The American Empire’s 20 Year War On Terror

January 8th, 2022

Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire; 20 Years After 9/11 Deepa Kumar, 2021

Twenty years since the launch of the global war on terror, the human toll has been nothing short of devastating. The Cost of War project at Brown University estimated in 2020 that between 37 and 39 million people were displaced as a result of US wars in eight countries and that about 800,000 have been killed due to direct war violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Those advancing the proposition that the United States should “bring democracy” were committed activists who didn’t understand that they were using colonial and Eurocentric (or US-centric) frameworks, which work by naturalizing power dynamics and concealing imperial prerogatives.

When racism is formed in terms of “free speech” and democratic rights it becomes a covert liberal form of racism, which erases the humanity of those being subjected to what is in reality hate speech.

The attacks of 9/11 produced a convergence (of conservative and liberal political classes) and a commitment to take a confrontational approach, launching the war on terror as an endless and boundless project of war making and race making. US imperialism was greatly strengthened after 2001.

Economist Samir Amin “Enlightenment (eighteenth century) thought offer[ed] us a concept of reason that is inextricably associated with that of emancipation. Yet the emancipation in question is defined and limited by what capitalism requires and allows.”

Ella Shohat and Robert Stam “Racism is above all a social relation…anchored in material structures and embedded in historical configurations of power.”

The dominant definers of the “problem of Islam” after 9/11 created a framework. “These frames are not new but often have a longer history rooted in Orientalist world views even if they are repackaged in new ways.” Kumar lists the dominant narratives and ideological frames employed to represent Arabs, Iranians, South Asians, and the Muslim world:
1. Islam is a monolithic religion.
2. Islam is uniquely sexist and Muslim women need to be liberated by the West.
3. Islam is anti-modern and does not separate religion and politics.
4. The “Muslim mind” is incapable of rationality and science.
5. Islam is inherently violent.
6. The West spreads democracy because Muslims are incapable of democratic self-rule.

Kumar debunks each frame.

Former President Bill Clinton stands with former U.S. President George H.W. Bush during the opening session of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) September 24, 2008 in New York City. President Clinton is hosting the fourth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a gathering of politicians celebrities, philanthropists and business leaders grouped together to discuss pressing global issues.

In the 1990s, the central goal shared by the (first) Bush and Clinton administrations was to expand US power and prevent the rise of any potential rival. Like their Cold War counterparts, these leaders sought to integrate the world into a capitalist order under their control. This time, instead of modernization, the model was neoliberalism with an emphasis on privatization, deregulation, a move away from public and social welfare policies, and the adoption of other free market principals. To realize what Bush described as the “New World Order”, the United States militated against “rogue regimes” that refused to play by American rules and attempted to control regions whose instability could undo the smooth functions of the capitalist system. Non-state actors outside the US control had to be contained or removed.

Arun Kundnani agues the “War on terror paradigm…makes ideology the root cause of political violence [and] derives from the cold war theory of totalitarianism, which presumed a similar direct causal connection between ideology and the repressive practices of political control.”

Counterterrorism policy and practices of surveillance, indefinite detention, and arbitrary deportation flow from this logic.

The Laws of War: Nuremberg Trials, Vietnam, 9/11, Obama

November 27th, 2021

Humane; How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War, Samuel Moyn, 2021


<> <> <> Quincy Wright in 1933 and 1941:

“The pax Britannia had given Europe the best two centuries it has had — at least since the pax Romana a millennium and a half earlier.” It was a long established fact: empires brought peace, too. “The excessively brutal civil and imperial wars which characterized the last century of the Roman Republic were followed by such a will to peace that most of the western world submitted to the Pax Romana of Augustus and his successors for two centuries.” (Quincy) Wright mused. Could the twentieth century offer something similar, he wondered, without requiring the humiliating subjugation of vassals and ceaseless violence at the savage frontiers of empire? Could a world organization under international law keep aggressors from bringing ruin to liberal democracies at peace? Would peace come,if it did, under the auspices of another empire or in some unprecedented guise?

One of Wright’s first publications explained how it ought to be plausible under international law to hold (Kaiser) Wilhelm II accountable for his biggest crime, which was starting a war, with all the catastrophes to which that decision led…Most of the early public uses of the phrase “crimes against humanity”, now associated with grave atrocities during war, allocated responsibility for war itself…It became popular in 1918-1919 to call war itself, rather than its attendant cruelties, a “crime against humanity”. (The Kaiser fled to the Netherlands, which refused to extradite the queen’s “Uncle Willie”.)

Home from Nuremberg, Wright definitely agreed it had been a good thing to rank aggression the premier evil. In effect, it was an auspicious sign for a federation to come that there was so much agreement to try individuals for war after the fact — as the Allies did in Tokyo for Japanese perpetrator, too. “Sanctions, to be effective must operate on individuals rather than states,” Wright explained. “International law cannot survive in the shrinking world, threatened by military instruments of increasing destructiveness, if sanctioned only by the good faith and self-help of governments.”

But at Nuremberg and Tokyo, the charge (“crimes against humanity”) was only allowed in connection the the primary infraction of aggressive war, which Americans were sure they did not fight (despite Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki). As for aerial bombardment , all powers conducted it, and no one was punished.

