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Items of Interest from a Journal I’ve Kept for 40 years, Part V


  • A Bush administration regulation on Sept. 30, 2004 said Americans cannot buy or smoke Cuban cigars even in countries where the cigars are legal, such as Canada, Mexico, Europe, indeed most of the world. The same goes for Havana Club rum and other Cuban products.
  • April 26th, 2007 posting from the courageous but anonymous Iraqi woman who has, since August 2003, published the indispensable blog Baghdad Burning. Her family, she reported, was finally giving up and going into exile. In her final dispatch, she wrote: "There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends. … And to what?"
  • "God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle Eastern policy and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist." — John LeCarre (London Times, January 15, 2003)
  • Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq admonished his troops regarding the results of an Army survey that found that many U.S. military personnel there are willing to tolerate some torture of suspects and unwilling to report abuse by comrades. "This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we — not our enemies — occupy the moral high ground," he wrote in an open letter dated May 10 and posted on a military Web site. (Washington Post, May 11, 2007)
  • "To most of its citizens, America is exceptional, and it's only natural that it should take exception to certain international standards." — Michael Ignatieff, former Canadian politician and Washington Post columnist
  • It is easy to understand an observation by one of Israel's leading military historians, Martin van Creveld. After the U.S. invaded Iraq, knowing it to be defenseless, he noted, "Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy." — Noam Chomsky
  • "It is easier for an American member of Congress to criticize an American president than to criticize an Israeli Prime Minister; it is easier for them to criticize an unjust and unwarranted US war than one launched by Israel." — Jeffrey Blankfort
  • Ken Livingston, Mayor of London, re: his visit to Cuba in 2006: "What really stood out for me was hearing first hand from people working in the medical services just how appalling the US blockade is. When you meet people who are treating eye disorders and blindness on a huge scale and they describe how difficult it is to get the equipment they need except through indirect routes because of the blockade you get a feel for the scale of the injustice that is being imposed on Cuba." Livingston might have added that the "indirect routes", even if available, are much more expensive.
  • In 1965 when UN Secretary-General U Thant tried to open back-channel ties to the North Vietnamese, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk called him off by shouting: "Who do you think you are, a country?" (Washington Post BookWorld, January 7, 2007)
  • George W. Bush: "Years from now when America looks out on a democratic Middle East, growing in freedom and prosperity, Americans will speak of the battles like Fallujah with the same awe and reverence that we now give to Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima" in World War II. (Associated Press, November 11, 2006)
  • The National Endowment for Democracy was US Government initiated, and although ostensibly "independent," has been continually funded by the US Congress, and its Board has included top level actors in the US Government's foreign policy apparatus, including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, former National Security Council Chair Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz.
  • CBS News, September 9, 2006: Senator Jay Rockefeller says the world would be better off today if the United States had never invaded Iraq. Does Rockefeller stand by his view, even if it means that Saddam Hussein could still be in power if the United States didn't invade? "Yes. Yes." says Rockefeller. "He wasn't going to attack us."
  • William Appleman Williams, in his 2007 book "Empire as a way of life": Analyzing US history from its revolutionary origins to the dawn of the Reagan era, Williams shows how America has always been addicted to empire in its foreign and domestic ideology. Detailing the imperial actions and beliefs of revered figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this book is the most in-depth historical study of the American obsession with empire, and is essential to understanding the origins of our current foreign and domestic undertakings.
  • Compare Washington's reaction in recent years to popular uprisings alleging electoral fraud in the Ukraine and Georgia to its reaction to the same in Mexico in 2006 when the rightwing Felipe Calderon was declared the winner in a very questionable manner.
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, in his talk at the United Nations, September 20, 2006, sharply criticized US president George W. Bush's foreign policies and Bush himself. Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett suggested that the Chávez comments were beyond the pale of diplomatic protocol at the UN. "Even the Democrats wouldn't say that". However, the Guardian reported that "Delegates and leaders from around the world streamed back into the chamber to hear Mr Chávez, and when he stepped down the vigorous applause lasted so long that it had to be curtailed by the chair."
  • Only the imperialist powers have the ability to enforce sanctions and are therefore always exempt from them.

William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

  

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