The Concise Untold History of the United States
a book by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick
(our site's book review)
“Oliver Stone’s new book is as riveting, eye-opening, and thought-provoking as any history book you will ever read. It achieves what history, at its best, ought to do: presents a mountain of previously unknown facts that makes you question and re-examine many of your long-held assumptions about the most influential events”—Glenn Greenwald.
The book masterfully covers the rise of the American empire and national security state from the late nineteenth century through the hyper-disappointing Obama administration. It challenges prevailing orthodoxies to reveal the dark truth about the rise and fall of American imperialism. Recall that Stone, as you probably know from his brilliant, courageous films, is a master at challenging beliefs.
The authors report that occasionally the U.S. would do something benevolent in the world—sometimes unintentionally. "But more often . . . they would leave [behind] misery and squalor. The record of the American Empire is not a pretty one. But it is one that must be faced honestly and forthrightly if the United States is ever to undertake the kind of fundamental structural reforms that will allow it to play a leading role in advancing rather than retarding the progress of humanity." Here is Major General Smedley Butler, an understandably cynical participant in empire building from a century ago:
"I spent most of my time [in the early 1900s] being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. . . . I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. . . . During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. [War] is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. [We need to] make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only. [Not empire building] So...I say, TO HELL WITH WAR!"—Major General Smedley Butler, from his 1935 book War Is a Racket.
Major General Smedley Butler says TO HELL WITH WAR!
A Game as Old as Empire is John Perkins' confirmation of the same level of greed, corruption, and exploitation found in Smedley Butler's book. Perkins' accounts are from the late 1900s, and the same rackets were occuring, only moreso, only these were focused on the exploitation of developing countries with loan profiteering as well as the war profiteering Butler described. Details are found in Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and Perkins' The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption and Perkins' Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the Global Economy IMPLODED -- and How to Fix It. Every major incident described in Perkins' books have been discussed in detail by other authors—usually lots of other authors. These and the other events in Perkins' books are a matter of verified public record.
The only certain, irrefutable, perpetual and insidious bias in reporting comes from the corporatocracy-controlled media, which makes an all-out effort to appear to be giving the public the truth, while spewing propaganda
U.S. neocons' imperialism and warmongering is out of control yet the Congress tasked with stopping such abuses is mute—something smells rotten in Washington! The game is rigged. Bailouts? The biggest companies got help while the little guy got the finger.
If the Queen during the 18th century French Revolution said: "Let them eat cake," then in the last half of the 20th century an analogous expression from rich U.S. bankers to Latin Americans would be "Let them eat loans!"
Map of Latin America
How long will the USA continue to try to tell us, via mass media propaganda lies and U.S. history books' misinformation, that we are the guys in the white hats launching wars to liberate and democratize?
How long will the USA continue to try to tell us, via mass media propaganda lies and U.S. history books' misinformation, that we are the guys in the white hats launching wars to liberate and democratize and empower people and save them from the evil villains in the black hats? The USA, far more often, has BEEN the guys in the black hats—most recently in the Middle East. Are our crappy schools crappy to keep the public dumb and vulnerable to being misled by misinformation in our history books and news reports from bought-and-paid-for radio and TV stations and newspapers and internet outlets? Is that why money that needs to prop up American education instead ends up propping up the wallets and companies of the elites, the oligarchs, the shadow government? Are the bankers and munitions manufacturers—later labeled “merchants of death”—which had raked in huge profits in the world wars, Vietnam War, and Middle East wars, going to be allowed to continue exploiting people both in and out of the U.S. until they push us into WWIII? Roosevelt was a good president, generally speaking, especially compared to those who came later. Truman, LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, Dubya Bush and OBomb'em all decided to lead the U.S. to act in ways that the rest of the world viewed as a bull in a china shop.
