The Splendid Failure of Occupation
Part 32: From Alexander Hamilton and Iroquois to George Bush and Iraqis
By B. J. Sabri
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Apr 29, 2005, 19:28

� . . . The deeper origins of the War on Terror lie more in the events of July 4, 1776, than in those of September 11, 2001. They lie more in a provision in the Declaration of Independence collectively criminalizing the "merciless Indian savages" than in the commercial airplane attacks on the Pentagon and the Twin Towers. This provision in perhaps the most consequential political manifesto ever issued began a trend in 1776 that is only now reaching the full potential of its menacing propensity.��Anthony J. Hall, founding coordinator of Globalization Studies, author of: The American Empire and the Fourth World, and associate professor of History University of Lethbridge, Canada [Lecture: the Colonial Genesis of the War on Terror, 1492-present, United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan, December 18�19, 2004]

Alexander Hamilton and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee), George Bush and Iraqis, is there any relation? Can the history of Native Nations in the United States offer the ideological key to understand the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq?

Although answering these two questions would delay our discussion on the pretexts for occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the detour is vital. It will help us in defining a host of current issues. Primary among these is setting an ideological frame of U.S. colonialism, pattern of pretexts vis-�-vis official postures, as well as basic forces�capitalism, imperialism, Christian fundamentalism, Zionism. Two forces: Zionism and Christian fundamentalism have changed the American state so radically that it modified its political structure, ideology, and agenda. The result is hyper-imperialism.

Hyper-imperialism as an ideology and power structure has been the guiding force of the United States for over a decade. Technically, since Gorbachev began dismantling the Soviet Union; officially, since Bill Clinton embraced Zionism to win the presidency. Recent military interventions of hyper-imperialism include but are not limited to attacks against Bosnia, Sudan, Haiti, Yugoslavia, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the pillage of Palestine via Israel, threats of war against Iran and Syria, the destabilization of Turkey and Arab states, harassment of Venezuela and Cuba, and the semi-occupations of several former Soviet Republics and socialist states.

The current dominant ideology of the American Power is complex. It is insidious. It covers up its motives for war with abstract slogans and rationales such as building civil societies, opening free markets, instituting human rights, spreading democracy and freedom, national interests, security, and terrorism. It is pervasive. It depends on seemingly domestic democratic institutions to perpetuate its cyclic reproduction through election and re-election. Finally, it is hyper-violent. It surpassed Nazism. While Nazism�s hallmark was the genocide of European Jews, the U.S.�s hallmark was either extermination (read, genocide) of Native Nations, or mass destruction of Asian and Middle Eastern nations. Further, while Nazism was limited to a period lasting 12 years (1933�1945), American Nazi-style violence has become an uninterrupted experience since the founding of the United States.

Another equally important U.S. trait is immunity from prosecution, that is, the U.S. is unaccountable for all crimes it committed since it became an independent political state. In short, after it exterminated or killed Native American Indians, Africans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Nicaraguans, Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese, Panamanians, Serbians, Afghanis, Iraqis, Palestinians via Israel, and so on, the world is still unwilling, afraid, or incapable of making the United States pay for its crimes or force it to change its policy of perpetual violence.

Is it true that American international violence surpasses that of Nazism? Let us compare a limited historical sampling:

  • It is true that when Hitler invaded France, he destroyed the Maginot Line, defeated the French army, and ransacked the countryside; but he did not destroy Paris or other French cities. Moreover, having had a sympathetic stance toward Britain via the Anglo-Saxon connection, he [Hitler] did not destroy Britain despite his intense bombardment of London. The U.S.-UK, as well as the USSR, on the other hand, had razed Berlin and most German cities.
  • Via the same sympathy toward the British or because of other calculations, Hitler allowed 400,000 British soldiers entrapped at Dunkirk (Northern France, 1940) to escape unharmed by halting his military offensive. He [Hitler] also allowed 100,000 French soldiers to escape from that same entrapment. On the other hand, U.S. Gen. Barry McCaffrey ordered the slaughter of tens of thousands of withdrawing Iraqi army units after an agreed upon ceasefire.
  • Without casus belli, Hitler invaded Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland. Yet, although he defeated the small armies of these states, he did not devastate Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, and Warsaw. This does not exclude that invaded territories had suffered damage concomitant with invasions and resistance. Of course, the generalized destruction of Europe happened after Britain and France declared war on Germany. On the other hand, the U.S., without casus belli invaded and destroyed half of Iraq in a blink of an eye. Before Baghdad, which the U.S. had already semi-destroyed in 1991, under the official motive to liberate Kuwait, the U.S. of Kissinger reduced the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, to rubble through massive bombardment, although North Vietnam never attacked the United States.

After the U.S. forces landed in Anzio [Naples, Italy, WW II, 1944], the retreating German army passing through Tuscany while proceeding North, destroyed most bridges and roads; yet they spared Florence�s ancient bridge Ponte Vecchio from destruction for its incalculable historic value. In the Iraqi case, the American occupation force is tearing down ancient Babylonian ruins to use its rocks and bricks as barricades against attacks by anti-occupation forces. The latest archeological atrocity is the destruction of the top two stories of the Spiral Minaret of Sammarrah (North of Baghdad) which is 1,000 years old.

