Stop the U. S. drive for global domina-
tion ― a call to the world’s people

January 4-21, 2005

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2005-01-21.htm

Introduction ― why we must rely on ourselves

      In 2002, as the U.S. government was preparing to attack Iraq, one call (among many) was for actions 1 – diplomatic, juridical, military and economic actions – to force the U.S. to abandon its drive for global domination.2 Despite clear and overwhelming opposition by the world’s peoples to the threatened attack, the national governments and their international organizations (UN, OPEC, Arab League, etc) were unwilling and/or unable to act forcefully against the United States. Because of their functional inability to prevent or halt the U.S. assault, and their continued ineffectiveness, I think we must develop and rely on our own popularly-based organizations to change the world, and not to place confidence on nation-states or their international organizations.

      By advocating this shift in emphasis, I am not suggesting that we abandon our efforts to pressure nations and international organizations to do our bidding. As long as they exist and exercize power over our lives we must deal with them. But we should relate to them in ways that increase our control over our own lives, and decrease their ability to hurt us and diminish our well-being. One of the most inspiring accounts of how ordinary people can gain real successes in this struggle is in Luis Gómez’ report from Bolivia,


Neighborhood committees from El Alto march on La Paz,
celebrating their victory, January 13, 2005.
Photo: Indymedia Bolivia
which begins,3

EL ALTO, BOLIVIA, JANUARY 14, 1:00 AM: We turn once again to El Alto, to its power and its grace. And now, we see not only a government beaten, forced to obey its people, but also the exit of a transnational corporation over the issue of water, much like what happened with Bechtel in the city of Cochabamba [Bolivia] in 2000. We will witness years of marginalization and discrimination, five months of pressure, three days of strikes, and a victory march, all here, in this indigenous (mostly Aymara) city of nearly 800,000. The inhabitants of this place already overthrew a murderous president in October 2003, and now they begin a long march to win back all that which has always belonged to them. El Alto, on its feet (“never on its knees”), at four thousand meters (13,000 feet) above sea level, is the highest point of social mobilization.

      What a contrast between the joyous popular victory in Bolivia a week ago, pictured above, and the horrifying fact that almost two years have gone by since the massive bombing of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 – two years of non-stop state-imposed terror! On March 17, but three days before the bombing started, I wrote, in a last minute appeal 4

      “The worldwide level of rage at the U.S. government’s blind determination to gain absolute domination, whatever it costs the rest of the world, is at an unprecedented level. It is time for an international campaign of tough sanctions against the United States.
      “A successful global campaign to achieve the following actions, not just more ineffective appeals and declarations, can ensure an immediate and permanent end to all U.S. aggressions.”

      Clearly, no such successful global campaign took place. Now we are two months past the fraudulent, in all probability invalid U.S. election, likely stolen by the Bush-dominated Republican Party, dishonestly certified as legitimate by the Republican-dominated Congress on Jan 6, much evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. The American people have not, until now, halted the foward march of terror led by the Bush cabal. And it’s going to continue until and unless we, the world’s peoples, all of us, put an end to it.

Taking stock, facing reality

      What does it really mean to have the Bush gang in the executive seat instead of the Kerry gang? Aside from my belief that it may thwart the American people’s electoral effort to defeat Bush, if judged in terms of U.S. actions in the rest of the world, it is irrelevant. The U.S. will continue to act exactly as it has for at least half a century, and probably much longer. Within the U.S. the Democrats would have continued the cultivation of paranoid fear almost as assiduously as it will be pursued by the Republicans. Domestically a Democratic regime might have been slightly less harsh. But in international matters, anyone who believes that Bush is unique in his treatment of and contempt for other countries ought to brush up on the reality of U.S. government actions internationally, as documented by William Blum in his book, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II.5

Torture

      Right now there’s a lot of talk about torture. I received an appeal, on Jan 5, 2005, to sign a Declaration against Torture. My reply,

      . . . Of course it is good to go on record as being opposed to all forms of torture. Anyone with a shred of decency and human compassion has got to abhor the torture of any human being.

