more than they would label it a terrorist state or sponsor of terror, no matter how close
the fit. If a country is sufficiently powerful, it naturally assumes the role of global
policeman, and as such it designates who are terrorists and rogues. This role is accepted
and internalized not only by its own media, but by politicians and the media of its allied
and client states. As La Fontaine pointed out in his fable "The Wolf and the
Sheep," "The opinion of the Biggest is always the best."
Under the rule of the Biggest, the law and rules of morality only apply to others, not
to the ruler himself. This double standard rests on sheer power. It is effected through a
variety of processes involving the mainstream media, which ignore or play down outrageous
behavior and law violations by the ruler, but wax indignant at comparable or lesser enemy
actions. Cuba’s shooting down of a Cuban refugee plane which flew over its territory was
excoriated by the media, but disclosure of multiple U.S. attempts to assassinate Castro
caused neither indignation nor reflection on "who is the terrorist." When the
global rogue justified terrorizing Nicaragua in the 1980s by the "national security
threat" posed by that tiny power, and bombed Baghdad in 1993 following an alleged
Iraqi plot to assassinate former president George Bush, on the ground of the right to
"self defense," nobody important responded with laughter or indignation. The
absurd rationalizations were reported "objectively" and the violent acts were
accepted and normalized.
Misusing the UN and World Court Nothing illustrates the global rogue’s lack of
principle and propensity to unilateralism better than its treatment of the UN and World
Court. When the UN or Court have failed to serve its purposes, the global rogue has
assailed them, refused to pay its dues (in violation of the law), withdrawn from UN
organizations (UNESCO, ILO), and simply ignored a UN consensus or Court ruling. The U.S.
has used the UN as a cover for its own agenda, but not allowed the UN to function where
its positions were inconsistent with that agenda.
The most notable recent case of using (and misusing) the UN was the 1990-1991 assault
on Iraq, and the sanctions imposed on Iraq which continue to this day. Here the U.S. was
deeply upset over an illegal occupation in violation of the UN Charter. And by the
aggressive use of its power to coerce and bribe support (well described in Phyllis
Bennis’s valuable Calling the Shots, chap. 2), the global rogue was able to get the UN to
give it a free hand to crush Iraq and keep it crushed thereafter–with a cumulative
civilian death toll in the hundreds of thousands. The rogue actually violated the UN
charter in implementing the UN resolution giving it a free hand, by resolutely refusing to
consider any peaceful settlement and insisting on a military attack. Its use of weapons
like uranium enhanced shells and fuel air bombs, the slaughter of large numbers of
completely helpless and fleeing soldiers (along with many refugees), burying many of them
in unmarked graves, and bulldozing sand over Iraqi trenches killing hundreds more,
violated the rules of war, under UN cover.
With Iraq, the global rogue was teaching a lesson to a retail rogue who had crossed it.
Clients of the global rogue are treated differently. South Africa, which illegally
occupied Namibia, and used it as a jumping off place to invade Angola and support
Savimibi, and also attacked and terrorized all the other front line states for several
decades, was perhaps the number one retail rogue and terrorist state of the last half
century. Its occupation of Namibia was condemned by the Security Council, General Assembly
and World Court from the late 1960s, and it was ordered to withdraw. But it refused to
obey, and no attempt was made to force the termination of that occupation. The U.S. was
"constructively engaged" with South Africa, and collaborated with it in its
support of Savimbi and attacks on Angola and the front line states.
Another important case has been that of Israel, which occupied the West Bank and Gaza
Strip in 1967, and although Security Council resolution 242 called upon Israel to withdraw
it has refused to do so for two decades, without penalty. Israel was also condemned for
its collaboration with South Africa and maltreatment of the Palestinians in a long series
of UN resolutions. But as the U.S. supports Israel, its occupation and abuses are beyond
the reach of UN authority. The U.S. has vetoed some 40 resolutions condemning Israel, and
successfully prevents any action constraining it or protecting its victims. The votes are
usually in the order of 150- 2, but this near unanimity cannot offset the power of the
In the case of the World Court, the U.S. used it effectively against Iran and other
states, but when the Court ruled in favor of Nicaragua in 1986, calling for U.S.
