William Blum on U.S. foreign policy

January 4, 2014

William Blum on the underlying motives of U.S. foreign policy. --PG

Follow Critical Reading on Twitter: @CriticalReading. Subscribe to Critical Reading's public updates on Facebook.

“Our Leaders Do Not Mean Well”

Saturday, 04 January 2014 09:20
By Daniel Falcone, Truthout | Opinion

William Blum is an American author, critic of American foreign policy and retired employee of the US State Department. He is the author of numerous books and articles discussing uncoverings of the Central Intelligence Agency and writes about our involvement in worldwide terror operations, often in the name of democracy. Blum is the author of the famous book Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II (Common Courage Press). The book enjoyed remarkable success, becoming required reading for students and professions in numerous fields. Professor Noam Chomsky said of the book, “It is far and away the best book on the topic.” The book is astounding, as Blum breaks down the post-war CIA in more than 50 fascinating chapters. Actions everywhere from Albania to Zaire are discussed in the book. I met with William Blum in early December in Washington, DC.

Daniel Falcone: Could you tell me something about your educational background and your schooling and how that formulated your conceptions of foreign policy?

William Blum: My interest in and my knowledge of US foreign policy are entirely self-taught. It doesn't come from school. In college, I majored in accounting, of all things, and I worked as an accountant for years. And then I worked as a computer programmer and systems analyst, including at the State Department, where I wanted to become a foreign-service officer. I was working there with computers only to get my foot in the door. But then this was in the mid-'60s, and a thing called Vietnam came along and changed my entire thinking and my life. And I abandoned my aspiration of becoming a foreign-service officer, and I became a leading anti-war activist in DC in '65 and '66 and '67. The security department at State was not unaware of what of what I was doing, and then they called me in eventually and told me I would be happier working in the private sector. And I couldn't argue with that. So I left, and I began writing. I was one of the founders of the Washington Free Press, the first underground newspaper in DC.

What do you think the people need to know who are interested in military history or the history of the Vietnam War or how American foreign policy is essentially made in the United States?

The most important lesson one can acquire about US foreign policy is the understanding that our leaders do not mean well. They do not have any noble goals of democracy and freedom and all that jazz. They aim to dominate the world by any means necessary. And as long as an American believes that the intentions are noble and honorable, it's very difficult to penetrate that wall. That wall surrounds the thinking and blocks any attempt to make them realize the harm being done by US foreign policy. That's what's in my writing and in my speaking. My main aim is usually to penetrate that wall of belief that we mean well.

How do you think people that are a part of the electorate today and participants in the two major parties differentiate President Bush from President Obama, and what are the differences between the two in approach of the office in terms of diplomacy, meaning in terms of diplomacy or foreign affairs?

Well, in foreign policy there's no difference. I cannot name any significant difference in foreign policy between Bush and Obama. Obama is, perhaps, worse. He's invaded six nations already. I cannot think of any way to point out that Obama is less of an imperialist than Bush. The Obama supporters would love to think he's better and they would argue even - and they do argue that it's the Republicans who forced him to do what he did. It's like - it's on par with the dog ate my homework. I get this again and again. If Obama was free to do what he wants, he would be an angel or at least much better than he is now. I don't buy that. He's the most powerful person in the world, and he's just lacking courage - he's lacking belief, too. That's even more important. I've written this several times about Obama. There's nothing really important to that man except being president of the United States. That he likes. He likes what goes with that. But there's no issue that he would not compromise on. He's willing to take any side of any issue in order to get elected. So he's no better than Bush. Bush at least believes what he says, I think. Obama doesn't even do that.