Interview :: Military

Imperial Interventions

Interview with Gregory Elich about his new book, 'Strange Liberators:
Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit'
An Interview with Gregory Elich by Mickey Z.

I first met Gregory Elich more than two years when we were both speakers at
the One Dance People's Summit. We've since become friends and I was proud
to write the afterword for his recently released book, 'Strange Liberators:
Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit'.

As I stated in that afterword, Gregory Elich has dedicated himself to
skillfully unearthing and disseminating the information that typically goes
unsaid. He provides us with the well-researched fundamentals we cannot and
should not expect to get from our newspapers or televisions. Put another
way, Elich is teaching us to identify the "gates" that restrict our freedom
of thought . . . the gates locking us into a limited form of perception.

I recently interviewed Gregory via e-mail. Here's how it went:

Mickey Z.: The phrase "Strange Liberators" certainly resonates with the
current U.S. occupation of Iraq. Why did you choose this title?

Gregory Elich: The phrase is taken from a speech given by the Rev. Martin
Luther King in 1968 on the subject of the Vietnam War. Not much has changed
since that time in at least one respect: U.S. leaders still use
high-sounding phrases to cloak wars, interventions, and aggressive policies
that serve corporate interests. One of the book's primary goals is to
demonstrate the reality of those policies for those on the receiving end,
hence the title.

MZ: Such concern for those on the "receiving end" will often get you labeled
"anti-American" or "pro-terrorist." It's fine to express sadness when
American soldiers are killed but sympathy for those living under the bombs
has somehow become forbidden. Who are some of targets of U.S. foreign
policy that you talk about in your book?

GE: Empathy is notably lacking in mass media coverage of foreign affairs.
My aim was to fill that gap for readers. The targets of U.S. foreign policy
are too numerous to adequately cover in a single volume. Instead, I focus
in detail on selected case studies that illustrate patterns that apply on a
wider scale. What it means to be subjected to U.S. military power is shown
in my chapters on the invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
The devastating impact of Western sanctions is covered in the chapters on
Zimbabwe, and those on North Korea provide an example of hostile U.S.
economic and diplomatic maneuvers. Finally, U.S. policy on climate change
is in effect a foreign policy issue in that all of humanity, nature, and the
very globe itself will suffer for the decisions being made today.

MZ: The countries you mention are very unpopular in America. Even within
some segments of the left, for example, many will join in on the
demonization of Yugoslavia and Slobodan Milosevic. How do you respond when
such folks declare it was good thing that NATO removed him from power?

GE: It is well known on the left how the Bush Administration lied about Iraq
in order to provide a pretext for invasion, claiming that it harbored
weapons of mass destruction and had links to Al Qaeda. Unfortunately,
skepticism about U.S. motives in the Middle East has not always been
extended to other areas of the globe. The Bush Administration is not
uniquely militaristic. The invasion of Iraq was not an anomaly. U.S.
leaders have a long history of demonizing nations they intend to attack or
undermine. Deliberate lies and distortions are utilized to whip up
emotional reactions calculated to build support for aggressive measures.
Whenever a new campaign of demonization is opened, such as is happening now
with Iran, the first question the left should ask itself is if the claims
are true. I believe that a close examination of the facts invariably shows
that they are not. I intentionally chose unpopular examples in my book
because I wanted to demonstrate how the invasion of Iraq is in fact part of
a broader and consistent pattern. On the subject of Yugoslavia, it is
difficult to counter years of propaganda in a sentence or two. The subject
is far too complex, so I would encourage readers who are curious to explore
the issue in more depth to read my book, as well as books on the subject by
Michael Parenti, Peter Brock, and Diana Johnstone.

MZ: I agree. It's extremely difficult to grasp the scope of these issues
without a lot more context, e.g. the well-documented information in your
book. I'd like to come back to something you said earlier about climate
change being a foreign policy issue. You conclude Strange Liberators with a
powerful chapter called "Disposable Planet" in which you talk of earth
becoming an "increasingly forbidding environment for future generations."
Do you feel this could be a unifying/galvanizing catalyst for public
awareness and grassroots action?

GE: I am sure of it. Unfortunately, it will come too late, as the time for
action is now. Americans in general don't feel this issue has touched their
lives in a meaningful way. But at some point, the impact will be impossible
to ignore as feedback effects accelerate the process of climate change with
alarming results. Once that happens, people are bound to question the
Clinton and Bush Administrations' resolve to seek economic advantage for
U.S. corporations at the expense of the environment. Faced with a bleak
future, few people will regard a despoiled planet as a price worth paying
for already wealthy corporations to reap even more profits. With that
realization, popular anger may be something to behold.

To order Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit:

Mickey Z. is the author of several books, most recently 50 American
Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation Books). He can be
found on the Web at

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An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.
-- Mark Twain
Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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