Sunday, May 14, 2006


Reverend Moon

Reverend Moon, Alleged Drug Kingpin, Bush Family Benefactor and Rightwing Godfather
28-Oct-04Reverend Moon

BuzzFlash: "You wrote and researched a few chapters on the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who publishes the right-wing newspaper, The Washington Times. Your research alleges that he has a very shady past, including evidence of some charges of his involvement in drug trafficking, among many other things...." Robert Parry: "Rev. Moon is perhaps the deepest pocket for the conservative infrastructure when looked at over the past quarter century. That money has been very important. We're not talking small sums - we're talking hundreds of millions of dollars, really into the billions of dollars. His sources of money have never been clarified, but... Moon's history goes back to an association with Japanese organized crime figures... His alliances with the conservatives have effectively given him political protection. And his alliances particularly with the Bush family have proven to be extremely important to him." Moon has paid the Bush family up to $10 million (enter 'Moon' in our search engine).

Rev. Moon Sells Submarines to North Korea, Raising Nuclear Threat
Reverend Moon

John Gorenfeld blogs, "Jane's Defense Weekly is reporting this week that Kim Jong-Il, unstable North Korean dictator may be able to target California with sea-launched missiles. His know-how, the Reuters story relates [I said his know-how, not actual launching platforms], comes from 12 ex-Soviet submarines that fell into his hands. They came with their original launch tubes and stabilizing gear intact. Where does Kim get those wonderful toys? Funny story: According to U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency documents from 1994 (which you can browse here), they were furnished by Reverend Moon. Robert Parry, the ace reporter who broke the Iran-Contra story, obtained these files through the Freedom of Information Act while writing his 2000 story, 'Rev. Moon, North Korea and the Bushes,' about Moon's gifts to the Communist regime. Read on, if you dare. "

National Press Club Hosts Event Aimed at Giving Rev. 'I'm the Messiah' Moon a Chance to Explain Himself29-Jun-04Reverend Moon

US Newswire: "Intense media and public interest has arisen concerning an event held on March 23, 2004 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Questions and controversies have swirled regarding the purpose of the event, what happened, who attended and why. Were dignitaries 'duped' into attending? What about the provocative claims made by Rev. Moon? How did such an event take place on Capitol Hill? Are the charges of anti- semitism, homophobia, etc., true?" LOL!! The event, which they can't bring themselves to refer to in this press release: Moon crowned himself "Messiah" and waxed psychotic before an audence that included several Congressfolk. So now the Press Club is hosting an "explain yourself if you can" event. This oughta be good! Hopefully Moon will be back on his meds by then.

Sun Myung Moon Crowns Himself the Messiah in Halls of Congress, Claims Stalin and Hitler Support him24-Jun-04
Reverend Moon

Independent: "The US Senate was used for a bizarre ritual in which the Rev Sun Myung Moon, the head of the Unification church, was 'crowned' and declared himself the messiah in the presence of more than a dozen Republican and Democratic members of Congress, it was reported yesterday. 'Emperors, kings and presidents ... have declared to all heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's saviour, messiah, returning Lord and true parent,' the 85-year-old Korean 'Moonie' cult leader told several hundred guests at the meeting in one of the Senate's office buildings on March 23, according to the Washington Post. He also claimed endorsement from Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Hitler, who had all been reformed and reborn through his church's teachings - an idiosyncratic version of Christianity which rejects the use of the cross as a symbol and denounces homosexuals as 'dirty dung-eating dogs'. " How can ANYONE take the Washington Times seriously?

The Rev. Moon Honored at Hill Reception, Lawmakers say they were mislead
Reverend Moon

Washington Post:More than a dozen lawmakers attended a congressional reception this year honoring the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in which Moon declared himself the Messiah and said his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be "reborn as new persons." ...Moon has claimed to have spoken in "the spirit world" with all deceased U.S. presidents, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed and others. At the March 23 event, he said: "The founders of five great religions and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even Communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin . . . and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons." The article did not mention the Bush family connections to Moon.

Rev. Moon Crowned Himself the Messiah - in the US Senate!
11-Jun-04Reverend Moon

John Gorenfeld writes, "Should Americans be concerned that on March 23rd a bipartisan group of Congressmen attended a coronation at which a billionaire, pro-theocracy newspaper owner was declared to be the Messiah - with royal robes, a crown, the works? Or that this imperial ceremony took place not in a makeshift basement church or a backwoods campsite, but in a Senate office building?... Section 9 of the Constitution forbids giving out titles of nobility [but that didn't deter] conservatives, the traditional fans of Moon's newspaper: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA.), Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.). But there were also liberal Democrats like Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) and Danny Davis (D-IL)... Moon's groups have taken home grant money from the Bush Administration, which has given his anti-sex missionaries $475,000 in Abstinence-Only dollars to bring Moon's crusade against "free sex" to both black New Jersey high-schoolers and native Africans."

