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Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire by William Blum (Common Courage, 2005, 314 pp.)
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire is the latest addition of William Blums growing canon of books exposing the brutal realities of U.S. government actions. This compilation of essays, written from 1995 to the present, covers a broad range of subjects in the arenas of U.S. foreign and domestic policy, effectively cutting through the fog of propaganda that inevitably obscures such topics.
The book starts with a collection of entries from Blums monthly online newsletter, The Anti-Empire Report, in which he comments on various issues, including the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the coup in Haiti, U.S. rejection of international legal institutions, actions toward Cuba and Libya, the aggressive role of NATO in Eastern Europe, and the domestic effects of U.S. capitalism to name a few.
Next, Blum presents a series of essays further discussing U.S. foreign policy, including an insightful analysis of the relationship between U.S. state violence and anti-U.S. terrorist attacks that refutes the official terrorists hate us for our freedom line. Continuing in this vein, he presents essays on the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, the U.S. role in arming Iraq with chemical and biological weapons, and the actual (as opposed to fabricated) reasons the U.S. invaded Iraq.
The chapter entitled, Interventions: The Unending List is particularly useful and informative. Supplementing his extensive chronicling of U.S. interventions in the books Killing Hope and Rogue State, as well as the cases of Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan described elsewhere in Freeing the World to Death, Blum presents Washingtons most recent interferences into the affairs of defenseless and sovereign nations in Eastern Europe and Latin America. These include Slovakia, Nicaragua, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Venezuela. In this last case, Blum traces the U.S. governments efforts to remove Hugo Chavez from power, from its role in the 2002 coup up to the partial financing of the recent referendum in Venezuela by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a known front for the CIA.
Blums section of chapters on the Cold War helps put Washingtons interventions in historical perspective and details the many instances in which the U.S. government destroyed the possibility of any alternative to the capitalist system. His essay entitled, Hiroshima: Needless Slaughter, Useful Terror makes a compelling case that the atomic attacks on Japanese civilians in World War II were more likely an attempt to intimidate the Soviet Union than end the war.
Subsequently, Blum also discusses contemporary domestic issues, including electoral politics, the economic status of those ignored by elites in this country, and the increasing police state mentality in the United States. In his essay on presidential candidate John Kerry, he lays to rest any illusions the reader may have about a humane foreign policy under a Kerry administration. Kerrys criticism of Bush for not providing more funding for the NED, as well as his stated intention to order direct military action against terrorist groups (i.e., wage preventative war) are among some of the damning examples that Blum provides.
The book ends on an apolitical and humorous note as Blum recounts his surreal interactions with members of the Los Angeles New Age movement, or California Metaphysical Fruitcakes as he calls them. This provides a much-needed comic relief to the atrocities he describes in the preceding pages.
Freeing the World to Death, Blum does not hesitate to challenge
the defenders of U.S. government actions, be they establishment
politicians or ordinary people in the U.S. who believe that their
government is a benevolent world force. In various sections of the
book, he reproduces some of his heated dialogues with these apologists,
including an attempt at discourse with former leftist and current
bombing enthusiast Christopher Hitchens.
Blum additionally takes aim at the often convoluted stances that mainstream liberals tend to take with regard to foreign and domestic policy, citing filmmaker Michael Moores endorsement of Serbia annihilator Wesley Clark for president as a prominent example. Additionally, he notes the curious position of comedian Al Franken, who opposed the war against Iraq, yet entertained U.S. troops in an effort to boost their morale, which helped them more efficiently wage war against Iraq.
Blum also issues a warning to those who believe that the removal of George W. Bush from office is all it takes to end the barrage of violence emanating from Washington: All this wickedness has been exhibited before, regularly; if not packed quite as densely in one administration as under Bush, then certainly abundant enough to reap the abhorrence of millions at home and abroad.
Blum presents his information with a sardonic wit that makes his book easy to read. His comparison of the esoteric ramblings of Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan to those of Chauncey Gardener in the movie Being There and his description of Ayn Rand as the selfishness guru, who turned the emulation of two-year olds into a philosophy of life are two of the many examples of Blums infectious sense of humor. Meticulously documented and thoroughly informative, Freeing the World to Death honors the multitudes who have been smashed under our governments fist and provides an invaluable resource for those who are dedicated to creating a just and decent world.
Rob Marshall is an activist and Z Media Institute alumnus. He holds a masters degree in clinical psychology.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.