…It was the Nuremberg Trial veteran Telford Taylor ( Counsel for the Prosecution) who went where Falk did not, and he framed the case against the Vietnam War exclusively in terms of war crimes…If one had to choose a single cultural document that marked the beginning of the coming of humane war in our time, Taylor’s bestselling and widely reviewed Nuremberg and Vietnam: An American Tragedy, which appeared in late 1970, is undoubtedly it. At the same time, Taylor epitomized how, after My Lai, atrocities became the index of consensus–belatedly mainstream–that the war had to end.

…after receiving the pentagon Papers from the dissident defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg, (Neil) Sheehan was preparing to publish them. His grave and wide-ranging New York Times Book Review essay on whether to hold war crimes tribunals for Americans normalized talk of national guilt. “Do you have to be a Hitlerian to be a war criminal?” Sheehan asked. “Or can you qualify as a well-intensioned President of the United States?”


Dick Cavett Show 1971

…(Telford) Taylor stated clearly on The Dick Cavett Show (Jan 8, 1971) that (General William) Westmoreland was liable for war crimes, and then he went further adding that, while he reserved judgement on such a tricky question, (President Lyndon) Johnson might be, too.

From the ashes of Hanoi and the darkness of My Lai, the possibility of humane war would come into view.

Forget talk of war crimes prosecution. Let’s just strive to make war more humane. The leaders and decision makers of Pax Americana cannot be held legally responsible for their past actions. Then came the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the lessons of Vietnam were lost to history. After George W Bush started wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, revelations of torture and abuse threatened a serious return of antiwar movements. Interestingly Seymour Hersh broke both the Mai Lai massacre story and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse story.


<> <> <> <> <> <> Benjamin confronts Obama

After Obama’s election support for antiwar politics cratered. (Medea) Benjamin promptly put her energies into finding new support for the cause of peace by attacking Obama’s drone empire. “Unless we shine a light on it,” she told one reporter of his done mania, “we’re going to turn around a say, “How’s we get involved in all these wars without knowing about it?”.

Within two days of his inauguration, Obama signed executive orders to ban torture and rescind all Bush-era legal directives governing the treatment of prisoners…Few noticed Obama’s own first done strike, which took place that same third day of his administration…But the deepest and enduring reality of Obama’s first phase in office was that by making other moves, he was engineering an unprecedented new era of global engagement that would blur the lines between war and policing. What had once been brutal, albeit with beginnings and conclusions, was becoming humane — but never ending.

Obama turned to armed drones more times in his first year alone than Bush had in the entirety of his presidency. Almost from the start, Obama’s policy called for engaging in targeted killing with gusto, not only by drone but also with the Special Forces or standoff missiles sent from long distances. And as Obama re-created a war less bounded in space and let it bleed in time, his lawyers formalized the system…target killings transformed the war on terror so that it stretched across a widening arc of the earth. Soon it was to be advertised as a humane enterprise, conducted with concern for the innocent in harm’s way.

By the end of Obama’s time in office, no-footprint drones had struck almost ten times more than under his predecessor’s watch, with many thousands dead. The air force now trained more drone operators than aircraft pilots, and the architecture of drone activity had been extended deep into the African continent, not merely across the Middle East and South Asia. The same trend line followed the deployment of the light-footprint Special Forces, which operated in or moved through 138 nations…Actual fighting took place in at least thirteen, and targeted killing in some of those…If no one was captured, no one could be mistreated…As the Obama administration continued, the abuses to the laws prohibiting force accumulated almost without counterexample.

“The United States takes the legal position that–in accordance with international law–we have the authority to take action against al-Quaeda and its associated forces without doing a separate self-defense analysis each time”, (John) Brennan remarked in his 2011 speech, flashing an astonishing license to kill. In the spirit of the March 2009 brief, what began as a rationale for detention off hot battlefields became a justification for killing. Many of the individuals and groups in question had never struck at the United States, and the threat they posed was debatable. They died anyway.

For another take on Drones see High Tech Assassins

For the year starting in the Summer of 2011, the drone program began to receive more intense scrutiny in the press. The Obama administration would lift secrecy partially and strategically over the period that followed. By doing so, it normalized targeted killing–not hard to do given the enthusiasm for the death of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, in a dramatic commando raid. At the same time it set out to demonstratively minimize collateral harm.

Seymour Hersh reported on the actual events surrounding the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2016.

Obama offered something part way down a continuum between war and policing. Why not go all the way, these critics (Philip Alston) reasoned? If war was going to occur off battlefields and without time limit, so the impulse went, it really ought to resemble the permanent institution of policing with its far more stringent rules on killing, only on a global scale.

(Medea) Benjamin intuited that drones without footprints were a sequel to the heavy-footprint wars of the Bush years. The technology was chosen for its difficulty to monitor but also its allegedly more humane precision. But she insisted that diplomacy was a better alternative to all forms of war: “I think it’s time to really reflect on the paths not chosen and those paths not chosen include policing instead of military focus…And focusing on the muscle that has been so deteriorated in the last ten years and that’s diplomacy.”

Trump was to continue the Obama assassination program and dangerously escalate it when on Jan 3, 2020 he ordered the drone killing of popular active Iranian general Quassim Soleimani as his motorcade traveled to Baghdad, Iraq.


Leo Tolstoy and Gandhi

In his concern that advocates for more humane war could help make it endless for a public that tolerates it, Leo Tolstoy fixated on corporal wrongs and physical violence. Advocacy aimed at humane war, he contended, was no more ethically plausible than agitation for humane slavery, with daily episodes of torture replaced by everlasting–but kind and gentle–direction of labor and service. Audiences who accept endless war out of the belief that its humanity excuses them, the truculent moralist inveighed, were fooling themselves. They were no better than those who rest content with more humane techniques of animal slaughter, leaving them to carve their steaks and fricassee their chickens with eager gusto in good conscience.

