Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower by William Blum. Common Courage Press, Monroe, MN, USA, 2000. Pp. 310. $16.95.
American foreign policy hacks coined the term ‘rogue state’ to refer to those regimes that refuse to bow to American aspirations for world supremacy. At different times, this appellation has been applied to Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Cuba, North Korea, and others. American militants use this term to back requests for bigger military budgets, and surrogates like the zionist state use it to wrangle aid and sympathy from the West. It is a term of control and power, since American power in the world is temporarily defined by its ability to name and define others by such terms as ‘terrorist’ and its collective form, ‘rogue state.’
This is nothing but imperial fantasy, the delusions of a ‘superpower’ gone mad with its own material and moral corruption, driven wild by fear that its self-assigned mission in the world is failing and that its surrogates are horrific examples of brutality and inhumanity. America is increasingly isolated in the world, and its unflinching support for neo-liberal globalization in the economic sphere and Zionist colonization in the political sphere have isolated it further. This was demonstrated recently when America led the charge against important climate-change treaties, and then vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to provide an international security force in Palestine.
America is the only ‘rogue state’ in the world today, according to William Blum, a former US State Department official turned dissident journalist. This book comes on the heals of another popular work, Killing Hope, which traces the legacy of the American government’s meddling in the Third World. In Rogue State Blum extends on this previous work and presents a well-referenced guide to the US and its role in the world today. Blum’s former insider status gives the work a certain air of credibility and an edge that is often lacking in similar books. The big picture should be fairly well known (America is an arrogant, greedy and self-serving beast on the world scene) but Blum has taken the time to collate the details.
America sells itself as a champion of democracy, yet it has consistently acted against the democratic will at home and abroad, whenever the ‘voice of the people’ says anything other than what Uncle Sam dictates. America claims to be the champion of peace and security in the world, while it supports some of the most heinous and intransigent enemies of peace in the world: Israel leaps to mind here. American corporations rant about the free market while they work to monopolize global trade under their tightly controlled auspices. And American politicians and executives claim to be protectors of the environment while Americans work hardest to sabotage environmental protections.
Blum goes through these and other sordid episodes, painting a grim picture of America as the mega-rogue state of the world. From assassinations of popular leaders abroad to supporting some of the worst dictators of the twentieth century (the despised Shah of Iran, for instance) and working to imprison freedom-fighters (the American CIA worked hard to imprison Nelson Mandela for 28 years), Blum catalogues American involvement in genocide, war crimes, and the training of military police forces for various regimes that use torture, including some of those in the Muslim world.
From napalm to Agent Orange and depleted uranium, the US is responsible for poisoning people and land all over the world, and also within the US itself. It is amazing that Americans continue to serve in the US army, given the way they have been exposed to radiation, psychological manipulation and other body and mind poisons, with little assistance from their own government; perhaps they do it because occasionally US troops are allowed to rape and pillage conquered peoples. American servicemen are infamous as rapists in the Philippines and Vietnam, while American troops looted and robbed in Grenada, Panama and Haiti during various military invasions and occupations. At home, the American government has been implicated in the drug trade that infested urban streets with cocaine in the 1980s, using the money made from it to support torture regimes in Central America. The resulting epidemic of drug use gave its fascist police the excuse to continue gross human-rights abuses against Black Americans.
Blum analyzes the cold war as an American concoction to justify the forming and funding of NATO, and this analysis can be extended to the creation of the ‘Islamic threat’ for the same purpose. The result of the cold war escalation of American military might is that the US has armed forces stationed in a hundred countries around the world today, including an enormous force in the Persian Gulf, which is now based in Qatar.
