Thursday, June 25, 2009


I never learned these things in my history classes!
by Charlie Leck

High School history classes, or college ones for that matter, never taught me the real history of the United States. Those histories were really propaganda sessions teaching me a lot of pabulum to make me feel warm and fuzzy about my country. I came away from those institutions of education with the wrong ideas. In other words, I was cheated.

If you want to read some accurate, authentic and good histories of the United States, I recommend two books:

1. Overthrow (America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq) by Stephen Kinzer(see it on Google Books)
2. A People’s History of the United States (1492 to the Present) by Howard Zinn (see it on Google Books)
It was as if someone, like that crazed character Jack Nicholson played, was afraid I couldn’t handle the truth: “Truth? You don’t want the truth! You can’t handle the truth!”

Gee whiz, Jack, the truth, in this case would have been a lot more fun and I would have understood my country a lot better. I wouldn’t have come away with this false concept that my country was so much morally better than all other countries.

To learn that we are really an imperialistic country is not so bad. I really can handle the truth. This fact, for instance, helps me understand a lot of things. I understand the Vietnam War much more clearly. Trying to understand that war from the basis of my youthful education in history was virtually impossible. The same is true with the Korean War before it. And it is certainly true now of our War in Iraq.

As a simple example, I attended a number of graduation celebration parties this early summer – college and high school. As a little tease, I liked to ask some of the assembled scholar-students how many military bases the United States has around the world. Seldom did these new graduates have any idea whatsoever; however, I was surprised by one sniveling kid at the last gathering I attended. He was a very sharp young man.

“Well,” he began with a pedantic tone, “we really don’t know, do we? That’s highly classified information. We know of several hundred; perhaps as many as 5 or 6 hundred, but there are likely very many more.”

“You learned that in school,” I asked in a somewhat surprised tone, “really?”

“No, no,” he promptly corrected me, “I read that on the Internet somewhere when I was going through a period when I thought I might enlist. I wanted to know to what possible places I might be sent. Our bases are in some exotic locations, you know.”

Well, this young man is a rarity. Most people in our nation have no idea that we have more than 750 military bases around the world. In this regard, we were weak in the great Middle East, but the massive base we’ll leave behind in Iraq when we leave will take care of that. Camp Anaconda, a 25 square kilometer base north of Baghdad, is headquarters to the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division. We have also built a permanent embassy compound in Baghdad that is capable of housing several thousand people and is very heavily fortified. There are huge gymnasiums and swimming pools and facilities capable of keeping a small army trained and ready.

Chalmers Johnson wrote a very revelatory article on the HISTORY NEWS NETWORK in 2004 (The Arithmetic of America’s Military Bases Abroad: What Does It All Add Up To?). He opens that article with this interesting comment:

“As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or do not want to recognize -- that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire -- an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can't begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.

"Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating some thirteen naval task forces built around aircraft carriers whose names sum up our martial heritage -- Kitty Hawk, Constellation, Enterprise, John F. Kennedy, Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John C. Stennis, Harry S. Truman, and Ronald Reagan. We operate numerous secret bases outside our territory to monitor what the people of the world, including our own citizens, are saying, faxing, or e-mailing to one another.”
I hope this comment by Johnson will make you want to read the entire article.

Once you finish that piece, I hope you’ll go on to Kinzer’s book (OVERTHROW) and learn about the history of our imperialistic actions from Hawaii to Grenada and beyond. If all that stirs your innards and makes you curious about our nation’s real, unadulterated history, go on to read Zinn’s incredible book (A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES).

If you think any of what you read in these sources is fiction, think again. They are all well documented and have been proven by many researchers to be extremely accurate.

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