Truman, LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, Dubya Bush and OBomb'em all decided to lead the U.S. to act in ways that the rest of the world viewed as a bull in a china shop
The combination of a left-leaning Congress, an energized, progressive populace, and a responsive and caring progressive champion: President Roosevelt (FDR) made possible the greatest period of social experimentation in U.S. history, under his beloved New Deal. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) and other government programs during the Great Depression put millions of unemployed back to work in government jobs. The economic and banking systems had been reformed. The government, for the first time, sided, however tentatively, with labor against the employers and nurtured the growth of unions. Social Security guaranteed a modicum of comfort in old age that few workers had previously enjoyed. The tax burden was shifted increasingly to the wealthy.
A responsive and caring progressive champion: President Roosevelt (FDR)
Compare this politician—Roosevelt (who led us to victory in World War II)—who actually cared about the people and represented their interests (as opposed to catering to wealthy oligarchs) with most other presidents before and since! Can you even imagine the likes of Dubya or Obomb'em giving a damn about the people they are supposed to be serving and representing (the citizens of the USA) as opposed to the rich oligarchs and shadow government they do—in fact—serve?! Roosevelt's administration (1933-1945) may be the very last time ever the U.S. republic's democracy functions the way it's supposed to. (See Democracy—an American Delusion.) This Democrat was the Republicans' worst nightmare: an actual good president that made the rest of the politicians—especially the Republicans—look bad. The reason the public was so blind to the radical difference between presidents that used U.S. power for good (Roosevelt) and most of the rest of them—who used our power to exploit others and seek wealth and empire for oligarchs regardless of the pain they caused or the U.S. wealth they squandered—in a word, is: propaganda. It came from our leaders, and to the media from our national security state, our CIA, and the shadow government. The public believes what it's told from our not-so-free press. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.
Can you imagine it? Roosevelt actually said this in a big speech: "We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob . . . They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred." Amazing! (Of course, Roosevelt's later miscalculations and right-wing businessmen's attempted scuttling of the president—including plans for a military coup against him—soon put a stop to the success of his progressive populism.) And here we are in 2017, and the bankers and oligarchs and shadow government are right back to considering the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs, which—not to mince words—now reek with the stench of not just "Government by organized money" but Government by greedy, corrupt, lying, warmongering, traitorous neocons.
In the U.S., the 1% people get 99% and the 99% people (us) get 1%. Is it fair we get leftover scraps and greedy neocons pig out?
The elites are happy to use the soldiers as cannon fodder so they can get obscenely rich off war profiteering
Interestingly, to pay for WWII the Revenue Act of 1942 raised top rates to 88% on incomes over $200,000. By 1944, the bottom rate had more than doubled to 23%, and the top rate reached an all-time high of 94%. In 2000 the highest tax bracket was 39.6%, and when Bush started a war for us to pay for in 2003 he lowered taxes on the rich to 35% so the rest of us would sacrifice not just blood but more of our wealth as well. The rate only went back up to 39.6% in 2013. Note that Roosevelt felt that if the rich wanted war, let them pay for it, but in the 21st century the neocons in charge have decided that if the rich wanted a war (and only rich oligarchs did), let the poor and middle class pay for it while we stuff our pockets and laugh. Note that it mattered not a whit if a Democrat or Republican was in the White/Whore House. This is a perfect indicator of how the world has changed since WWII. As a wise veteran patriot named Andrew J. Bacevich says, we should never start a war unless we are willing to sacrifice to pay for it. See The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (American Empire Project) and The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War and Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (American Empire Project) and Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country (American Empire Project).
Letting neocons run the decisions in Washington is like letting a fox guard a henhouse
In early February 1935, Representative John McSwain of South Carolina introduced legislation that would freeze prices at the level they were at on the day war was declared. H.R. 5529—the McSwain War Profits Bill: The bill provides a plan to mobilize effectively the resources of the Nation for war which will eliminate war profiteering, prevent war-time inflation, and equalize war-time burdens.
The dropping of atomic bombs on Japan was an unnecessary war crime perpetrated by an ignorant, neurotic president who had no business being in office and who even warned us of this as he was taking office.
