The news from online book dealer is that the sales of the book Rogue State: a Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (London: Zed Books, 2000) are suddenly booming.

The “rogue state” in the title is neither Libya, Iran, North Korea, or any other country the United States has described in those terms. The “rogue state” is the US itself.

Written by William Blum, formerly of the US State Department and a long-time US foreign policy critic (among his other works are Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, and Essays on the American Empire), Rogue State wasn’t exactly a best seller—until Osama Bin Laden told Americans last week that “it is useful for you to read {it}.”

The world’s most wanted man made the suggestion in his latest audiotape message. The suggestion apparently did not fall on deaf ears. As of Friday, said Reuters news agency, the book had jumped from 206,000th to 30th in Amazon sales.

Although updated in 2002, Rogue State was published a year before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that have been blamed on the Al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden.

But the 2002 edition does have an author’s foreword (“Concerning September 11, 2001 and the Bombing of Pakistan”) about September 11, 2001. Coincidentally, chapter one of the 2000 edition of Blum’s book is entitled “Why do terrorists keep picking on the United States?”

Blum maintains that contrary to US government claims that the attackers were motivated solely and simply by unreasoning hatred of the US, the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and on the Pentagon (the seat of US military power) were “by no means inexplicable.”

The attacks, says Blum are “retribution for decades of military, economic and political oppression imposed upon the Middle East and the mainly Muslim population who live there by the American Empire…”

US intervention, Blum argues, has not been in behalf of peace, progress and democracy as a succession of US Presidents from Harry Truman to George W. Bush has claimed, but in behalf of profit, war and repression. Blum painstakingly documents US intervention in dozens of countries from 1945 to the present which resulted in preventing development, and in gross human rights violations while advancing US economic and strategic interests.

But chapter 17 (“A Concise History of United States Global Interventions from 1945 to the Present”) is not limited to either the Middle East or Latin America. It includes instances of US intervention in China from 1945 to 1951; in the Marshall Islands from 1946 -58; in Italy, 1947-70s; in Greece, 1947-49; Korea, 1945- 53; Albania, 1949-53; Eastern Europe, 1948-56; Germany, 1950s; Indonesia, 1957-58; Western Europe, 1950s-60s, Vietnam, 1945-73, as well as in Africa (Blum contends that the US Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] was responsible for the capture of Nelson Mandela by the South African apartheid regime in the late 1970s) .

Of interest to Filipinos are the instances of US intervention in the Philippines Blum mentions. From 1945- 1953, says Blum, US forces were fighting the Huks “even while the Huks were still fighting the Japanese invaders in [World War II]. After the war, the US organized Philippine armed forces to continue the fight against the Huks…” In addition, “the CIA interfered grossly in elections, installing a series of puppets as president, culminating in the long dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos…”

The Philippines from the 1970s to the 1990s Blum describes as “another scenario of poverty, social injustice, death squads, torture, etc. leading to wide-ranging protest and resistance,” to which the US and the CIA responded by coming “to the aid of the government in suppressing such movements.” For example, says Blum, the Reagan government approved a billion two-year plan for increased CIA involvement in the Marcos regime’s anti-insurgency campaign before the regime collapsed.

The Philippines was “the most strategic location for US war-making in Asia, the site of numerous American military bases” which it tried to retain by, among other subterfuges, claiming in 1991 that the surveys showed that from 68 to 81 percent of Filipinos favored their retention. “The polls, however, never existed,” says Blum. He quotes a US embassy official in the Philippines as telling the Los Angeles Times in September that year that he “made the numbers up.”

The CIA also “stage-managed Philippine elections” in the 1950s “with extensive disinformation campaigns, heavy financing of candidates, writing their speeches, drugging the drinks of one of the opponents of the CIA candidate so he would appear incoherent, plotting the assassination of another candidate.”

What’s interesting is that in the early 1960s the suspicion among progressive circles in the Philippines, the late historian Renato Constantino used to say, was that Senator Claro M. Recto, who had run against Ramon Magsaysay for president, had been assassinated for being “anti-American.” Recto had died while abroad of a purported heart attack.

Blum’s point in chronicling US intervention all over the world is that “From 1945 to the end of the [20th] century, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes. In the process, the U.S. caused the [deaths] of several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair”

How to regard Blum’s book given its thesis most Americans—and certainly a lot of Filipinos—would find shocking? The only way to find out if the facts Blum has put together prove its main point is to read Rogue State. It is available in the Philippines as an Ibon book.

(Business Mirror)

Prof. Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he used to teach journalism. He writes political commentary for BusinessWorld.

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  1. “ROGUE STATE” is truly a fact-filled documentary book on American intervention all over the world. It’s nice to know IBON has it available.

    I also recommend “KILLING HOPE” (2003 edition) also by William Blum. This well-researched book is an excellent indicment of the lies and misleading propaganda in US foreign policy. Hopefully IBON will also have a cheaper edition.

    Both books are extremely informative for every American and Filipino citizen, who are mostly miseducated -if not intentionally mislead- by official and mainline versions of US history.

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