George W. Bush’s “State of the Union” Address, January 28, 2003

 Part II


The widespread public belief in the myth of American exceptionalism, and its sacred duty to promote and protect the system of peace and freedom in the world has led to a conviction that the US’ acts in the world are not out of selfish interests, but benevolent. Therefore, those who oppose the American system of peace and freedom are evil and enemies of peace and freedom. In reality, peace and freedom are in correspondence to acceptance of American hegemony and serving American interests. Those regimes that promote the American interests are by American definition “free” and “democratic”. Whenever there is an opposition or a threat to this American system, it results in mimetic crisis. This, in turn, generates scapegoating mechanism. The insatiable demand of the American imperial system does not tolerate any resistance to its system of peace and freedom. This results in unleashing sacred violence against the enemy in order to protect its system of peace and freedom by either subjugating or decimating the evil opposition.

The myth of American exceptionalism and its divine mission to protect and promote the system of peace and freedom in the world is echoed in the State of the Union delivered by George W. Bush on January 28, 2003: a “blessed country” and “free people”, and its calling “to make the world better” (a Christian God as the one who gave this calling is implied). Bush describes the calling of the US as to defend peace (“this nation and all our friends are all that stand between a world at peace, and a world of chaos and constant alarm”) and the dignity and rights of every human being. Although he says that “the liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity”, this “God’s gift” is given to humanity through God’s chosen country, the US.  It is this sense of sacred calling that causes the US to thwart “the designs of evil men” or to oppose through sacred violence “the man-made evil of international terrorism”. At the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance on September 14, 2001 Bush declared, “Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.” The conflict is between good and evil, the defender of peace and human dignity and rights, and the destroyer of peace, and human dignity and rights through international terrorism. Portrayal of enemies as violators of human dignity and rights, and cause of chaos breaks social link between these enemies and the world community. Their status as enemies of world peace and security has not only united people against “evil”, but also justified American imperial violence as sacred violence. Because it exterminates “evil” and “terrorism”, and brings “peace” and “security” to the world.

The US and Terrorism

The American mindset that the US is exceptional, benevolent and morally superior has not only concealed the US-sponsored terrorism for what it is, but, most importantly, construed it as sacred violence to promote and protect the system of peace and freedom. Pointing out the double standards in US behavior, in July of 2006 Edward Peck, former US Ambassador to Iraq and Deputy Director of Reagan’s Task Force on Terrorism, stated:

“In 1985, when I was the Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, they asked us – this is a Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism; I was the Deputy Director of the working group – they asked us to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities.”

One of the basic definitions of terrorism in dictionaries is: “Violence or the threat of violence, especially bombing, kidnapping, and assassination, carried out by states or individuals for political purposes”. According to the academic definition: “Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby – in contrast to assassination – the direct targets of violence are not the main targets.”

The US Joint Chiefs of Staff publication defines terrorism as, “The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against people or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.” Based on the US definition of terrorism, in July of 2006 Edward Peck has termed the US activities as terrorism. He said:

“U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2331[1], and read the U.S. definition of terrorism. And one of them in here says • one of the terms, “international terrorism,” means “activities that,” I quote, “appear to be intended to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping”…Yes, well, certainly, you can think of a number of countries that have been involved in such activities. Ours is one of them.”

A concerned Peck in an interview on CNN Crossfire on October 8, 2001 retorted, “Why it is that all of these people hate us. It’s not because of freedom…They hate us because of things they see us doing to their part of the world that they definitely do not like.” On September 15, 2001, four days after the bombings on US soil, in another interview with Fox news, Ambassador Peck contended, “We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye…and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards.” Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, summarized the terrorist activities of the US around the world:

“We took this country (America) by terror away from the Sioux, the Apache, the Arawak, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism! We took Africans from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism! We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel. We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenagers and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard-working fathers. We bombed Gadafi’s home and killed his child…We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to payback for the attack on our embassy. Killed hundreds of hard-working people; mothers and fathers who left home to go that day, not knowing that they would never get back home…We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and Black South Africans, and now we are  indignant?…Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred and terrorism begets terrorism.”

