1960s. I was even em­ployed by the State De­part­ment, hop­ing to be­come a For­eign Ser­vice Of­fi­cer. That was in ’64 to ’67. Then a thing came along called Viet­nam, and changed my en­tire think­ing and my en­tire life.

And I –in­stead of be­com­ing a For­eign Ser­vice Of­fi­cer – I be­came an Anti-war Ac­tivist. And it’s been down­hill ever since.

Tril­lions: It cer­tainly did change things for a lot of us. All of us re­mem­ber how Viet­nam changed ev­ery­thing. I was a lit­tle younger than you when it all hap­pened, but it changed ev­ery­thing in how I was think­ing about it. I had this naïve in­no­cence my­self about it, prob­a­bly like most ev­ery­body.

Bill Blum: Yes. I think if that the pow­ers that be in the mil­i­tary, if they had known how many peo­ple the war in Viet­nam was go­ing to rad­i­cal­ize and turn into strong anti-amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy ad­vo­cates, if they had known that in ad­vance they might not have waged that stupid use­less war in Viet­nam. Be­cause they didn’t know and they [ended up cre­at­ing] an en­tire gen­er­a­tion of anti-war ac­tivists.

Tril­lions: That brings us into a lot of what has hap­pened since then. Be­cause cer­tainly the public face of it is that we are try­ing to fight for democ­racy and hu­man rights and all that. And you of course, in your book Amer­i­can’s Dead­li­est Ex­port: Democ­racy, talk about what re­ally was go­ing on in con­sid­er­able de­tail. How, in your opin­ion, did Amer­ica get to the point that it is to­day? Viet­nam was def­i­nitely not an iso­lated event.

Bill Blum: We’ve been at this for a long, long time. You can date this back to at least the 1890s, with the so­called ‘Span­ish-amer­i­can War’. We in­vaded Cuba and Guam and the Philip­pines and Puerto Rico, and just to push the Spa­niards out of Cuba so we could take it over as the out­come. That is cer­tainly a pre­de­ces­sor to what we’ve seen since then. So it’s been well over a hun­dred years that we have been global im­pe­ri­al­ists.

Tril­lions: One of the things I’ve won­dered about, as a stu­dent of his­tory my­self, is whether or not this is a mat­ter of spe­cific poli­cies or is it just built into the whole sys­tem? The very na­ture of the ‘Amer­i­can Ex­per­i­ment’ seems to have em­bed­ded in it the con­cept of ex­pan­sion­ism, tak­ing over things, al­ways cut­ting a new deal by any means to find a way to get some­thing.

Bill Blum: I think it’s in our DNA. When we crossed the con­ti­nent here and [also] de­feated Mex­ico, and took over the en­tire con­ti­nent, that set the pat­tern. From that point on, there was no place to go but over­seas. I think the pow­ers that be in Amer­ica for a long time have wanted ‘World Dom­i­na­tion’. If you want to un­der­stand Amer­i­can For­eign Pol­icy, you have to keep those two words in mind: World Dom­i­na­tion. They re­ally want to dom­i­nate the world. Partly for eco­nomic rea­sons, partly for ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons. They re­ally be­lieve in the Amer­i­can way of life, Amer­i­can ex­cep­tion­al­ism. They be­lieve in it so much. They want the whole world to live the way we do. And we have been on this cam­paign, moral cru­sade, for a long time. So, it’s re­ally built in right now. It’s been built in for a long time.

Tril­lions: And so, with Viet­nam as a trip­wire for you that caused you to re­con­sider where you were head­ing, how did you find your­self on this path for be­com­ing a spokesper­son for this?

Bill Blum: Well, this hap­pened in the 60s for me, and it was very easy to get caught up in all kinds of things then. I left the State De­part­ment on a Fri­day, and on Mon­day I went to work full time for a new so-called un­der­ground news­pa­per, The Washington Free Press. That’s how I be­gan writ­ing, in fact. I’ve been writ­ing ever since and I’ve been an ac­tivist ever since. That pe­riod, it can’t be ex­ag­ger­ated, it just changed so many peo­ple in so many ways, and we couldn’t go back. That was the end of my be­ing a loyal anti-com­mu­nist and ev­ery­thing that goes with that. That was the be­gin­ning of the end for many peo­ple I know. That’s how it all be­gan. With ev­ery in­ter­ven­tion the U.S. takes or has taken since then, it just in­creases the at­ti­tude of

peo­ple like me. You know, it just re­in­forces ev­ery­thing we came to be­lieve about U.S. For­eign Pol­icy [for the first time] in the 60s, just re­in­forced by ev­ery in­va­sion and bomb­ing af­ter that.

