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The U.S. government:
"The greatest purveyors of violence in the world"

September 14, 2001 | Pages 2 and 3

THE U.S. government is reacting to the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., the only way that it ever has--by arming itself to ruthlessly impose its military, political and economic interests around the world.

It is this history that explains why millions of people across the globe despise the U.S. government.

The U.S. literally grew up on force--including the genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans and the seizure of half of Mexico--in the 19th century. It emerged as a world power during the Spanish-American war of 1898, when the armed forces killed 2 million people in the Philippines.

Over the next four decades, U.S. military interventions increased--to expand the holdings and increase the dominance of American corporations.

Marine Gen. Smedley Butler described that period in his memoirs: "I spent most of my time being a high class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism...I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China, I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested."

Many believe that the U.S.'s role in the Second World War was different. But Washington fought not for freedom, but to dominate the world. The U.S. refused to bomb railroad tracks to concentration camps during the Holocaust. But it did drop two atom bombs on a Japan that was starving and virtually defeated--just to demonstrate its awesome military might and its willingness to use it.

During the Cold War against the former USSR, the U.S. armed and equipped murderous dictatorships around the globe--the military rulers of South Korea, Somoza in Nicaragua, Pinochet in Chile, Mobutu in Zaire, the Shah of Iran and many more. As Amnesty International said in 1996: "Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman, or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed, or 'disappeared,' at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame."

All this was justified in the name of fighting communism--as was the war in Vietnam. That intervention cost the lives of 58,000 U.S. service personnel. The horrific tactics of the U.S. military--including carpet bombings of civilian targets, napalm and wholesale massacres--led to the deaths of 3 million Vietnamese and other Asians.

It was this slaughter that led civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to oppose the war.

"We were taking the Black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem," he told an antiwar meeting in April 1967. "I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today--my own government."

For the last decade, the U.S. has been the world's only superpower--and has continued to use its economic and military might to bend smaller and weaker nations to its will.

Washington imposes International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies that crush the poor in Asia and Latin America. It used the NATO military alliance in Europe to wage a war in the Balkans. And because it imposes murderous sanctions against Iraq and backs Israel's repression of Palestinians, the U.S. is widely hated in the Middle East.

Such policies inevitably rebound on innocent people in this country, as foreign policy expert Chalmers Johnson predicted a year ago in his book Blowback.

"Terrorism by definition strikes at the innocent in order to draw attention to the sins of the invulnerable," he wrote. "The innocent of the 21st century are going to harvest unexpected blowback disasters from the imperialist escapades of recent decades. Although most Americans may be largely ignorant of what was, and still is, being done in their names, all are likely to pay a steep price--individually and collectively--for their nation's continued efforts to dominate the global scene."

If Bush and Co. get their way, the terrible human tragedy of the attacks on New York and Washington will be used as a pretext for horrifying U.S. military assaults that will kill even more innocent people. That's why we must expose Bush's phony appeals to defend "freedom"--and oppose his drive to war.

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