The dropping of atomic bombs on Japan was an unnecessary war crime perpetrated by an ignorant, neurotic president who had no business being in office and who even warned us of this as he was taking office. "The myth has been promulgated by Truman, Stimson, and others that the atomic bomb was responsible for the Allied victory and that it saved hundreds of thousands of American lives by ending the war without a U.S. invasion." This is incorrect. The Japanese were ready to surrender weeks before the bombs hit. Our bomb dropping "convinced Stalin that the United States would stop at nothing to impose its will and that the Soviets must speed the development of their own atomic bomb as a deterrent to the bloodthirsty Americans." Just think of the tens of thousands of Japanese that were boiled into vapor or died from horrible radiation burns because a leader of a so-called democracy was so warped that he couldn't resist playing God in the worst possible way.
"Six of the United States’ seven five-star officers who received their final star in World War II—Generals MacArthur, Eisenhower, and Arnold and Admirals Leahy, King, and Nimitz—rejected the idea that the atomic bombs were needed to end the war. Sadly, though, there is little evidence that they pressed their case with Truman before the fact." Henry Wallace, however, was a humanist who attempted to stop the nuclear bombings of Japan and he was nearly appointed Vice President. If only Truman wasn't an ignorant racist who hated "Japs" and felt good about bombing them with A-bombs and putting U.S. Japanese in American concentration camps to work as slave labor. Psychologically, Truman was a glasses wearing wimp who had gotten bullied in school and the "Japs" gave him a target for repressed rage he had never dealt with or admitted. That's a hell of a reason to drop A-bombs on cities!
As Carl Sagan says in Cosmos, " . . . a certain kind of mind and character was drawn to the military applications of science and mathematics—people who liked big explosions, for example; or those with no taste for personal combat who, to avenge some schoolyard injustice, aspired to military command . . . "
The authors contrast two very different visions of the U.S. role in the world—Henry Luce’s neoconservative hegemonic vision of the twentieth century as the “American Century” and Henry Wallace’s utopian vision of the “Century of the Common Man.” As WWII ended, there was a dark cloud of foreboding around the world as we sensed the terrible bombing that a moron named Truman had inflicted upon Japan, launching the Cold War and the Arms Race, and cursing humanity to have a Damocles Sword hanging over its head forever.
Truman cursed humanity to have a Damocles Sword hanging over its head forever
Lewis Mumford spoke about Truman and his warmongering flunkies (James Byrnes, Bernard Baruch, Clark Clifford and George Elsey, to name a few) after WWII. They were trying to provoke war with the USSR now that they had the A-bomb and Russia did not: "We in America are living among madmen. Madmen govern our affairs in the name of order and security. The chief madmen claim the titles of general, admiral, senator, scientist, administrator, Secretary of State, even President. And the fatal symptom of their madness is this: they have been carrying through a series of acts which will lead eventually to the destruction of mankind, under the solemn conviction that they are normal, responsible people, living sane lives, and working for reasonable ends." And here we are in 2017, amidst an explosion of insane neocon warmongering empire building, attacking everyone, assassinating everyone we don't like the looks of, inciting terrorism from all sides as we prosecute a "war on terror," ensuring the destruction of mankind will be sooner rather than later. They say only the cockroaches will survive all the radiation. Perhaps THEY, at least, can evolve over millions of years and learn to cooperate as opposed to acting like war is their religion, like we do. Think of it: cockroach universities, cockroach technologies, cockroach wisdom—even cockroaches that love. Upstaged by bugs—aren't we proud?!
The dominant species on Earth circa A.D. 2200; are we SURE we want to keep electing Bush/Obama neocon maniacs?