Tril­lions: This is very true. And one of the in­ter­est­ing things is that in spite of the fact that we keep do­ing this, there are still a lot of peo­ple that seem to ad­mire the United States as a model. Doesn’t that seem like a lit­tle bit of a con­tra­dic­tion? Or is our PR group just that good?

Bill Blum: Our PR group is very, very good. If you want to mea­sure the brain­wash­ing of a peo­ple by the gap be­tween what they be­lieve about their coun­try and what the ab­so­lute facts are, based on that mea­sure­ment, we are eas­ily the most brain­washed peo­ple in the world. That’s why I write my books. I aim to un­cover the brain­wash­ing and to con­tra­dict the ed­u­ca­tion peo­ple over this na­tion. I face the same ig­no­rance and brain­wash­ing year af­ter year, and decade af­ter decade. With each book of mine, with each ar­ti­cle I write, I know ex­actly what peo­ple are think­ing and why they say what they do. And I know what their hangups are, be­cause they’ve all gone through the same school which I did. I mean, I was not born a so-called ‘red di­a­per’ baby.

Tril­lions: That’s not a com­mon phrase nowa­days: a ‘red di­a­per baby’.

Bill Blum: I was not born a red-di­a­per baby, which is a com­mon ex­pres­sion for peo­ple whose par­ents were in the Com­mu­nist Party, for ex­am­ple. I was not one of those. So I know what it feels like to be a loyal Amer­i­can. I know how such a per­son thinks, what he be­lieves and what he doesn’t be­lieve. And I know why he be­lieves it. That’s a great ad­van­tage for me as writer, to be able to com­mu­ni­cate with such peo­ple.

Tril­lions: With that in mind, is democ­racy it­self flawed, is it how we prac­tice it, or is a com­bi­na­tion of all of that?

Bill Blum: Well the prob­lem here with democ­racy is, if any­thing, the lack of democ­racy. The peo­ple are not brain­washed for the pur­pose of build­ing a bet­ter democ­racy. They’re brain­washed to sup­port a For­eign Pol­icy. Democ­racy is not the is­sue here, not in that sense. I don’t see the U.S. as a democ­racy any­way, but as a plu­toc­racy, which is ruled by the rich. That’s how I see it: plu­toc­racy or some­times us­ing the term oli­garchy. But it’s not a democ­racy.

Tril­lions: Has your voice has had an im­pact on others?

Bill Blum: I don’t have any power to speak of over our lead­ers. My writ­ings are ig­nored by the main­stream me­dia, com­pletely. I find my au­di­ence as peo­ple who have not yet “seen the light”. I think I’ve changed many of those peo­ple, but not through the mass me­dia. They just ig­nore me.

Tril­lions: Let me go back then to some other of your com­ments. One of the words that might de­scribe you is ‘pro­gres­sive’ in that you are chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo, and try­ing to sug­gest un­der­stand­ing it more. I was read­ing one of your re­cent posts, talk­ing about Don­ald Trump ver­sus Hil­lary Clin­ton. In ret­ro­spect, I’m not sur­prised by some of the things you said, but a lot of peo­ple would be sur­prised to hear you come out with what sounds like pos­i­tive words for Don­ald Trump, even though he does seem to have a gift for putting his foot in his mouth. Ver­sus Hi­lary Clin­ton, who might be seen by some peo­ple to rep­re­sent more of the pro­gres­sive move­ment. I’m cu­ri­ous about your per­spec­tive on the can­di­dates in the elec­tion.

Bill Blum: Hil­lary Clin­ton is lit­er­ally a neo-con, a NeoCon­ser­va­tive. The neo-cons are the first to say that and to em­brace her. She’s get­ting all kinds of sup­port from lead­ing neo-cons, one af­ter an­other. They will be vot­ing for her in this elec­tion, if she’s the can­di­date. There’s no choice in my mind be­tween a con­ser­va­tive Trump and a lib­eral pro­gres­sive Clin­ton. They’re both very con­ser­va­tive.

My main con­cern is for­eign pol­icy. The U.S. for­eign pol­icy has a pro­found ef­fect upon the world, peace, pros­per­ity, and en­vi­ron­ment. And in for­eign pol­icy, Clin­ton is a to­tal dis­as­ter. She is guilty of con­sum­ing Syria and Iraq and Hon­duras and Afghanistan and others, which puts her be­yond my view of any­one I could vote for.

Trump? Who knows what the hell he be­lieves. I think if he’s in of­fice, we’ll first find out. But I think there’s some hope that he at least will not be a to­tal im­pe­ri­al­ist-minded per­son like Clin­ton is. There’s some things he has said where he has ques­tioned, like what is in NATO. That is an amaz­ing thing for any Amer­i­can politi­cian to say. Clin­ton would never say a thing like that.

