An interview with scholar William Blum

William Blum is the author of “Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” (2004), “Rogue State: A Guide to the Worlds Only Super Power” (2000), “West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir” (2002) and “Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire” (2003). His critical look at the United State’s foreign policy is highly recommended by famous enthusiasts, such as Noam Chomsky and even Osama Bin Laden. He will be speaking in the Sugar Maple Ballroom, in the Dudley H. Davis Center on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 7:00 p.m. VC: Can you tell me a bit about the talk that you will be giving on campus, Nov. 1?WB: In my talk I am planning to reveal the myth of U.S. foreign policy. Most Americans believe or maintain that it is valid, but I maintain if they accept these ideas, it keeps them from understanding the true nature of U.S. foreign policy because these are myths. Amongst them is the idea that the U.S. government in its dealings with foreign peoples actually means well, that its intentions are noble. I say that that is a flawed belief.Another myth that concerns Iraq is that even if Saddam Hussein had all of those terrible weapons of mass destruction, it didn’t mean anything if he had no intention of attacking the United States. He had no such intention. He would have had to have been insane and he was not insane. Another big myth has to do with Afghanistan. Many people in the anti-war movement, who are against the War in Iraq, support the U.S.’s invasion of Afghanistan and that is very odd because that is just as questionable.The U.S. has killed tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan, supposedly somehow in retaliation for 9/11. But of those tens of thousands, can anyone name a single person that had any connection to 9/11. It makes no sense. In my talk I will discuss this more directly, but for now that will have to suffice. VC: Was there something in your life that made you question the U.S.’s foreign policy?WB: I was a good, loyal American anti-communist in the 1960s and I was working in the State Department in Washington as a foreign service officer. I joined the holy anti-communist crusade.But then a thing called Vietnam came along and changed my mind completely and I haven’t gone back to my old life ever since. So it was all because of Vietnam. VC: How did you begin writing?WB: Once I got turned on or turned off by Vietnam, and I saw what a horrible war we were causing, I didn’t want any part of that, as a foreign service officer. So I left my job at the State Department and I began the underground press, which is how I started writing, and I became really active in the anti-war movement. VC: What is your most influential book? WB: There are two that might compete for that. One is my first book, “Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II,” and the other book is, “Rogue State: A Guide to the Only World Super Power.” “Killing Hope” has been in print for over twenty years and “Rogue State” has only been in print for seven, but it has been translated into over 10 languages.Rogue State, as you may know, last year, Osama Bin Laden on one of his audio tapes recommended that all Americans read “Rogue State” and that certainly boosted sales although it also cause me to be banned from speaking on college campuses in the U.S.It is only recently that that ban appears to have been lifted. It was a full year that I did not get any approval from any campus to speak there although students who wanted to hear me speak approached me, on a number of occasions. So I am very appreciative when that happens now, like in Vermont.VC: How did you react to Bin Laden recommending your book?WB: I didn’t mind. If he shared my views on certain things: good. On the one hand I am totally against any kind of religious fundamentalism and the kind of societies that it spawns, like the Taliban in Afghanistan. On the other hand, there is a world wide movement that has the very ambitious goal of trying to slow down, if not stop the American empire, to keep it form continuing to carry out all of the terrible things that it carries out all over the world.In order to have any success in that endeavor, we need to reach the American people and to reach the American media; we need to have access to the mass media. This thing with Bin Laden gave me the chance like never before or since, to have access to that mass media, and for that I was very grateful. VC: Have you come under any attack for writing about such controversial topics?WB: Following Bin Laden’s mention of my book, I received 500 hostile e-mails, including a couple that down and out threatening.I wasn’t worried about it. I didn’t take them seriously. Nothing happened. I was getting hostile e-mails even before Bin Laden; it just jumped to a very high number after his recommendation. I answer almost every e-mail that I get, whether they are hostile or favorable and I think that on quite a few occasions I have disarmed my critics, who have sent me very nasty and pretty stupid emails.I simply answer them in a very calm, non-hysterical manner and I think that it throws them all off. They come back with a much milder e-mail. VC: What is so offensive about what you write?WB: All of my writings deal with things that contradict what people are taught, like the myths that I mentioned. People don’t like to hear that what they believed in all of their lives is baloney. VC: What are you currently working on?WB: My main occupation, writing wise, is I send out a monthly e-mailing report called “The Anti-Empire Report.” I figure it reaches about a hundred thousand people. I send it to my own e-mail list and then also to internet magazine sites which publish my articles.