At 84, Rev. Moon Still Spreads His Eerie Influence
07-Jun-04Reverend Moon

"Having recently celebrated his 84th birthday, the Rev. Moon seems rejuvenated and desiring to increase his visibility, while at the same time the master of mixed and often convoluted messages appears to be preparing his final farewell to America. Along the way, however, he is trying to plant the seeds of his political legacy - with help from some powerful political friends.
On March 23, a group of the Rev. Moon's associates gathered at the Dirksen Senate Office Building. There, the Rev. presided over a ceremony presenting 'Crown of Peace' awards to a number of honored guests. Democrats Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Rep. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia; Republicans Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland, Rep. Christopher B. Cannon of Utah, and Rep. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania - received 'Ambassadors for Peace' awards. Decked-out in a campy floor-length cape, the Rev. Moon was presented with an ornate gold crown and a lifetime achievement award."

Rev. Moon: 'Homo Marriage' is Driving Me Out of the Country Until 2012
30-Mar-04Reverend Moon

John Gorenfeld writes, "The last time Moon said he was giving up on America, taking his ball, and going home was 1992. That was when the defeat of Bush Sr. soured his feelings for a country he henceforth denounced as 'Satan's harvest.' This weekend, he's announced he's jetting -- while rolling back the date of completion for his Taliban-esque 'Fatherland' to a Blade Runner-ish 2012. Is he envisioning a two-term John Kerry presidency as a long time out for Moonie access to the White House? From a Mar. 24 appearance of conservative media mogul Sun Myung Moon, the following disjointed ideas: 'True Father spent 34 years here in America to guide this country in the right way. Yesterday was the turning point. Now I'm going back to Korea.[...] Thirty years ago, Christianity agreed with Father how to save the world. Now it's right I received the crown...[...] The reality is, if America doesn't follow heavenly ideals, it will perish. Homo marriage abuses blood lineage.'"

Drudge and Andrew Sullivan's Double Standards on Homophobia, Especially Rev. Moon's
14-Jan-04Reverend Moon

Michelangelo Signorile writes: "Can you imagine the owners of the New York Times--or the Los Angeles Times or Cleveland's Plain-Dealer--pining out loud for the mass extinction of an entire group of people? Let's say they envisioned the incineration of all gays, claiming it was God's plan and had their words posted on the web. At the very least, sensation-stalker Matt Drudge would link to the comments immediately, rightly whipping it into a major story... Drudge's openly gay compatriot, Andrew Sullivan, would no doubt take up the cause as well, attacking those nasty homophobe publishers on the left, railing on his web site about what hypocrites liberals are. But if the paper in question is an influential conservative daily--one that pumps up both of these right-wing gasbags regularly, and one that publishes Sullivan's work--then the rantings and ravings of its demagogic owner don't seem to matter." Especially if it's rightwing sugardaddy Reverend Sun Myung Moon!

The Disturbing Political Influence of Rev. Moon
24-Nov-03Reverend Moon

From the Brown Daily Herald: "So Moon's clearly a problem, but how connected is he really to the Republican Party? Well, he's a major contributor to scores of conservative think tanks, including ones that aided the presidential campaigns of Reagan and both Bushes. The Heritage Foundation has even employed a good number of top-ranking Moonies. The elder Bush has, since his retirement, given a number of speeches at Moon's organizations, for which he received thousands of dollars in payment. Moon and Daddy Bush are apparently quite chummy... Admittedly, there's no smoking gun that would suggest Moon is behind the scenes, explicitly making policy in the Bush White House. Of course, there's no smoking gun that would suggest that Global Crossing or Halliburton are making decisions in the Bush White House either -- there's just a trail of money to the corporations, just like there's a trail of money to Moon."

Is the New UPI Editor a Starry-Eyed Devotee of Rev. Moon?
11-Nov-03Reverend Moon

John Gorenfield writes: "As you may recall, United Press International was the home of legendary reporter Helen Thomas until it was bought by the Moonies in 2000. Now, the editors of Rev. Moon's publications claim a Christian Science Monitor-ish separation between church and newspaper. But today, UPI has announced that its new editor is to be Michael J. Marshall, who used to run Moon's The World and I, and, well... Cut to May, 2003, in a 'Workshop on Journalism and Media.' Your host: media mogul Rev. Moon. The following scene, transcribed here at a Unification Church website, occurs. Moon is ticking off the seven reasons he's the Messiah, and talking about how to get the word out in the press, when suddenly... 'REV. MOON (addressing Marshall): Are you with World and I? Can you follow what I'm saying, do what I'm saying, the contents? For how long? MICHAEL MARSHALL, EDITOR: I will commit to follow forever. REV. MOON: Forever, for life. Great.'"

Gun that Killed Davis Designed by Rev. Moon's Son
28-Jul-03Reverend Moon

Michael Daly writes for NY Daily News: "The pistol Othniel Askew produced from the scant concealment of his light summer suit to kill Councilman James Davis was a Kahr MK-40 semiautomatic 'pocket rocket' designed and manufactured by the son of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon to be at once 'super-compact' and super lethal. 'It's a unique design,' a spokesman for Kahr Arms of Blauvelt, Rockland County, said Friday. 'It's carved out its own niche.'"

