Your All Things Considered appearance

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Jul 1 07:55:12 MDT 2003

Dear Professor Howard Zinn,

In your on-air conversation with Margot Adler, you seemed perturbed that
supporters of the Cuban revolution would send you angry emails. I can
understand your being somewhat thin-skinned over this. After all, I do
remember you (and Professor Chomsky) as vocal opponents of the Vietnam
war when I was up in the Boston area in the early 1970s who would often
risk arrest for their willingness to oppose US foreign policy.

However, in this instance you are quite wrong and it is sad that you
persist in your refusal to come to terms with the Cuban government's
defensive measures. By stating on NPR radio, an outlet that reaches far
more listeners than the Pacifica network, that Cuba "is acting like the
USA", you are in effect legitimizing a US bid for "regime change". If
the liberal audience of NPR can be persuaded that a US war against Cuba
is one in which there are no "good guys", then it undercuts efforts made
elsewhere, including from your own pulpit, to forestall such a war.

In the final analysis, what makes US wars so difficult to resist over
the past 10 years or so is that they are made against "bad guys" like
Slobodan Milosevic. Perhaps you have not given much thought to the
agenda of Joanne Landy, who initiated the petition you signed, but it
has been very much wrapped up with the "humanitarian intervention" turn
of a part of the left. As a member of the Council of Foreign Relations
and Human Rights Watch in the early 1990s, Landy was very much part of
the public relations assault that demonized Serb politicians as a kind
of Fourth Reich. I recommend Diana Johnstone's recent book on Yugoslavia
for an alternative analysis. If you don't have the time or interest to
read this book, I recommend your Z Magazine colleague Ed Herman's
review, which is online at:

A key element in the Western crusade against the Serbs was open support
and funding for the domestic opposition. Otpor, B-92 and pro-Western
politicians such as Kostunica got millions of dollars in US aid, just as
La Prensa and anti-Sandinista parties had gotten funding a few years
earlier in Nicaragua. When you combine such a domestic opposition with
economic blockade and low-intensity warfare, it is not too difficult to
achieve US foreign policy objectives, especially when the GDP of the USA
is something like 200 times that of those nations requiring "regime change".

Signing a petition on behalf of people being funded by the USA to
overthrow governments that we do not approve of is certainly your
privilege, but don't be surprised if people who have been your admirers
in the past think that you have made such a decision based either on
ignorance or a stubborn refusal to see things in their proper context.

Louis Proyect


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