"You use virtually any method necessary to get what you want", asserts Major Joseph Blair, instructor in the early 1980s at the School of the Americas, Georgia, where the military personnel of US-sponsored Latin American dictatorships were "taught interrogation and torture techniques", the manuals now in the public domain.
"Torture?" asks Pilger.
"And killing. If there's someone you don't want, you kill them ... you assassinate them with one of your death squads."
From the gunning down of unarmed mourners at a funeral in El Salvador, through the US-backed campaign against the indigenous Mayan people of Guatemala (described by the United Nations as 'genocide'), the systematic massacre in one Salvadorian village of at least 200 defenceless women and children ("You could hear their screams for their mothers and fathers", testifies a survivor), to the gang rape of nuns orchestrated by a man identified as an American national in Guatemala's torture chambers, John Pilger's well researched narrative documents the United States' rampage, through its clients and proxies, of subversion, suppression, plunder, and murder throughout the Latin American continent since 1945, brutally overthrowing democratically elected governments in Guatemala, Venezuela, Chile, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.
"Is that OK to overthrow a democratically elected government?" asks Pilger of Duane Clarridge, head of the CIA's Latin American division in the early 1980s.
"It depends on what your national security interests are", comes Clarridge's response.
Questioned on the carnage wrought on the civilian populations of America's client dictatorships in Latin America, Clarridge peremptorily replies: "That's just tough ... and if you don't like it, lump it. Get used to it, world ... if our interests are threatened, we're gonna do it". And what are those interests? The US-sponsored coup to oust Chavez as President of oil-rich Venezuela rehearses a typical story: read 'economic interests', 'security' a code word for rapacious greed by the large corporations who, it becomes clear (but have we ever doubted it? presidential candidate Ron Paul indeed made it a platform of his 2008 campaign), effectively own the US government.
Challenging George W. Bush's assessment in the wake of 9/11 that the US was attacked because "they hate our freedoms", Osama bin Laden poignantly retorted: "Let him tell us why we did not strike Sweden, for example." For it has rather been a succession of US administrations, hand-in-glove with powerful monied elites, who have ruthlessly demonstrated beyond question a hatred of freedom, a hatred of democracy, a contempt for human rights and human dignity, where these conflict with America's economic "interests".
Sister Dianna Ortiz, an America nun and missionary who survived torture and gang-rape by the military in Guatemala, reflects painfully on her own experiences in 1989: "I've heard people say that what happened in Abu Ghraib is an isolated incident, and I have to just shake my head and say, 'Are we on the same planet? Aren't you aware of our history? Isn't history taught in the classroom?'" John Pilger's courageous and shocking film, The War On Democracy, should unquestionably be on that History curriculum.