Part 33: Facing East: Iraqi hating and empire building*
By B. J. Sabri
Journal Contributing Writer
May 24, 2005, 22:29
* 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)
�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:
and racist beliefs in the uniqueness of the American experience, dominant
religion, morality, culture, and socio-political order
- 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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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
J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American anti-war activist. Email: email@example.com.
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