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December 28, 2003

Blowback! How American Support of Dictators Comes Back to Hurt Us
Special guest: Professor Chalmers Johnson

He may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard.
— FDR on Nicaraguan dictator Somoza
What do former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Al Quaeda leader Osama bin Laden, former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and the former Panamania dictator Manuel Noriega all have in common?
All were former dictators supported by the USA who became our enemies.
How about Somoza, Pinochet, Trujillo, Diem, and the Shah of Iran?
All US-backed dictators whose policies led to world hatred of Americans
The United States Government has often supported dictators — who wreak havoc on their own populations — in the short-term belief that they are “our” bastards — vicious rulers who will help us against even more vicious enemies. But time and time again, these unsavory allies of ours cause us even larger problems in a term known as “blowback”, coined by the CIA and written extensively about by Professor Chalmers Johnson of the University of California.
Now that Saddam Hussein has been captured, it is appropriate to recall the members of the Reagan and Bush Sr. Administrations who helped Saddam in the first place, including current Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, who established relations with Iraq soon after Saddam used chemical weapons to kill thousands, and Vice President Cheney, whose company Halliburton continued to do business with Saddam Hussein until Cheney stepped down as Halliburton’s Chief Executive Officer.
Rumsfeld and Cheney now support the change in US policy that removed Hussein from power. But should Reagan and Bush have supported Saddam Hussein in the first place?
What dictators do we support today that are likely to cause “blowback” and even greater damage to the USA?
Is this the primary reason why much of the world hates us?
My guest this week is Professor Chalmers Johnson, whose controversial theory of “blowback” was developed in his book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, and whose fears for our future are laid out in his new book, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic.
Do we have an American empire like the Romans of 2000 years ago?
If so, is that a good thing?
Professor Johnson’s theories are provocative. Some make perfect sense to me. Others I challenge. Hear the inside scoop on the past and present support America has given and continues to give to foreign dictators — and what it means for our future.

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  • Célio Rodrigues July 28, 2007 2:48 pm

    I really appreciated these comments. It seems that your “cultured” president Bush and his “iluminated” vice, Cheney, do not read. This comments answer the question that Bush made last week: “Why the world hates America? Or does it hate only me?”… Off course, the correct answer is BOTH!