Moonie Times Admits Publishing Fake State Dept. Letter
17-Jul-03Reverend Moon

From Reuters: "The Washington Times [owned by Rev. Moon] said Tuesday it regretted publishing what it said was a forged letter in the name of a U.S. ambassador and was working with the State Department to track the origin of the document. The letter, in the name of Stephan Minikes, ambassador to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, accused U.S. career diplomats of disloyalty to the objectives of the Bush administration. We have been ... informed from the highest level at the State Department, and we accept as true that the ambassador was not the author of this letter,' editor in chief Wesley Pruden said in a written statement."

The Truth about William Bennett and Reverend Moon
08-Apr-03Reverend Moon

"Bennett's involvement with a 'megalomaniac cult leader' -- I was referring to none other than Sun Myung Moon. One of the things that makes Bennett a paragon of anti-virtue has been his role in the attempt by the American right to rehabilitate Sun Myung Moon -- a truly evil man.... That didn't prevent Bennett from giving credibility to Moon by accepting a generous speaking fee to appear before a Moonie front group. Let's discuss just a few of Moon's transgressions against humanity: ...he developed 'purification rituals'-which conveniently involved deflowering naive young women (Ironically, the Bush regime is paying $450,000 in taxpayer money to the depraved billionaire for abstinence education)... (Bush also named Josette Shiner, a Moonie and former head of Bennett's Empower America to the post of deputy U.S. trade representative; ...Bennett hired someone from an America-hating cult to run his group that has the name 'Empower America'?)." Moon has paid millions to Bush Sr. and Falwell.

'God-Given Christian President'? Cult-Leader Reverend 'I am the Reincarnation of Jesus Christ' Moon Influences Bush; Gave Millions to Bush Sr.23-Jan-03Reverend Moon

Wayne Madsen writes: "When Bush added North Korea to his list of 'Axis of Evil' nations, the influence of the self-declared reincarnation of Jesus Christ, the 'Reverend' Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church, loomed largely over the White House decision-making process... Bush, a self-described 'born again Christian' who has maintained close links to Moon... In 1996, former President Bush, who has taken millions of dollars in speaking fees from Moon, spoke before a Moon audience in Argentina and declared Moon to be a 'man of vision'...Bush [Jr.] seems to value Moon's commitment to family values. Bush named David Caprara, the head of Moon's American Family Coalition, as the director of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America)...It should be noted that while Bush [Sr.] was head of the CIA, Moon was organizing a number of pro-American and anti-communist rallies and front organizations around the world. Moon was a convenient agent of influence for the CIA and Mr. Bush."

Archconservative America-hater Moon owns Fallwell
10-Jul-02Reverend Moon

When the Rev. Jerry Falwell's university faced bankruptcy, Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church bailed it out with millions in loans and grants. It is Moon who said he would "absorb" decadent American freedoms and that American women were whores. He's also a big backer of the Bush family, of course, and publishes the ultra rightwing Washington Times.

Moon's Speech at 'Washington Times' Anniversary Described as 'Embarrassing,' 'Humiliating,' and/or 'Painful to Watch'23-May-02Reverend Moon

The Washington Post Reports: "At Tuesday night's celebration of the Washington Times' 20th anniversary, its founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon delivered an impassioned, hour-long evangelical sermon in Korean saying he established the newspaper "in response to heaven's direction...The Washington Times is responsible to let the American people know about God." Later, he added: "The Washington Times will become the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world." By this point, several Times staffers had exited for the Hilton's bar, either because the party was alcohol-free or -- possibly -- because they needed a stiff drink." According to one staffer, many were "embarrassed," some "humiliated." Others described the speech as "painful to watch." In the wake of this performance, Phony-in Chief Welsey Pruden is still babbling to all who will listen about the paper's lack of rightwing religious bias!

Rev. Sun Myung Moon Throws a 20th Anniversary Party of His Washington Times, Complete with an Hour-Long Messianic Rant23-May-02Reverend Moon

Joke time! "What do you call a gathering of 3,000 people, a self-aggrandizing lecture by Dr. Laura Schlessinger and an hour-long sermon from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon? The Washington Times 20th-anniversary bash." (Washington Post) "What do Dr. Laura, the Washington Times, Enron, the Republican Party, and George Bush have in common? They've have all been keep artificially alive by regular huge infusions of corporate cash!" ( "What does the Washington Times call a speech entitled 'The Life of Jesus as Seen From God's Will, and God's Warning to the Present Age, the Period of the Last Days'? A nonreligious editorial stance." (Unknown News). Biggest joke of the year: "The Washington Times" self-description as a "successful, unbiased" newspaper when it has only survived through billions in "religious aid."

