Thanks to Detroit-based law student Cait De Mott Grady for passing along this profound interview Derrick Jensen did with former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark way back in 2000. His reflections are more relevant than ever. This is an excerpt, but the entire interview deserves a read.
Jensen: So how do we maintain our national self-image as God’s gift to the world, the great bastion of democracy?
Clark: But we’re not a democracy. It’s a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. In reality, we’re a plutocracy: a government by the wealthy. Wealth has its way. The concentration of wealth and the division between rich and poor in the U.S. are unequaled anywhere. And think of whom we admire most: the Rockefellers and Morgans, the Bill Gateses and Donald Trumps. Would any moral person accumulate a billion dollars when there are 10 million infants dying of starvation every year? Is that the best thing you can find to do with your time?
Jensen: I remember seeing a statistic a few years ago that summed up our priorities for me: for the price of a single b-1 bomber – about $285 million – we could provide basic immunization treatments to the roughly 575 million children in the world who lack them, thus saving 2.5 million lives annually.
Clark: Such comparisons have a powerful illustrative impact, but they imply that if the money weren’t spent on bombers, it might be put to good use. The fact is, however, that if the B-1 were canceled, we still wouldn’t spend the money on vaccinations, because it wouldn’t serve the trade interests of the United States. It’s not a part of our vision.
Jensen: What, then, is our vision?
Clark: Central to our foreign policy has been the active attempt to deprive governments and peoples of the independence that comes from self-sufficiency in the production of food. I’ve believed for many years that a country that can’t produce food for its own people can never really be free. Iran is a good example of this. We overthrew the democratically elected government in Iran and installed the Shah. For twenty-five years, Iran was our surrogate in the Middle East, a hugely important region. After the Shah was overthrown by his own people, CIA chief William Colby called installing the Shah the CIA’s proudest achievement and said, “You may think he failed, but for twenty-five years, he served us well.”