Carlos Martinez salutes a salutary account of rogue US state on the global rampage
Killing Hope US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II by William Blum (Zed Books, £8.99)
THIS updated edition of William Blum’s Killing Hope provides a comprehensive, thoroughly researched and meticulously referenced account of US interventionism over the past century.
Detailing the activities of the US security forces over the course of 75 years and in more than 50 countries — from Italy to Nicaragua, from Angola to Korea, from Grenada to Syria — Blum demonstrates clearly that the US is not the force of “freedom and democracy” that it claims to be. The “policeman of the world” is in fact a rogue state that will stop at nothing to protect its economic, political and military dominance.
The book highlights the fanatical McCarthyite anti-communism that has underpinned US foreign policy during this period. Framing communists as the quintessential “bad guys” — psychotic, evil, world-dominating, cat-stroking villains who detest freedom and democracy — the US and its allies have been able to justify their horrific campaign of violent subversion against the countries of the socialist and non-aligned world.
In the context of the current patriotic hysteria surrounding the WWI centenary, it’s worth remembering that it was Britain’s national hero Winston Churchill who led the charge against the fledgling socialist world, proposing “to strangle at birth the Bolshevik state.”
Blum makes the important point that in the context of a wide-ranging campaign of hostility from the West, including invasion, bombing, infiltration, espionage, funding and arming terrorist groups, spreading disinformation, round-the-clock media propaganda, the socialist countries were forced to develop an extensive security apparatus.
This same security apparatus was then used to provide “proof” of communism’s repressive and anti-democratic nature. As Blum notes: “We in the West are never allowed to forget the political shortcomings (real and bogus) of the Soviet Union; at the same time we are never reminded of the history which lies behind it.”
Of course, a government does not need to actually be communist in order to qualify as a target for CIA-sponsored regime change. It’s enough simply to have friendly relations with socialist countries, or to have “communist-inspired” ideas such as land reform, nationalisation and political independence.
Guatemala’s Jacobo Arbenz and Iran’s Mohammad Mossadegh could not reasonably be called communists — they were progressive nationalists who aimed to improve the lives of the poor, while having friendly relations with both West and East.
This was too much for the CIA, which engineered successful coups against both of them, ushering in periods of vicious and exploitative rule in both countries.
As the consummate cold warrior John Foster Dulles put it: “For us there are two sorts of people in the world: there are those who are Christians and support free enterprise and there are the others.”
Sadly, Killing Hope is not the story of a bygone era. It is an account of the historical epoch we are still living in. The techniques of intervention, destabilisation, demonisation, disinformation and terrorism are all employed as extensively today as they ever were, most prominently in the Middle East. As such, Blum’s book is an essential tool for understanding the world we live in today.