If I was forced to choose be­tween the two, had no other choice but to vote for one of those two, I would vote for Trump be­cause of for­eign pol­icy. The fact that he says things like that about NATO says that he has some free­dom of mind to es­cape the prison of

Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy, that he’s will­ing to go be­yond what we’ve all been taught as what one says and does about U.S. for­eign pol­icy ver­sus what was does not say and do con­cern­ing U.S. for­eign pol­icy. So there’s some hope in the man. With Clin­ton, there’s no hope. What she says is to­tally pre­dictable, to­tally neo-con, and so that’s where I would vote for him.

I’m still hop­ing that I’ll have a bet­ter choice. I mean, if it turns out it’s just those two, I would vote for the Green Party can­di­date for the White House. But hope­fully San­ders will be a choice also. As far as San­ders is, he’s ahead of Clin­ton, but he’s weak on for­eign pol­icy. He doesn’t re­ally ques­tion for­eign pol­icy the same way at all as he ques­tions the Amer­i­can eco­nomic sys­tem. He sees through all the lies of cap­i­tal­ism, but he doesn’t seem to have quite the same view of U.S. for­eign pol­icy. But again I must say he’s bet­ter than Clin­ton.

Tril­lions: And re­gard­less of what hap­pens with the email mess with Hil­lary, bar­ring some catas­tro­phe it still looks like Clin­ton would con­tinue the march to the elec­tion.

Bill Blum: San­ders still has the op­tion of run­ning as a third party can­di­date, as an in­de­pen­dent. Even if he agreed to some­thing other than that, the call for him to run as an in­de­pen­dent would be of much greater force than any piece of pa­per he signed with the Demo­cratic Party. So that’s also a pos­si­bil­ity. And the Repub­li­cans are also now talk­ing about hav­ing an­other can­di­date be­sides Trump, a lead­ing Repub­li­can. So we could end up with four can­di­dates, be­sides some mi­nor ones. Four can­di­dates, like Clin­ton and Trump and San­ders and an­other con­ser­va­tive on the right. This would be the first elec­tion in many years that I’ve found in­ter­est­ing.

Tril­lions: That’s true, but at the same time there’s not a lot of time to get on the bal­lots. The party has a slot, but not for a third party can­di­date. But as you say, lots of in­ter­est­ing things could hap­pen. If there’s four can­di­dates, with an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date on both sides, sud­denly it changes the rules.

Bill Blum: Yeah. Well there’s al­ways the pos­si­bil­ity of a write-in can­di­date. You have time for that, I think. The public is so pissed-off by all this, at the two ma­jor par­ties, that a write-in can­di­date could ac­tu­ally win. It’s go­ing to be fas­ci­nat­ing.

Tril­lions: Why do you think it is that even with we as an Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion hav­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity of un­der­stand­ing the truth about U.S. for­eign pol­icy, the truth be­hind plu­toc­racy ver­sus democ­racy, that it doesn’t come up in the con­ver­sa­tion much? Is it just that peo­ple don’t stop to think?

Bill Blum: Well, if peo­ple do start think­ing along those lines, they have been con­di­tioned not to con­tinue. We love the idea of Amer­i­can ex­cep­tion­al­ism, and any­thing that threat­ens that im­age is very eas­ily cast aside. Peo­ple have those thoughts that you were speak­ing about, but they’re afraid and con­di­tioned not to fol­low through on them very much. We have been con­di­tioned from child­hood on, from the comic books to the in­ter­net, to be loyal Amer­i­cans and anti-com­mu­nist and pro-cap­i­tal­ist and so on.

Tril­lions: Af­ter all this con­ver­sa­tion, is there hope for the United States in the long run, or is this just the path we’re go­ing to ca­reen along un­til we find some cliff to fall off?

Bill Blum: I’m sorry to say but I don’t have too much hope my­self. But it could be it’s the cli­mate that’s go­ing to kill us. We’re too hung up on pre­serv­ing the profit of the cor­po­ra­tions [rather than ad­dress­ing the chal­lenge of cli­mate change]. Peo­ple in Congress here are just in­sanely back­ward. They’ll see the world col­lapse un­der the hor­ri­ble weather. They’ll keep in­sist­ing on it. The en­vi­ron­ment it­self makes me very pes­simistic. And some­one like San­ders in the White House might be bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment, be­cause he’s will­ing to ques­tion the profit mo­tive, above ev­ery­thing else. So – maybe. We shall see.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.