The Moonie Times Says We Write 'Profanity-laced Vitriol'03-Jan-02Reverend Moon

Peter Roff writes in the Washington Times: "One only need surf over to a variety of web sites including Buzzflash, Bartcop, and others of the left-of-center variety to see the often-profanity laced vitriol, the derision with which the president and his administration are viewed. These web sites belong to individuals and groups that are generally anonymous, certainly not elected officials in the public eye. Perhaps they should be given some latitude for their abrasive style of communication, as they are not accustomed to the niceties of life and language inside the Washington Beltway." Oh, you mean like that displayed by Rev. Moon's Washington Times and Insight Magazine that served as conduits for illicit and destructive leaks by Ken Starr's office? You mean the disinformation and outright lies propagated by Moon's media outlets? Meanwhile, the rightwing rank-and-file are led around like good little Moonies.

Peter Roff Responds to Buzzflash's Editorial, but Roff Has a 'Latest' Error of Fact of his Own03-Jan-02Reverend Moon

In a response to Roff's criticism of, Bartcop and Buzzflash, Buzz featured a GOPAC training memo to show the kind of language GOPAC members have used against their opponents. In reply, Roff wrote to Buzzflash that "the document to which you refer was created long before I arrived at GOPAC and - until now - I do not believe I had ever seen a copy. It certainly was not part of the training materials provided by the group during my tenure as you suggest in your current commentary. Please correct these latest errors of fact." But in his original article, Roff made an "error of fact" about us. He wrote that we are among a group of "web sites [that] belong to individuals and groups that are generally anonymous." All Roff had to do was look under our "Company" menu item to find out who owns - try that at! Roff's own problem with facts belies his use of plausible deniability about the GOPAC memo.

An Open Letter to Peter Roff, Ace 'Moonie-Tunes' Propagandist03-Jan-02Reverend Moon

Veteran journalist Judith Haney writes, "Peter, let me ask you a question just between us 'peers'. Why are you working for the religious cult leader, Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who owns UPI and The Washington Times? I know of no respectable journalists who will work for him or any of his companies and organizations. So why do you work for him Peter?" Indeed, Roff writes for the UPI, from which Helen Thomas resigned the day after Moon took over. Check out the truly disturbing quotes by this dangerous cult leader and rightwing benefactor. While Moon has expanded his power over the Republican Party during the past two decades, the Media has refrained from exposing Moon, so most Americans know nothing about his extreme views. It's up to us to tell them about Moon and why he is such a danger to our country. A good place to start is with the links below Haney's column. Moon has paid George and Barbara Bush up to $10 million. And he gave $3.5 million to bail Jerry Falwell out of debt.

Just when you think it can't get any weirder -- Bush benefactor Reverend Moon in middle of Vatican drama25-Aug-01Reverend Moon

From the Boston Globe. "The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the leader of the Unification Church, has weighed into the bizarre tug-of-war between his church and the Vatican over the Roman Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who was married by Moon in May. A Unification Church spokesman, the Rev. Philip Schanker, said yesterday he had spoken by telephone to Moon, who expressed his support for Milingo's wife Maria Sung after her husband dropped from public view Aug. 8...Milingo and Sung were paired up by Moon and married in a mass ceremony in New York, scandalizing the Catholic world, whose clergy are not allowed to marry…But after meeting Pope John Paul II and a flock of reporters, the African prelate vanished from public view, sparking a strange struggle between the Vatican, his wife and her entourage of Unification Church members." Moon is of course the cult leader and Bush/GOP sugar daddy who has paid Bush Sr. and Barbara up to $10 million (Enter 'moon' in our .Compass search engine).

Moon's Goals07-Jun-01Reverend Moon

Writes renowned cult watcher Steve Hassan: "Moon, a 77-year old Korean billionaire and convicted felon who served 13 months in federal prison for tax evasion and conspiracy in the 80s, owns the Washington Times newspaper, Insight magazine, The University of Bridgeport (CT), and The New Yorker Hotel. His empire was investigated in 1977-78 by Congress as part of Korean CIA activities in the U.S. Moon's stated ambitions include establishing a one-world government run by Moon and his leaders. His vision of Heaven on Earth includes absorbing all world religions into Unificationism as well as abolishing all languages except Korean. Members ritually pledge every Sunday morning, before an altar of Moon, to fight for the Fatherland (Korea)…The Rev. Al Sharpton recently had his vows renewed and was given the power to renew others' marriage vows." Moon is called a 'unifier' -- which is eerily similar to Bush's claims of being a 'uniter.' Moon has paid the Bush family up to $10 million after all!

It's A Moonie, Moonie, Moonie World! 28-May-01Reverend Moon

Moon told a lieutenant "part of our strategy in the U.S. must be to make friends in the FBI, the CIA and police forces, the military and business community . . . as a means of entering the political arena, influencing foreign policy, and ultimately establishing absolute dominion over the American people." Of course, these plans also include the US media. Representative Jim Leach of Iowa declared that the Unification Church has "infiltrated the New Right and the party it [the New Right] wants to control, the Republican Party, and infiltrated the media as well." Moon not only owns the Washington Times, Insight Magazine and now UPI, but he has former employees (if not adherents) in other media positions, such as Fox News Tony Snow and allies like the stealthy Ralph Reed. Moon's Washington Times writers have authored right-wing hatchet books. The glassy-eyed Bill Sammon has just come out with the hilariously titled: "At Any Cost : How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election"!

