On Roosting Chickens: A History of US Empire

On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality

by Ward Churchill

AK Press (2003)

Book Review

With the massive evidence compiled by the 9-11 Truth movement over the last two decades,* the book’s original premise has ceased to be relevant in 2020. Long time American Indian activist Ward Churchill took the title of this book from his infamous 2001 essay “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.”  In the latter (and in Chapter 1), Churchill argues that the 9-11 attacks were a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful US foreign policy. The essay would lead to his dismissal from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 2017.

By the time this book was published in 2003, both Thierry Meyssan (The Big Lie) and Nafeez Ahmed (The War on Truth) had published books questioning the official version of 9-11. As of February 2002, there was also a thriving 9-11 Unanswered Questions movement, which would be the precursor to 9-11. I’m a little surprised Churchill would have no knowledge of activists who were already challenging the official story in 2003.

That being said, the book’s second and third chapters are invaluable. Chapter 2 compiles all US military actions from 1776 on. Chapter three documents all known US violations of international law dating from the 1945 founding of the United Nations.

After 1947, this list includes the use of CIA interventions to overthrow lawful governments:

  • US invasion and occupation of sovereign Native American territories – 46
  • US military actions against US civilians during protests, rebellions, riots, and strikes (including WACO, Ruby Ridge, and the 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle) – 23
  • US troop deployment to put down slave revolts: 5
  • US military actions against
    • North Africa – 15
    • Mexico (excluding the US-Mexican War, which forced Mexico to give up have its territory) – 29
    • France (including 1961 attempted assassination of DeGaulle) – 4
    • Spain (excluding Spanish American War) – 6
    • Cuba (following Spanish American War) – 5
    • Canada – 1 (1837 border clash)
    • Pacific Island (excluding Hawai’i and Philippines) – 5
    • Greece – 3
    • South America – 19
    • China (excluding participating in civil war against Mao) – 15
    • Sub-Saharan Africa – 8
    • Turkey – 2
    • Central America – 19
    • Japan (prior to World War II) -3
    • Korea (prior to World War II) – 33
    • Hawai’i – 3
    • Haiti (prior to deposing Prime Minister Aristide in 1991) – 4
    • Philippines – 4
    • Dominican Republic -5
    • Cuba (prior to Cuban revolution – incursions following the Bay of Pigs are too numerous to count) – 2
    • USSR – 2
    • Greenland/Iceland – 1 each
    • Italy – 1
    • Iran (prior to 1953 CIA coup) – 1
    • Albania – 1
    • Syria – 1 (failed CIA coup in 1956)
    • Indonesia – 2
    • Cyprus – 1
    • Lebanon – 2
    • Grenada – 1
    • Australia – 1

Chapter 3 is a chronological history of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions condemning the US. It includes censures  for using napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam, for using torture and the death penalty in US prisons, for their refusal to support the UN declaration for the elimination of racism, for their illegal blockade against Cuba, and for their illegal invasions of Angola, Panama and Nicaragua.

The chapter also includes countless Security Council and General Assembly resolutions condemning South Africa (not only for Apartheid but for the illegal invasion and occupation of Namibia and Angola) and Israel (for their illegal occupation of Palestine and the Golan Heights, their illegal invasion and 20+ year occupation of Lebanon, and their illegal deployment of nuclear weapons).

Here Churchill also covers Clinton’s illegal war against Yugoslavia, debunking most of the pro-war propaganda about alleged Serbian genocides. And finally the illegal 1972 CIA coup against democratically elected Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam (after he withdrew Australian troops from Vietnam). I was unaware prior to reading this book that John Kerr,** the Australian governor general responsible for removing Whitlam from office was a long time CIA asset.