      However, stating ones opposition does not, by itself, reach the heart of the problem. We are deluged with protests by U.S. government agents and officials -- military, CIA, FBI, DEA, State Department officers, legislators, judges, federal attorneys, etc. -- claiming they are shocked and/or that they condemn the "misdeeds" in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, as though these horrendous forms of "interrogation" are new and unacceptable ways of treating prisoners, certainly not the norm for the U.S. It is all totally false. For at least a half century, and probably longer, the United States has deliberately employed unthinkably inhumane, murderous methods of torture (not infrequently causing the deaths of prisoners) . . .

      Writing of Vietnam during the period 1950-1973, Blum discusses (pp. 131-132) the infamous Phoenix Program, directed by CIA officer William Colby. "By Colby's records, during the period between early 1968 and May 1971, 20,587 alleged Vietcong cadres met their death as a result of the Phoenix Program." [Blum's reference: U.S. Assistance Program in Vietnam, Hearings before a Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations, 19 July 1971, p. 183.]

      "A former U.S. military intelligence officer in Vietnam, K. Barton Osborn, testified before a House Committee that suspects caught by Phoenix were interrogated in helicopters and sometimes pushed out. He also spoke of the use of electric shock torture and the insertion into the ear of a six-inch dowel which was tapped through the brain until the victim died." [Blum's reference: David Wise, "Colby of CIA -- CIA of Colby", New York Times Magazine, 1 July 1973, p.33.]

      "Osborn's colleague, Michael J. Uhl, testified that most suspects were captured during sweeping tactical raids and that all persons detained were classified as Vietcong. None of those held for questioning, said Osborn, had ever lived through the process." [Blum's reference: New York Times, 3 August 1971, p. 10.]

      Imagine, if you can, the horror of being interrogated while a wooden dowel is being tapped through your ear and brain, until you die.

      The consistent use of torture was, and is, an integral part of the United States dedication to controlling and consuming an obscenely large portion of the world's wealth, despite the fact that this is based on enormous poverty and suffering among much of the world's population. It is a mistake to point a finger at Bush, as despicable as he is, as though he is an anomaly in this regard. Starting with Democrat Harry Truman in 1945, Blum shows irrefutably that forcing the rest of the world to support American overconsumption has been consistently bipartisan – as American as apple pie.

      In this sense, we have to either renounce by our actions our excessive consumption, making it a habit of the past, or recognize that our indulgence relative to the rest of the world, bluntly put -- our gluttony -- is a core problem. The U.S. government has been acting to keep America a fortress island of material wealth in a sea of poverty and misery. That requires torture, and many other terrible things.

That is the terrible reality in which we, the world’s people, are living.

Are the American people at fault?

      In my September 30, 2002 paper (reference in footnote 1), I mistakenly focused on the Bush cabal as the driving force for American domination of the world. Except for that wrong perspective, I believe the rest of the opening statement is correct, namely,

      There is a stark and critical difference between the vast majority of American people and the United States government. ... Our ambitions, like those of ordinary people everywhere in the world, are to manage somehow to live decent honest lives, to see our children and grandchildren able to thrive, to be respected for what we are, and to live ordinary lives of dignity − with their normal joys and inevitable sorrows − among our families, neighbors and acquaintances, lives of peace, friendship, and self-respect.

      Americans are neither monsters nor fools, although many are very misinformed by the ocean of propaganda of the corporate media and of the government.

      Unlike the reactions of many who accepted the announced electoral triumph of Bush, and scorned the supposed stupidity of the many Americans who voted for him, I don’t accept Bush’s supposed victory, either in the electoral count or by the plurality of those who voted, nor do I scorn as stupid the millions of ordinary people who voted for him. What we in the United States are faced with is the fact that we are probably the most brain-washed population in the world, subjected to an extremely effective flood of misinformation and bathed nonstop in a culture that pushes us to seek endless diversions, to try to escape from much of the forced everyday reality of our lives, the boredom, the frustrations, the rage, the unsatisfying jobs, etc.

      An example of this “cultural bath” or more accurately “cultural jacuzzi” came my way in an e-mail during the past Christmas season. It was titled, “Shopping Your Politics”, by Alan Abramowitz. Part of the message follows:

With the holidays upon us, some of us might wish to be mindful of who we patronize relative to their Election Cycle political donations, as reported by the Center for Responsive Politics.

