Date: Sat, 19 Sep 98 01:14:51 CDT
From: Michael Eisenscher <>
Subject: Herman: USA Clearly the World's #1 Rogue State
Article: 43519
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The United States is clearly the world's no. 1 ‘rogue state’

By Edward S. Herman, Z magazine, [19 September 1998]

In his condemnation of Iraq and its president, Saddam Hussein, U.S. President Bill Clinton has denounced Iraq as a rogue state and a terrorist state. He committed his country to an all out effort to rid the world of such brutal and aggressive regimes. In this article, originally published in Z magazine, Edward S. Herman argues that the U.S. itself is the biggest rogue state of all.

Dictionary specifications of rogue include three elements: viciousness, lack of principle, and propensity to engage in unilateral action.

This would certainly properly characterize Saddam Hussein's Iraq: viciousness and lack of principle were displayed, for example, in his attacking and using chemical warfare against both Iran and Iraqui Kurds in the 1980s; unilateralism in his assaults on Iran and Kuwait.

But consider that the United States used chemical warfare on a far greater scale against Vietnam in the 1960s, and its overall attack on Indochina was as vicious and far more devastating than Iraq's on its local victims.

As to principle, it should be noted that the U.S. aided Saddam Hussein during the 1980s and protected him from any international sanctions, finding his possession of weapons of mass destruction intolerable only after he stepped out of line and ceased to be of service.

The difference between the two countries in respect of roguery is that the U.S. is a super power with global reach, whereas Iraq is a relatively weak regional power. The U.S., we might say, engages in wholesale roguery, whereas Iraq is a retail rogue. But nobody in the mainstream calls the wholesale rogue by such a name, any 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 rogues and terrorists. 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 apply only to others, not to the ruler. 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 behaviour and law violations by the ruler, but wax indignant at comparable or lesser enemy actions.

Cuba's shooting down of a refugee plane which flew over its territory was denounced by the media, but disclosure of multiple U.S. attempts to assassinate Fidel 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 country, and when it bombed Baghdad in 1993 following an alleged Iraqi plot to assassinate former President George Bush, on the ground of the right to self defence, nobody important responded with laughter or indignation. The absurd rationalizations were reported objectively, and the violent acts were accepted and normalized.

Nothing illustrates the global rogue's lack of principle and propensity to unilateralism better than its treatment of the United Nations and the 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 and the ILO), and ignored a UN consensus or Court ruling.

The U.S. has used the UN as a cover for its own agenda, but has not allowed the UN to function whenever its positions were inconsistent with that agenda.

The most notable recent case of using (and misusing) the UN was the 1990-91 assault on Iraq, and the sanctions imposed on Iraq which continue to this day. Here the U.S. was upset over an illegal occupation in violation of the UN Charter. By the aggressive use of its power to coerce and bribe support, the global rogue was able to get the UN to give it a free hand to crush Iraq and keep it crushed—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 adamantly 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 the cover of the UN.

In the case of Iraq, the global rogue was teaching a lesson to a retail rogue that had crossed it. Clients of the global rogue are treated differently. South Africa was perhaps the No. 1 retail rogue of the last half century, having illegally occupied Namibia and used it as a jumping off place to invade Angola. Its occupation of Namibia was condemned by the UN Security Council and General Assembly, and it was ordered to withdraw. But it refused to comply, and no attempt was made to force the termination of that occupation. The U.S. in fact collaborated with South Africa in its attacks on Angola.

Another important case has been that of Israel, which occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, and although the Security Council called on Israel to withdraw, it has refused to do so for two decades, without penalty. Since the U.S. supports Israel, its occupation is beyond the reach of UN authority. The U.S. has vetoed some 40 resolutions condemning Israel.

In the case of the World Court, the U.S. used it effectively against Iran and other states, but when the Court ruled in favour of Nicaragua in 1986, calling for U.S. reparations for the unlawful use of force, the U.S. 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, the Times and its media confreres 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. instrument.

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, but also to use the Security Council to impose sanctions on Libya for refusing to turn over to the U.S. two suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. So the U.S. dominated Security Council now has a free hand to designate rogues and terrorists.

No client or allied state of the global rogue has been subjected to sanctions under this regime.