*See https://stuartbramhall.wordpress.com/2020/02/13/making-sense-of-9-11/

**In Australia and New Zealand, the Governor General is appointed by the British monarch and technically has the authority to overrule Parliament. See https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/23/gough-whitlam-1975-coup-ended-australian-independence

 

 

The Bloody and Toxic Legacy of Bananas and Why I Don’t Eat Them Any More

Banana Land: Blood, Bullets and Poison

Directed by Jason Glaser and Diego Lopez (2014)

Film Review

Thanks to a shrewd production and marketing strategy by United Fruit Company (now renamed Chiquita), the banana is the most consumed fruit in the US. United Fruit was founded in 1899 with the deliberate goal of making bananas the cheapest fruit available. To meet this objective, the company controls every aspect of production and supply. In addition to murdering union leaders and propping up puppet dictators, they also control shipping ports and media coverage involving their product.* They and Dole, the other major banana exporter, also routinely expose plantation workers to dangerous pesticides that have been banned in the US and EU.

On December 6, 1968, Colombia banana workers went on strike demanding improved working conditions (an 8 hour day, a 6 day week and payment in cash instead of script). With the support of the US State Department, Colombian troops massacred thousands of strikers.

In coming years the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia, a government-linked paramilitary force, continued to drive peasants from their lands and murder and disappear labor leaders and activists who threatened Chiquita’s interests. For many years, the AUC relied on Colombian cartels for most of their funding. During the 1990s, Chiquita began paying the AUC directly to terrorize rural communities. The documentary features heart wrenching testimony from a mother whose husband and son were murdered by AUC members, who subsequently gang raped her 11-year-old daughter.

Surprisingly the 2001 Patriot Act, which made it illegal for Americans to fund terrorist groups, designated the AUC as a terrorist organization. Chiquita continued to fund them until they were indicted by the Obama Justice Department. Chiquita officials and board members were allowed to plead anonymously and pay a $20 million fine over five years.

The last half of the documentary concerns Nicaraguan and Ecuadoran workers’ ongoing battle against DDT, DPCP and other dangerous pesticides banned in the US and EU. These poisons are responsible for a horrifying epidemic of sterility, birth defects, cancer and liver disease among plantation workers.

As of 2017, Danish inspectors were still finding traces of dangerous pesticides in bananas imported from Denmark. See Danwatch English


*For example it’s a myth bananas can’t be kept in the refrigerator – if you refrigerate them, they last longer and you won’t buy as many.

 

 

The 1972 US Coup Against Australia

Hot Money and the Politics of Debt

RT Naylor

McGill-Queens University Press (2004)

Book Review

Hot Money is about the trillions of dollars of global financial activity that is never recorded in official economic statistics. Corporate money laundering of illegal narcotics profits is the form of “hot money” that gets the most publicity. However according to Naylor, it accounts for a relatively small proportion of “hot money” percolating through offshore banks and dummy corporations.

Most “hot money” starts out as funds generated via “legitimate” business which rich elites sebd offshore to avoid taxes or in anticipation of economic calamity or regime change. All the world’s most ruthless dictators stashed funds in Swiss banks or similar financial havens prior to being deposed.

A sizeable chunk of hot money is generated from other illegal enterprises, such as gun running, illegal arms deals, prostitution, phony charities and religious groups (eg Reverend Moon’s Unification Church and L Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology) and government agencies (eg CIA) who use “hot money” to finance coups and insurgencies.

For me, the high point of Hot Money  is the excellent history Naylor provides of the CIA role in the world heroin and cocaine trade, especially their move to make Afghanistan the major global supplier of heroin.

Nalylor also provides a detailed history about the role of the Vatican Bank as a “hot money” center, the rise and fall of Propaganda Due (P2), a secret collaboration between the CIA, Mafia and right wing Masonic lodges that infiltrated all aspects of Italian public life in the 1970s; the role of Nazi war criminals Klaus Barbie and Josef Mengele in setting up Latin American death squads and cocaine networks; the rise and fall of the two biggest CIA banks, Australia’s Nugan Hand Bank and the Bank of Commerce and Credit International;  and the importance of “hot money” in the Iran Contra scandal, in which the Reagan administration illegally sold weapons to Iran to finance the Contra war against Nicaragua.