But controlling the earth is not enough for Uncle Sam, contends Blum; the US now has its sights on colonizing space, with Star Wars-type military programs and space launches in search of celestial resources and interplanetary garbage dumps. Much of the most poisonous waste that US seeks to dump comes from its atomic-weapons stockpile, and America stills maintains an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction capable of destroying the planet many times over. The fall-out from these programs is destroying the earth slowly anyway, in the form of depleted uranium (ingeniously made into weapons to be ‘dumped’ during war time) and other forms of radioactive and chemical waste that are poisoning and killing millions. The US has ruined the United Nations, consistently using its role on the Security Council to act against the wishes of the world’s people, from supporting Israel in the face of global condemnation, to voting against basic human-rights and environmental legislations that are not in line with ‘American interests.’
One of the most interesting chapters is “Eavesdropping on the Planet,” which describes a National Security Agency surveillance program known as ECHELON that has the capability to examine e-mails and listen in on phone conversations anywhere in the world. The US is capable of invading the privacy of every citizen in the world, by means of its large surveillance bases around the planet, such as the one in Menwith Hill, York, in the UK, which is kept secret even from British MPs. This only scratches the surface, really, and the book must be read to get the impact of Blum’s full listing and referencing of hundreds of heinous and barbarous, and at times unbelievable, acts of repression and tyranny.
Blum summarizes the goals of the super rogue state as encompassing four interrelated global imperatives: creating a world based on globalization of the American corporate model of economics and finance; lining the pockets of American defense contractors, who benefit from global threats, real or perceived, (and who in turn line the pockets of the American political establishment); preventing the formation or continuity of any kind of social, political or economic system that differs from the American system (which includes making certain that any sort of existing alternative system is discredited or destroyed); and colonizing the world with its own economic, military and political mechanisms, creating a planetary but superficial culture that mirrors America.
Toward the end of the book, Blum gets around to asking “How does America get away with it?” He points a finger at the mega-media apparatus, which leaves little to chance in packaging and selling America to the world. Blum describes the “worldwide love affair” with America as resulting from powerful and deceptive media campaigns that simultaneously paint rosy pictures and hide the truth. The greatest victims of this mass propaganda may be ordinary Americans, who have little idea of the savagery of their own government’s actions.
Much of what Blum reports should be well known, as he mostly uses public documents to tell his stories. But Blum’s former position in the belly of the beast he so thoroughly denounces has also infected him with some assumptions that make the book bothersome at times. It is important to remember that he is a patriot and that his reason for writing such books is to save America from itself somehow. Blum is a firm believer in all of America’s founding values, basically complaining that they have been corrupted. He is himself victim of many of the habits of the rogue state, for example when he automatically refers to Muslim mujahideen as ‘terrorists.’ Blum is an American, after all, and he has no points of reference apart from American Judeo-Christian conventions.
In fact, although he does not seem to intend it as such, the book could also be seen as ‘proof’ that America is still a ‘free country’ with ‘noble values,’ and that once those values have been re-discovered America will rule the world properly. But perhaps America’s founding values should be rethought: if democracy can bring the likes of Sharon to power, for example, then it must be a flawed system. However, although Blum’s patriotism may be delusional, it does not detract from the factual thrust of his work. Despite such annoyances, it still provides much useful information.
The ‘American century’ is over and, despite the wishes of patriots such as Blum, it must not be redeemed to repeat itself in the next century. In a sense, America is not only a ‘rogue state.’ It is the enemy of humanity, and it is especially the enemy of Islam. This book can help to prevent this rogue state from gaining any more ground and deluding any more minds. It should be read by Muslim and Arab organizations in America before they campaign or vote in American elections; it should be read by the Iranian government, who now seem to need reminding of America’s terrible record. It should be read by Muslim youth the world over who seem to love everything American. It should be read by all who gets their view of the world from CNN. Indeed, its readership should be worldwide, since the American rogue state has made its way into practically every corner of the planet on paths that were well greased by slick public relations.
Finally, this book should be read by anyone who wants to see the American emporor stripped of his glittering robes, revealing a bloated, ugly, diseased and evil tyrant that the world would be much better off without.