by William Blum
Since The Great Flood hit Pakistan in July ...
- many millions have been displaced, evacuated, stranded or lost their homes; numerous roads, schools and health clinics destroyed
- hundreds of villages washed away
- millions of livestock have perished; for the rural poor something akin to a Western stock market crash that wipes out years of savings
- countless farms decimated, including critical crops like corn; officials say the damage is in the hundreds of millions of dollars and it does not appear that Pakistan will recover within the next few years
- infectious diseases are rising sharply
- airplanes of the United States of America have flown over Pakistan and dropped bombs on dozens of occasions 1
I direct these remarks to readers who have to deal with Americans who turn into a stone wall upon hearing the United States accused of acting immorally; America, they are convinced, means well; our motives are noble. And if we do do something that looks bad, and the badness can't easily be covered up or explained away ... well, great powers have always done things like that, we're no worse than the other great powers of history, and a lot better than most. God bless America.
A certain percentage of such people do change eventually and stop rationalizing; this happens usually after being confronted X-number of times with evidence of the less-than-beautiful behavior of their government around the world. The value of X of course varies with the individual; so don't give up trying to educate the hardened Americans you come in contact with. You never know when your enlightening them about a particular wickedness of their favorite country will be the straw that breaks their imperialist-loving back. (But remember the warning from Friedrich Schiller of Germany: Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens. — "With stupidity even the gods struggle in vain.")
Here's a recent revelation of wickedness that might serve to move certain of the unenlightened: New evidence has recently come to light that reinforces the view of a CIA role in the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of The Congo following its independence from Belgium in 1960. The United States didn't pull the trigger, but it did just about everything else, including giving the green light to the Congolese officials who had kidnaped Lumumba. CIA Station Chief Larry Devlin, we now know, was consulted by these officials about the transfer of Lumumba to his sworn enemies. Devlin signaled them that he had no objection to it. Lumumba's fate was sealed. 2
It was a classic Cold War example of anti-communism carried to absurd and cruel lengths. Years later, Under Secretary of State C. Douglas Dillon told a Senate investigating committee that the National Security Council and President Eisenhower had believed in 1960 that Lumumba was a "very difficult if not impossible person to deal with, and was dangerous to the peace and safety of the world." 3 This statement moved author Jonathan Kwitny to observe:
How far beyond the dreams of a barefoot jungle postal clerk in 1956, that in a few short years he would be dangerous to the peace and safety of the world! The perception seems insane, particularly coming from the National Security Council, which really does have the power to end all human life within hours. 4
President Eisenhower personally gave the order to kill the progressive African leader. 5
We can't know for sure what life for the Congolese people would have been like had Lumumba been allowed to remain in office. But we do know what followed his assassination — one vicious dictator after another presiding over 50 years of mass murder, rape, and destruction as competing national forces and neighboring states fought endlessly over the vast mineral wealth in the country. The Congo would not hold another democratic election for 46 years.
Overthrowing a country's last great hope, with disastrous consequences, is an historical pattern found throughout the long chronicle of American imperialist interventions, from Iran and Guatemala in the 1950s to Haiti and Afghanistan in the 1990s, with many examples in between. Washington has been working on Hugo Chávez in Venezuela for a decade.
Just like the commercials that warn you "Don't try this at home", I urge you not to waste your time trying to educate the likes of Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, who not long ago referred to "the men and women of the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps" as "the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century." 6 What can you say to such a man? And this is the leading foreign policy columnist for America's "newspaper of record". God help us. The man could use some adult supervision.
- Wikipedia, Drone attacks in Pakistan ↩
- AllAfrica.com, New Evidence Shows U.S. Role in Congo's Decision to Send Patrice Lumumba to His Death, August 1st 2010↩
- The Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (US Senate: The Church Committee), Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, November 20, 1975, p.58↩
- Jonathan Kwitny, Endless Enemies: The Making of an Unfriendly World (1984), p.57↩
- New York Times, February 22, 1976, p.55 ↩
- New York Times, October 11, 2009↩