From The Nuremberg Trials to State Sponsored Extrajudicial Assassination

November 9th, 2021

Kill Chain; The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, Andrew Cockburn, 2015

Daniel Reisner, former head of the IDF’s Legal Department:

“If you do something for long enough the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries…International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassinations thesis and we had to push it. [Now] it is the center of the bounds of legality.”

A former senior White House counterterrorism official:

“The idea had its origins in the drug war. So that the precedent was already in the system as a shaper of our thinking…In addition, the success of the Israeli targeted-killing strategy was a major influence on us, particularly in the Agency (CIA) and in Special Ops. We had a high degree of confidence in the utility of targeted killing. There was a strong sense that this was a tool to be used.”

The Predator drone was only made feasible after the Internet and the 24 GPS satellites were available in 1993. The Predator was first fitted with a Hellfire missile in 1994. “Given that 168 support staffers were required to keep one predator 24-hour Combat Air Patrol in the air, this was clearly an expensive undertaking.” The drone program allowed live video connections to the entire military chain of command up to and including the President. Each could be directly involved in the remote action of an attack for the first time in history. They could make real time remote kill decisions based on dubious quality video images.

President Obama as Assassin

Two years into the (Obama) administration, everyone in the Ritz_carton ballroom knew that the bulky Irishman (John Brennan) was the most powerful man in U.S. intelligence as the custodian of the president’s kill list, on which the chief executive and former constitutional law professor insisted on reserving the last word, making his final selections for execution at regularly scheduled Tuesday afternoon meetings. “You know our president has his brutal side” a CIA source cognizant of Obama’s involvement observed at the time.

The 542 drone strikes that Obama authorized killed an estimated 3,797 people, including 324 civilians. As he reportedly told senior aides in 2011: “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”

On May 2, 2011 a team of navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden upon the orders of Obama. President Obama, breaking his agreement with Pakistan, immediately announced the assassination in support of his reelection campaign.


<> <> <> Daniel Hale

The NSA features heavily in this book and whistleblower Edward Snowden is included but whistleblower Daniel Hale whose leaked documents paint a far bleaker picture of the number of innocent casualties from drone strikes is not. Daniel Hale is serving a 45 month sentence for his trouble. See Snowden, Cell Phone Privacy, and Targeted Assassinations.

As originally written, President Dwight Eisenhower’s epochal-1961 farewell address had warned of the “military-industrial-congressional complex” and its “economic, political, and even spiritual” influence at every level of government.

Much of this book deals with the ever rising defense budget that even the fall of the Soviet Union couldn’t stop. The book deals with inter-service rivalries continuing to today, the competition for funding, the crazy high tech ideas that will never work, the total lack of accountability for failure, the failure to even admit failure, the corruption, the waste, the undermining of democracy, the use of classification to bury unwanted information, etc. Pretty bleak reading.

Deep Medicine – Wellness in a very complex universe and web of life

November 5th, 2021

Inflamed; Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice, Rupa Marya & Raj Patel, 2021

Truly holistic health must contend with the elements that continue to make people unwell, locating the disease-causing entities in social structures and the grave misunderstandings that created them. Systems that position humans as supreme over the entire web of life, settler over Indigenous, a singular religion over all other-world views, male over female and nonbinary understandings of gender, white over every other shade of skin — these must be dismantled and composted. We must reimagine our wellness collectively, not simply as individuals or communities but in relation to all the entities that support the possibility of healthy lives. These relaionships, precisely because they are vital for health, are worthy of our care.
The problem is when inclusion becomes enclosure — when the radically transformative projects, theories, and futures led by Indigenous and poor people are sterilized by liberalism, and when the language and other signifiers of revolution are co-opted and incorporated into some giant soup of civil rights struggles…For those living in settler societies, the work of being in solidarity specifically with Indigenous-led movements is particularly critical. The collapse of ecological, social, and bodily health is an outcome of over six hundred years of cosmological warfare.
Forging new forms of solidarity is not easy. It requires abandoning colonial ties and creating new relations with other fugitives. Reconnecting relations that colonialism sundered is simultaneously a personal and political project. Colonialism reproduces itself through a hegemony that has been widely internalized. Transcending it won’t require just therapy, or antiracist book clubs, or some individual process of self-scrutiny. It will involve a collective journey to new forms of exchange and relations.


Yosemite Valley and Falls

The romance of the wilderness (the National Parks) was created through the erasure of the people who knew how to live sustainably in a specific place, often for thousands of years…Removing this taint (native inhabitants) on the landscape would have severe consequences not only for the people but for the entire ecosystem: the invention of the pristine wilderness inaugurated an era of catastrophic forest fires.

Inflammation is triggered when tissues and cells are damaged or threatened with damage. A complex and intricately coordinated response of the immune system, inflammation mobilizes resources to ultimately heal what has been injured. In a healthy, balanced system, once the mending has occurred, inflammation subsides. When the damage keeps coming, the repair cannot fully happen, leaving the inflammatory response running. A system of healing then turns into one that creates more harm.
As we explore inflammation in this book, we will sometime use the language of the body in analogy. So salmon are to rivers as hearts are to blood vessels. They both function as nutrient pumps in systems of circulation. We sometimes proceed by simile; dams are like vascular obstructions. We are not above metaphor. Trade routes for example, are colonialism’s arteries, moving people, capital goods, and diseases around the world system, and connecting bodies, societies, geographies, and ecologies. The metaphor helps us to show that inflammation is systemic and that the systems are linked. But we aren’t making a literary arguments so much as a medical one. The inflammation in your arteries and the inflammation of the planet are linked, and the causal connections are becoming increasingly clear; your physiological state is a reaction to social and environmental factors. Racial violence, economic precarity, industrial pollution, poor diet, and even the water you drink can inflame you.

