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The Splendid Failure of Occupation Last Updated: Jan 4th, 2007 - 01:08:31

Part 33: Facing East: Iraqi hating and empire building*
By B. J. Sabri
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 24, 2005, 22:29

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* In honor of Richard Drinnon for his monumental work: Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building

�There are three thousands miles of wilderness behind these Indians, enough solid land to drown the sea from here to England. We must free our land of strangers, even if each mile is a marsh of blood��John Endicott, colonial magistrate, and later, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1664�1665). (Quoted in Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building, by Richard Drinnon, Schocken Books, 1990 edition, page 4) [Emphasis added]

�I Love Bombing Baghdad��Sign posted in a yard; location undisclosed [See photo] [Emphasis added]

American imperialist conduct is in no way cyclic (isolationism followed by activism, and so on) as some historians suggest. In fact, with the exception of the Civil War period, there were no interruptions in the drive for continental supremacy, and later on for world hegemony. Empires do no think in terms of cycles�that would rupture the ideological continuity of empire building.

For example, long before the Civil War, President James Monroe who declared the Western Hemisphere off limits to European influence and further colonization, followed in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson�s hegemonic adventure in the Mediterranean. Jefferson intervened in the area, purportedly to punish Algerian pirates, effectively to test the reach of his navy and harass the Ottoman Empire that ruled Algeria. After the Civil War, Teddy Roosevelt accomplished two important expansions. As assistant secretary of the Navy in the McKinley Administration, he gave the mortal blow to the Spanish Empire after defeating it in the Spanish-American War and replaced it as the new colonial ruler in the Caribbean and in the Philippines. As president, he extended the frontier of the empire to Panama by severing it from Colombia to build the Panama Canal.

How did the U.S. manage to exercise such a monopolistic, dictatorial control over the rest of the world?

Aside from becoming an economic power by its own merit, important international factors contributed to make the U.S. reach its position of absolute power. For example, without Hitler coming to power and the ensuing war in Europe, the U.S. could not have implemented its hard occupation of the largest and most powerful European state (Germany) and the soft occupation of many other European states via the installation of military bases under the pretext of the NATO alliance. Also, without the advent of Nazism, the U.S. could not have been able to enlist German, Italian, Hungarian, and other European scientists, fleeing from Nazism, who were indispensable for turning the U.S. into a nuclear power. In the end, we must not forget the Nazi scientists the U.S. lured, forcefully moved to the U.S., or pardoned in exchange for their expertise in military technology.

Other fundamental factors included super-militarization; interaction between capitalism, state, and military; foreign investment in the American economy; and massive immigration that allowed the U.S. to attain the status of world power in population count. Of course, as per advancement in military management, technology, astronomic military budgets, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. did not find it difficult to intervene in every corner of the world without fear of retaliation. Other factors such as the cowardice of unprincipled world governments who sheepishly obey U.S. diktat, poverty of four-fifths of the planet, civil wars and unrest in most developing countries because of past Western colonialism, corruption, new attempts at re-colonization, Western economic hegemony, and interference in their development, are only minor details in the making of U.S. world power.

However, without specific ideology that supplies it with motive and momentum, the U.S. could not have initiated, developed, or continued with its empire building. From colonies to empire, that ideology with its two intrinsic attributes has been the fulcrum of U.S. imperialism:

  1. Supremacist and racist beliefs in the uniqueness of the American experience, dominant religion, morality, culture, and socio-political order
  2. The deliberate political use of such beliefs to justify brutality, expansion, intervention, or war by choice

By all accounts, this ideology of racism and supremacist beliefs is that unique element which allowed U.S. ruling classes to indoctrinate the American people at identifying imperialism, colonialism, and intervention as a privilege derived from its position as a world power and as a �chosen nation�; meaning, America�s choices are �given rights.� Inevitably, such unremitting indoctrination converted the majority of the population into participants in the crimes of the government of the United States across the globe. Hating or disparagement of other nations or groups because of supremacist doctrines is, accordingly, a synthesis of all factors supporting the ideology of domination.

Richard Drinnon, therefore, was prescient when he juxtaposed hate and the extermination of the Original Peoples of the United States to the emergence of the American empire. To clarify the issue, did Indian hating happen because of group A: skin and hair color, language, somatic features, anthropological traits, general culture, attire, tribal system, religious beliefs, etc.? Or because of group B: changing land ownership. That is, obtaining economic benefits for expanding territorial controls and colonies, as well as destroying the original inhabitants to sanction forever post-colonial realties?

No doubt, both groups were equally important and, to a certain degree, interdependent. However, group B is preponderant: the original Peoples owned the land that British colonists (who afterwards became Americans) wanted. Implication: the Original Peoples were the effective barriers against European settlers� expansions and ultimately, conquest.