Affirmatively, it is a historical fact that American international violence surpasses in severity and magnitude that of Nazi Germany. The extermination of Native Nations, the enslavement and mass murder of Africans, the mass destruction in the Philippines (200,000 people killed), Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq are but the most notorious acts of genocide and violence perpetrated by the United States against non-European nations. Still, U.S. violence surpasses Nazism on another account: pretexts.

While Nazism used German grievances (which, to certain extent, were legitimate) left from WW I as an alibi for its aggression, the United States fabricated a hypothetical Iraqi threat to invade that country. Arguably, a hypothesis on the presumed threat from an adversary is applicable when military force and strength are identifiable but information on intent and strategy are not (example, U.S. vs. USSR). In the Iraqi example, the U.S. fabricated an inexistent threat, and then built a hypothesis upon it (example, Powell�s U.N. presentation). Thus without a casus belli, but with an elaborate hypothesis, the U.S. attacked Iraq, bombarded its capital with depleted uranium and daisy cutters, annihilated the Iraqi state within just 21 days, and killed over 120,000 Iraqis in two years of colonialist occupation.

One point to remember is that in states with centralized governments, such as Iraq, the destruction of the government means the inevitable collapse of the state. But since the state supports society, the collapse of the state means the parallel collapse of society. With this foreknowledge, the prospected simultaneous collapse of state pillars (ministries, police, army, civil organizations, food supply, utility services, etc., and of societal structures�economic activities, access to health systems, social activities, etc.) was the most pressing target behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq. That target was the dissolution of the Iraqi state and its re-making to serve the needs of U.S. capitalism, imperialism, military and service industry, Israel, and, of course, to restart the march for world domination.

Nevertheless, the swift disintegration of Iraq under the American onslaught was not limited to one factor, as the U.S. wants us to believe. That is because of U.S. war technology. There were other concomitant structural factors; principle among them is that, after a devastating previous U.S. war against Iraq (Gulf War, 1991), a 13-year economic sanction and blockade, a long war of attrition, and world isolation, Iraq, state and society, passed, by far, the point of elasticity or functional recovery. In short, Iraq was ready to collapse under the slightest external pressure.

Exactly, how did the U.S. manage to occupy Iraq? By now, the answer should be automatic: through pretexts. Pretext that Iraq possessed WMD; pretext that the U.N. was incapable of disarming Iraq; pretext that Saddam was cheating; pretext that post-invasion Iraq became the �center stage for the war on terror�; pretext to building a �free,� �democratic� and �stable� Iraq.

Now that we established that pretexts are the voluntary nervous system of U.S. imperialism, then what comes next? I contend there must have been a starting point and successive stages where carefully studied colonialist impulses guided U.S. expansionism and violence to implement it. One such impulse is the determination of U.S. ruling classes to destroy all those who oppose its imperium, encroachment, colonialism, or coercion. This means U.S. imperialist actions are a product of extensive deliberation and coherent decision-making.

One way to evaluate the effects of the starting point on the American society is by observing the evolving ideology of violent domination. Of course, those effects extend to the political order, popular culture, as well as to the culture of the U.S. army. This means the ideology of domination has become a natural practice that the American society accepts without discussion. On a wider ground, however, one result of the continental conquest by the United States is that the practice of exterminating Native Peoples has become a messianic option and a paradigm projected into the future.

Incidentally, when I say American culture, I do not intend to constrict it to Americans of white European descent but also to many ethnic groups descending from exploited or colonized peoples. And by this, I am unequivocally pointing out to a paradox and an anomaly in the conduct of non-white ethnic groups that the U.S. had once colonized, brutalized, or enslaved. Surprisingly, Native Americans Indians, African Americans, and Hispanic are supplying the U.S. army with enough personnel to colonize, murder, and suppress foreign nations. Even more surprisingly, a multitude of non-white individuals now emulate the racism, fascism, and violence of the white masters who once enslaved and annihilated their great grandparents�they call this �patriotism.�

It is ironic that African Americans (enslaved or not) helped the U.S. army in defeating American Natives, and that American Natives helped their captors in defeating other American Natives. The English settlers� strategy to use non-Europeans to fight their wars of colonialism has persisted since Britain occupied India, mostly with conscripted Indians. That practice is now the backbone of U.S. strategy for expanding imperialism. In fact, tens of thousands of Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic (from the U.S. or Latin America) are now serving the aims of U.S. colonialism in Korea, Haiti, Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Whether these groups joined the American colonialist bandwagon out of co-option, co-habitation, subordinate participation, or just servitude to identify with an oppressive system, thus escaping discrimination and obtaining some economic or social benefits, is of no critical relevance. Opportunistically this phenomenon has an aphorism: if you cannot beat them, join them. Sociologically, it has a different name: alienation within a system. Psychologically, it has a different meaning: Occupied Mentality Syndrome, which is my definition of ethnic, cultural, or social insecurity that afflict some of the non-European segments of the American society. What is relevant, instead, is that a substantial number of underprivileged non-white Americans participate consciously in the crimes of colonialism and adopt its ideology, vocabulary, attitudes, and predilection for unjustified killing.