The most shocking chapter describes the role of the Nugan Hand Bank in funding a bloodless coup US Naval Intelligence carried out against Australia in 1972 – to remove a prime minister whose political views were inconsistent with US interests. Most Americans are totally unaware of this heinous attack against a close US ally. I’ve only learned of it since moving to New Zealand (Australia is New Zealand’s closest neighbor).

CIA Cocaine Trafficking, Bill Clinton and the Mena Airport

The Mena Connection

Directed by Terry Reed (1985)

Film Review

The Mena Connection establishes unequivocally that both Vice-president George H. W. Bush and Governor Bill Clinton had direct involvement in the CIA’s cocaine smuggling operation at Arkansas’ Mena Airport during the 1980s. Aircraft loaded with illegal weapons for the Contras in Honduras returned to Mena with tons of Columbia cocaine used to finance the operation. Reprising documentary evidence Reed presents in his 1994 bestselling book, Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA , the film also establishes that Clinton also deliberately obstructed investigations into Mena by local and federal prosecutors and the IRS.

Half the documentary is devoted to exposes a local Arkansas TV reporter and a WMAQ (Chicago) reporter did on cocaine smuggling at Mena during the congressional investigation into Iran Contra.* The other half consists of lengthy interviews with whistleblower Terry Reed and his wife Janis.

An experienced Vietnam War pilot, in 1983 Oliver North recruited Reed to participate in The Enterprise, a CIA operation to assemble and deliver untraceable weapons to Contra rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Reed also trained Contra pilots in “night flying” – landing without runway lights – on a remote mountainous airstrip eleven miles from Mena.

According to Reed, the CIA shut down the Mena operation shortly Iran Contra scandal broke in 1986, shortly after movingthe guns-for-cocaine operation to Mexico. Soon after Reed moved his family to Guadalajara, his CIA control order him to participate in the cocaine smuggling side of the operation. Things got nasty when he refused to comply and submitted his resignation. The Department of Justice attempted to frame him and his wife for drug smuggling.

They spent the next two years fighting the conviction. Following their 1991 acquittal, Reed filed suit against Arkansas law enforcement and Clinton administration officials who had framed him. Both Reed and Arkansas Congressman Bill Alexander, whose efforts to obtain a General Accounting Office investigation into Mena were blocked by the CIA, believed the lawsuit would lead to Clinton’s impeachment.

In a roundabout way it did. Owing to CIA interference, it proved impossible to impeach Clinton for cocaine smuggling or money laundering. Ultimately the only charge Congress could make stick was lying under oath about a sexual affair with a White House intern.


*The Iran Contra Affair was a political scandal in which senior Reagan administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran (an enemy state) to secure funding for CIA-sponsored Contras in Nicaragua.

The Origins of American Empire – What They Didn’t Teach You in School

Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States – Prequel A

Directed by Oliver Stone (2014)

Film Review

Owing to the series’ great success, Oliver Stone has produced two prequels to his  Untold History of the United States. The first traces the origins of America’s present empire-building spree at the end of the 19th Century.

Stone credits Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward (1861-69) for the launch of America’s imperialist ambitions. Following the US conquest of half of Mexico in 1848, Seward sought to expand US empire even further by conquering Alaska, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Hawaii and Midway.The US would eventually succeed in annexing all of these territories, except for Canada, Haiti and the Dominican Republic – although they only formally possessed the northern section of Columbia, which they renamed Panama.

Then, as now, the US undertook these military adventures at the behest of Rockefeller, JP Morgan, William Randolph Hearst and other Wall Street robber barons. After the severe depression of 1893 (which caused 20% unemployment), they were convinced the only way to prevent further economic instability was to conquer foreign countries for their resources, cheap labor and markets for surplus US products.

