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Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1567510523
ISBN-13: 9781567510522
Publisher: Common Courage Press
Release Date: July, 1995
Length: 457 Pages
Weight: 1.45 pounds
Dimensions: 9 X 5.9 X 1 inches
Language: English
   
   

Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II

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Is the United States a Force for Democracy? From China in the 1940s to Guatemala today, William Blum provides the most comprehensive study of the ongoing American holocaust. Covering U.S. intervention in more than 50 countries, KILLING HOPE describes the grim role played by the U.S. in overthrowing governments, perverting electi...
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  A fine book. This classical liberal gives an A+.

William Blum has written a book whose subject should be of interest to all Americans who believe in freedom.

Well-informed readers may already be familiar with the basic idea. In brief, the U.S. Government during the latter half of the twentieth century waged numerous secret little wars, of one kind or another, against foreign governments and groups of which it did not approve. The avowed purpose was usually to contain a perceived communist menace. In actuality, what might be called communist means were employed to achieve this end. These means involved spying, wiretapping, propaganda at home and abroad; the rigging of or interfering with elections; the granting of monetary and military aid to dictatorships and violent opposition groups; the training of same in methods of subversion, torture and terror. All this and more was done without Congressional approval or oversight. The American people were lied to by government officials to keep it that way. A complaisant media helped it happen. To some extent, it is still happening today.

The above is fairly common knowledge. However, though it breaks little new ground, Mr. Blum's book's sheer comprehensiveness makes it an invaluable resource, which is my first reason for recommending it. In 383 packed pages of narrative appended with 56 pages of source citations, Mr. Blum presents the essential facts--and horrors--of more than 55 U.S. military/CIA foreign interventions since WWII. For readers ignorant of these goings-on, the total impact will be mind-blowing. For those, such as myself, already somewhat acquainted with them, the effect is still staggering. Noam Chomsky, quoted on the back cover, calls it "Far and away the best book on the topic." I see no reason to dispute him.

My second reason for recommending this book is for what it shows about America today. And it is not that America is the Great Satan. It is true that America may be thought of, with some justice, as a terrorist country that has earned the world's hatred. But to use this fact, as do some leftists, for the sole purpose of bashing America, is unconstructive and wrong. Mr. Blum does not choose to focus on it (which does not surprise me), but the crucial message I see stamped in blood onto the pages of his book is of the disastrous consequences of our government's executive branch being unconstrained by its proper constitutional limits. This growth of executive power had several causes in the twentieth century, which the book shows in action as part of the reasoning behind the government's doing what it did. Overblown fears of communist world conquest; an altruistic desire to bring democracy to the world's benighted peoples; an ill-defined "national interest" with no objective standards to keep its pursuit in check--these all and more combined to expand the power of the executive branch to a level unknown in the history of our republic. The evils subsequently committed by the Presidency, the CIA and other executive agencies were necessary consequences of their having such arbitrary power at their disposal. If you want the real lesson from *Killing Hope*, this is it. Its 55 chapters read like case studies of what can and must happen when the exercise of executive discretion and secrecy is allowed, by Congressional and philosophical default, to grow unchecked in the foreign policy arena.

The Founding Fathers, were they alive today, would be shocked and appalled, but not surprised. As James Madison said, "The management of foreign relations appears to be the most susceptible of abuse of all the trusts committed to a Government." The Founders saw this firsthand as they fought a war against a world power that in the eighteenth century occupied a position similar, in certain relevant respects, to America's today (though America's actions have been more destructive than Great Britain's ever were); and they designed a new form of government to prevent such tyrannical abuse in the future. Mr. Blum demonstrates that perhaps millions of people--some Americans, but mostly those non-Americans who used to look to America for inspiration and hope--have died as a result of the corruption of the constitutional government the Founders designed. I believe, meaningfully, that America is the greatest country in the world--with respect to her spirit and her original founding principles, if not to what she has become today. Islamic militants and others who denounce America for her embodying Western civilization's greatest achievments are wrong. But they do have an excuse. Instead of being a beacon, lighting the way to liberty and progress, America herself has tragically become a symbol of oppression for many of the world's oppressed. As the title of Mr. Blum's book implies, the actions of America's unaccountable government are "killing" these people's "hope." *Killing Hope* shows us what is wrong with America and the kind of government we must return to if we are to fix her.

