Thursday, February 10, 2011

Arundhati Roy and Chalmers Johnson: Blowback

Who is Osama bin Laden really? Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden? He's America's family secret. He is the American president's [George W. Bush] dark Doppelganger. The savage twin of all that purports to be beautiful and civilized. He has been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to waste by America's foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its vulgarly stated policy of "full-spectrum dominance," its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts. ... Now that the family secret has been spilled, the twins are blurring into one another and gradually becoming interchangeable.

--Arundhati Roy, The Guardian (September 27, 2001)

"Blowback" does not mean just revenge but rather retaliation for covert, illegal violence that our government has carried out abroad that it kept totally secret from the American public (even though such acts are seldom secret among the people on the receiving end). It was a term invented by the Central Intelligence Agency and first used in its "after-action report" about the 1953 overthrow of the elected government of Premier Mohammed Mossadeq in Iran. This coup brought to power the U.S.-supported Shah of Iran, who would in 1979 be overthrown by Iranian revolutionaries and Islamic fundamentalists. The Ayatollah Khomeini replaced the Shah and installed the predecessors of the current, anti-American government in Iran. This would be one kind of blowback from America's first venture into illegal, clandestine "regime change"--but as the attacks of September 11, 2001, showed us all too graphically, hardly the only one.

--Chalmers Johnson, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2006)

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