War is the U.S.'s religion, although subscribed to more by the so-called leaders than by the exploited citizens
Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace, the wise, informed peace-seeker, warned people in 1946 that "we who look on this war-with-Russia talk as criminal foolishness must carry our message direct to the people—even though we may be called communists because we dare to speak out." Truman fired him, at the request of his warmongering flunkies. Wallace, on NBC radio, accused Truman of “betraying” Roosevelt’s vision for world peace, and Albert Einstein agreed. Truman's warmongering flunkies advised not only A-bombing Japan but also acting confrontationally with the USSR to show them who's boss since we had A-bombs and they did not, which had the predictable effect of pushing the USSR into a crash program of A-bomb development and started an eternal arms race. They say good help is hard to find. Truman—never one to think for himself—was the poster child for this old adage.
Truman—never one to think for himself—is the poster child for 'good help is hard to find' since the warmongering aides he listened to misled him about everything
Bush and Obama—as neocon warmongering empire builders—learned exactly the opposite lesson from the one that the 9/11 attackers meant to teach us: they learned we should KILL MORE, as opposed to STOP KILLING
9/11 terrorist attack
As we say in our review about the book Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, "The schoolyard bully can run around threatening and bullying, relishing the fear he incites, but eventually someone will get so fed up with his tyranny that they club him over the head with a very big stick when he's not looking." So how long before the USA gets its club-over-the-head wake-up call?
Thinking humans see the 9/11 attack as our wake-up call from fed-up foreigners to get us to discontinue electing neocon lunatics who exploit other nations by military means as well as economic means
Thinking humans see the 9/11 attack as our wake-up call from fed-up foreigners to get us to discontinue exploiting other nations by military means as well as economic means and environmental means and political means, and also we need to stop assassinating rulers, wrecking democracies, and installing dictators. But Bush and Obama—as neocon warmongering empire builders—learned exactly the opposite lesson: pay back not just the attackers but everyone else in the world in an endless assault on everything Islamic, proving the Islamic's view of us as the Great Satan. They are by no means the only ones who don't buy the legitimacy of the eternal War on Terror—the infamous neocon wet dream.
The Great Satan
In 1949, the USSR tested its first A-bomb, destroying the U.S. nuclear monopoly forever. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock from seven minutes to midnight to three minutes.
The Doomsday Clock was set at 3 minutes to midnight in 1949 when the USSR got the A-bomb (this is the same setting it is in 2017)
Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon (mid-1940s to mid-1970s) all tried to use the threat of nuclear attacks to strongarm enemies—or perceived enemies—into capitulating. They threatened China, North Korea, and North Vietnam. Today, the first two got nukes so we'd stop the nuclear bullying and the latter knows that China, North Korea and maybe Russia has their back, so our threats wouldn't work. If only Russian military might could have lasted into the 21st century and threatened the U.S. effectively enough so as to prevent us from invading Iraq and Afghanistan! This world desperately needs military balance to hold back the U.S. from its evil neocon-backed empire building and warmongering plans. The Cold War ugliness may have been ugly, but it provided severely needed balance. Today, the U.S. Frankenstein has broken its Russian chain and is running amok. See The Neoconserative Threat to World Order: America's Perilous War for Hegemony.
The Cold War ugliness may have been ugly, but it provided severely needed balance. Today, the U.S. Frankenstein has broken its Russian chain and is running amok
Stone and Kuznick outline the coups and assassinations the U.S. perpetrated in the Middle East and especially Latin America. John Perkins, who was part of this treachery in the 70s but wised up and became a humanistic whistleblower, says that "Latin America had become a symbol of U.S. domination. Guatemala under Arbenz, Ikazil under Goulart, Bolivia under Estenssoro, Chile under Allende, Ecuador under Roldos, Panama under Torrijos, and every other country in the hemisphere that was blessed with resources that our corporations coveted, and that had enjoyed leaders who were determined to use national resources for the benefit of their own people . . . had seen those leaders thrown out in coups or assassinated and replaced by governments that were puppets of Washington". The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption.