During this period, US troops also invaded Cuba, the Philippines, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and China for the benefit of Standard Oil, United Fruit and other US corporations. Stone quotes extensively from General Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket. Butler participated in nearly all of these invasions.

Stone goes on to trace the British, French, US and czarist designs on Middle Eastern oil that were the true basis for World War I and the invasion of Russia by British, French, US and Japanese troops following the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. I was unaware the US refused to recognize the Soviet Union until 1933, when Roosevelt took office.

My favorite parts of this film concern the brave rebels who opposed this US imperialist aggression despite a brutal federal crackdown on all protest activity: Mark Twain and other in the Anti-Imperialist League, Eugene Debs, Bill Haywood and International Workers of the World, Emma Goldman and Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones).

CIA Drug Trafficking on Prime Time TV

Kill the Messenger: Montel Williams with Mike Levine & Gary Webb

(1996)

Film Review

This film is a historic 1996 talk show featuring late San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb, DEA whistleblower Michael Levine and Lance Cole, special council for the Kerry Committee (the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations), and Black Congressional Caucus member Charles Rangel. For balance, a CIA troll from the right wing lobby group Accuracy in the Media also appears.

The show first aired months after Webb’s “Dark Alliance” expose first appeared in the Mercury News. This series was based on extensive documentary evidence that CIA operatives who armed and trained the Contras who tried to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government smuggled tons of cocaine into US for inner cities.

The show begins with a recorded interview with Freeway Ricky Ross (from prison) revealing that he sourced the cocaine he distributed to inner city gangs from CIA operative Oscar Blandon.

Six years later Webb would mysteriously “suicide” by shooting himself twice* in the face with a shotgun (see Webb Murdered?).

His life is recounted in the 2014 film Shoot the Messenger.


*Twice?????

How to Make Money Selling Drugs

drugs4

How to Make Money Selling Drugs

Directed by Matthew Cooke (2013)

Film Review

How to Make Money Selling Drugs is a biting satire on the ludicrous “War on Drugs” and its perverse effect of increasing American drug use.

Mimicking an investment informercial, the mockumentary guides viewers on how to move up the ranks from gang-backed street peddler, to private retailer, to distributor, to domestic and/or international smuggler, to drug cartel king pin.

It also offers expert advice on how to beat a case, how to conceal drugs in a vehicle and how to get crooked cops to work for your franchise. It also profiles an ex-cop who can get you off if the police plant narcotics in your car.

My favorite part of the film is a cameo by Freeway Ricky Ross, who late San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Web made world famous for his role in distributing cocaine the CIA smuggled into the US to fund their illegal war against Nicaragua.

The video can’t be embedded (for copyright reasons), but you can watch it for the next few weeks at the Maori TV website: How to Make Money Selling Drugs

 

Untold History of the US: Rise of the New Right

Part 8 of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States covers the Ford, Carter and Reagan presidencies.

The Ford Presidency

Gerard Ford, appointed to the vice presidency after corruption charges forced the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew, assumed the presidency (with Nelson Rockefeller as vice president) when Nixon resigned in 1974. Ford’s most notable foreign policy was to end the détente* negotiations Nixon initiated with the Soviets to minimize the risk of nuclear war.

The Carter Presidency

Peanut farmer and former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter narrowly defeated Ford in 1976 on a platform that promised to end the arms race, reinstate détente negotiations and end US military intervention in third world countries.

According to Stone, Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (also Obama’s long time member) destroyed Carter’s presidency by forcing Carter (who had no foreign policy experience) to renege on his election promises. Under pressure from Brzezinski, Carter refused to return the Shah to Iran for trial following the 1978 Iranian revolution,** as well as restoring military aid to El Salvador’s right wing dictatorship in 1980 and secretly funding and training a jihadist Muslim insurgency to oppose the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The Reagan Presidency

Like Carter, former California governor Ronald Reagan also had no foreign policy experience and allowed anti-communist CIA and Pentagon hawks to fill this vacuum. Under Reagan, CIA director William Casey stripped the CIA of any officials who resisted his policy of falsely blaming the Soviets for CIA-inspired terrorist activities. Casey also started the illegal Contra army that tried to overthrow Nicaragua’s democratically elected government, in addition to funding and training death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala to assassination union officials, intellectuals and human rights advocates. Casey and National Security Council member Oliver North also initiated the illegal arms deal with Iran that financed the Contras after Congress discontinued their funding.

