Reality of great American dream
If the enemy did not exist, he will have to be invented
Growing up in small town India, my earliest introduction tothe English language and fiction were 'cowboy' novels of authors like OliverStrange. For someone who grew up in crowded mohallas, adventures of gunslingerslike James Green, the dark, brooding hero of the 'Sudden' series, on the Texasplains and harsh landscape of the 'Injun Country' held strange fascination andoffered momentary escape from my humdrum existence.
As Roxanne Dunbar-Otiz argues in her path-breaking book, AnIndigenous Peoples' History of the United States, those cheap novels, moviesand television shows, classified as Westerns, and even classics like The Lastof the Mohicans were imbibed by every American with mother's milk and by themid-20th century were popular in every part of the globe.
The wild West with its irreverence for life and deathbelonged to a different magical world, spawning a hopelessly romantic fantasyand rose-tinted view of the 'land of the free.' One endlessly dreamed ofAmerica, the ultimate land of opportunity and freedom.
Boy, how hopelessly naïve had one been! Little did one knowof the reality of the American dream and how it was realised by painting theoriginal inhabitants of the land out of the picture.
They were hunted and killed like wild animals in theirthousands or were simply starved to death by shutting off access to food andwater. Today, the native Americans or Red Indians (or just 'Injuns' in thesettler speak) are to be found in small, isolated reservations, like someendangered species, which they have indeed become.
The same story was repeated in South America, wiping outindigenous populations and capturing their resources. In Africa, the colonialproject was not limited to plundering and pillaging of the continent's naturalwealth but stealing of its most precious resource — its people. Millions ofAfricans ended up as slaves in plantations, and worse. Israel successfullyemulated the US example in dealing with Palestinians, stealing their countryand locking them away in tiny enclaves.
Little wonder Dunbar-Ortiz argues that the entire "NorthAmerica is a Crime Scene" because of the grave crimes against humanitycommitted on the continent by settler armies and conquistadors.
Salon.com published excerpts from the book under the header:"North America is a crime scene: The untold history of America." In her intro,Dunbar-Ortiz argues: "The founding myth of the United States is a lie. It istime to re-examine our ruthless past — and present."
Ortiz opens her book with a quote from Jodi Byrd, an experton indigenous communities and the author of The Transit of Empire, IndigenousCritiques of Colonialism: "That the continued colonization of American Indiannations, peoples, and lands provides the United States the economic andmaterial resources needed to cast its imperialist gaze globally is a fact thatis simultaneously obvious within — and yet continually obscured by — what isessentially a settler colony's national construction of itself as an ever moreperfect multicultural, multiracial democracy."
And the sanction for this unprecedented ethnic cleansingcame from the very top.
Justifying the military campaign against the "Indians," theUS Supreme Court, in its 1873 Modoc Indian Prisoners ruling, noted: "It cannotbe pretended that a United States soldier is guilty of murder if he kills apublic enemy in battle, which would be the case if the municipal law were inforce and applicable to an act committed under such circumstances. All the lawsand customs of civilized warfare may not be applicable to an armed conflictwith the Indian tribes upon our western frontier and the Indians concerned init fully understood the baseness and treachery of their act."
The 1873 ruling was famously invoked in 2003 in the case ofGuantanamo Bay detainees, declaring them 'unlawful combatants' and denying themall rights and basic dignity under the Geneva Conventions.
While this is hardly the first of its kind book tracing theorigins of the 'shining nation on the hill' and its eventful history, whatmakes it extraordinary is the audacity and stark courage that the authordisplays in chronicling the crimes against indigenous people across NorthAmerica and beyond with clinical accuracy and objectivity.
More important, she makes a compelling case that the Westernimperial project to conquer new frontiers, subjugate their people and takecontrol of their resources was far from over with the conquest of Americas.
Led by the most powerful nation, the imperial projectcontinues and has now expanded to take control of the entire planet, dictating,manipulating and monopolising the affairs, resources and lives of all itsinhabitants.
The militarism dictating the US foreign policy did not beginas fallout of the World War I and II but has been the continuation of the samepolicy that had driven the white colonial nation to subjugate the 'InjunCountry.'
The continuous US and allied military campaigns and warsthat followed the two Great Wars, from Korea to Cambodia and from thePhilippines to Vietnam and more recently in the greater Middle East in the lastcentury or in this century, are all part of the same worldview and consciousdesign.
She quotes neocon ideologue and military analyst Robert DKaplan to debunk the notion that the 9/11 attacks brought the US into a new eraof warfare and prompted it to establish military bases around the world. Longbefore the Sept. 11 attacks, as early as 1980s, US military bases existed inmore than 170 countries.
Kaplan sums up his thesis, in the prologue to his book,Imperial Grunts, interestingly subtitled "Injun Country": "By the turn of the21st century the US military had already appropriated the entire earth, and wasready to flood the most obscure areas of it with troops at a moment's notice.The Pentagon divided the planet into five area commands— similar to the waythat the Indian Country of the American West had been divided in themid-nineteenth century by the US Army. To be sure, the problem for the Americanmilitary was less (Islamic) fundamentalism than anarchy. The War on Terrorismwas really about taming the frontier."
Yes, this had never been about 'Islamic fundamentalism' orterrorism but about 'taming the frontier.' And the frontiers of the white,Western civilization and empire project now extend to the entire planet.
The whole world is now 'Injun Country' as far as America andits allies are concerned. A notion repeatedly exploited in the countlessHollywood flicks like the Independence Day, Armageddon, Deep Impact and StarWars. Whenever the planet is in peril, the US must step up to save the world.Else we are all doomed!
Pax Americana rules the world through its proxies andsatraps and more than 900 military bases across the globe and by wagingperpetual wars, from Asia to Middle East to Africa, not merely for the sake ofglobal hegemony but also as an expression of its obsessive militarism mindset.
Besides, without forever wars and military campaigns, howwill the gargantuan, profiteering military industrial complex that fuels theworld's largest economy survive? At no point in history has a single nation ora group of countries enjoyed such unlimited and unquestioned power.
And the American way of war, in Kaplan-speak, is nothing buta legacy and continuum of the Western colonial project that Uncle Sam inheritedfrom the cousins across the pond.
No wonder there's little change in the fundamental USpolicies no matter who occupies the White House. No wonder the Middle East, themain battlefront since the end of the Cold War, remains perpetually cracklingwith conflicts and wars all the time. If it was Saddam Hussain, Al-Qaeda andTaleban yesterday, today it is ISIS. If the enemy did not exist, he will haveto be invented.