Vietnam War—a tragic waste of life, wealth, and the environment
Stone and Kuznick tell us that "By its end, the United States had dropped more bombs on tiny Vietnam than had been dropped by all sides in all previous wars throughout history—three times as many explosives as were dropped by all sides in World War II. Unexploded ordnance blanketed the countryside. Nineteen million gallons of herbicide poisoned the environment. In the South, the United States had destroyed 9,000 of the 15,000 hamlets. In the North, it had rained destruction on all six industrial cities, leveling 28 of 30 provincial towns and 96 of 116 district towns. Le Duan, who took over the leadership of North Vietnam when Ho died in 1969, told a visiting journalist that the United States had threatened to use nuclear weapons on thirteen different occasions."
Over 58,000 Americans had died in the fighting and 3.8 million Vietnamese were killed. By some estimates, the number of Vietnam vets who have committed suicide has exceeded the 58,000-plus who died in combat. And what did we gain from all this? The world hated us, and the country was forever divided between those naive folks who'd drunk the Kool-Aid and wiser people who saw the evil, lying, murderous exploitation for what it was. They protested and demonstrated and marched on Washington, braving tear gas and various other forms of intimidation and oppression.
U.S. bombing Vietnam
Jimmy Carter promised that " . . . never again should our country become militarily involved in the internal affairs of another nation unless there is a direct and obvious threat to the security of the United States or its people." And yet that isn't how he acted or how Reagan or any other leader after him acted. The simple fact is that neocons and radical right factions in our nation's capital have been in control of most foreign policy decisions even in the latter part of the Carter administration since Jimmy the progressive ended up caving in to warmongers and neocons that were mere advisors. More recently, advisor neocons evolved into shadow government neocons who are actually in control and have been for at least the last thirty years. See Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government, and The Shadow Government.
Reagan is fairly unique. He had little understanding of the world and would fall asleep in critical meetings. He would make up things people had said—which they hadn't. His speeches contained not just naive misinformation and lies but also fantasies that Reagan seemed to believe even though everyone knew they were nonsense. Advisors were always doing damage control, trying to cover up errors and mistatements. Reagan knew he didn't know what he was doing, so he let advisors do his job for him, making decisions on their own. While running roughshod over Central America and the Caribbean, Reagan also trampled the United States’ working class and poor, who were sacrificed to the exigencies of a massive military buildup. Reagan cut taxes for the rich which increased the burden on the poor and middle class significantly.
In the 21st century, neocon nutjobs tell us that dumping our Bill of Rights and our Constitution was a prerequisite for our safety, which no intelligent citizen could possibly buy. In the 20th century, Reagan supported right-wing dictators and death squads and the destruction of populist and even democratic regimes because dictator puppets—especially in Latin America—would support U.S. corporatocracy interests.
Reagan reported false intelligence at the request of neocon advisors. He painted the USSR as an increasing threat bent on world domination—an evil empire that was supporting the undermining of human rights everywhere, as well as supporting regimes that used terror, torture, rape, and war crimes. The irony of course is that—more than the USSR—it was Reagan who was supporting the undermining of human rights everywhere, as well as supporting regimes that used terror, torture, rape, and war crimes. He supported right-wing dictators and death squads and the destruction of populist and even democratic regimes because dictator puppets—especially in Latin America—would support U.S. corporatocracy interests even though it would mean plunging their countries into debt, oppressing their people, wrecking their environment and economy, and pillaging their resources. But the dictator and his buddies made out like bandits. Note that the truth got published in non-USA media but the citizens of the U.S. got the lies and propaganda, often from a president who—many believed—was so out of touch with reality that he actually believed his own B.S., which many felt was very dangerous for a leader with his finger on the button.
While Reagan was calling the Soviets an evil empire, his flunkies were doing things that demonstrated that the U.S. was an even eviler empire. But did Reagan know it? No one knows. It has been asked before, but the question is relevant: Did Reagan actually realize his presidency was not a very long movie script? He didn't know what to say in meetings so he was given 3x5 cards to read. Did he realize these were not cue cards?
