"Has the United States been usurped by subversives?" a woman asked at a recent talk I gave in Massachusetts.
"Yes," I answered, adding, "If you want the whole story, I suggest you read Arianna Huffington's new book Right is Wrong."
I give this advice often these days.
Huffington has walked among those she chastises, the hallmark of the most believable of critics. Few in the U.S. are more qualified than she to lay bare the sad facts around the betrayal of the United States by its leaders -- in the Republican Party and with the corroboration of both the Democrats and the mainstream media.
Her assessment of the current hijacking of a nation that emerged from World War II as the hero of freedom and the defender of democracy is insightful, eloquent, and shockingly informative. Most of the world -- outside the United States -- understands that the corporatocracy (those who run our biggest corporations and, through them, control the majority of our politicians) have not only emasculated us, but have sent us spinning toward global environmental disaster.
Unfortunately, few who live within the empire's borders are as enlightened as those who are subjugated by it. Huffington is determined to change that.
As a past servant to the corporatocracy, I am deeply moved by the honesty of this self-avowed "former right-winger". Like her, I have witnessed first-hand the clandestine nature of the Right's strategies and also the temptation on the part of the citizenry to accept the Right's lies that what they do is done to serve the nation's best interests, rather than to promote their own greed for more money and power.
Right is Wrong exposes the underbelly of a beast whose claws have shredded our most sacred documents. It slams the Right for mocking our most revered principles through its support of torture, its reliance on thugs and mercenaries, its sacking of civil liberties, its gutting of universal health care, and its inability to understand that complex problems like those surrounding immigration cannot be solved simply by constructing a wall or enacting deportation laws. (Reading Huntington's comments on this last subject, I was reminded of a conversation I recently had with a top official in the Nicaraguan government. "Your immigration problems," she said "are the result of flawed Washington-driven 'free' trade agreements. When you destroy a country's economy, you must see that its people have no choice but to find work among you, the ones who stole their jobs.")
Perhaps Huffington's most devastating indictment is her conclusion regarding the callous manner in which the tragedy of 9/11 was used as a vehicle for consolidating power:
The Right's hijacking of America would not have been possible without its masterful use of fear to sway a nation terrified by the 9/11 attacks. It's a symptom of just how sick the radical Right is that their immediate response to 9/11 was to look for opportunities to push their agenda.
Huffington's analysis inevitably leads to a conclusion that more and more people are reaching. If we are to pass a planet on to our children that they will want to inherit, we must rise out of our adolescent colonizing worldview. We must evolve into a mature recognition that we are a highly interdependent species. We must see that the environmental and social problems confronting us today are forcing us to unite, to recognize that old ideas of nation-hood have gone the way of the nation-state concepts of yesteryear. Our very survival depends on our ability to comprehend the simple fact that we live on a small, tightly knit planet.
Not long ago I spent an afternoon with an ex-CIA officer, a man who had risen to the top as an agent-in-the-field. He confided in me his concern that the Right refuses to admit to the damage it has wrought. He fears that its strategists will trigger another 9/11 type event before the next election. "If that happens," he said, "the majority will vote for the fighter pilot, McCain."
Books like Arianna Huffington's latest offer us our best protection against such an occurrence. Her masterful exposure of a Right that is capable of provoking an ex-CIA agent to even entertain such thoughts is a gift to us and our progeny.
John Perkins is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of the American Empire.