The stories of interference in the ancient relationships between land, water, humans, and salmon demonstrates how interconnected these all are and how technological arrogance can crate downstream problems when we work to outsmart the ecologies we belong to. A disruption in one part of the web of life, within a few short decades, ends up eroding the vitality of the whole system. But the good news is that ecologically guided reparation starting at one point of the web can bring vitality back to the whole…And that ecological restoration must start with the people who were integrated into the ecology before colonialism, and who are still here working on these solutions.

The (Covid) pandemic revealed in stark terms the reality of how environmental and social injustice affects health, and also the deeper truth that under a colonial cosmology, many humans have been made disposable.

Unfortunately, we are rushing headlong into a crisis of colonial capitalism in which pollution deaths soar, driven by a climate crisis, like the Covid pandemic, in which a few profit greatly while billions suffer…Absent a serious diagnosis of the climate crisis and its impact on the exposome and our bodies, medicine will continue to treat the symptoms but will miss the opportunity for a cure.

Learning to listen must be the work of settlers on colonized land, of modern societies that treat the Earth as a thing to be exploited, and of health care workers, as we increasingly encounter existential threats from forest fires, pandemics, catastrophic floods, and global warming–all signs that we are critically out of balance.

Through his investments, (Bill) Gates owns 97,933 hectares (242,000 acres) of arable land, making him the largest farmland owner and occupant of stolen territory in the United States.

After the Bolivian coup to assure US extractive rights to lithium needed for his electric cars, Elon Musk tweated: “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

Colonial capitalism suppresses the equitable distribution of resources, expending great energy–through extraction, border construction, incarceration, and the creation of supremacist cosmologies and institutions–to maintain a structure that prioritizes individuals over communities. Without the networking-capacity benefits of communities, society under colonial capitalism is more vulnerable to the shocks and failures of systems within systems, which we see with pandemics, raging wildfires, and stock market volatility.

Normally, pro-inflammatory activity is self limited, turning off once homeostasis is achieved. Sustained activation means that an inflammatory stimulus is chronic or the response simply fails to stop. When it continues unabated, it produces the inflammation that is a hallmark of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The planet, our own bodies, and our consciousness are wired for the care of others. But capitalist economic and social systems teach us to restrict the set of beings whom we’re prepared to recognize as people, and to suppress the urge to care, unless money might be made from it. They misdirect our attention and obfuscate our capacity to recognize one another, and the care we need.
Humans have broken the world. The air that renders neurological disease more likely has to be cleaned. Industrial agriculture has massively degraded the land, and it will take a profound shift in priorities to reverse the killing of the flora, fauna, and fungi beneath our feet. In the United States, as elsewhere in the world, waterways are being polluted by agriculture and fossil fuels, and the defenders of that water are being attacked.

Unlearning capitalist cosmology cannot be done alone, as a project of individual therapy. It is not about an individual decision to “be kind” or to “be antiracist.” Rather it’s about the solidarity of political communities, of networks of people, engaged in systemic change. A decolonial idea of care extends not just to other humans but to all relations in the web of life.


Water Protectors at Standing Rock

When I (Rupa) went to Standing Rock, I saw a glimpse of another way of being in community, which allowed us to reconnect to that pluripotency that has been broken by colonialism…It was as if time were standing still and we were back in the era of colonial conquest. I had already known this conceptually, but it was there that I really understood in every cell of my body that colonialism is an ongoing project that reproduces itself across generations. It never stopped. For the system to continue, its power relations must be re-created every day, and that re-creation occurs because individuals are coerced, voluntarily agree, or simply cannot imagine how not to participate in the rules set out before us.

U.S. Settler Colonialism, Fiscal Military State, Genocide, Mythical Histories

October 22nd, 2021

Not a Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a history of Erasure and Exclusion, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, 2021

Tellingly, the first federal immigration law, which created the foundation for US immigration, was the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. It is crucial to recognize that when and how “immigration” as such began, it was based on overt, blatant racism and a policy of exclusion, and it has never lost that taint.

Settler Colonialism- Indigenous Erasure

Anishinabek historian Michael Witgen:

The United States imagines itself as a nation of immigrants…The United States aspired to be a settler colonial power, but the presence and persistence of Native people forced the republic to become a colonizer. The violence of settler colonial ideology is represented not only in the widespread dispossession of indigenous peoples but also in its attempt to affect their political, social, and cultural erasure…To imagine the United States as a nation of immigrants, devoid of an indigenous population, is not only a form of erasure, it is historically inaccurate. The United States was founded as, and continues to be, a nation of settler immigrants, locked into a struggle over the meaning of place and belonging with the Native nations of North America.


Hamilton the Musical – No slaves or freed slaves are portrayed

Alexander Hamilton – military man, slave owner and slave trader not an abolitionist

In the fall of 2020, a researcher at the Schuyler Mansion found evidence that had long been overlooked in letters and Hamilton’s own account books indicating that he not only bought and sold slaves but also personally owned slaves. The researcher, Jesse Serfilippi was unequivocal: “Not only did Alexander Hamilton enslave people, but his involvement in the institution of slavery was essential to his identity, both personally and professionally…It is vital that the myth of Hamilton as the ‘Abolitionist Founding Father’ end.