 
  Absolutely incredible; a revelation

All my life, when someone happened to criticize the American military interventions abroad, I heard my American friends justify them as "humanitarian missions" designed to help out the oppressed and promote the noble causes of democracy and human rights. I knew this to be grossly untrue, but lacked the specific arguments to counter these claims. Not anymore. Blum's book is singular in the sense that it's the first book I've seen that brought together all the historical evidence of American injustice abroad from WWII till the mid-nineties into one volume. I would also like to emphasize that, unlike many other authors on both sides of the barricades, Blum almost never indulges in idle accusatory speculation. Every fact stated in the book is backed by rock-hard documentation, and every conjecture is a legitimate extrapolation from these facts. Now some readers have criticized the book for "not exposing the crimes of the Soviet Union and China", but they forget that this is a book on the US, not the Soviet bloc; in truth, Blum is in no way condoning Moscow's actions around the world either. Moreover, if one compares the number of books exposing Russia and China with the number of books exposing the US, it would be fair even if a thousand books like this were written. And shame on those who say that the American foreign policy abroad has changed for the better in the nineties.
 
  Brilliant and well written scholarship

In this book, former CIA employee William Blum, more or less analyzes the efforts of the CIA and U.S. government to maintain the status quo in the third world after World Two. He notes in his introductions, that the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917 was regard hysterically by Western elites who immediatley invaded Russia, usuccessfully trying to overthrow the Bolsheviks, while their organs of opinion, exposed in the 1921 Walter Lipmann-Charles Merz study, such as the New York Times reported all sorts of wild stories about Bolesheviks eating Children and making all women property of the state, and reported every unsubstantiated rumor every day that the Bolsheviks were about to be defeated. The Boleshevik revolution, as anathema as it was to genuine populism to say the least, was the first major example of an alternative to the capitalist/colonial world system and was feared by Western elites for that reason.

After World War two, the United States emerged as the supreme power of the world and its only rival was the Soviet Union, which had gobbled up East Europe whose markets had traditionally been dominated by the Western powers. In Italy, Greece, Indochina and elsewhere Communists had gained great popular support, independent of any aid from the Soviet Union, for their opposition to fascism and the old colonial order or status quo. In Italy, the United States almost single handedly engineered the defeat of the very popular Communists in the 1948 election and in Greece they set up a terror and torture regime composed of many Nazi collaborators, and set up a similar regime in South Vietnam to destroy the 1954 Geneva accords.

Throughout this book, there are dozens of instances of CIA and U.S. government operations designed to subvert even the most mildly social democratic governments or engaged in activities like funding innumerable newspapers and labor unions to help subvert the target country. There is the overthrow of the liberal democratic capitalist regime in Guatemala in 1954 after it tried to decrease the power of the United Fruit corporation in their country and permitted civil liberties to communists and finally after years of being denied it from the U.S. or any other source imported a small boatload of arms from the communist block at which point the maniac John Foster Dulles declared that the communists were establishing a beachead in Cetral America designed to overtake the helpless United States , since which Guatemala has turned into a hell on earth, with a series of U.S. backed tin-pot Hitlers. There is the story of the U.S. engaging in the assasination of at least 20,000 South Vietnamese in "Operation Phoenix" or using such instruments of "interrogation" as the Tiger cage and the water board, after which the many victims began to make the trials and tribulation that our heroic B-52 flyers who were shot down and taken captive by the wicked North Vietnamese who didn't think too kindly of all the bombing and napalming of their people.

There is the story of the U.S. overthrowing the right wing populist prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, after he nationalized his country's oil supply, restoring the shah to power whose regime's human rights violations were described by Amnesty International in 1976 as "the worst in the world." There is the story of Green Beret training and much other aid being supplied to the military and their associated death squads in El Salvador which were responsible for most of the deaths in El Salvador during the 80's, as is now quietly conceded by the U.S. government and media. There is the story of the U.S. training the thugs maintained by the Duvaliers in their dictatorship in Haiti and their efforts to undermine the populist priest Jean Bertrand Aristide. There is the story of the United States overthrowing the mildly social democratic regime of Jao Goulart in Brazil setting up a terror and torture regime military regime in 1964. There is the story of the United States launching a campaign of terror and sabotoge against Cuba when Castro took over which has lasted to this day, using such individuals as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carrilles, inevitably driving Castro into the arms of the Soviet Union (the previous dictator, U.S. supported Bautista, had included communists in his cabinet and the Cuban communists were highly ambivalent about Castro). There is the United States overthrowing Indonesian president Sukarno in 1965 on rather dubious charges of communist plotting, completely eliminating the communist party PKI which U.S. officials recognized was the only mass-based political party in Indonesia and that it had gained its support through democratic methods, butchering at least a half a million landless peasants (the PKI's base of support) and installing the barbaric Suharto dictarship which proceeded to plunder the country in cooperation with multinational corporations and butcher 200,000 more in the U.S. backed invasion of East Timor beginning in 1975. There is the story of of the United States pouring tens of millions of dollars into Chile beginning in 1958 to the political opponents of Salvadore Allende and when he was finally elected in 1970, the U.S. proceeded to destroy the economy ("make the economy scream" was Nixon's words in a memo after Allende was elected later documented by the Church Senate committee) and carry out other acts of subversion, paving the way for Pinochet to seize power.