In 1985 President Mikhail Gorbachev approached Reagan about negotiating a bilateral disarmament package that would phase out all nuclear weapons by 2000. Initially receptive, Reagan rejected Gorbachev’s condition that the US keep their Strategic Defense (Star Wars) Initiative in the lab. Reagan also refused Gorbachev’s proposal to participate in a joint peacekeeping force in Afghanistan following Soviet troop withdrawal.

Reagan left office in 1988 in disgrace over the Irangate scandal. He was also responsible for doubling the national debt, thanks to a massive increase in military expenditures coupled with sizeable tax cuts. In 1985, the US switched from being a creditor nation to being the biggest debtor nation.


*Détente is defined as the easing of hostility or strained relations between countries.

**This decision would cost Carter the 1980 presidential race when Iranian militants took 52 US Embassy employees hostage in 1979.

Part 8: Reagan, Gorbachev & Third World: Rise Of The Right

The Hidden History of the US Constitution

towards an american revolution

Toward an American Revolution: Exposing the Constitution and other Illusions

by Jerry Fresia

South End Press (1988)

Book Review

This book is a great follow-up for people wanting to know more about the secret machinations behind the US Constitution after watching the film Plutocracy.

I knew virtually nothing about the framing of the Constitution when I first read Toward an American Revolution in the mid-nineties. Fresia reveals how the first Constitutional Convention was actually a secret meeting of rich property owners and merchants whose business interests (expanded trade and personal wealth) were threatened by farmers who had seized control of legislatures in twelve out of thirteen states.

The clear intent of Washington, Hamilton, Madison and the other businessmen and plantation ownders who wrote the Constitution was to transfer power from relatively autonomous state assemblies to a centralized federal government. Most agreed from the outset that they wanted a system of government more like Britain’s, ie one in which the business elite could use government authority to enhance their economic interests.

According to Fresia, the true purpose of constitutional “checks and balances” (ie the three branches of government) was to insure that moneyed interests enjoyed a greater voice than ordinary people. The Senate, a distinctly unrepresentative body, plays a major role in minimizing popular input. The Senate, in which a tiny state like Rhode Island has the same number of votes as an a big state like California, is given sole authority to approve treaties and presidential appointees. Their longer terms (six years) mean senators are less accountable to voters than congress people (who have two years terms). Until 1913, senators were still chosen by the electoral college (as opposed by direct vote) as the president is.

In 2015, more than 200 years after the Constitution was first written, Americans are still denied the right to vote directly for President.

Toward an American Revolution also describes the dirty tricks the founding father used to get 9 legislatures to ratify the Constitution, despite overwhelming opposition from the majority of enfranchised American voters.

The second half of the book fast forwards to the twentieth century to demonstrate how the US has continued to be ruled by a secret political elite. The latter have a specific agenda of suppressing democracy when it interferes with their business interests.

The examples given include America’s “secret police” force under the FBI’s Cointelpo operation, the role played by President Herbert Hoover and US industrialists (represented by Wall Street lawyer Allen Dulles) in financing the rise of Hitler, the subsequent appointment of Dulles to head the most powerful secret police apparatus in history (the CIA), his incorporation of Nazi war criminals into US intelligence networks, the role of “secret government” in the assassination of JFK, the corruption of our democratically elected representatives by corporate lobbyists and Reagan’s illegal war in Nicaragua.

Fresia has kindly made excerpts of this book available at http://cyberjournal.org/authors/fresia/