Reagan supported the undermining of human rights by regimes that used terror, torture, rape, and war crimes, and he supported right-wing dictators and death squads and the destruction of populist and even democratic regimes
The authors tell us that arms control gained renewed urgency when scientists (Carl Sagan and Richard Turco) calculated that even a small nuclear exchange would release enough smoke, dust, and ash into the atmosphere to block the sunlight, plunging the earth into a prolonged period of cooling that would kill off much of its plant life. Some predicted dire consequences, even the end of life on the planet, caused by the “nuclear winter” that would result from a nuclear war. We said in our review of the book Hyperspace that "The book makes the well-known case for the erasing of the cultural lag (technology outpacing cultural advancement and the result that we have technological devices that are beyond our cultural maturity to safely deal with, without risking humanity’s survival). Nukes (etc.) can and will kill us all unless we evolve socially. (Carl Sagan deserves credit for raising the nuclear winter question and forcing us to think about it via his book A Path Where No Man Thought.)" See also Let’s End the Peril of a Nuclear Winter.
In 1992, neocon Paul Wolfowitz helped to create a new Defense Planning Guidance forecasting future challenges to U.S. interests. It said the United States should not allow any rival power to emerge that could threaten U.S. global hegemony and that it would take unilateral and preemptive action against states attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Senator Robert Byrd called the Pentagon strategy “myopic, shallow, and disappointing. The basic thrust of the document seems to be this: ‘We love being the sole remaining superpower in the world and we want so much to remain that way that we are willing to put at risk the basic health of our economy and well-being of our people to do so.’ ” It's a shame Byrd's response didn't strike a stronger chord with Congress, but neocons were more and more in control, so it probably wouldn't have mattered much if Congress agreed with him.
According to Bush, reading stories is more important than terrorists attacking our cities
In the months prior to 9/11, Bush and his neocon flunkies poo pooed intelligence warnings that bin Laden was about to strike the U.S. in a big way. When the attack came, there was no impeachment, even though Bush thought that reading stories was more important than terrorists attacking our cities. Nor did anyone predict that neocons Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and their cronies would use this criminal assault on the United States as an excuse to launch wars against two Islamic nations—wars that would cause far more damage to the United States than Osama bin Laden ever could—and begin shredding the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Convention. See 9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes against Democracy Succeed, How America Was Lost: From 9/11 to the Police/Welfare State, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World, and The Shadow Government: 9-11 and State Terror.
Osama bin Laden
With 9/11 as their contrived excuse, Bush's neocon radicals began shredding the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Convention
From atop the rubble at the World Trade Center, Bush proclaimed, “Our responsibility to history is already clear. To answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.” And so began the mislabled War on Terror, which was actually the Neocons' War for Empire. And the evil loose in the world was more neocon evil than "terrorist" evil. If only the public grasped this!
In 2008, Bush and Cheney left the country in shambles, its economy collapsing and its international reputation at an all-time low—the once-admired United States was now universally feared and widely condemned—especially for encouraging torture (a war crime that ought to be landing Bush and Cheney in prison, but neocons seem to be above the law).
It would be nearly impossible to imagine a worse president or one who could do more harm than Dubya the Dunce. But, imagine harder, because next came an even worse president: OBomb'em! Did he reverse Bush's anti-American, anti-human, anti-citizen wars and rights erosion like he promised? NO! He actually extended and increased these horrors (including horrendous and unprecedented oppression of patriotic whistleblowers)! He enjoyed terror tuesday and joked "who knew I was so good at killing?" He was referring to the greatly expanded drone assassination program. In place of good intelligence, he let the NSA spy on Americans and let cell phone SIM cards be his murder criterion. Anyone around the SIM card of a suspect—regardless how innocent or irrelevant they were—were blown to hell by Hellfire missiles from Patriot Drones. Needless to say, with this as their "intelligence," a lot more innocents were killed than actual terrorists.
