Book Review: William Blum ‘Rogue State: a guide to the world’s only superpower’

Here’s a review of William Blum’s Rogue State, originally written in (I think) 2004. It’s very much a potted summary of the book rather than a critical engagement with it, but it’s interesting to look at and compare to the reviews I’m writing now.

In Rogue State William Blum offers a corrective to the perception of the USA as a great force of good, tirelessly policing the world in order to serve the cause of justice. In reality, he argues, it polices the world to serve its own interests and has probably caused more problems than it has ever solved.

This is a concise history and guide – it is probably intended as a general introduction into the various historical incidents and patterns it describes, rather than an in-depth guide. Thus, the book is divided into three sections. The first describes Washington DC’s “love/hate relationship with terrorists”, and describes CIA training and US funding given to terrorist and guerrilla groups throughout the world (including, of course, everyone’s favourite, Osama bin Laden). It also describes atrocities such as Pol Pot’s Cambodian government were responsible for, and details not only the silence of the US state, but describes its actual support and attacks on the opposition to Pol Pot – all part of the “war against Communism” (now replaced with the similarly naïve/fictitious/self-serving “war on terror”).

The second part describes, in depth, the use of weapons of mass destruction by the U.S.A., from cluster bombs and depleted uranium bullets abroad, to chemical and biological weapons used, incredibly, domestically. The third and final part of the book includes “A Concise History of United States Global Interventions, 1945 to the Present”, followed by chapters about topics such as perversion of foreign elections, illegal eavesdropping on foreign communications, and the responsibility of the CIA in Nelson Mandella’s 28-year prison sentence.

Chillingly, the book ends with “A Day in the Life of a Free Country”, which offers a plethora of information, evidence, anecdotes and so forth as a corrective to the assertion that the U.S.A. is a “free country”.

Whilst undeniably biased, this book is nevertheless an absolutely essential antidote to the radical right-wing propaganda so thoroughly entrenched in the US and British governments and media. It is impossible to continue to believe in the infallibility and honesty of the US government after reading this book – although, sadly, those that do choose to read it will probably be those already aware of that nation’s long list of human and civil rights abuses, undemocratic activity, military invasions and occupations, flouting of International Law, and so forth.

Regardless, this book makes an invaluable resource, especially to those interested in learning more about just what the USA has been getting up to for the last fifty years.

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