WITH US:
* Price Club/Costco donated $225K, of which 99% went to democrats;
[top entry in a lengthy list of companies supporting Democrats more than Republicans]

AGAINST US:
WalMart, $467K, 97% to republicans;
[top entry in a lengthy list of companies supporting Republicans more than Democrats]

So head on over to Costco, buy yourself some Stanley tools and some Estee Lauder cologne, stop at Arby's for lunch, and then check into a Hyatt House hotel where you can drown your sorrows over the election with a jug of Gallo wine!

      The assumption that we can make the world better by shopping is ludicrous but widely touted ― “The power of the purse” it’s called. By combining the patently false notion that we can find fulfillment by shopping (How many people do you know who “just love to go shopping!”?) with the absurdity of “political correctness” as comfortable liberals understand it, the self-named Center for Responsive Politics seeks to seduce us with the lure of politically correct fulfillment. How comforting ― and how empty.

      This is but one example of what we are subjected to. The flood of advertisements to buy, buy, buy is another. Americans are, on average, more caught up in a culture of material possessions than any other society in the world, or in history. Of course it’s not good for us. We are “produced” by the dominant culture to be consumers. And recently we have been propagandized into being among the most fearful people in the world.

      Nevertheless, we ought to recall that in spite of all the propaganda a substantial majority of Americans were opposed to the attack on Iraq, as documented in my Sept 30, 2002 paper (reference in footnote 1). And a great many Americans, probably a solid majority, are opposed to the U.S. government’s attempt to rule the world. If I am correct in this belief, then the effort to stop the United States government ― to force it to give up its imperial drive for world domination ― ought to be a universal struggle, an expression of grassroots globalism ― of the world’s ordinary people, Americans included, truly united in this one essential effort towards gaining lives of dignity and health for everyone.

Modes of organization ― a multifaceted effort ― We are everywhere! 6

      We must recognize the failure of all the efforts to achieve a decent, humane world through national and/or international institutions. Moreover, we ought not be surprised by that simple fact. Nation-states and the international organizations they formed, for example the United Nations, were never intended to serve that end. All the lofty proclamations that claimed otherwise were simply false propaganda. The true intentions were always to serve the interests of the rich and powerful, as defined by that élite group. All nation-states are based on hierarchical power structures, set up precisely to prevent ordinary people from meaningful participation in the decisions that affect our lives, in order that we can be ruled by the élites.

      I think we ought to organize in precisely the opposite way: with no centralized control but with millions – maybe many millions – of autonomous grassroots groups, each group based in a particular locality, able to understand in detail the problems that confront its own community, in order to work effectively towards their resolution.7 A major immediate task is that of putting an end to the U.S. drive for global domination. However, that is a negative effort, requiring that we put time, energy and resources into preventing something that is socially destructive. At the same time that we recognize the need to do this, it is equally important – for our own psychological health and our long-term well-being – that we devote the major part of our energy to positive efforts. We need to build real communal ties, in rural areas and in neighborhoods (in urban areas) where our children and grandchildren can grow and thrive, where they can experience fulfilling lives. We need what I termed the rurification of our cities.8

      Perhaps above all, we need to have the sense that we are not alone, not working in isolation, but that we are an integral part of a huge surge of humanity, hundreds of millions of people all striving together in thousands of different ways with the common goal of making the world a better place for our communities and for all the generations we hope will follow us. Of course we will find multiple ways to cooperate with other groups in other localities — sister cities only touch the surface of the possibilities for mutual aid. In this process of linking our aspirations with those of our geographically distant brothers and sisters, the global grassroots communication and media infrastructure will play an essential part, as in fact it is already doing. This is in direct opposition to the thrust of the corporate media, which cultivates in us a sense of isolation, of the futility of struggling against the dictates of the dominant power structure, of the inevitability of a world with tremendous gulfs between powerful groups that are obscenely wealthy (materially) and the rest of us.

      We will learn from ourselves and from each other, by our face-to-face relationships and through our grassroots media and communication network. We don’t need “great” teachers to guide us or “great” leaders whose will is our command. We don’t need any privileged élites. We need mutual aid, mutual trust and mutual respect. Together we can make the earth a planet of life and joy, not suffering and death as it is now. Together we can stand in awe and celebrate the rich possibilities for good lives for all people.

