Born in 1933, author and self-styled “radical dissident” William Blum was an employee at the U.S. State Department in the mid-1960s. He now identifies himself as a former anti-communist whose dream of becoming a foreign-service officer was shattered by what he viewed as America’s immoral prosecution of the Vietnam War. After resigning from the State Department in 1967 because of his opposition to that war, Blum helped establish the Washington Free Press, a now-defunct far-left alternative newspaper. In 1969 he published an expose revealing the names and addresses of more than 200 CIA employees.
In the early 1970s, Blum worked as a freelance journalist and covered the socialist rule of Chilean President Salvador Allende. In the mid-Seventies, Blum traveled to London and collaborated on a book with Philip Agee, the former CIA agent-turned-communist who publicly identified hundreds of American CIA agents. Since that time, Blum has become a prominent writer in the milieu of anti-American literature.
Blum considers the United States to be the world’s leading agent of terrorism and the single greatest threat to international harmony. In his 1995 polemic Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, he portrayed America’s foreign interventions between 1945 and 1994 aggregately as an unacknowledged “American holocaust,” the societal denial of which “put the denial of the Nazi one to shame…”
In the same book, Blum disparaged the first Gulf War as a “desert Holocaust” and blamed Iraq’s post-war domestic ills on the American trade embargo. Noam Chomsky called Killing Hope “far and away the best book on the topic,” and Blum worked with film director Oliver Stone in an effort to turn it into a movie; that project was never completed.
Since April 2003, Blum has produced a monthly Internet newsletter titled Anti-Empire Report (subtitled Some Things You Need to Know Before the World Ends), which assails what Blum calls the “onslaught” of American “Empire” and its intellectual architects in the “imperial mafia.”
Modern-day America, in Blum’s estimation, is the moral avatar of Nazi Germany. In his 2004 collection of essays, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire, Blum likened the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq to the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. By extension, he likened the Iraqi insurgency to the German resistance against Nazi rule between 1933 and 1945, and he compared President George W. Bush to Adolph Hitler.
Blum’s serial fulminations against the United States have won him devoted readers among America’s enemies. Most notably, in a January 2006 audiotape Osama bin Laden praised Blum’s Rogue State as a “useful” book. Bin Laden also quoted another of Blum’s books, which argued that the only way to prevent terrorist attacks was for the United States to “apologize” to the “victims of American imperialism.”
Blum pronounced himself “glad” of bin Laden’s endorsement, saying, “This is almost as good as being an Oprah [Winfrey] book.” Blum attributed bin Laden’s approval of his work to the al Qaeda leader’s conviction that “anti-American terrorism arises from the behavior of U.S. foreign policy.” Explained Blum: “I think bin Laden shares that view, and that is why I’m not repulsed by his embrace of my book, because that is one of my major themes.”
Bin Laden’s positive review of Rogue State propelled the book from a ranking of 209,000 on Amazon.com’s sales list to number 12. Television talk show host Keith Olbermann invited Blum onto his program and praised him for explaining the “logic behind the behavior behind Osama bin Laden.”
Blum was a signatory to a 2002 letter crafted by the “Stop the United States of Aggression!” campaign, a project of 40 organizations claiming to “represent … the anti-imperialistic wing of the peace movement.” (Following the 2006 hanging of Saddam Hussein, the campaign’s website would feature an article hailing Saddam as a “martyr of imperialist resistance.”) Characterizing the imminent invasion of Iraq as a racist endeavor that would inevitably cause the “breakdown of our democratic rights,” the 2002 letter also demanded public support for “the resistance of the Palestinian people.”
Also in 2002, Blum joined hundreds of luminaries in the arts and academia who signed the Not In Our Name “Statement of Conscience” pledging “to resist the [U.S.] policies … which pose grave dangers to the people of the world.”
That same year, Blum signed a “Letter from United States Citizens to Friends in Europe,” which declared: “Supposedly in self-defense, the United States launched a war against Afghanistan.… For half a century, the United States has repeatedly demonstrated its indifference to the collateral death and destruction wrought by its self-proclaimed efforts to improve the world.”
Blum endorsed the March 17, 2007 anti-war march on the Pentagon, which was organized by International ANSWER to: (a) condemn “the [American] system that is addicted to war and global domination”; (b) demand the closure of the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay; and (c) accuse the U.S. of planning military actions against Cuba, Venezuela, and South and Central Asia.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Blum became a popular speaker on left-leaning university campuses. In 2002 he delivered a speech titled “American Empire For Dummies” to students at the University of Colorado at Boulder, recounting his disgust with the patriotism widely displayed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks: “The past year has not been easy for people like me, surrounded as we’ve been by an orgy of patriotism. How does one escape ‘United We Stand,’ and ‘God Bless America?’” In October 2004 he addressed students and faculty at North Carolina’s Elon University with a speech titled “Expanding the American Empire Under the Cover of the ‘War on Terrorism.'”
A self-described socialist, Blum has supported the various presidential campaigns of Ralph Nader.
 Blum’s fellow signers included Ramsey Clark, Sara Flounders and John Catalinotto of the International Action Center, and representatives of such organizations as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Communist Party of Canada, the Communist Marxist-Leninist Party of Ecuador, the Nepal Communist Party, and the Amnesty International Film Festival.
 Fellow signers included Anthony Arnove, Stanley Aronowitz, Medea Benjamin, Ward Churchill, John Bellamy Foster, H. Bruce Franklin, Thomas J. Gumbleton, Robert Jensen, Gabriel Kolko, Joel Kovel, Ellen Schrecker, Norman Solomon, Paul Sweezy, Gore Vidal, and Howard Zinn.
 Fellow endorsers included Ramsey Clark, Maxine Waters, Alice Walker, Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Thomas Gumbleton, Elias Rashmawi, Howard Zinn, Mahdi Bray, Brian Becker, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Ed Asner, Medea Benjamin, the Nicaragua Network, the Mexico Solidarity Network, the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the Muslim Student Association West, Veterans for Peace (Crestline, CA), and the International Socialist Organization.