More Evidence That Sharpton Is 'Being Used By Moon To Further Moon's Agenda'23-May-01Reverend Moon

According to counter-cult ministry New Covenant Publications, "Rev. Al Sharpton is another one also now being used by Sun Myung Moon to further Moon's agenda. He is very involved in seeking to persuade Christian Ministers to participate in this up-coming Unification Church 'Blessing Ceremony.' One of the main strategies of the Unification Church in promoting their 'Blessing Ceremony' is to target Christian Ministers hoping their influence would persuade whole congregations to participate." Also - from the Moonie 'True Parents' site ( "Reverend Sharpton, father, husband, mayoral candidate and President of the National Action Network became Co-chairman of the Coalition for Harmony. The Coalition for Harmony was founded by [the Unification Church's] Rev. Joong Hyun Pak and Rev. Simon T. Levine in 1990."

Presidential Aspirant (?) Al Sharpton's Ties To Reverend Moon22-May-01Reverend Moon

Political websites are buzzing over a Time magazine interview of Reverend Al Sharpton, in which he ponders a run for the Presidency in 2004. Said Sharpton: "I feel that the Democratic Party must be challenged in 2004 because it didn't fight aggressively to protect our voting rights in Florida. I think we need to look at running a black in the primary. I have said I would be available to do it." Well, what do you know -- Sharpton criticizes the Democrats for the election theft by the Republicans! Could it be that Sharpton is part of a broader agenda that includes major Bush benefactor Reverend Moon? Check out this item from the Providence Journal: "The Rev. Al Sharpton, a national black political leader from New York City who is a Baptist minister, renewed his marriage vows in 1997 in a Unification Church ceremony [From the Providence Journal, Mar. 19, 2001]." This year Reverend Moon went on a 50-city speaking tour of mostly African-American congregations.

Friday, May 05, 2006


by Chalmers Johnson

with introduction by Tom Engelhardt

in Tom Dispatch via (May 3 2006)

