Tuesday, 12 February 2013

'Packed to the hilt with countless examples of US imperialism at work, it should be in the hands of not only every activist but of those who still believe that the foreign policy of the US empire has anything to do with freedom and democracy.'

America's Deadliest Export: Democracy review in Morning Star Online by Stve Andrew

William Blum's account of how US imperialism operates globally is a sharp riposte to promoters of the 'American way,
If you've had the fortune to read William Blum's previous books Killing Hope and Rogue State this latest offering should come as no surprise. 

Packed to the hilt with countless examples of US imperialism at work, it should be in the hands of not only every activist but of those who still believe that the foreign policy of the US empire has anything to do with freedom and democracy. 

In many ways, the book does not really have anything new or original to say - the bulk of it is an updated version of what Blum has previously covered.  

Why the recommendation then? Because unlike the dense and academic essays of a Chomsky or Petras, Blum is far more anecdotal and chatty in his approach. He brings anger, weariness and humour to his writing in a way that ensures that the bloody narrative often, dare I say it, entertains and never becomes tedious. 

And, as Blum so rightly points out, repetition isn't necessarily a bad thing. As long as the US continues to terrorise the rest of the planet, the same basic truths need to be highlighted, all the more so when time and time again well-meaning progressives are taken in by a bit of populist rhetoric from a presidential wannabe. 

It would be a mistake to assume that Blum's casual, journalistic style lacks depth.
Emphasising the importance of anti-communism in this story is one thing but Blum is happy to go a step further in defending the gains of revolutions both past and present, socialism Cuban-style being a particular favourite. 

Unlike the B-52 leftists who cheered on the bombing of Belgrade, Blum exposes the myth that Nato intervention was in any way "humanitarian," while his ability to see through cold war lies sees him documenting CIA attempts to undermine the fledgling state of East Germany. 

Blum also catalogues the type of society that imperialism has been busy creating at "home," one which is violent, corrupt and unequal to the core. 

Even so, some of his positions do seem a little off the wall at times, comments about US Communist Party members barely being to the left of the average liberal being particularly ridiculous. 

When it comes to solutions, Blum is disarmingly honest about his own answers and can only point to the importance of education. 

But, as this book so skilfully proves, that's as good a starting point as any.

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