The common response to these revelations is the rather cowardly "Well, it was the Cold War and the Soviets were infiltrating these countries and anyways it's in the past so..." Blum shows that in many instances the only evidence of Communist subversion was U.S. government assertions, ussually accepted gravely by the "liberal" media and the indoctrinated American public, or at best grossly fabricated or distored satellite pictures or "discoveries" of "massive" weapons caches (as in Grenada in 1983). Or the case of Brazil, overthrowing the democrat Goulart in 1964, on the evidence-free theory that communists were about to take over the government and that Goulart was too close to the Soviet Union, following which the military dictatorship greatly expanded Brazil's trade and took great amounts of aid from the Soviet Union. Blum also briefly notes that the 1976-83 "dirty war" dictatorship in Argentina had extensive support from both the United States and the Soviet Union.

What I have outlined above is highly insufficent to describe what is in this book. There are more than fifty five chapters in this 383 page book. Despite its small print and rather heavy documentaion, the book is pretty easy to read. The author's prose is very clear and his ideas are clearly stated and he often shows great learning and even wit.

 
  Not a Conspiracy Theorist

A fact cannot be modified, but it can be
problematised--that is, put under analysis.
William Blum's "Killing Hope" takes the Cold-
War foreign policy of the US and upends
conventional apologies and justifications
for a rather ruthless campaign to stamp
out the ideology that most threatened
American dominance in the world: communism.
Though I met Blum and can attest that he
is no communist, like any decent American he
hates liars. His book exposes lies. Once
an idealistic career servant at the State
Department, Blum turned whistle-blower
after becoming morally nauseated at the
bagful of lies that launched the country
on its disastrous adventure in Vietnam.
"Killing Hope" is an encyclopedic catalogue
of Washington's lies, misdeeds, and subversions
of democracy all over the globe--mostly
carried out in complete secrecy from the
American people. From Chile to China,
Blum shows that "freedom and democracy"
in foreign lands were never primary goals
of US foreign policy but the propaganda
cover for domination and control. Were
this a required book in all US high-school
history books, American youth could
hardly be lining up to serve in wars
that are carried out for exactly
the opposite motives from the stated ones.
In Iraq today, 145,000 soldiers, who went
to fight to liberate Iraq, are finding
out that Iraqis do not thank them for their
sacrifice. Lied to and misused, they often
find this out at the end of a bullet that
strikes them down. To historians like
Blum, this manipulation of American trust is
a crime. His book is, among other things,
a passionate dedication to truth--
and he's not making it up, either.
Declassified government documents are the major
source of his thesis!
 
  A Thorough Critique of American Policy for the Last 50 Years

This is an unbelievably-well-documented expose of American Foregin Policy over the last 50 years. Although his style leaves much to be wanting, Blum's book is filled to the brim with facts that are never discussed by traditional political analysts. Rarely does one catch a glimpse of the underbelly of America Foreign Policy, and that is exactly what Blum here provides. Some reviewers have said that he is a biased Leftist spouting agitprop, or that he is pushing an ideological agenda, but frankly I just didn't see this. If pedaling truth is an ideological activity, then I suppose they are right. The fact is, Blum is a master of weeding through and exposing the lies and propaganda of American policy makers. This is not "disinformation" (as one reviewer put it) but pure, documented facts - and lots of them. Blum comes off as an author who has committed himself to finding and providing the public straight, unvarnished truth - a very difficult project when one considers the extent of government, military and media obfuscation. Although Blum's tone can be distainful and even downright angry at times, it is nonetheless justified. As you will see in the book, the United States government has done some terrible things - things that would drive any genuine patriot to righteous indignation. Blum's findings might be difficult for the average American to swallow, but then the truth is like that sometimes. Open your mouth and open your mind. This book is food for rational thought. A timely, much needed expose of an imperialist military that has completely slipped away from public control.