So what is consciously and consistently rejected by the US and its public is the principle of universality regarding terrorism.

The US with the help of the CIA has been carrying out illegal operations around the world. These operations include clandestine overthrow of governments which did not support US self-interests, propping up “friendlier” dictators, training of foreign militaries in the techniques of state terrorism and torture, and assassination attempts of selected foreign political leaders. The Cold War between the US and the former USSR generated a widespread support of terrorism. Jonathan Barker in his book The No-Nonsense Guide to Terrorism notes: “The scale of superpower involvement in terrorism undermines the common view that terrorism is exclusively ‘the weapon of the weak’. Often it is the weapon with which the strong get the weak to do their dirty work for them.” Since World War II the US has supported and in many cases engendered military dictatorship in the world, including Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Iran, Pakistan and Iraq. The reason for this is its self-interests. As Frederick H. Gareau in his book State Terrorism and the United States argues:

The primary force driving American policy has been and remains…the protection of U.S. economic interests, irrespective of the undemocratic nature or human rights record of the groups and governments with whom it has allied.

Schmitz in his book Thank God They’re on Our Side: The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships 1921-1965 contends that Washington’s support for rightwing dictators during the Cold War was “a continuation, an elongation and an intensification” of the Root Doctrine. This doctrine was written in 1922 by Elihu Root, former US Secretary of State. In this doctrine Root gave an overarching rationale for supporting rightwing dictatorships that promoted the US and the Western self-interests and were anti-communist. Communism and socialism were portrayed as evil and enemies of the system of peace and freedom. 

The US and Dictators

Implementation of the Root Doctrine by successive US administrations may be seen throughout the world. The US gave political, economic and logistical support to the dictatorial rule of Anastacio Somoza, the commander of the Nicaraguan National Guard (the Coolidge administration played an important role in the establishment of the Nicaraguan National Guard), in Nicaragua. In 1939 Somoza was invited to Washington, where he met with President F. D. Roosevelt. He was given the honor of speaking to a joint session of Congress. The US support continued to Somoza’s sons, Luis and Anastacio Jr., until the latter was forced to resign in 1979. After the fall of the dictatorial regime, the Reagan administration through the CIA tried to destabilize the succeeding Sandanista government. The CIA was ordered to organize the Contras, a guerrilla force that consisted of former National Guard officers and others. John Negroponte, the US Ambassador in Honduras at that time, directed the Contra war against Nicaragua from US bases in Honduras. The Contras was issued orders to attack “soft targets”. The response to those orders was swift. According to Gareau,

They attacked bridges, electric generators…state-owned agricultural cooperatives, rural health clinics, villages, and non-combatants. CIA commandos launched a series of sabotage raids on Nicaraguan port facilities. They mined the country’s major ports and set fire to its largest oil storage depot.

When Nicaragua finally succumbed to the relentless barrage through proxy war, the US media praised the success of the methods employed by the US in order to bring peace and freedom by eliminating evil in Nicaragua. The New York Times hailed, “We are ‘United in Joy’ at this outcome”; and Times, “Victory for U.S. Fair Play”. President Reagan had gone further by comparing the Contras to the American founding fathers: the Contras are “the moral equivalent of our founding fathers.”

On April 9, 1984 Nicaragua filed an application before the International Court of Justice. It charged that the US had violated general and customary international law as well as the terms of several bilateral treaties. In 1986, the International Court of Justice found the US guilty of violating international law in mining Nicaragua’s harbors and employing “unlawful use of force”. The US behavior in Nicaragua was also condemned by two Security Council resolutions, which were vetoed by the US (with Britain abstaining).