U.S. a Fiscal Military State

The United States was thus founded as the first constitutional capitalist state and an empire on conquered land, with capital in the form of slaves and land (real estate). It is crucial to understand that this was exceptional in the world at that time and has remained exceptional.


Generals George Washington and Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton argued that the federal military was too weak to overawe the “savages”. The expansionist states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, and New York sought and gained federal protection of settler land claims. Hamilton and other Federalists invoked “savages” to justify a stronger federal state and a standing army. This elevated the dispossession of Indigenous peoples into a constitutional principal.

The Militia Act of 1792, the forerunner of the Insurrection Act of 1807, mandated a genocidal policy against the Indigenous nations of the Territory, allowing federal troops to eliminate the resistant communities in order the allow settler to occupy the land. The Militia Act was used two years later against Appalachian settlers in western Pennsylvania who were protesting an unfair tax on their distilleries. This was the sole work of Hamilton. Only with unlimited counter-insurgent war — destroying Indigenous towns, burning crops and food storage, driving inhabitants into peripheries as refugees–did the United States prevail, seizing most of present day Ohio. Military historian John Grenier writes, “For the first 200 years of our military heritage, then, Americans depended on arts of war that contemporary professional soldiers supposedly abhorred: razing and destroying enemy villages and fields; killing enemy women and children; raiding settlements for captives; intimidating and brutalizing enemy noncombatants; and assassinating enemy leaders…”

Settler Colonialism as Genocide

“Genocide” is a legal term with a precise definition, enshrined in the international treaty the United Nations Convention on the prevention and Punishment of the crime of Genocide…it went into effect in the United States only in 1988 when the US Congress finally ratified it…There is no statute of limitations…The statute is not retroactive, so the United States is not liable under the Genocide Convention before 1988.

Within the logic of settler colonialism, genocide was the inherent overall policy of the United States from its founding, but there are also specific documented policies of genocide on the part of US administrations that can be identified in a least live distinct periods:
(1) the Revolutionary War period through 1832 in the Ohio Country
(2) the 1930s Jacksonian era of forced removals
(3) the 1850s California gold-rush era in Northern California
(4) the Civil War and post-Civil War era (up to 1890)
(5) the 1950s termination and relocation period

Doctrine of Discovery Legal basis of Settler Colonialism Free-Soiler Imperialism

The shadow of genocide lies in the Doctrine of Discovery, which remains a fundamental law of the land in the United States, the legal framework that informs the US colonial system of controlling Indigenous nations…It (the Doctrine of Discovery) originated in a papal bull issued in 1452 that permitted the Portuguese monarchy to seize West Africa and enslave the inhabitants, the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade.

And yet, the United States has used the Discovery Doctrine to rationalize its colonial dominion over Indigenous peoples throughout its history, citing the Marshall court precedent as recently as 2005 in the US Supreme Court case of City of Sherrill v. Oneida Nation of Indians in denying the Oneida Nation land claim.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the unanimous decision.

“Free” Land Mostly Distributed to land speculators and large operators (railroads, etc.) not Families

The Federal land grants to the railroad barons–carved out of Indigenous territories–were not limited to the width of the railroad tracks, but rather formed a checkerboard of square-mile sections stretching for hundreds of miles on both sides of the right of way. This was land the railroads were free to sell to settlers in parcels for their own profit..As war profiteers, financiers, and industrialists such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan used these laws to amass wealth in the East, Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker in the West grew rich from building railroads with cheap Chinese and Irish labor and eastern capital on land granted by the US government.

Self-Indigenization Psychosis The Last of the Mohicans – Daniel Boone Myth Hero


Irishman Daniel Day Lewis Stars in blockbuster movie The Last of the Mohicans


Daniel Boone TV Series

A deep psychosis inherent in US settler colonialism is revealed in settler self-indigenization. The phenomenon is not the same as the practice of “playing Indians,” which historian Philip Deloria brilliantly dissected, from the Boston Tea Party Indians to hobbyists dressing up like Indians to New Age Indians.

Dunbar-Ortiz is referring to James Fenimore Cooper’s writings, most particularly The Last of the Mohicans which was made into a blockbuster film in 1992, and the mythical legends surrounding the real world Daniel Boone 1734-1820.

Are Appalachian Scots-Irish Settlers (hillbillys) Indigenous?

Razid Khan:

The early American Republic saw the emergence of a white man’s republic, where implicit white identity gave way to the expansion of suffrage to non-property holding white males as a natural right, and the revocation of what suffrage existed for non-whites based on their racial character. The Scots-Irish were a major part of this cultural evolution, being as they were generally part of the broad non-slave holding class. They may not have had the wealth of lowland planters, but the Scots-Irish were part of the aristocracy of skin…It is true that Scots-Irish Americans are arguably among the more racist white ethnic group.

Rancher and Mormon Indigeneity – Little House on the Prairie

Settler self-indigenizing is not limited to Appalachia. Under the guise of “regional studies,”, descendants of Appalachians and other early settlers who migrated west and settled in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas, may of whom trekked on to the valleys of California and the Pacific Northwest, also carry with them the sense of being the original people and often express an affinity for their versions of Indianness, being men who claim “to know Indians.” Another site is the intermountain west where white cattle barons dominate, many of them Mormon, who have their own indigenous origin story blessed by their God.