Ignoring both its minor bombing raids and its numerous subversive efforts not involving military forces, the United States since the end of World War II has committed acts of aggression against Guatemala (1954), Lebanon (1958), the Dominican Republic (1965), Vietnam (1954 75), Laos (1964 75), Cambodia (1969 75), Nicaragua (1980 90), Grenada (1983), and Panama (1989).

In short, the U.S. has been the No. 1 international aggressor over the past 50 years.

In Vietnam, 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.

The rogue invaded Panama 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 rogue operation to proceed without impediment.

The U.S. has been quick to label its enemies and victims terrorists as well as rogues. But terrorist groups supported and sponsored by the U.S.—such as Savimbi in Angola, the contras in Nicaragua, and the Cuban refugee network—are called freedom fighters, not terrorists.

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, as in the bombing of Hanoi.

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 refugees by South Africa at the Kassinga camp in Angola in 1978, and the Phalange lsraeli massacre of over 1,800 Palestinians at Sabra Shatila in 1982, each equalled or exceeded the collective total of the PLO, the Baader Meinhof gang, and the Red Brigades.

These are just single episodes of regimes that did a lot more killing. U.S. sponsorship of regimes like those of Marcos, Mobutu, the Shah of Iran, Suharto, and the Greek colonels Involved the support of state terrorism on a global scale. The real terror network 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. continues to be portrayed as the steadfast opponent of terrorism.

Economic Terrorism

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 outperforming that of the U.S., quotas were imposed by the U.S. 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 objectionable 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. In Nicaragua in the 1980s, the effect was to reduce real household income by 50%, 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 from which it exempts itself, usually on the ground of national security, and its power allows it to get away with self exemption.

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 neo liberal model of economic life on peoples everywhere. The U.S. has not been alone in pushing this program, which has the support of transnational corporations across the globe, as well as many states whose governments are in thrall to the powerful TNCs. But the Biggest, home of a sizeable number of TNCs and effectively dominating the IMF and World Bank, has been the leader.

The imposition of this neo liberal model has stripped countries of autonomy and weakened the ability of their citizens to organize and seek change through the traditional political processes. It has been associated with a massive upward redistribution of income and wealth, and immense misery for the hundreds of millions of losers in the new global 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 of the exalted self image of the United States as the redeemer nation, bringing democracy to the world as it fights against protectionism and the demon retail terrorists and rogue states—an image constructed to provide its sense of exoneration and purity.

U.S. Hit List

The following is a list of prominent foreign individuals in whose assassination (or planning for assassination) the United States has been involved since the end of World War II.

1949: Kim Koo, Korean opposition leader.

1950s: CIA/Neo Nazi hit list of numerous political figures in West Germany.

1950s: Chou En lai, prime minister of China; several attempts on his life.

1950s: President Sukarno of Indonesia.

1951: Kim II Sung, premier of North Korea.

1955: Jawaharal Nehru, prime minister of India.

1957: Gamal Abdul Nasser, president of Egypt.

1958: Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Kassem, leader of Iraq.

1959, 1969, 1972: Norodem Sihanouk, leader of Cambodia.

1950s, 1970s: Jose Figueres, president of Costa Rica; two attempts on his life.

1961: Patrice Lumumba, prime minister of the Congo (Zaire).

1961: Gen. Rafael Trujillo, leader of the Dominican Republic.

1963: Ngo Dinh Diem, president of South Vietnam.

1960s to 1980s: Fidel Castro, president of Cuba; many attempts on his life.

1960s: Raul Castro, Fidel's brother and high official in the Cuban government.

1965 1966: Charles de Gaulle, president of France.

1965: Francisco Caamano, Dominican Republic opposition leader.

1967: Che Guevara, Cuban leader.

1970 1973: Salvador Allende, president of Chile.

1970: Gen. Rene Schneider, commander in chief of the army in Chile.

1970s: Gen. Omar Torrijos, leader of Panama.

1972, 1988, 1989: Gen. Manuel Noriega, chief of Panama intelligence.

1975: Mobutu Sese Seko, president of Zaire.

1976, 1979: Michael Manley, prime minister of Jamaica.

1982: Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of Iran.

1983: Miguel d'Escoto, foreign minister of Nicaragua.

1984: All nine commandantes of the Sandinista National Directorate in Nicaragua.

1985: Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanese Shiite leader; 80 people killed in the attempt.

1981 to 1987: Muammar Qaddafi, leader of Libya.

(This hit list was compiled by William Blum, author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, and was also published in Covert Action Quarterly, 1500 Mass. Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20005.)