After those weapons of mass destruction never appeared and Saddam's al-Qaeda connection proved but a figment of the overly vivid neocon (and vice-presidential) imagination, the Bush administration wheeled out the shiniest of American exports, democracy. It had worked for Ronald Reagan in Central America in the 1980s, why not in Iraq, too? Suddenly, actual democratic elections, which administration officials had headed off or tried to contain from the moment Baghdad fell, were de rigueur, the very essence of our mission in Iraq, the true reason that we Americans were placed on this Earth. Who even recalled (or now recalls) the tawdry history of the American occupation, of the way L Paul Bremer, our hapless viceroy in Baghdad, and his kleptomaniacal Coalition Provisional Authority did everything in their power, including canceling local elections, to ward off democracy or any significant expression of the popular will.
Here's how, back in 2005, Juan Cole described the administration's democratic urge for an electorate so restricted that it might have made Saudi Arabia look liberal:
"First they were going to turn Iraq over to [neocon favorite Ahmed] Chalabi within six months. Then Bremer was going to be MacArthur in Baghdad for years. Then on November 15 2003, Bremer announced a plan to have council-based elections in May of 2004. The US and the UK had somehow massaged into being provincial and municipal governing councils, the members of which were pro-American. Bremer was going to restrict the electorate to this small, elite group."
Then, of course, Ayatollah Ali Sistani insisted; the Bush people caved; the Iraqis bravely turned out to vote in vast numbers; and those "purple fingers" proved just so useful on the American home front. Think of it as importing democracy. Unfortunately, the largely Shi'ite government elected proved awkward indeed and, via our ambassador in Baghdad, flights in by top officials, the power of the purse and the power of the gun, "pressure" has been constantly applied to restrain and thwart them. With Iraq now in chaos and seemingly at the edge of dismemberment, democracy restricted to Baghdad's Green Zone and once again anathema to the president's top officials, it seems the perfect moment to turn to the larger subject of exporting the American "model". Let Chalmers Johnson, author of The Sorrows of Empire (Metropolitan Books, 2004) and a man with a memory, make some sense of the subject. Tom
Markets and Democracy
by Chalmers Johnson
There is something absurd and inherently false about one country trying to impose its system of government or its economic institutions on another. Such an enterprise amounts to a dictionary definition of imperialism. When what's at issue is "democracy", you have the fallacy of using the end to justify the means (making war on those to be democratized), and in the process the leaders of the missionary country are invariably infected with the sins of hubris, racism, and arrogance.
We Americans have long been guilty of these crimes. On the eve of our entry into World War I, William Jennings Bryan, President Woodrow Wilson's first secretary of state, described the United States as "the supreme moral factor in the world's progress and the accepted arbiter of the world's disputes". If there is one historical generalization that the passage of time has validated, it is that the world could not help being better off if the American president had not believed such nonsense and if the United States had minded its own business in the war between the British and German empires. We might well have avoided Nazism, the Bolshevik Revolution, and another thirty to forty years of the exploitation of India, Indonesia, Indochina, Algeria, Korea, the Philippines, Malaya, and virtually all of Africa by European, American, and Japanese imperialists.
We Americans have never outgrown the narcissistic notion that the rest of the world wants (or should want) to emulate us. In Iraq, bringing democracy became the default excuse for our warmongers - it would be perfectly plausible to call them "crusaders", if Osama bin Laden had not already appropriated the term -once the Bush lies about Iraq's alleged nuclear, chemical, and biological threats and its support for al-Qaeda melted away. Bush and his neocon supporters have prattled on endlessly about how "the world is hearing the voice of freedom from the center of the Middle East", but the reality is much closer to what Noam Chomsky dubbed "deterring democracy" in a notable 1992 book of that name. We have done everything in our power to see that the Iraqis did not get a "free and fair election", one in which the Shia majority could come to power and ally Iraq with Iran. As Noah Feldman, the Coalition Provisional Authority's law adviser, put it in November 2003, "If you move too fast, the wrong people could get elected".
In the election of January 30 2005, the US military tried to engineer the outcome it wanted ("Operation Founding Fathers"), but the Shi'ites won anyway. Nearly a year later in the December 15 2005, elections for the national assembly, the Shi'ites won again, but Sunni, Kurdish, and American pressure has delayed the formation of a government to this moment. After a compromise candidate for prime minister was finally selected, two of the most ominous condottiere of the Bush administration, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, flew into Baghdad to tell him what he had to do for "democracy" - leaving the unmistakable impression that the new prime minister is a puppet of the United States.
Hold the Economic Advice
After Latin America, East Asia is the area of the world longest under America's imperialist tutelage. If you want to know something about the US record in exporting its economic and political institutions, it's a good place to look. But first, some definitions.
The political philosopher Hannah Arendt once argued that democracy is such an abused concept we should dismiss as a charlatan anyone who uses it in serious discourse without first clarifying what he or she means by it. Therefore, let me indicate what I mean by democracy. First, the acceptance within a society of the principle that public opinion matters. If it doesn't, as for example in Stalin's Russia, or present-day Saudi Arabia, or the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa under American military domination, then it hardly matters what rituals of American democracy, such as elections, may be practiced.
Second, there must be some internal balance of power or separation of powers, so that it is impossible for an individual leader to become a dictator. If power is concentrated in a single position and its occupant claims to be beyond legal restraints, as is true today with our president, then democracy becomes attenuated or only pro forma. In particular, I look for the existence and practice of administrative law - in other words, an independent, constitutional court with powers to declare null and void laws that contravene democratic safeguards.
Third, there must be some agreed-upon procedure for getting rid of unsatisfactory leaders. Periodic elections, parliamentary votes of no confidence, term limits, and impeachment are various well-known ways to do this, but the emphasis should be on shared institutions.
With that in mind, let's consider the export of the American economic, and then democratic, "model" to Asia. The countries stretching from Japan to Indonesia, with the exception of the former American colony of the Philippines, make up one of the richest regions on Earth today. They include the second most productive country in the world, Japan, with a per capita income well in excess of that of the United States, as well as the world's fastest growing large economy, China's, which has been expanding at a rate of over 9.5 percent per annum for the past two decades. These countries achieved their economic well-being by ignoring virtually every item of wisdom preached in American economics departments and business schools or propounded by various American administrations.
