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“If I don’t like it, [I] call it terrorism.”

— Alexander Haig
U.S. Army General
Secretary of State under Tricky Dick Nixon

The Real Terror Network

bookcover The Real Terror Network:
Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda

by Edward S. Herman
South End Press, 1982; ISBN 0-89608-134-6

“A devastating exposé of U.S. foreign policy which separates the myth of an international terrorist conspiracy from the reality.”

From the cover:

In country after country in the U.S. sphere of influence ‘dominoes’ have been falling, with military regimes and other dependent tyrannies coming into power in virtually all of Central and South America, and Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Zaire, and elsewhere. These regimes have almost uniformly displayed the following characteristics:

(1) they represent a small elite interest, including the multinational corporation which they treat kindly;

(2) they all use terror, including modern forms of torture, to keep the majority unorganized, powerless, and as means to local elite and multinational corporate ends;

(3) the leaderships of these states are almost invariably venal;

(4) they have allowed already highly skewed income distributions to become still more unequal, and have caused a large fraction of their populations to be kept in a state of extreme deprivation....

The broad purpose of this book is to show the nature, roots and vast scope of the real terror network — the U.S.-sponsored ‘authoritarian’ states — and to examine the ways in which the magnificent propaganda machinery of the west has covered this over and substituted in its place a lesser, and frequently concocted, network that includes — by careful definition and selectivity — only those terrorists who are challenging important western interests or who can be plausibly linked to its enemies.

“If ‘terrorism’ means ‘intimidation by violence or the threat of violence,’ and if we allow the definition to include violence by states and agents of states, then it is these, not isolated individuals or small groups, that are the important terrorists in the world.

“If terrorist violence is measured by the extent of politically motivated torture and murder, ...it is in the U.S.-sponsored and protected ‘authoritarian’ states — the real terror network — that these forms of violence have reached a high crescendo in recent decades.”

— Edward S. Herman

See also:

Excerpts from The Real Terror Network:


“A scathing analysis of the U.S. media’s unbalanced coverage of terrorism and its impact upon the public’s perceptions of the problem.”

— Choice

“Edward Herman has written a brilliant, compelling account of The Real Terror Network — the system of U.S.-sponsored authoritarian states.

“It is a book in the best tradition of social criticism and analysis — superbly informed, rationally and indistputably reasoned, yet also full of passionate commitment. The centerpiece of Herman’s persuasive thesis is the necessary interdependence between the success of the development model these authoritarian regimes pursue and the terrorism of the masses they unleash.

“In addition, the sanctimonious hypocrisy of the press and media in treating the issue of terroristm is documented here beyond any doubt. The Real Terror Network is required reading. Herman has written a truly major work on the causes of the world’s human condition.”

— Gabriel Kolko

“I read this book six years ago, so I write this review based only on distant memories. After sitting in a train station and reading the first sixty pages, my life has never been the same. It is methodical, extremely well-documented, and never sensational. I recommend it as a fundamental building block for anyone looking to develop their understanding of the way the world really works.”

— A reader from Olympia, Washington
Amazon.com reviewer

“Edward Herman, famous for his iconoclastic studies (e.g. Manufacturing Consent) with Noam Chomsky, published this book in 1982, though its themes very much apply today. Herman shows that the U.S. mass media almost always accept the U.S. government version of events without question, especially in foreign affairs, and cater to its propaganda needs.

“Herman explains why it is that fascist military regimes in the third world, from Indonesia to Brazil to Guatemala to Uruguay to the Philippines to Chile, have often been installed and given heavy aid by the United States and murdered and tortured hundreds of thousands of people, often in extremely gruesome fashion, and yet very little coverage has been given to their abuses, despite massive evidence presented by church groups and human rights organizations, refugees and many others, in contrast to the massive daily coverage of the injustices suffered by dissidents in the Soviet block, the official enemy of the U.S. government and much of big business.
“He examines why it is that while unions were being eliminated and union leaders and members being executed by the thousands in Colombia, Guatemala, Chile and elsewhere, the United States government and its allies and the U.S. media can launch into a hocus pocus of holy horror at the far less murderous repression of the Solidarity union in Poland.

