Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire Paperback – 15 Sep 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
This book includes a selection from his Anti-Empire Reports, available at [...] studies of some US interventions; an overview of the Cold War, showing how Cold Warriors have consistently used Goebbels’ biggest and most-repeated lie about communist aggression and violence; and studies of the unemployment and poverty inflicted on American workers, exposing the myth, peddled by Gordon Brown among others, of the USA’s booming economy.
Blum exposes the US state’s current political violence against Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. Charles Clarke should perhaps readdress to George Bush and wormtongue Blair his remarks about how political violence is so unnecessary nowadays.
Contrary to Blair, the war on Iraq has not made us safer. Blum cites the US State Department as witness: “Tensions remaining from the recent events in Iraq may increase the potential threat to US citizens and interests abroad, including by terrorist groups.” (Voice of America News, 21 April 2003.)
Blum quotes a leading member of Al Qa’ida who threatened that they will bomb people in Britain “until the people of the country themselves recognise that this is going to go on until they get the leadership changed.” Oh, no, sorry, that was Britain’s Admiral Sir Michael Boyce threatening to keep bombing people in Afghanistan.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"We can say the United States runs the world like the Taliban ran Afghanistan. Cuba is dealth with like a woman caught outside not wearing her burkha. Horrific sanctions are imposed on Iraq in the manner of banning music, dancing and kite-flying in Kabul. Jean-Bertrand Aristide is banished from Haiti like religious police whipping a man whose beard is not the right length."
The rest of the introduction explains that what the Bush admin does in the world has been done to death by virtually every president for a long time (100yrs+), but it's only now that people want to do something about it. After that the book is split into four parts: one containing the Anti-Empire Reports from the author's website, [...] the second is about US interventions, the third is about the Cold War & the last is about US domestic policy. I would say the highlights from the US interventions part is the transcript of a speech he gave on why terrorists keep picking on the United States (it's not because they "hate freedom") and the author's presentation & commentary on a debate on US foreign policy at Trinity College, Dublin. Part III (the Cold War) starts with commentary on anti-Communism with samples of American anti-Communst propaganda (which sound hilarious now). The highlight would have to be the chapter on the US bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. It has been said that the bombing of those two cities wasn't the final shot of WWII, but the first shot of the Cold War. (see the book for more details ;) ) The last part is about "the Empire at Home" including email correspondence with some of his critics, Cuban political prisoners (in the US), John Kerry, & some articles of the author's in London's Ecologist, including a review of Greg Palast's The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. This book isn't as heavily footnoted as Killing Hope or Rogue State, partly because some chapters are transcripts of talks he has given, or they are newspaper/magazine articles. If you're a fan of Blum (like me), I think this book is a good buy, but if not, I would say that his other two books would be better for non-fans since they have more of a focus and it's easier to find out where Blum found something out.
This book includes a selection from his Anti-Empire Reports, available at [...] studies of some US interventions; an overview of the Cold War, showing how Cold Warriors have consistently used Goebbels' biggest and most-repeated lie about communist aggression and violence; and studies of the unemployment and poverty inflicted on American workers, exposing the myth, peddled by Gordon Brown among others, of the USA's booming economy.
Blum exposes the US state's current political violence against Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. Charles Clarke should perhaps readdress to George Bush and wormtongue Blair his remarks about how political violence is so unnecessary nowadays.
Contrary to Blair, the war on Iraq has not made us safer. Blum cites the US State Department as witness: "Tensions remaining from the recent events in Iraq may increase the potential threat to US citizens and interests abroad, including by terrorist groups." (Voice of America News, 21 April 2003.)
Blum quotes a leading member of Al Qa'ida who threatened that they will bomb people in Britain "until the people of the country themselves recognise that this is going to go on until they get the leadership changed." Oh, no, sorry, that was Britain's Admiral Sir Michael Boyce threatening to keep bombing people in Afghanistan.
Strangely enough, people the world over tend to react hostilely to aggression and violence. Colin Powell wrote of the 1983 US assault on Lebanon, "The U.S.S. New Jersey started hurling 16-inch shells into the mountains above Beirut, in World War II style, as if we were softening up the beaches on some Pacific atoll prior to an invasion. What we tend to overlook in such situations is that other people will react much as we would." Was he glorifying terrorism?
"If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize to all the widows and orphans, the tortured and impoverished, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. Then I would announce, in all sincerity, to every corner of the world, that America's global interventions have come to an end, and inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the USA but now -- oddly enough -- a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. There would be more than enough money. One year's military budget of 330 billion dollars is equal to more than $18,000 an hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born. That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated."
- William Blum
Blum's small volume won't furnish a definitive answer, but it will point the reader in the right direction. A collection of scatter-shot essays from one of empire's chief critics, the chapters are simply too brief and casual to have scholarly impact. I'm sure that critics, lacking better arguments, will dismiss the book as anti-American. Although the 26 chapters may be wide-ranging and impossible to organize, they add up to a damning glimpse at several of Washington's most cherished pieties-- 1) Our government respects democracy, 2) We're fighting terrorism everywhere, and 3) Our interventions are humanitarian. Washington expects us to swallow these truisms since everyone in authority keeps repeating them. Besides, "unAmerican" ideas like the author's aren't taught in school, read in newspapers, and are never, never seen on tv. No wonder, as Blum points out, 27% of adult Americans believe the sun revolves around the earth! For a culture that appears to equate critical thinking with a lack of patriotism, Blum's caustic aspersions on our popular mind-set seem a reasonable response.
Despite the book's mediocre quality, the author remains one of the most clear-eyed observers of America's far-flung and aggressive empire-- the 800 lb. gorilla no one wants to admit is in the room. Readers made curious by this loose collection should pick up Blum's master-work, Killing Hope, for a definitive look at how the empire operates. My one real complaint-- Why does the book conclude with a self indulgent cheap-shot at reality-challenged Angelenos? Mr. Blum should know that I, for one, live in Los Angeles and can assure him that I do not consult my astrological chart or any other psychic source for daily advice. No sir-ee, my wife does it for me.
Our double standard transcends presidents and parties, but Blum believes national conduct is most transparent under George W. Bush. Foreign policy is either done our way or else we invade and bomb the living daylights out of everything we can get a hold of.
It's not at all surprising this approach fails to convince countries that America is `good' and is actually shrinking our global status.
Blum's written other (more comprehensive) books providing a badly-needed perspective on American foreign policy. However, collections are useful 'intro' gifts.