Japan established the regional model for East Asia. In no case did the other high-growth Asian economies follow Japan's path precisely, but they have all been inspired by the overarching characteristic of the Japanese economic system - namely, the combining of the private ownership of property as a genuine right, defensible in law and inheritable, with state control of economic goals, markets, and outcomes. I am referring to what the Japanese call "industrial policy" (sangyo seisaku). In American economic theory (if not in practice), industrial policy is anathema. It contradicts the idea of an unconstrained market guided by laissez faire. Nonetheless, the American military-industrial complex and our elaborate system of "military Keynesianism" rely on a Pentagon-run industrial policy - even as American theory denies that either the military-industrial complex or economic dependence on arms manufacturing are significant factors in our economic life. We continue to underestimate the high-growth economies of East Asia because of the power of our ideological blinders.
One particular form of American economic influence did greatly affect East Asian economic practice - namely, protectionism and the control of competition through high tariffs and other forms of state discrimination against foreign imports. This was the primary economic policy of the United States from its founding until 1940. Without it, American economic wealth of the sort to which we have become accustomed would have been inconceivable. The East Asian countries have emulated the US in this respect. They are interested in what the US does, not what it preaches. That is one of the ways they all got rich. China is today pursuing a variant of the basic Japanese development strategy, even though it does not, of course, acknowledge this.
Marketing Democracy
The gap between preaching and self-deception in the way we promote democracy abroad is even greater than in selling our economic ideology. Our record is one of continuous (sometimes unintended) failure, although most establishment pundits try to camouflage this fact.
The Federation of American Scientists has compiled a list of over 201 overseas military operations from the end of World War II until September 11 2001, in which we were involved and normally struck the first blow. [The list is reprinted by Gore Vidal in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got To Be So Hated (Clairview Books, 2002), pages 22-41.] The current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not included. In no instance did democratic governments come about as a direct result of any of these military activities.
The United States holds the unenviable record of having helped install and then supported such dictators as the Shah of Iran, General Suharto in Indonesia, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and Sese Seko Mobutu in Congo-Zaire, not to mention a series of American-backed militarists in Vietnam and Cambodia until we were finally expelled from Indochina. In addition, we ran among the most extensive international terrorist operations in history against Cuba and Nicaragua because their struggles for national independence produced outcomes that we did not like.
On the other hand, democracy did develop in some important cases as a result of opposition to our interference - for example, after the collapse of the CIA-installed Greek colonels in 1974; in both Portugal in 1974 and Spain in 1975 after the end of the US-supported fascist dictatorships; after the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines in 1986; following the ouster of General Chun Doo Hwan in South Korea in 1987; and following the ending of 38 years of martial law on the island of Taiwan in the same year.
One might well ask, however: What about the case of Japan? President Bush has repeatedly cited our allegedly successful installation of democracy there after World War II as evidence of our skill in this kind of activity. What this experience proved, he contended, was that we would have little difficulty implanting democracy in Iraq. As it happens though, General Douglas MacArthur, who headed the American occupation of defeated Japan from 1945 to 1951, was himself essentially a dictator, primarily concerned with blocking genuine democracy from below in favor of hand-picked puppets and collaborators from the prewar Japanese establishment.
When a country loses a war as crushingly as Japan did the war in the Pacific, it can expect a domestic revolution against its wartime leaders. In accordance with the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, which Japan accepted in surrendering, the State Department instructed MacArthur not to stand in the way of a popular revolution, but when it began to materialize he did so anyway. He chose to keep Hirohito, the wartime emperor, on the throne (where he remained until his death in 1989) and helped bring officials from the industrial and militarist classes that ruled wartime Japan back to power. Except for a few months in 1993 and 1994, those conservatives and their successors have ruled Japan continuously since 1949. Japan and China are today among the longest-lived single-party regimes on Earth, both parties - the nucleus of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Chinese Communist Party - having come to power in the same year.
Equally important in the Japanese case, General MacArthur's headquarters actually wrote the quite democratic constitution of 1947 and bestowed it on the Japanese people under circumstances in which they had no alternative but to accept it. In her 1963 book On Revolution (Viking Press, 1965) Hannah Arendt stresses "the enormous difference in power and authority between a constitution imposed by a government upon a people and the constitution by which a people constitutes its own government". She notes that, in post-World War I Europe, virtually every case of an imposed constitution led to dictatorship or to a lack of power, authority, and stability.
Although public opinion certainly matters in Japan, its democratic institutions have never been fully tested. The Japanese public knows that its constitution was bestowed by its conqueror, not generated from below by popular action. Japan's stability depends greatly on the ubiquitous presence of the United States, which supplies the national defense - and so, implicitly, the fairly evenly distributed wealth - that gives the public a stake in the regime. But the Japanese people, as well as those of the rest of East Asia, remain fearful of Japan's ever again being on its own in the world.
While more benign than the norm, Japan's government is typical of the US record abroad in one major respect. Successive American administrations have consistently favored oligarchies that stand in the way of broad popular aspirations - or movements toward nationalist independence from American control. In Asia, in the post-World War II period, we pursued such anti-democratic policies in South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam), and Japan. In Japan, in order to prevent the Socialist Party from coming to power through the polls, which seemed likely during the 1950s, we secretly supplied funds to the representatives of the old order in the Liberal Democratic Party. We helped bring wartime Minister of Munitions Nobusuke Kishi to power as prime minister in 1957; split the Socialist Party by promoting and financing a rival Democratic Socialist Party; and, in 1960, backed the conservatives in a period of vast popular demonstrations against the renewal of the Japanese-American Security Treaty. Rather than developing as an independent democracy, Japan became a docile Cold War satellite of the United States - and one with an extremely inflexible political system at that.
The Korean Case
