Sam Parry proves here in his book, “America’s Stolen Narrative,” that he has his eye on the ball. For he sees that in large measure the decline in American civility, international prestige, much of today’s governmental dysfunction, and the alarming and unaccountable shift to the right, has a lot to do with the way we have allowed the rightwing 24/7 media attack machine and the money that backs it, to get away with lying about and thus stealing and murdering our history.
By fiat they have been able to commandeer both the symbols of state and now through Gerrymandering, voter suppression and other such illicit stratagems, have also been able to take over the very machinery of government: Even when they lose elections and are out of power, as they are today, they still win as they are able to control the national narrative, the national agenda and has a newly elected President, with his national voter mandate so stymied that he cannot even make appointments or carry out the normal duties delegated to the presidency?
How easily we forget the balance books of history. Below are two pieces, one from the colonial era written in 2006, the other from the recent “neo-colonia” era in which the author examines the specifics of the Clinton Administration’s policies toward Haiti. Chuck
America’s Historic Debt to Haiti
By Robert Parry February 10, 2006
As Haiti intrudes again on the U.S. consciousness with a new round of troubled elections, Americans see a violent, backward, poverty-stricken country run by descendants of African slaves. There are feelings of condescension mixed with a touch of racism.
But what few Americans know is that they owe this Caribbean nation a profound historical debt. Indeed, perhaps no nation has done more for the United States than Haiti and been treated as badly in return.
If not for Haiti – which in the 1700s rivaled the American colonies as the most valuable European possession in the Western Hemisphere – the course of U.S. history would have been very different. It is possible that the United States might never have expanded much beyond the Appalachian Mountains.
Before and After the Quake
The Incapacitation of Haiti
By ASHLEY SMITH January 14, 2010
Why were 60 percent of the buildings in Port-au-Prince shoddily constructed and unsafe in normal circumstances, according to the city’s mayor? Why are there no building regulations in a city that sits on a fault line? Why has Port-au-Prince swelled from a small town of 50,000 in the 1950s to a population of 2 million desperately poor people today? Why was the state completely overwhelmed by the disaster?
To understand these facts, we have to look at a second fault line–U.S. imperial policy toward Haiti. The U.S. government, the UN, and other powers have aided the Haitian elite in subjecting the country to neoliberal economic plans that have impoverished the masses, deforested the land, wrecked the infrastructure and incapacitated the government.
The fault line of U.S. imperialism interacted with the geological one to turn the natural disaster into a social catastrophe.
Superb Personal Effort, Narrow, Needs Other References,
February 17, 2007
This is a superb personal effort by the author, and it does a tremendous job of harvesting both news media stories and key books. It is however a bit anrrow, and I recommend other references.
A simple example: he speaks of the narrow Bush victory in Florida without reference to Greg Palast’s PRE-ELECTION reporting, subsequently summarized in the book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy or any understanding of the fact that over a year in advance of the election Jeb Bush stole the election by disenfranchizing over 35,000 black voters whose names were remotely–very remotely–linked to the names of felons from other states (only Florida felons cannot vote, but Jeb Bush wanted this so bad he paid ten times the going rate to a “friendly” company that used Texas felon lists to “disqualify” voters who only found out they were disqualified on election day.
Another example: he has a great (but dated) appendix on CIA and who it has funded as intermediaries and end recipients of CIA cash all over the world, but he completely misses the same necessary information for Wall Street, the 40,000 non-profits created to hide wealth and manage perceptions (as well as lure people off land with gold, see Confessions of an Economic Hit Man).
Robert Parry is a gifted investigative reporter. His first book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ remains among my favorites. In this book, what may be his most important message is this: the extremists Republicans (I am an estranged moderate Republican disgusted with Karl Rove’s hijacking of the party) have combined secrecy, lies, and “perception management” to completely confuse and mislead the public, while carrying out high crimes and misdimeanors against the government, the treasury, the military, and the people.
From Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon to Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and the young (and rather stupid) George Bush II, this book paints a very ugly and accurate picture of the pathological abuse of power and of the public purse by these people. Most of them need to be tried, convicted, and jailed. None of them are fit for public office in a moral informed democracy, but then, as the author makes clear, we do not live in a moral, informed democracy. We live in a The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead where most Americans cannot identify all the states around their own, much less other countries. We have gotten the government we deserve.
One final observation: this book is super but in isolation. I am increasingly persauded that Amazon should digitize ALL books, so that customers can “buy” composite renditions of information that honor copyright at the paragraph and page level, while creating unique original visualizations and summarizations that are free of copyright and can be bought on their own. I would pay $1,000 for a visualization–a poster–of all of the criminal, dictator, and immoral connections of George Bush II and his evil former master, Dick Cheney (whose Secret Service nickname is “Edgar,” for the guy that managed the puppet). Bush has finally figured out, way too late, that Cheney hijacked and destroyed the first six years.