Pointing to Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and others as an example of achievement of non-European groups in the American system is invalid. These personalities are exponents of co-option, and, as such, are alien to the issues of true emancipation and social empowerment of the groups just mentioned. (Note: Campbell, a former US senator, first as Democrat, and then as a Republican, from Colorado is partly Northern Cheyenne Indian via his father; his mother was Portuguese. He was an aggressive advocate of the U.S. imperialist policy toward Iraq in the 1990s. His recent voting record indicates an ingrained colonialist ideology, imperialist militarism, and it includes the resolution for war on Iraq in 2002, the approval of $82 billion dollars to continue the war on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the resolution to relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus acknowledging the essence of Israeli colonialism.)

Having outlined an incremental historical approach to the occupation of Iraq, we have to investigate whether we can connect past and present when dealing with the ideology of colonialism. For instance, the similarity between the Indian Holocaust to implement conquest, and the cumulative Iraqi holocaust also to implement conquest is striking. Despite difference in magnitude, this statement is true. One reason is that the ideology of conquest that animated Spaniards, British, Portuguese, French, Dutch, and, later, the emerging Americans is identical in makeup and finality to the ideology of conquest that is now animating the United States.

This ideology has a name: exterminate to dominate.

Peter Montague, co-founder and director of Environmental Research Foundation (E.R.F.) in Annapolis, Maryland, highlights the Indian Holocaust with a piercing statement:

By then [1891] the native population had been reduced to 2.5 percent of its original numbers and 97.5 percent of the aboriginal land base had been expropriated. . . . Hundreds upon hundreds of native tribes with unique languages, learning, customs, and cultures had simply been erased from the face of the earth, most often without even the pretense of justice or law. [Source] [Read statistics]

In the U.S. example, what was the pressing rationale to exterminate Native Peoples? Thomas Jefferson, among others, explained the situation with astounding clarity and unflinching determination. In a letter to Baron Von Humboldt (a German naturalist, geologist and explorer [1769�1859]. He wrote:

The interested and unprincipled policy of England has defeated all our labors for the salvation of these unfortunate people. They have seduced the geater part of the tribes within our neighborhood, to take up the hatchet against us, and the crule massacres they have committed on the women and children of our frontiers taken by surprise, will oblige us now to pursue them to extermination, or drive them to new seats beyond our reach� [Quoted in Facing West by Richard Drinnon, Schocken Books, 1980, page: 98] [Emphasis added]

We can interpret Jefferson�s thought as follows:

  1. The United States is a racist and supremacist state: it considered Native Nations, unfortunate people. Did Jefferson consider their extermination as an unfortunate episode? Or did he consider them unfortunate because history put white European settlers on their land?
  2. The United States of Jefferson was a nation of foreign settlers and colonialist encroachers, yet it considers the Original Peoples as an accidental presence on their own soils and in the settlers� neighborhoods. In addition, Jefferson admits colonialism as when he used the phrase, �our frontiers.�
  3. The United States does not consider its massacres of the natives as cruel, yet it considers the struggle of the natives to defend their land and existence as cruel.
  4. The United States is keen to describe how the Natives killed the women and children of their frontiers, but never describe how it killed Native women and children who once owned those frontiers.
  5. The United States can pursue and exterminate its adversaries (Native Indians or others) at will, and there is no compunction for the use of the word, �extermination.�
  6. The United States of Jefferson appeared to have invented Apartheid long before the Afrikaners of South Africa invented it�Jefferson proposed to exile the Natives to seats beyond the reach of the settlers.
  7. The United States implicitly considers any Native�s retaliation for U.S. barbarity, a form of savagery.
  8. The United States implicitly does not accept responsibility for causing adversarial actions by forces opposing its imperialism or imperialism.

Each of the points I deduced from Jefferson�s quote confirms an article of specific ideology that I already called: exterminate to dominate. Consequently, since the U.S. objective is domination by extermination, can we then establish, through examples, an ideological and practical continuity from a Nazi-like Jefferson to present day American leaders, thinkers, and the military in Iraq?

Another matter that we shall discuss next, relates to Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton offers a powerful synthesis of American violence. Although he was never president, but as one of the framers of the Constitution, as a thinker, and as the first secretary of the treasury who shaped American capitalism and Wall Street, Hamilton is accredited for being the man who created modern America. It is appropriate, therefore, to use him as a reference point, especially in his role for eradication of the Iroquois confederacy, a reasonably developed state that included closely related Native Nations: Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora.

In the end, what is that Starting Point that I alluded to in this article?

Next, Part 33: Facing East: Iraqi Hating and Empire Building*
* In honor of Richard Drinnon for his monumental work: Facing West: Indian Hating and Empire Building

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

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