In South Korea, the United States resorted to far sterner measures. From the outset, we favored those who had collaborated with Japan, whereas North Korea built its regime on the foundation of former guerrilla fighters against Japanese rule. During the 1950s, we backed the aged exile Syngman Rhee as our puppet dictator. (He had actually been a student of Woodrow Wilson's at Princeton early in the century.) When, in 1960, a student movement overthrew Rhee's corrupt regime and attempted to introduce democracy, we instead supported the seizure of power by General Park Chung Hee.
Educated at the Japanese military academy in Manchuria during the colonial period, Park had been an officer in the Japanese army of occupation until 1945. He ruled Korea from 1961 until October 16 1979, when the chief of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency shot him to death over dinner. The South Korean public believed that the KCIA chief, known to be "close" to the Americans, had assassinated Park on US orders because he was attempting to develop a nuclear-weapons program which the US opposed. (Does this sound familiar?) After Park's death, Major General Chun Doo Hwan seized power and instituted yet another military dictatorship that lasted until 1987.
In 1980, a year after the Park assassination, Chun smashed a popular movement for democracy that broke out in the southwestern city of Kwangju and among students in the capital, Seoul. Backing Chun's policies, the US ambassador argued that "firm anti-riot measures were necessary". The American military then released to Chun's control Korean troops assigned to the UN Command to defend the country against a North Korean attack, and he used them to crush the movement in Kwangju. Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were killed. In 1981, Chun Doo Hwan would be the first foreign visitor welcomed to the White House by the newly elected Ronald Reagan.
After more than thirty postwar years, democracy finally began to come to South Korea in 1987 via a popular revolution from below. Chun Doo Hwan made a strategic mistake by winning the right to hold the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988. In the lead-up to the games, students from the many universities in Seoul, now openly backed by an increasingly prosperous middle class, began to protest American-backed military rule. Chun would normally have used his army to arrest, imprison, and probably shoot such demonstrators as he had done in Kwangju seven years earlier; but he was held back by the knowledge that, if he did so, the International Olympic Committee would move the games to some other country. In order to avoid such a national humiliation, Chun turned over power to his co-conspirator of 1979-80, General Roh Tae Woo. In order to allow the Olympics to go ahead, Roh instituted a measure of democratic reform, which led in 1993 to the holding of national elections and the victory of a civilian president, Kim Young Sam.
In December 1995, in one of the clearest signs of South Korea's maturing democracy, the government arrested generals Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo and charged them with having shaken down Korean big business for bribes - Chun Doo Hwan allegedly took $1.2 billion and Roh Tae Woo $630 million. President Kim then made a very popular decision, letting them be indicted for their military seizure of power in 1979 and for the Kwangju massacre as well. In August 1996, a South Korean court found both Chun and Roh guilty of sedition. Chun was sentenced to death and Roh to 22-and-a-half years in prison. In April 1997, the Korean Supreme Court upheld slightly less severe sentences, something that would have been simply unimaginable for the pro forma Japanese Supreme Court. In December 1997, after peace activist Kim Dae Jung was elected president, he pardoned them both despite the fact that Chun had repeatedly tried to have Kim killed.
The United States was always deeply involved in these events. In 1989, when the Korean National Assembly sought to investigate what happened at Kwangju on its own, the US government refused to cooperate and prohibited the former American ambassador to Seoul and the former general in command of US Forces Korea from testifying. The American press avoided reporting on these events (while focusing on the suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing in June 1989), and most Americans knew next to nothing about them. This cover-up of the costs of military rule and the suppression of democracy in South Korea, in turn, has contributed to the present growing hostility of South Koreans toward the United States.
Unlike American-installed or supported "democracies" elsewhere, South Korea has developed into a genuine democracy. Public opinion is a vital force in the society. A separation of powers has been institutionalized and is honored. Electoral competition for all political offices is intense, with high levels of participation by voters. These achievements came from below, from the Korean people themselves, who liberated their country from American-backed military dictatorship. Perhaps most important, the Korean National Assembly - the parliament - is a genuine forum for democratic debate. I have visited it often and find the contrast with the scripted and empty procedures encountered in the Japanese Diet or the Chinese National People's Congress striking indeed. Perhaps its only rival in terms of democratic vitality in East Asia is the Taiwanese Legislative Yuan. On some occasions, the Korean National Assembly is rowdy; fist fights are not uncommon. It is, however, a true school of democracy, one that came into being despite the resistance of the United States.
The Democracy Peddlers
Given this history, why should we be surprised that in Baghdad, such figures as former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority L Paul Bremer III, former Ambassador John Negroponte, and present Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, as well as a continuously changing cohort of American major-generals fresh from PowerPoint lectures at the American Enterprise Institute, should have produced chaos and probable civil war? None of them has any qualifications at all for trying to "introduce democracy" or American-style capitalism in a highly nationalistic Muslim nation, and even if they did, they could not escape the onus of having terrorized the country through the use of unrestricted military force.
Bremer is a former assistant and employee of Henry Kissinger and General Alexander Haig. Negroponte was American ambassador to Honduras, 1981-85, when it had the world's largest CIA station and actively participated in the dirty war to suppress Nicaraguan democracy. Khalilzad, the most prominent official of Afghan ancestry in the Bush administration, is a member of the Project for a New American Century, the neocon pressure group that lobbied for a war of aggression against Iraq. The role of the American military in our war there has been an unmitigated disaster on every front, including the deployment of undisciplined, brutal troops at places like the Abu Ghraib prison. All the United States has achieved is to guarantee that Iraqis will hate us for years to come. The situation in Iraq today is worse than it was in Japan or Korea and comparable to our tenure in Vietnam. Perhaps it is worth reconsidering what exactly we are so intent on exporting to the world.
Chalmers Johnson is, most recently, the author of The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, as well as of MITI and the Japanese Miracle (1982) and Japan: Who Governs? (1995) among other works. This piece originated as "remarks" presented at the East Asia panel of a workshop on "Transplanting Institutions" sponsored by the Department of Sociology of the University of California, San Diego, held on April 21 2006. The chairman of the workshop was Professor Richard Madsen.
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