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March 31, 2011


envelopeTo the editor:

William Blum, the author of three books on U.S. foreign policy and a monthly email newsletter, “The Anti-Empire Report” (, will be coming to speak at the Pitt-Titusville campus, Henne Auditorium, on Saturday, April 2, at 7 p.m., on the topic: “Why Is U.S. Foreign Policy So Hated Around the World?”

As the title suggests, his is a dissident view. In the mainstream corporate media, U.S. foreign policy is presented as well-intentioned, designed to bring “freedom and democracy” to other countries while at the same time protecting them and us from some Great Threat (formerly the “International Communist Conspiracy”; currently “Islamofascist Terrorism”).

But how does the ordinary citizen know if this is true? In a recent article defending WikiLeaks, the conservative British magazine The Economist put it this way: “The careerists scattered about the world in America’s intelligence agencies …  largely operate behind a veil of secrecy executing policy which is itself largely secret. American citizens mostly have no idea what they are doing, or whether what they are doing is working out well. The actually-existing structure and strategy of the American empire remains a near-total mystery to those who foot the bill and whose children fight its wars. And that is the way the elite of America’s unelected permanent state, perhaps the most powerful class of people on Earth, like it.”

If that is not the way you like it, you will want to come hear what William Blum has to say. He will pull back this veil of secrecy to reveal the “dark side” (to use Dick Cheney’s term) of U.S. foreign policy, demonstrating that in practice its principal goal, at least since World War II, has been to control the world and create the “stability” necessary for a “favorable investment climate” in Third World countries.

Official U.S. government statements to the contrary notwithstanding, the guiding principle of our foreign policy, as Blum will explain, has nothing to do with promoting freedom and democracy. Rather, “the engine of American foreign policy has typically been fueled not by a devotion to any type of morality, nor even simple decency, but rather by the necessity to serve other masters, which can be broken down to three imperatives:

1. the care and feeding of American corporations; …

2. preventing the rise of any society that might serve as a successful example of an alternative to the capitalist model;

3. expanding the empire: establishing political, economic and military hegemony over as much of the globe as possible to facilitate the first two imperatives. …

To American policymakers, these ends have justified the means, and all means have been available. Our government has covertly but routinely engaged in: subversion of democracies, support of brutal right-wing dictators, torture, assassination of foreign leaders, bombings and military invasions of other countries. In other words, the United States has acted like every other military empire throughout history.

This view may be highly objectionable to some, especially parents with a child serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. It is not our wish by inviting him to speak to add to anyone’s pain. But what ultimately matters is the truth, whether painful or not. A democracy cannot survive without it.

This talk is free and open to the public. We hope you will come. As the church signs say, “All are welcome.” And, please, bring your skepticism with you.

Mary Ann Caton

Assistant professor, history



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