reparations for the "unlawful use of force," the U.S. denounced and simply
ignored the ruling. In a telling revelation of the subservience of the U.S. media to the
global rogue’s prerogatives, the New York Times editorialized in support of the U.S.
refusal to accept the Court’s ruling, calling the Court a "hostile forum." As
regards the UN, also, the Times and its media conferes have followed the official agenda,
finding the UN ineffectual and wrong-headed when not serving U.S. interests, but finally
recovering its proper role, as in the Persian Gulf war, when it functions as a U.S.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, and virtual U.S. control of the Security
Council, the U.S. now regularly bypasses the World Court, and, of course, the UN General
Assembly, in carrying out its agenda. Thus it was not only able to use the UN as a cover
for war and retribution against Iraq, it has successfully used the Security Council to
impose sanctions on Libya for refusing to turn over to the U.S. and Britain two suspects
in the bombing of Pan Am 103. Libya denies that the Security Council has jurisdiction and
objects to any trial by the biased protagonists, but the World Court has deferred to the
Security Council, so this U.S.-dominated body now has a free hand to designate rogues and
terrorists. No client of the global rogue has been subjected to sanctions under this
Global Rogue Aggressions
Ignoring both minor bombing raids and the numerous subversive
efforts not involving military forces, since the end of World War II the United States has
commited acts of aggression against Guatemala (1954), Lebanon (1958), the Dominican
Republic (1965), Vietnam (1954-75), Laos (1964-1975), Cambodia (1969-1975), Nicaragua
(1980-1990), Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989). I would argue that the Persian Gulf war was
also a case of U.S. aggression, as the U.S. took advantage of Iraq’s aggression against
Kuwait to smash a regional power that had defied it. In short, the U.S. has been the
number one international aggressor over the past 50 years.
In the case of the Vietnam War, the global rogue was able to ignore the 1954 Geneva
Accords, place a puppet in power in South Vietnam, invade and bomb all of Indochina,
killing as many as four million people over two decades, without the slightest
interference from the UN or World Court. In the case of Panama, the rogue invaded in 1989
to capture its leader, Noriega, allegedly for drug dealing and authoritarian rule. But
Noriega had been on the U.S. payroll for years while dealing in drugs and ruling by
terror. The real reason for the invasion was Noriega’s refusal to collaborate with the
U.S. in its illegal attacks on Nicaragua. Again, the U.S. veto and overall power allowed
this multi-leveled rogue operation to go forward without impediment.
Terrorism and Sponsorship of Regimes of Terror
As noted, the U.S. has been able to label its targets and victims
"terrorists" as well as rogues. Terrorist groups supported and sponsored by the
U.S., like Savimbi in Angola, the Nicaraguan contras, and the Cuban refugee network–which
has operated out of the U.S. itself–are "freedom fighters," not terrorists, by
right of sponsorship.
The CIA and U.S. military forces have been outstanding direct instruments of terror:
William Blum in Killing Hope lists 35 individuals or groups known to have been targeted by
U.S. agents in assassination attempts, some (like Castro and Kaddafi) repeatedly, and with
quite a few successfully killed. Larger scale U.S. terrorism has been carried out by its
military establishment, with vastly larger civilian casualties, and the establishment
terrorism expert J. Bowyer Bell acknowledged that a legitimate question had been raised as
to why the "use of American B-52s over Hanoi was an appropriate military exercise,
while the Palestinian use of incendiary grenades in Rome was not." Bell never
answered the question, but we can do that easily: the Biggest defines what is terrorism as
well as who is a rogue.