In 1953-54 the CIA along with the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) led a coup, through Operation Ajax, against the secular Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran. The purpose of this coup was “to counter his (Mossadegh) nationalization of the British Petroleum Company and to move against the communist Tudeh party whose influence they feared was growing.” The coup brought the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, known as Shah of Iran. Shah crushed the opposition and paved way for the US and the Western interests. He outlawed the existence of rival political parties. With the help of the CIA, Shah created the secret police force SAVAK to crush political and ideological opponents. Dissidents were tortured in the infamous Evin prison. SAVAK killed about 20000 dissidents during Shah’s rule.

The US political and logistical support can also be seen in Africa. Immediately after its independence in 1960, the power struggle in Congo between the USSR supported President Lumumba and the US supported Prime Minister Kasavubu plagued the country. However, Mobutu, the head of the Force Publique (a combination of army and national police), gained power and ruled the country for 32 years with the active support of the US. J.F. Kennedy, the former president of the US, befriended the Congo dictator Mobutu. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the evidence permitted a reasonable inference “that a plot to assassinate Lumumba was authorized by President Eisenhower.”

In Chile the CIA worked closely with the Chilean military officers that were planning a coup against the democratically elected president Salvador Allende. In order to clear the way for their plot, in 1970 this group of military officers killed General Rene Schneider, Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army. Because Schneider was known to be a strong constitutionalist, who would have opposed a coup against a democratically elected president. The US helped in protecting those involved in this murder. After the coup against Allende in 1973 General Augusto Pinochet came to power. He constructed a narrative of a critical fight against the forces of communism that threatened to take over the country. He portrayed himself as a savior of the Western civilization, and so freedom and democracy, in Chile. This fight, according to the dictator’s narrative, required draconian measures to ensure safety and security, and freedom and democracy in the nation. Under Pinochet’s rule, political dissent was suppressed through police brutality, kidnapping and torture. Masquerading his genocidal violence against those perceived to be a threat to his regime as a necessary measure to protect the system of peace and freedom, Pinochet killed over 3000 of his political opponents in 1973-74. He justified his dictatorship and cruelty by depicting the opponents of his rule as the cause of social disorder, and a threat to peace, freedom and democracy. The US too justified this massacre. Explaining to a Congressional Committee in 1973, William Colby, then head of the CIA, said that the ongoing massacre by the Chilean dictator was a good thing, because it was not only rooting out communist influence, but also necessary to maintain stability in Chile.

The US’ activities can also be seen in Indonesia, which got its independence from the Dutch in 1954. President Sukarno was considered a “neutralist” and a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, seeking self-determination. His position was threatening to the hegemony of the US and the West. Beginning in 1955 the CIA and the Pentagon attempted to undermine Sukarno. This interference included attempts to steal elections, creation of paramilitary sabotage units, building networks with the military, and assassination plans. The last straw for the US and the Western hegemony came in 1965 when Sukarno nationalized Dutch-owned industries, including the oil reserves.

General Suharto, a close ally of the US, came to power in October 1965 through a military coup by massacring an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 people. On March 12, 1966 The New York Times described it as “one of the most savage mass slaughters of modern political history.” Commenting on the US role in this genocide, Gabriel Kolko, a historian, wrote, “No single American action in the period after 1945 was as bloodthirsty as its role in Indonesia, for it tried to initiate the massacre.” During Hearings on Foreign Assistance before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 1966, US Senator Sparkman asked Robert McNamara, then US Secretary of Defense: “At a time when Indonesia was kicking up pretty badly – when we were getting a lot of criticism for continuing military aid – at that time we could not say what that military aid was for. Is it secret anymore?” McNamara replied, “I think in retrospect, that the aid was well justified.” When Sparkman asked again, “You think it paid dividends?” McNamara responded, “I do, sir.” As part of its mission to “cleanse” Indonesia of the evil of communism, the US embassy in Jakarta supplied Suharto with names of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members. The embassy crossed off the names when they were killed or captured. 