Capitalism requires cheap or free labor – Thirteenth Amendment Loophole – To the Carceral Landscape

However, the Thirteenth Amendment included an exception to freedom from servitude: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Continental Imperialism

John Quincy Adams in 1825:

The world should be familiar with the idea of considering our proper domain to be the continent of North America. From the time we became an independent people, it was as much a law of nature that this should become our pretension that the Mississippi should flow to the sea, Spain had possession of our southern border and Great Britain was upon our north. It was impossible that centuries should elapse without finding their territories annexed to the United States.

The United States is the only rich country that has a long border with a poor and formerly European-colonized country (Mexico), which provides a permanent reserve of surplus labor. And that border was imposed by an imperialist war.

Self-Indigenization of Italians

The oppressed masses of Italian immigrants would find the attachment to Columbus an avenue to acceptance. They realized that the accepted representation of Columbus as “first founder” of the United States served to connect being Catholic and being Italian with the very birth of the United States; therefore, Italian immigrants could present themselves as descendants of the original Italian founder, not so much as immigrants but returnees, as part of the origin story of the United States.

Exclusion, Inclusion, and Erasure

The self-indigenizing narrative of being first settlers or discovers, like the Hispanos of New Mexico, the Scots Irish of Appalachia, the Irish Catholics, the western US white ranchers, and the US states adopting Columbus as first founder, appears as a requirement for citizenship acceptance, erasing the still living, still colonized Indigenous nations, the majority of whom had been removed from the eastern United States where the European immigrants made their homes…Reliance on founding myths and pursuing whiteness were not options for Chinese immigrants who began arriving on the West Coast and in New York at the same time as the Southern and Eastern European Catholic and Jewish immigrants were populating the industrial centers of the east.

In 2014 Franciscan colonizer of California Junipero Serra was canonized as a saint at the protestant Washington National Cathedral. Pope Francis officiated with Obama in attendance. Serra had presided over one the most brutal genocides and erasures in US history.

Mahmood Mamdani writes, “If the race question marks the cutting edge of American reform the native question highlights the limits of that reform. The thrust of struggles has been to deracialize but not to decolonize. A deracialized America is still a settler society and a settler state.” Attempts to “include” Native peoples as victims of racism further camouflages settler colonialism. The US polity has been trying to rid itself of Indigenous nations since first settlement. Four hundred years later, multiculturalism is the mechanism for avoiding acknowledgement of settler colonialism. Mamdani correctly observes that the very existence of Indigenous nations “constitutes a claim on land and therefore a critic of settler sovereignty and an obstacle to the settler economy.”

Perhaps that is one reason so few US historians are willing to risk their careers by writing US history objectively. Even Howard Zinn’s 1980 book, A People’s History of the United States. remains eschewed by most professional historians…

See also anthropologist David Vine’s book The United States of War.

Afghanistan War $2.3 Trillion FUBAR

October 19th, 2021

The Afghanistan Papers, A Secret History of the the War, Craig Whitlock, 2021

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…it (this book) is an attempt to explain what went wrong and how three consecutive presidents and their administrations failed to tell the truth. All told, the Afghanistan Papers is based on interviews with more than 1,000 people who played a direct part in the war. The Lessons Learned interviews, oral histories and Rumsfeld snowflakes comprise more than 10,000 pages of documents…(people) who know that the official version of the war being fed to the American people was untrue, or aggressively sanitized at best.

By 2002, few al-Qaeda followers remained in Afghanistan. Hundreds had been killed or captured, while the rest fled to Pakistan, Iran and other countries. The United States and its allies were left fighting the Taliban and other militants from the region — Uzbeks, Pakistanis, Chechens. So for the next two decades the war In Afghanistan was waged against people who had nothing to do with 9/11.

The problem was that the military had not run a counterinsurgency campaign since the Vietnam War. To figure out what to do, (David) Barno scrounged up three textbooks on counterrevolutionary warfare he had read as a West Point cadet more than twenty-five years earlier. “We had no U.S. military doctrine whatsoever at this point in time by which to guide us.”

“He (Pakistani ISI head Ashfaq Kayani) says, ‘You know, I know you think we’re hedging our bets. You’re right, we are because one day you’ll be gone again, it’ll be like Afghanistan the first time, you’ll be done with us, but we’re still going to be here because we can’t actually move the country. And the last thing we want with all our other problems is have turned the Taliban into a mortal enemy, so, yes, we’re hedging our bets.'”

The table of contents pretty much summarizes this important book

Part One: A False Taste of Victory, 2001–2002
Chapter One: A Muddled Mission
Chapter Two: “Who Are the Bad Guys?”
Chapter Three: The Nation-Building Project
Part Two: The Great Distraction, 2003–2005
Chapter Four: Afghanistan Becomes an Afterthought
Chapter Five: Raising an Army from the Ashes
Chapter Six: Islam for Dummies
Chapter Seven: Playing Both Sides
Part Three: The Taliban Comes Back, 2006–2008
Chapter Eight: Lies and Spin
Chapter Nine: An Incoherent Strategy
Chapter Ten: The Warlords
Chapter Eleven: A War on Opium
Part Four: Obama’s Overreach, 2009–2010
Chapter Twelve: Doubling Down
Chapter Thirteen: “A Dark Pit of Endless Money”
Chapter Fourteen: From Friend to Foe
Chapter Fifteen: Consumed by Corruption
Part Five: Things Fall Apart, 2011–2016
Chapter Sixteen: At War with the Truth
Chapter Seventeen: The Enemy Within
Chapter Eighteen: The Grand Illusion
Part Six: Stalemate, 2017–2021
Chapter Nineteen: Trump’s Turn
Chapter Twenty: The Narco-State
Chapter Twenty-One: Talking with the Taliban

An excellant prequel to this book is Steve Coll’s 2007 Ghost Wars account of how the CIA seeded this next conflict

We seem to have even forgotten how to be Imperialistic Extractive Capitalists by ignoring the vast endowment of natural resources in Afghanistan.