Bush and Obama loved playing God, using killer drones to kill anyone they didn't like the looks of
Predator drone operators—Murder Incorporated
Our Vietnam and Iraq wars were much more about imperialism than democratization, but most of us drank the Kool-Aid
Since Bush's and Obama's policies had screwed up the economy, our young unemployed joined the military, and now women were allowed in combat and even gays were now welcomed. And the military commanders lost no time in using them as cannon fodder for their Empire Building Crusade to Rid the World of Evil. Most countries quickly saw that in the war on terror, it was the U.S. that was creating the most terror. And Iraqis knew the motives for the U.S. attack of Iraq: oil. Iraqis had no illusions about the United States’ motives. The more U.S. leaders spoke about "freedom," or "democratization," the more Iraqis heard the word “oil.” More than three-quarters of Iraqis told pollsters that the U.S. invasion was motivated by a desire to control Iraqi oil.
Stone and Kuznick noted that "Lacking sufficient troops to carry out basic functions, the government hired an army of private security guards and civilian contractors to do much of the work, often at outrageous cost and with little oversight. By 2007, they numbered 160,000. Many Blackwater security guards had served in right-wing militaries in Latin America. They and other foreign personnel had been granted immunity from arrest by Iraqi authorities." Bush didn't raise taxes to pay for the war. He lowered them, significantly decreasing taxes on the rich. He didn't pay for the war at all—he just borrowed the money and let future generations pay for his murderous follies. This increased the income gap in the U.S. even further. By 2007, the top 1 percent was receiving 25 percent of national income and owned almost 40 percent of American wealth.
1998-2005 saw the sharpest rise in income inequality in the nation’s history
Fighting a decade-long and hugely costly war in Afghanistan in order to defeat a debilitated enemy that was based in Pakistan made no sense, so some concluded the United States must have an ulterior motive. Then the geologists found out there was 3 trillion dollars worth of minerals there like copper, gold, lithium, and iron ore. Currently, only narcotics are significant products. But if the U.S. invaded Iraq for oil, perhaps the reason there are still thousands of our soldiers there in Afghanistan is becoming clear, since al Qaeda is gone and Taliban mostly hides in Pakistan. Minerals are why the U.S. is in plenty of other nations, currently. So why not Afghanistan—the mineral capital of the world? And 3/4 of Americans feel the war there is not worth fighting, and the people there are dying for us to leave—literally.
The U.S. military bullies dropping a little 'democracy' on Middle Eastern citizens
When Obama welcomed the troops home from Iraq, he did what he does best: lie with a straight face: “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people,” he told the worn out troops, praising their “extraordinary achievement.” The “most important lesson,” he declared, was “about our national character . . . that there’s nothing we Americans can’t do when we stick together. . . . And that’s why the United States military is the most respected institution . . . " and the B.S. kept spewing from his mouth. Everyone, including OBomb'em, knew the war was an unmitigated disaster foisted on the people of the U.S. by murderous, greedy, empire building neocon warmongers like Dubya, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz.
When Obama welcomed the troops home from Iraq, he did what he does best: lie with a straight face: 'We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people'
So Obama was indulging in truthiness, as Janine R. Wedel and Stephen Colbert would say. See Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market and Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom, and Security and The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (American Empire Project).
It is not known how many soldiers had to run to the restroom to upchuck after Obama's excrement shower, but it is hard to believe anyone swallowed such feel-good prevarications. The only thing about his words that would resonate is that the soldiers had done a good job—NOT because they accomplished anything but getting millions of Afghans furious at us and pushing many to join the terrorists—but because they heroically put up with trying to fulfill an impossible neocon wet dream of endless power, empire, and wealth (for the neocons, not for our nation) as they were ordered to do, in spite of horrible, hot, dangerous conditions in an environment where they were hated. Their actions were heroic indeed. The war was "over" in 2014 but we still have 13,000 troops including 9,800 Americans as well as 26,000 military contractors fighting there. What part of "over" didn't we understand, the "o" or the "ver"? (As of mid-2015, the Taliban are directly or indirectly supported in Afghanistan by about a dozen militant groups and things do not look good. Kill one terrorist—create ten more . . . etc. And create we did. The Middle East is crawling with thousands of terrorists that were not there before we invaded, including everyone's favorite: ISIS.)