U.S.-protected clients have also been in the forefront of world terrorism: the massacre
of some 600 civilians by the Salvadoran army at the Rio Sumpul river in 1980, the killing
of over 600 by South Africa in the Kassinga refugee camp in Angola in 1978, and the
Phalange-Israeli massacre of over 1,800 Palestinians at Sabra- Shatila in 1982, each
equaled or exceeded the collective total of the Western favorites–the PLO, Baader Meinhof
gang and Red Brigades. These are just single episodes by regimes that did a lot of
killing. U.S. sponsorship of the National Security State in Latin America, and of regimes
like those of Marcos, Mobutu, the Shah of Iran, Suharto, and the Greek colonels, involved
the support of serious state terrorism on a global scale. "The real terror
network," described in my book of that name (South End, 1982) was a creation of U.S.
policy for its own backyard, designed to get rid of obstacles to market expansion and
U.S.-amenable rule by terror. It is the genius of the Western propaganda system that, in
the face of this reality, the U.S. was and is today portrayed as the steadfast opponent of
The economic rules of the game also apply mainly to others, not
to the Biggest. During the 1980s, when the Japanese auto industry was badly outcompeting
that of the U.S., quotas were imposed by the U.S. in a protectionist system that was
applied also in the steel and other industries. This was the same period in which the U.S.
was engaged in "aggressive unilateralism," bullying other countries into opening
their markets on the ground of sacred free trade principles.
Far more gross has been the U.S. use of food warfare and trade/investment boycotts
against political targets like Vietnam, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua and other states that
cross it. These boycotts have caused serious hunger, disease and death in the victim
countries, although it is often hard to separate the effects of food warfare from those of
U.S. direct and proxy military operations. In Nicaragua in the 1980s, the two together
helped reduce household real incomes by some 50 percent, contributing to widespread
malnutrition, a weakened health care system, and eventually the desired ouster of the
Sandinista government. The U.S. policy of "destructive engagement" with Cuba has
also substantially affected the Cuban standard of living and health conditions. The
American Association of World Health recently reported that food warfare against Cuba
"has contributed to serious nutritional deficits, particularly among pregnant women,
leading to an increase in low birth-weight babies. In addition, food shortages were linked
to a devastating outbreak of neuropathy numbering in the tens of thousands." Caloric
intake fell by one third between 1989 and 1993, and curtailed access to water treatment
chemicals and medicines has also taken a heavy toll.
The U.S. boycotts of Cuba and Iran and threats to retaliate against foreign companies
doing business with them–a form of secondary boycott–violates the global trade rules
that the U.S. helped put together, but it exempts itself, usually on the ground of
"national security," and its power allows it to get away with self exemption.
And the mainstream media, so indignant at the Arab secondary boycott of companies doing
business with Israel after the 1967 war, make no comparisons and berate the U.S. allies
for disloyalty to the Biggest.
Other countries are also expected to make national economic adjustments to reestablish
equilibrium that the Biggest doesn’t choose to make. A large U.S. trade deficit, for
example, could be reduced by policy changes by either the U.S. or by Japan and other major
allies. Japanese and European expansionary policies would increase their incomes and
prices, and thus enlarge their imports from the U.S. and reduce their exports. On the
other hand, the U.S. deficit could be reduced by U.S. contractionary policies that would
curtail U.S. imports and increase U.S. exports. The U.S. may expect others to carry out
painful contractionary policies, but it naturally does not entertain the possibility that
it should be subject to similar pain. From 1945 until today the U.S. has expected the
foreign countries to do the adjusting.
Possibly the most important form of economic terrorism carried out by the global rogue
has been its contribution to the ongoing aggressive imposition of the neoliberal model of
economic life on peoples everywhere. The U.S. has not been alone in pushing this program,
which has the support of the community of transnational corporations across the globe, as
well as many states whose governments are in thrall to this powerful community. But the
Biggest, home of a sizable fraction of transnationals and effectively dominating the IMF
and World Bank, has been the leader. The imposition of this model has stripped countries
of autonomy and weakened the ability of national majorities to organize and seek change
through traditional political processes. It has been associated with a massive upward
redistribution of income and wealth and immense misery to the hundreds of millions of
losers in the new class war.
Such abuse of power and exploitation by imperial top dogs is not new, as the earlier
reigns of Britain and Spain make clear. What is new, however, is the hypocrisy in the
exalted self-image of the U.S. as the redeemer nation, bringing "democracy" to
the world, as it fights against "protectionism" and the demon retail terrorists
and rogue states, constructed to provide its sense of exoneration and purity.