Far more value, however, lies with the country’s endowments of iron, copper, lithium, rare earth elements, cobalt, bauxite, mercury, uranium and chromium. While the total abundance of minerals is certainly vast, scientific understanding of these resources is still at an exploratory stage.Aug 31, 2021

An Anthropologist looks at U.S. forts, bases, lily-pads – endless wars and first strikes

October 7th, 2021

The United States of War, David Vine, 2020

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The U.S. military has waged war, engaged in combat, or otherwise employed its forces aggressively in foreign lands in all but eleven years of its existence.

Rather than being a book about battles, this book uses military bases as windows to understand the pattern of endless U.S. wars…These bases have expanded the boundaries of the United States, while keeping the country locked in a state of nearly continuous war that has largely served the economic and political interests of elites and left tens of millions dead, wounded, and displaced.

Beyond a way of warfare, this mode of total genocidal war (against native Americans) became important to the development of a distinct U.S. identity. This identity in turn has played some role in shaping later wars and the conduct of those wars, especially against peoples deemed to be supposedly racially inferior. “Successive generations of Americans, both soldiers and civilians, made the killing of Indian men, women, and children a defining element of their military tradition, and thereby part of a shared American identity.”

By the end of World War II…the United States would build and occupy some thirty thousand installations at two thousand base sites worldwide. While large numbers of bases would close at War’s end what remained was a global base network larger than any in human history…By war’s end, Roosevelt would oversee the largest expansion of bases, territory, and imperial power in U.S. History – arguably far exceeding the power of Jefferson’s purchase (Louisiana Territory).

Other “territories” (excepting the Philippines which was granted independence in 1946) remained colonies without democratic incorporated into the United States. They included Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Guantanamo Bay, and the Panama Canal Zone.

U.S. officials further used the nation’s unchallenged military superiority at the end of World War II to dictate much of the postwar international economic system, on which geoeconomic power would be based. New global institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations became important economic and political tools to open and dominate markets and maintain other countries in subordinate relationships.

“The United States did not abandon empire after the Second World War. Rather it reshuffled its imperial portfolio,…investing in military bases, tiny specks of semi-sovereignty strewn around the globe.”

Across history and geography the Chagossians and others displaced by U.S. Bases abroad are thus linked along a continuum of violence to the victims of war in Southeast Asia, Iraq, and Afghanistan; to Native American peoples displaced, dispossessed, and murdered; to Angolans and Mozambicans kept under Portuguese colonial rule for decades with U.S. Aid exchanged for Azores basing rights; to Indonesians slaughtered in a U.S. Supported genocide; to Cubans and Haitians and many others killed during dozens of U.S. Invasions in Latin America; to Guatemalans and Chileans tortured, assassinated, and disappeared during U.S. Based coups; to the enslavement, murder, and disenfranchisement of African-Americans over centuries; to attacks on immigrants and religious and sexual minorities in the United States; and to the poor in the United States whose bodies are so often ground up by the workings of everyday capitalism and the U.S. Wars they are so often sent to fight.

Continued Myths and Propaganda about the murder of Osama Bin Laden

September 12th, 2021

The Killing of Osama bin Laden, Seymour Hersh, 2016
– – – – – – – –

This spring (2016) I contacted (Asad) Durrani (former head of Pakistan’s ISI in the 1990s) and told him in detail what I had learned about the bin Laden assault from American sources; that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at Abbottabad compound since 2006; that (Army General) Kayani and (ISI head) Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the SEALS to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA dis not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the SEAL team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false

In August 2010 a former senior Pakistani ISI officer approached Jonathan Bank, then the CIA’s station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad. He offered to tell the CIA where to find bin Laden in return for the reward that Washington had offered in 2001…The walk-in passed the (polygraph) test.

The CIA needed to determine if bin Laden was really in the compound. Obama was informed in October, but was skeptical, wanting proof that bin Laden was in the compound. A Pakistani Army doctor by the name of Amir Aziz was treating bin Laden at the compound.

The (US) planners turned to Kayani and Pasha, who asked Aziz to obtain the (DNA) specimens…Aziz had been awarded with a share of the $25 million reward..because the DNA sample had showed conclusively that it was bin Laden in Abbottabad.

Pakistan agreed In January 2011 to cooperate on an operation if the US would come in lean and mean and kill bin Laden. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia insisted that bin Laden be killed because they did not want him interrogated by US authorities as he would have been able to implicate both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in having supported his activities. Pasha met with officials in Washington. The US agreed to increase assistance to the ISI and give Pakistan a free hand in Afghanistan as the US started withdrawing its forces.

Pasha and Kayani were promised that the deal would remain secret. Once the mission was carried out and bin Laden killed, the US would wait at least 7 days and then announce that bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike on the Afghan side of the Hindu Kush.