Kill one terrorist—create ten more . . . etc. And create we did. The Middle East is crawling with thousands of terrorists that were not there before we invaded, including everyone's favorite: ISIS. Our war on terror is a virtual terrorist factory!!
The erosion of U.S. power and influence has been obvious in Latin America, where, like in the Middle East, the effects of a century of supporting repressive dictators who favored U.S. business and political interests over the well-being of their own people had resulted in a wave of anti-Americanism that swept Latin America in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Supporting tyrants in Egypt and Saudi Arabia may have kept Saudi oil coming our way and kept Egypt's Suez Canal open to us, but the people themselves resented us then and now, and of course the two wars we started in the Middle East raised anti-Americanism sentiments enough so that ISIS is getting lots of sign-ups. At the heart of the Egyptian economy is its largest asset, the Suez Canal, which controls a significant share of global waterborne trade, but it's not enough to keep their economy healthy, so the Saudis help them out.
However, despite repeated setbacks in the Middle East and Latin America, U.S. military strength has remained unchallenged. As Chalmers Johnson revealed years ago, the United States maintains its global hegemony not through an empire of colonies, but through an empire of bases strung across the planet. See Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.
China as well as Russia accused the United States of trying to encircle them. However much we denied it, they were both correct. It is part of neocon doctrine to have 1000+ bases all over the world and to encircle any nation with significant power like China, Russia, and North Korea. U.S. hegemonic pretensions remained lofty, but U.S. ability to police Asia and the rest of the globe was constrained by the dimensions of its budget crisis. By 2010, the U.S. was spending $1.6 trillion over revenues in its $3.8 trillion budget. The shortfall was borrowed largely from China and Japan. Debt service alone cost $250 billion.
The U.S. is unable to effectively deal with any of its problems in education, crumbling infrastructure, health, etc. At a time when unemployment soars, infrastructure decays, and social services are decimated, can the United States really afford to maintain its vast global empire?
The authors say "At a time when unemployment soared, infrastructure decayed, and social services were decimated, could the United States really afford to maintain its vast global empire? Was it really in the U.S. interest to police the planet? Should the United States ever again invade countries that posed no threat to the American people?" Of course, the questions answer themselves. The problem is obviously that the only people NOT asking themselves these questions are the only ones who desperately need to: the neocon warmongers.
The authors end their book with the hopeful sign represented by the Occupy Wall Street movement, a movement that brought desperately needed attention to the tremendous and ever growing gap between the wealthiest 1 percent and the rest of the population—the 99 percent. The Occupy Wall Street movement struck a chord with millions of Americans with its new sloganeering regarding "We are the 99%" which referred to growing income disparity and the fact that those who caused the 2008 Depression/Recession got bonuses while the 99% of us regular Americans got the shaft. However, two years after OWS the growing income disparity had just gotten worse, and no economic policies in the U.S. had been revamped to prevent a repeat of the crisis, which Bill Clinton set us up for with his moronic 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall law that separated commercial and investment banking.
We're all indebted to the protestors for shining a light on the issues, but since nothing changed, is protest really a viable tool of social and/or political change?
We're all indebted to the protestors for shining a light on the issues, but since nothing changed and many protestors were rubber-bulleted and pepper-sprayed for no reason, is the protest—any protest—really a viable tool of social and/or political change or just another way for the Department of Homeland Security to get more names for their watch lists? Caring enough about the corruption in Washington to protest about it is a demonstration of patriotism, not its opposite! And yet, those in power who profited most from the corruption in Washington made sure that media coverage was either slanted or missing, that the protestors were treated like dangerous radicals, and that the event was forgotten in a hurry. The more things change, the more they stay the same, (which means changes do not affect reality on a deeper level other than to cement the status quo).
Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano
'You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters'