Now That the Yanks Are Rolling Again
Yes, the U.S. armed forces are once again attacking another country and, as always, it is for "good" and against "evil" just as it was when the Yanks rolled into Hawaii in 1898, into the Philippines in 1898-1902, into the Cherokee Republic and the other five "civilized" tribes after their "regime change" of 1892, into Puerto Rico (Borinquen), into the Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaragua, and, well, the list just goes on and on!
Of course, our Yanks did fight "good" wars, WWT, WWII, and Korea, but it is the "little" wars against "little" nations that should concern us now. We, the people, have to pay for them, every month out of our paychecks, so we should have some say!
Let's recall by looking at the building of the railroads across the plains: Native Americans had to die, had to be cleared from the land, so that crooks and grafters could rip off the country by controlling the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad machines, milking the public for all that they could squeeze from gullible taxpayers! And all carried out in a horrible manner with the planned biological warfare-slaughter of the buffalo herds and the stupid destruction of the high plains grasslands just so the winds could come along and create a "Dust Bowl" a few generations later!
Are we smart, or ARE we smart? As a people aren't we constantly letting rich guys and their bought-and-paid-for politicians persuade us to go out and kill Nicaraguans, Grenadans, Vietnamese, Haitians, Panamanians, and Iraqis, or to hire or pay for goon squads of terrorists and torturers to murder Native Americans in Central America to keep the cheap bananas coming and to operate sweat-shop clothes factories with young women workers kept behind fences and with labor union organizers murdered by the goons?
Now that the troops are in Iraq can we, the people, get back into the saddle? We know from what happened in the Indian Territory after 1892, from what happened in Hawaii, Borinquen, and the Philippines after 1898, from what happened everywhere when Old American Nations were forced onto measly reservations: the U.S. government (USG) failed to live up to its promises in every single case, just as we are already witnessing the failure to adequately help Afghanistan now that Bush's interest has shifted elsewhere.
The USG always failed to protect the property of the victims! And the USG failed miserably at developing democracy--in fact, on the reservations and elsewhere the USG established a system of control by all powerful bureaucrats, with the door wide open for corporations and others to come in and rip off the population.
The USG has a miserable record of ruling over "subject peoples!" Our work must now focus upon making sure that the people of Iraq, including the Kurds, have genuine rights of self-determination, that they totally control their oil wealth, that the transition stage to democratic elections is under United Nations supervision and not under the USG or the US Department of Defense (heaven forbid!) Remember, the U.S. Army once controlled reservations.
We now have before us the examples of several hundred years of USG dealings with Native Americans, and that record leaves no doubt about the perfidy of Congress and the Supreme Court! But we also have the record of the same in relation to African-Americans. The captivity of African-Americans (and some Native Americans) was nothing other than an organized system of robbery and terrorism, since it was utterly illegal under Anglo-Saxon legal traditions and Common Law to maintain innocent persons in a state of captivity without any due process, any proof of having committed a crime. This system of raw exploitation was maintained by terror and terror alone.
And after the captives were "freed?" For a brief while the federal Freedmen's Bureau existed to help the innocents, but within a few years the rich men of the North and the rich men of the South made a deal and the ex-captives were totally abandoned. No land, no compensation, no protection, and no democracy. So much for USG promises and "regime change!"
It is time that we stopped kidding ourselves! The same kind of men who terrorized African-Americans for two centuries and more, and who robbed the First Americans, are in power now! If it was 1890 Bush would be sending troops to kill the Sioux at Wounded Knee! If it was 1898 Bush would be ordering marines to seize Honolulu and imprison the queen. If it was 1848 Bush would be ordering U.S. troops to advance into Mexican territory so that they would be fired upon and he could begin the conquest of Mexico.
We must come face to face with the crass avariciousness, the blatant self-serving greed, of the men who now claim to rule us, and who now seek to "restructure" Iraq and the Middle East. We cannot allow them to have control over the destiny of the Iraqis. The only alternative is to turn to the General Assembly and Security Council of the United Nations to insist that, under international law, the USG has no right to take over the administration of another country, nor do U.S. corporations allied with the Bush Regime have the right to amass more wealth at the expense of the Iraqi (and U.S.) peoples.
Shouldn't we begin to see ourselves as citizens of the Earth and to build international institutions which will make this conquest never happen again?
© 2003 Professor Jack D. Forbes, Powhatan-Delaware, is a historian, social critic, and poet, covering issues of international and inter-ethnic relations for 45 years. He is the author of Red Blood, Africans and Native Americans, Apache, Navaho and Spaniard and other books. He is professor emeritus of Native American Studies, University of California, Davis. He can be contacted at his web site.
This article was originally published in News From Indian Country April 21, 2003.