Corruption & Mendacity of White House, CIA Failures in Central America,
November 8, 2003
Edit of 21 Dec 07 to add links.
This book is a real gem. It outlines a tale of both corruption and ideological mendacity within the White House, and of ignorance and unprofessionalism with the Directorate of Operations in the Central Intelligence Agency. As one who served on the Central American Task Force at the time, and as a clandestine case officer focused on these matters, I find it especially fascinating that I, from the inside, was truly unaware of the degree to which we were engaged in direct support to a band of contras characterized by drug-running, money-laundering, corruption, rape, torture, routine murders, and perhaps worse of all, total incompetence and ineffectiveness.
There are two aspects of this book that truly stand out for anyone who is committed, as I and most CIA employees are, to the concept that “the truth shall make you free.”
First, as the title suggests, there is a “lost history” that is unavailable to the American people. The author is not alone in making this charge. The editors of the history of the Department of State have on several occasions complained, both publicly and privately, that an accurate history of the foreign relations of the United States of America cannot be written without more complete disclosure of our various covert operations. Indeed, Derek Leebaert’s book The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World, Jim Bamford’s book Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, and Sterling and Peggy Sterling’s book Gold Warriors: America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold, among a number of others books but these three reviewed by me on Amazon and being the most recent and best documentary efforts, all show that America has paid a *huge* cost, a cost running to trillions of dollars in deceitfully mis-spent dollars and lives, for clandestine and covert activities that have inspired enmity, often nurtured environments of genocide and war crimes (Sudan today, for example, given a “bye” for its nominal counter-terrorism support), and spawned vast war profiteering enterprises at the same time that we nurture and encourage dictatorships such as those in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, both of which are protecting Bin Laden, his family (which we allowed to escape from the US rather than taking them hostage–a White House accommodation to its Saudi paymasters), and other terrorists. America needs to understand the truth about such matters, and this book helps.
The other major value of this book is its examination of how the White House, first under Reagan and now under Bush junior, and personified in the activities of one Otto Reich (Reich and Rove are exemplar representatives of the neo-Nazi and neo-conservative aspects of the Cheney-Bush regime), has violated various US laws and values by running psychological operations and media campaigns against its own public. Especially distressing has been the manner in which the National Public Radio (NPR) has been “brought to heel” by threats to cut off its federal subsidies if it fails to accept the lies of the Administration and actually reports truthfully to the public. The Associated Press (AP) is also shown in this book to have subverted the truth and conformed to the falsehoods and propaganda line being purveyed by the Reagan Administration against the American people. The New York Times is specifically cited, on several occasions, and publishing false and misleading information, not because its employees lack ethics (as has recently been the case) but because the NYT is part of the “establishment” and all too eager to betray its readers by publishing the party line from a corrupt White House.
Usefully, the author documents a General Account Office decision on 30 September 1987 that the “white propaganda” of Otto Reich and the Public Diplomacy Office in the Department of State amounted to “prohibited covert propaganda activities” against the US media and the US public. Under Bush Junior the Administration has added blatant lies and manipulated intelligence to its repetoir, and continues to manage covert propaganda against the American people.
Among the most interesting sub-themes the author documents are how Richard Nixon undermined the Vietnam peace talks in order to prevent Johnson from successful resolution, and how Reagan’s team undermined the Iran hostage negotiations to prevent Jimmy Carter’s ability to resolve that in time for the election. In both cases the Republicans violated the law and engaged in actions that amount to treason–to a betrayal of the public trust. Now fast forward to the recent stories about how Richard Perle was a principal in the Bush Administration’s refusal to accept an offer from Saddam Hussein to help in the war on terrorism, allow full US inspection teams, and otherwise give us everything we wanted except his head and the right to loot Iraq. American soldiers are dying today–and a bill we cannot pay is being run up–in Iraq because of Republican treason and Republican lies and Republican propaganda against the American people.
Another important point that this book documents is the sorry reality that CIA analysts cannot trust the CIA clandestine operators to tell them the full truth, and that the US public cannot trust the White House to tell it the full truth (apart from blatant propaganda). The truth in America has been subverted, distorted, and *buried*. As others have documented (see my review of Sheldon Rampton & John Stauber, Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq), the American people are, if they are avid searchers for the truth, able to see only 10% of the facts and undistorted information available to Europeans and Asians.
The book has some flaws–a rotten index, some repetition caused by integrating old and new material–but I rank it as essential reading for anyone who would like to understand how we got ourselves into an unjust war with Iraq, how an extremist Republican Administration was able to do Goering proud by manipulating the American Congress and the American people and the United Nations with a “platform of lies.” We have lost history, we have lost ethics, and we are on the verge of losing America and that for which it stands.