“He examines why it is that the media, when they deign to look at the terror in the U.S. backed client states at all, almost never attribute its source to U.S. training and supply of the military officials who conduct it, instead asserting that the client state government is unfortunately unable to control the death squads or rogue segments of the military, despite massive evidence that these elements are firmly under the control of the client government and being directed by it, or perhaps implying that the U.S. is an innocent bystander looking helplessly over a country that has no history of democracy, is prone to violence, etc;

“[H]e examines why it is that the media rarely focus on the nature of the massive U.S. training of the Latin American militaries where not much emphasis is placed on military training but much emphasis is placed on ideological training, ingraining the idea in these already reactionary forces that any sort of reform movement, however mild, that seeks to help the oppressed peasantry, establish union rights, and so on, is by definition part of a hellish conspiracy of the Soviet Union and Cuba to overthrow Western Civilization, and so on. They are taught that communism is completely evil and that the United States and those who ally with it are the forces of virtue and civilization and that since the popular movements (unions, peasant self-help organizations, etc.) are by definition, not indigenous movements seeking to fight oppression and misery inflicted by very primitive oligarchies, but agents of world Communism, any means necessary can be used to eliminate them. They also tend to be taught advanced techniques of torture.

“He examines why the extensive CIA-backed and protected terror network of the Cuban exile community (e.g. Omega 7, once described by the FBI as the ‘most dangerous terrorist organization in the U.S. today’ yet never prosecuted or investigated; or Orlando Bosch who escaped from prison in Venezuela after blowing up a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people in 1976, and committing many other crimes) is never examined by the U.S. media.

“He examines why it is that South Africa’s mass murder in its U.S.-backed illegal occupation of Namibia (such as its massacre of over 600 people at Kassinga in May 1978) and murderous invasion of Angola were rarely condemned by the media, though Cuba’s perfectly legal responsive military operations on behalf of the Angolan government, with an extremely reluctant Soviet Union in the background, was violently condemned.

“He examines why it is that the media never has looked into the famous ‘Operation Condor’ began in the mid-1970s on the initiative of Pinochet’s Chile which allowed the various intelligence services of the American backed terror and torture regimes (Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, etc.) to operate in each other’s countries to search for their own exiled dissidents to kidnap and murder, whose victims seem to run into the hundreds at the very least.

“He examines, very extensively, why it is that almost all of the U.S. client regimes have instituted economic policies that have resulted in vast increases in malnutrition, unemployment, child mortality, and so on, and great increases in poverty, yet these regimes are often referred to in the U.S. media as having produced an ‘economic miracle.’
“There is much else in this book that I didn’t mention above, including a couple of pages devoted to Israel and what one of its former prime ministers, Moshe Sharett, referred to as its ‘sacred terrorism.’”

— Chris Green
Amazon.com reviewer

About the Author

Edward S. Herman is Professor Emeritus of Finance, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. At the Wharton School his specialties were corporate control and power, financial regulation, and issues relating to conflict of interest. He also taught for years in the Annenberg School of Communication at Penn. He is a regular columnist for Z magazine and a frequent contributor to Dollars & Sense as well as Extra!.

He is the author of over 20 books and numerous articles on the corporate system, the media and American foreign policy. His books include:

Related sites

Extra! Articles by Edward S. Herman

Excerpts from The Real Terror Network

Who are the REAL Terrorists?
The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda
an essay, based on Herman’s book, by S. Brian Willson

The Pacifica Counterrevolution Hits WBAI:
Another Call for Action

by Edward S. Herman

“Given the importance of the media in hegemonic processes, and in contesting those processes, what is happening to Pacifica, and now WBAI, should be first order business for the left. This was our only radio network, and it is being destroyed!”

Related books

The Terrorism Industry
by Edward S. Herman
Pantheon, 1990

Body of Secrets:
Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency
by James Bamford

In 1962, U.S. military leaders had a top-secret plan for committing terrorist attacks on Americans in Miami and Washington D.C., while blaming Cuba. Codenamed “Operation Northwoods”, the plan was intended to provide the propaganda necessary to create popular support for an invasion of Cuba.

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Terrorizing the Neighborhood:
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Pressure Drop Press, 1991

The Culture of Terrorism
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Rogue State:
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Killing Hope:
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Living Like the Saints:
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A People’s History of the United States:
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Bloody Hell:
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Censored 2000:
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The Genocidal Democracy
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Corporate Predators:
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The Decline and Fall of the American Empire
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Lies My Teacher Told Me:
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The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media:
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Manufacturing Consent:
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Inventing Reality:
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Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy
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The Hidden Persuaders:
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Toxic Sludge is Good for You!:
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War, Lies & Videotape:
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