Since Indonesia was a friendly client, its invasion of and massacre in East Timor on December 7, 1975 aroused negligible interest in the US and the West. This state terrorism had the political and logistical support of the US. It is alleged that President Suharto met with President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger “on the eve of the invasion and told them of his plans to carry out the slaughter” and received their support for his genocide. Columnist Jack Anderson reported that President Ford had declared, “We had to be on the side of Indonesia.” Subsequently Kissinger had confirmed that they approved the invasion. Anderson also reported: “Five days after the invasion, the United Nations voted to condemn the attack as an arrant act of international aggression. The U.S. abstained…The U.S. delegate (Daniel Patrick Moynihan) maneuvered behind the scenes to resist U.N. moves aimed at forcing Indonesia to give up its conquest.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then US Ambassador to the United Nations, sent a cable to Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State, on January 23, 1976 on silencing UN opposition to Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor: “The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.”

By 1989, Amnesty International estimated that Indonesian military forces had murdered 200,000 East Timorese out of a population of 600,000-700,000, a holocaust proportionately more brutal than the simultaneous campaign of Pol Pot in Cambodia.

During 1977-78 when Jimmy Carter, the present “champion” of the human rights, was the US president, weapons flow into Indonesia increased sharply, thus facilitating massacres. Both the US and the West gave complete support to Suharto for enabling their self-interests. Margaret Thatcher praised Suharto as “one of our very best and most valuable friends.” The World Bank described the dictator as a “model pupil.” The US State Department has consistently supported Indonesia’s claims to East Timor while downplaying its genocide. The US has continually trained Indonesia military and approved sales of weapons worth over $1 billion. Under President Bill Clinton 148 million dollars worth of military hardware has been granted as well as secret Green Beret training to Indonesia’s feared Kopassus counterinsurgency units in defiance of Congressional prohibitions. In a letter to Clinton on March 18, 1998 Megawati Soekainoputri, Indonesian dissident, wrote: “It is the explicit policy of the Indonesian security forces to meet peaceful and unarmed civilian protests with force. Military training by the United States thus directly undermines the democratic movement in Indonesia.”

Thus, the US sustained dictators and their cruelty by promoting state terrorism. Through the CIA, it played the central role in perpetuating the misery of South America’s impoverished masses. This led Philip Agee, a CIA officer for 12 years, to resign from the CIA. Agee later became the whistleblower of CIA criminal activities in his book Inside the Company: CIA Diary published in 1975. In this book he wrote: “When I joined the CIA I believed in the need for its existence…After 12 years with the agency I finally understood how much suffering it was causing, that millions of people all over the world had been killed or had their lives destroyed by the CIA and the institutions it supports.”

He also gave in detail the methods and procedures employed by the US in its pursuit and maintenance of its self-interests in other countries. Inside the Company was a political bombshell, coming amid widespread revelations of CIA assassination plots, involvement in military coups, and illegal surveillance against the American people, particularly those opposed to the Vietnam War. Among other things, Agee gave a detailed account of how he and his colleagues had organized the downfall of Ecuador’s President Velasco in 1961. He also informed how he, as a CIA agent, closely worked with the then Mexican Interior Minister Luis Echeverría to subdue student opposition to both the Mexican government and the Olympic Games in 1968. Human Rights groups estimate that about 300 people were killed when government forces opened fire on students gathered at Tlatelolco Plaza. This massacre is known as the Tlatelolco massacre. Agee also maintained that the CIA had ordered the assassination of Ernesto “Ché” Guevara, Cuba’s Argentinian revolutionary, in Bolivia. In 1987, Agee published a memoir, On the Run, which gave more details of his break with the Agency and the CIA’s efforts to retaliate.

He wrote: “It was a time in the ’70s when the worst imaginable horrors were going on in Latin America. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, El Salvador—they were military dictatorships with death squads, all with the backing of the CIA and the US government. That was what motivated me to name all the names and work with journalists who were interested in knowing just who the CIA were in their countries.”


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