It is remarkable that the US government is still going around dropping huge amounts of exceedingly powerful explosives on the heads of defenceless people. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
In the late 1980s Mikhail Gorbachev put an end to the Soviet police state; then the Berlin Wall came down and people all over Eastern Europe were joyfully celebrating. South Africa freed Nelson Mandela and apartheid began to crumble.Haiti held its first free election ever and chose a genuine progressive as president. It seemed like anything was possible, optimism was as widespread then as pessimism is today.
And the United States joined this celebration by invading and bombing Panama. At the same time it was shamelessly intervening in the election in Nicaragua to defeat the Sandinistas. Then, when Albania and Bulgaria, "newly freed from the grip of communism", as our media put it, dared to elect governments not acceptable to Washington, Washington just stepped in and overthrew those governments. Soon came the bombing of the people of Iraq for 40 horrible days without mercy.
And that was that for our hopes of a different and better world.
But our leaders were not finished. They were soon bombing and killing in Somalia. They intervened to put down dissident movements in Peru, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia. They bombed the people of Yugoslavia for 78 days and nights and then they bombed Afghanistan for many months - and in all likelihood have by now killed more innocent civilians in that sad country than were killed here on September 11.
There was none of the peace dividend we had been promised for the end of the cold war, not for Americans and not for the rest of the world.
We had been taught since childhood that the cold war involving huge military budgets, foreign invasions and overthrow of governments was all to fight the "International Communist Conspiracy", headquarters in Moscow.
So what happened? The Soviet Union was dissolved. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved. The East European Soviet satellites became independent. The former communists even became capitalists.
... and nothing changed in American foreign policy. Even NATO, created to protect western Europe against a Soviet invasion, remained.
The whole thing had been a con game. The Soviet Union and something called communism per se had not been the object of our global attacks. There had never been an international communist conspiracy. The enemy was, and remains, any government, movement, or even individual, that stands in the way of the expansion of the American Empire.
You think the American Empire is against terrorists? What do you call a man who blows up an aeroplane killing 73 people? Who attempts assassinations against several diplomats? Who fires cannons at ships docked in American ports? Who places bombs in numerous commercial and diplomatic buildings in the US and abroad?
His name is Orlando Bosch, he's Cuban and lives in Miami, unmolested by the authorities. The city of Miami once declared a day in his honour - Orlando Bosch Day. He was freed from prison in Venezuela, where he had been held for the aeroplane bombing, partly because of pressure from the American ambassador, Otto Reich, who earlier this year was appointed to the State Department by George Bush.
This is an edited version of a speech given on October 22, 2002. William Blum is in Australia to speak at the Brisbane Social Forum on March 22, 2003. Click here for more information.
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