In conclusion, to summarize

      The great trap we are in, and which we must spring if we are ever to be free, is the control over our conception of what is possible, control that the dominant ideology maintains, the ideology of capitalism and the nation-states, the latter its major enforcers. Why must we buy into all "their" language, their conceptual framework? Why, for example, must unions be organized hierarchically, with their power structures, their corrupt elections, their well-to-do bosses (and they are bosses), their apparatchiks figuring how to use their "frequent flyer miles"? Why are we so gullible? Wouldn't it be better if we were infrequent flyers, and pissed away less of the world's wealth on our fancy vacations?

      Do we really want to change the world? If so then we have to look for better understanding. One of the most important steps we can take is to build the global grassroots communication infrastructure. That means supporting community radio and television and local non-commercial newspapers and broadsheets, supporting so-called (by the government) "pirate radio and television." And of course we have to organize locally with our neighbors in every way we can to thwart the transfer of the wealth we produce to corporate and government control. We must also work to deligitimize the government in the eyes of as many Americans as we can. We must work for our own local control over our lives.

      The urgency of stopping the assault of global capitalism on the world’s peoples and on the biosphere is so great that drastic measures are needed. The attack is headed by the United States, which must be stopped.

Notes

1 Call to stop the U.S. government's drive for global domination, September 30, 2002, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2002-09-30CallToStopUS.htm.

2 The actions proposed in 2002, actions I vainly hoped nations and international bodies might take, are listed in the Appendix.

3 “1, 2, 3... El Alto Scores a Knockout Against Suez Company in Water Dispute: A New Victory for the Bolivian People”, at http://www.narconews.com/Issue35/article1151.html.

4 “A campaign to FORCE the American government to stop”, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Salz/2003-03-17.htm.

5 Killing Hope, by William Blum , updated edition, 2004, Common Courage Press, P.O.Box 702, Monroe, ME 04951.

6 The book We Are Everywhere: The irresistible rise of global anticapitalism gives an inspiring account of the true globalization of our movement. Verso Press, 2003, London and New York.

7 An extremely ambitious and carefully thought out proposal for how the building of autonomous communities might be achieved is in the book Getting Free: A sketch of an association of democratic, autonomous neighborhoods and how to create it, by James Herod, 2004, available at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/GetFre/C.htm.

8 These ideas are in a talk, The Gold Rush, April 15, 1992, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Greed/GoldRush.htm, which included the following:

—Every child ought to be free of hunger, free to have fun, brought up as a member of a community in an environment that maximizes the child's sense of self-worth, taught to value cooperativeness and sharing, and encouraged to seek satisfaction in mutual aid rather than in competition .

—An overarching program of rurification of the world's cities ought to be initiated, with the goal of vastly reducing all forms of pollution, all forms of motorized transport, and replacing, as much as possible, surfaces paved for autos with bicycle paths, walkways, parks, vegetable gardens, orchards, and refuges for birds and small animals, so that cities become healthy, hospitable places for people to live, places where we will not be alienated from the natural world.

― G.S., January 21, 2005

Appendix

Previously proposed campaign for sanctions against the United States
(they would still work if we could get nations and international organizations to act forcefully)

Diplomatic, juridical and military actions

1. The United Nations relocate its headquarters out of the northern hemisphere to a suitable venue, perhaps to one of the most impoverished nations in the world, certainly not to a so-called first world country.

2. Nations close U.S. embassies and consular offices in their territories.

3. Nations declare U.S. officials persona non grata and expel them.

4. Governments and international jurisdictions undertake massive indictments and prosecutions of C.I.A., F.B.I., State Department, U.S. military, etc. employees (present or former) who are or were engaged in promoting terrorist activities by the U.S. government or by other governments or paramilitary forces.

5. Nations deny use of their territory, territorial waters, and air space to U.S. military forces, and insist that the U.S. immediately relinquish and evacuate U.S. bases on their territory.

Economic Actions

6. Oil-exporting nations place a total ban on oil (and natural gas) shipments to the U.S. and its colonies.

7. Nations close all branch offices of U.S. banks in their territories, and freeze all assets of U.S.-based financial, industrial, and commercial corporations in their territories.

8. Nations ban commercial activities with U.S.-based financial, industrial, and commercial corporations.


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Last update of this page: January 23, 2005