Elaboration: to implement the scope of group B (changing land ownership, etc.) the settlers and intelligentsia had to create a supportive body of rationales. Based on the official policy (extermination, land usurpation, and constant relocation) of the United States toward the Original Peoples, the answer I just gave should include all confluent factors from both groups. This means, Indian hating and dehumanization had become a mandatory policy so that settlers could conquer Indian land. Consequent to this mandated behavior, the practice of mass destruction of Indians, coupled with massive land expropriation, had socially evolved to become a stable cultural element inside the American social and political order.

Still, this does not explain why Indian hating warranted the mass destruction of entire nations and cultures. In other words, what is the paramount factor that made U.S. presidents, Congress, media, and settlers alike opt for a Hitler-type final solution, i.e., the physical extermination of the Original Peoples of the United States?

The answer is but one�resistance to invasion. Simply put, the more the original peoples resisted, the more the invaders hated them and found a �justification� to expel them from their land or to exterminate them.

An example of the readiness to exterminate the Original Peoples: As retaliation for a Sioux warrior attack against a U.S. cavalry detachment, Sherman wrote to general Ulysses S. Grant (later, President Grant) the following: �We must act with vindictiveness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children. Nothing else will reach the root of this case.� (Facing West. . . . page 329) [Emphasis added]

Hate, however, is not easy to understand when it comes to colonialism. For example, how can we explain that European Zionists� literature did not contain hate of Palestinians until European Jews moved to Palestine? And even if they hated them preventively (because they viewed them as the owners of what they wanted to own�Palestine) that hate would still be incomprehensible: is it possible to hate before meeting face to face with potential adversaries? Yes, it is possible: apply preventive indoctrination.

Remember, hate is a psychological-historical process when defined in relation to colonialism or imperialism. I could prove this point with an observation: when a powerful state decides to adopt imperialism as a national policy, the population of that state does not object. Psychological factors such as sense of superiority, uncritical belief in the goodness of the state, or unqualified hate toward a nation that is a target for hegemony, play a role in that acceptance.

Most importantly, U.S. wars have always been external and in distant lands, meaning the U.S. population is not a part of it. For example, in the Iraq, the U.S. claims it has 150,000 soldiers occupying that country. In percentage, that is 0.05 out of a total population of approximately 300 million people, meaning 99.95 percent of the U.S. population is conducting a normal life without hearing explosions or seeing bodies blown apart, while Iraqis are paying with destruction and their lives for the indifference of this American normalcy and for the expeditions of imperialism.

Once hate and indifference become the cultural norm, they transform to a permanent ideological fixture in the collective mind of society. This confirms my earlier statement: hate is not a structural requirement for empire building; it is only a gravitational force in its implementation. To elaborate, hate is a product of a persistent process of mental adaptation in the context of societies that practice colonialism; hence, it is indoctrination. Because hate is a social product, freewill does not generate it. However, societies or individuals can develop hate by imitation, acquire it by emulation, inherit it through culture and customs, or just accept it for the sake of cultural conformity.

You can observe this latter phenomenon by noticing how many people parrot the demagogic, demented slogan: I oppose the war but support the troops. Psychologically, again, this type of announcement is an emotional-intellectual disorder that missed both: analysis and coherence. In it, the support for the troops that are the material executioners of war and violence follows and immediately negates the preceding statement of opposing the same. With the invention of this slogan, the system obtained material approval for wars, while paying ideological lip service to opposition.

Hate as it relates to imperialism is a manufactured ideological tool to facilitate the application of predetermined objectives. As such, hate is a reactive emotion that rotates on the irrational loathing of different ethnic groups or nations; therefore, hate is a social product. Meaning, the dominant culture and ruling classes develop it intentionally to ease the passage of society from a normal (non-aggressive) mindset to one that is prone to accepting its government�s international violence.

When a state deliberately promotes hate toward a group of people or belief as in the Nazi experience against Judaism and the American experience against Islam, it does not present hate as a single product. It packages it instead in a complex system of core beliefs that is complete with �persuasive� rationalizations. In this fashion, it would be possible for the state to shape people�s attitudes and reasoning thus converting that core into a catalyst for the execution of a planned ideology. Conclusively, the promotion of aggressive attitudes and fascist cultures is the principle ingredient for obtaining social consensus on the options of the ruling classes. Nazism is such an example of forging consensus; and because of its longevity as an institution, American imperialism is another.

As a means for attempted imperialist conquests such as that of Afghanistan and Iraq, hate is an artificially charged emotion. The implicit premise of such emotion holds that the imperialist party is using hate as a politically motivated tool where a negative evaluation of other civilizations and people is the paramount justification for aggression. However, depending on circumstance, hate takes on another form such as �preventive measures� to deter a hypothetical threat as in the Iraqi case.

Yet, while generic hate is an emotional response to personal factors, in an imperialist setting it is a product of deliberation. Meaning, the imperialist state creates and exploits hate to carry out its agenda. George Bush and the neocons� wars against Arab and Muslims, for example, illustrate the ideological alliance between hate, aggression, and imperialism. Even so, hate is not a requirement for colonialist domination. For instance, Mongols, Macedonians, Persians, Arab Muslims, Romans, Greeks, and Ottomans, among many others, had conquered other nations, and undergone with them mutual ethnic, social, and cultural fusion, all without using hate as instrument of war.

In spite of that, hate as the motor for empire or power building is arguable and depends on context. For instance, despite the huge atrocities committed by Belgians, Dutch, French, Germans, Spaniards, Portuguese, and Russians in their colonies in Africa, Asia, and in the Americas, hate was not the motive for encroachment, land expropriation, and colonialist rule�seizure of wealth and greed was the driving force.

Conversely, the British (and by extension their offshoots: Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, English Canadians (despite solid multiculturalism, a majority of Canadians still dispute Indian rights on their historical land), did not rely on hate alone as the principle ingredient for conquest. They also added its closet ideological progenitor: racism. With this, I state that the starting point of American racism resides in the attitudes, philosophy, religious beliefs of the British founders of the American colonies and later, of the United State. Briefly, the rigid, puritan religious views of Britons, Scotts, and Welsh appear to have determined the course of the American state. Of course, unraveling the origins of American racism is important; but that does not relieve historical responsibility of the successive generations who perpetuated that hate and made it the policy of a modern state.

Like hate, racism motivates imperialism regardless of the economic forces that push for it. But when it combines with the idea of profits from wars and direct domination, the outcome would be a powerful motive for colonialism. In the end, racism is a rationalized ideological system that, among multiple things, generates hate on all levels of the conscious mind. When it reaches this level, hate becomes a policy of state and society�Israel is such an example. Dialectically, however, for racism to exist, other factors must play auxiliary roles. These are the evolving ideology, culture, and specifically military capability and technology of any state that practices or want to practice colonialism or imperialism.

Drinnon, of course, was right in his assumption that Indian hating paved the way for the building of the American empire. He captured the essence of how hate prepared the practical steps for the American policy of dispossessing the Original Peoples from their lands. A pertinent paradigm could be, if I can hate you enough, then I can brutalize you, destroy you, and claim your land as my prize.

To recapitulate, the passage of status from British colonies to the United States did not change, alter, or derail the continuity of racism that characterized the attitudes of the British colonists who became the new Americans. Because of this continuity, Indian hating continued to guide the U.S. continental expansion westward and make it an empire. It is unavoidable, at this point, to ask the question whether Iraqi, Arab, or Muslim hating (as a means for colonialism) is guiding U.S. policy toward the Arab state before and after 9/11.

As we approach to discuss this matter, I must emphasize two aspects of the U.S. mentality of aggressive colonialism. First, the basic American practice of mixing hate with colonialism has not changed since before the founding of the United States. Last, contrary to U.S. hopes, repeating historical precedents as a guide for imperialism is not always feasible, especially in the 21st century.

For instance, consequent to acts of extermination, relocation, induced disease, or starvation (by destroying the food supply) that spanned over four centuries, those among the Original Peoples who survived U.S. massacres, accepted defeat and exile (reservations) in their own land.

On the other hand, under the ongoing mass destruction and induced disease that the U.S. has been practicing in Iraq since 1991 to this time, the anti-occupation Iraqi resistance is denying the U.S. the luxury of repeating its Indian experience. The implication is incalculable. Despite lack of international solidarity and advanced military hardware, the Iraqi uprising is changing the configuration of the American-Israeli expedition. Thus, from a prospected �rosy� two-week long �Operation Iraqi �Freedom,�� a crusading George Bush consigned the United States into a protracted, brutal Iraq War that is now in its third year.

Are there historical smiliarities between Indian hating and Iraq today? I shall answer this question by reprising (next in part 34) my discussion of Alexander Hamilton and the outcome of his philosophy of extermination. Also, did anything change in the ideology of mass destruction from Endicott to Bush? Incidentally, where does the America popular culture fit in the picture of hate, interventions, imperialism, and colonialism?

Next: Part 34: Iraq, another American chapter in fascism, colonialism, and extermination

B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American anti-war activist. Email:

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The Splendid Failure of Occupation
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Part 45: How the U.S. engineered the Iraqi holocaust
Part 44: Burning the cradle of civilization
Part 43: The scheme behind the bombardment of Iraq
Part 42: Postwar aftermath or imperialist mutatis mutandis?
Part 41: The choice: obedience or annihilation
Part 40: A one-way bombardment called Gulf War
Part 39: Iraq: The second stage of conquest
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Part 37: Iraq, America�s Lab of Horror
Part 36: George Bush occupies Iraq
Part 35: When an American Hulagu invades Mesopotamia
Part 34: Iraq, another chapter of American fascism, colonialism, and extermination
Part 33: Facing East: Iraqi hating and empire building*
Part 32: From Alexander Hamilton and Iroquois to George Bush and Iraqis
Part 31: Achtung! We can invent a pretext to conquer you
Part 30: Iraq Occupation, pretext, encroachment, and colonialism
Part 29: Iraq Occupation, anatomy of pretext
Part 28: Imperialist expansions and 9/11
Part 27: Demystifying 9/11
Part 26: Dick Cheney, numbers and the metaphysics of 9/11