Obama instantly broke the agreement, announcing the raid and murder for political/electioneering purposes and setting in motion an incredible series of false, fabricated stories about the whole history of events, worthy of Lewis Carroll. The CIA has sealed most of the fabrications to keep the truth hidden from journalists and the public. That didn’t stop them from revealing classified material to the makers of the 2012 propaganda film “Zero Dark Thirty” who used the material to propagate false narratives in an amazing work of propaganda/fiction posing as a depiction of actual events. Much of this fictionalized account has survived to be repeated in the 2021 Netflix series Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror, Part 5.


– – – – “Stealth” Chinook Helicopters delivering tanks to battle

At the Abbottabad compound ISI guards were posted around the clock to keep watch over bin Laden and his wives and children. They were under orders to leave as soon as they heard the rotors of the US helicopters. The town was dark; the electricity supply had been cut off on the the orders of the ISI hours before the raid began. One of the Black Hawks crashed inside the walls of the compound, injuring many on board…The cockpit of the crashed Black Hawk, with its communications and navigational gear, had to be destroyed by concussion grenades, and this would create a series of explosions and a fire visible for miles. Two (giant) Chinook helicopters had flown from Afghanistan to a nearby Pakistani intelligence base to provide logistical support (like refueling the Black Hawks) and one of them was immediately dispatched to Abbottabad…The crash of the Black Hawk and the need to fly in a replacement were nerve racking and time-consuming setbacks, but the SEALs continued with their mission. There was no firefight as they moved into the compound; the ISI guards had gone…Instead…an ISI liaison officer flying with the SEALs guided them into the darkened house and up a staircase to bin Laden’s quarters…Aside from those that hit bin Laden, no other shots were fired.

The SEALS reported recovering a treasure trove of computers and documents from the compound.

“Why create the treasure trove story? The White House had to give the impression that bin Laden was still operationally important. Otherwise, why kill him? A cover story was created — that there was a network of couriers coming and going with memory sticks and instructions. All to show bin Laden remained important.”

Bin Laden was under arrest of the Pakistani ISI with Saudi Arabia providing financial support for the compound. Bin Laden was very ill and delusional by this time. The ISI gave the CIA all materials remaining in the compound when they razed it. bin Laden’s wives and children were not allowed to be interrogated by US authorities.


– – – – – The Mythical Burial of Osama bin Laden Aboard the USS Carl Vinson- Photos not Provided

“The (SEAL) squad came through the door and obliterated him.” There were no other arms in the compound. Once Obama broke the Pakistani agreement, the administration was left with a very long list of unexplained problems and questions, which journalists immediately started asking.
– How did you know bin Laden was in Abbottabad? Invent a non existent al Quaeda courier with a white car that you followed to the compound.
– How did you know he was an al Quaeda courier? Tortured him or someone else.
– How did you confirm that bin Laden was in the compound? Blame an innocent man, Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor that operates a well funded, independent medical operation that provides free Hepatitis B vaccinations, and claim that he was assigned to collect DNA samples from the bin Laden compound. This started a worldwide rumor that the CIA was funding fake vaccination programs. Afridi was accused of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
– What happened to the courier? The non existent courier was killed in the non existent Abbottabad firefight.
– What happened to bin Laden’s body? He was immediately buried at sea off the USS Carl Vinson. (Never happened but all records of the ship have been sealed by the CIA).
– Where are the photo proofs of death and burial? There aren’t any.
– Where is the body? Several SEALS later reported they had thrown bin Laden’s body parts out of the helicopter somewhere over the mountains and arrived in Afghanistan without a body. With the originally agreed story of death in a drone attack there would be no need for a body – in fact a body would pose problems for the original false story agreed between the US and Pakistan.

U.S. Constitutional Authorization of Militias / Vigilantes

September 1st, 2021

The Second, Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, Carol Anderson, 2021

“A well regulated Miltiia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (unless you are black).

The second Amendment was, thus, not some hallowed ground but rather a bribe paid again with Black bodies. It was the result of Madison’s determination to salve Patrick Henry’s obsession about Virginia’s vulnerability to slave revolts, seduce enough anti-Federalists to get the Constitution ratified, and stifle the demonstrated willingness of the South to scuttle the United States if slavery were not protected.

The role of the “well regulated militias” of interest to the South was “quelling domestic insurrections”.

It was obvious, whether North or South, that no militia was going to stop a foreign invasion. the (Revolutionary) war proved that beyond a reasonable doubt. What the militia could do rather well, however, as George Mason noted, was keep slave owners safe.

Throughout American history few have ever tried to differentiate between “a well regulated militia” and a mob of white vigilantes.

On Citizenship

As historian Martha S. Jones noted, “No single piece of congressional legislation was felt more…than the Naturalization Act of 1790.” That “whites only” barricade created a rightless, race contingent nether world for everyone else, including free Blacks.

The Haitian Revolution of 1791 which struck terror into the hearts of American slaveholders is covered in some detail. After the British and Spanish proved unable to put down the rebellion, Napoleon sent 20,000 of his best troops to restore order. The rebels carried out a scorched earth guerilla defense that left 80% of French troops dead on the island. The rebellion succeeded.

The High Price of Principal in Politics

September 1st, 2021

The Division of Light and Power, Dennis J. Kucinich, 2021

Tom J. Johnson, Founder of Muny Light Mayor Cleveland 1901-1909

I believe in public ownership of all public service monopolies for the same reason that I believe in the municipal ownership of waterworks, of parks, of schools. I believe in the municipal ownership of these monopolies because if you do not own them, they will in time own you. They will corrupt your politics, rule your institutions and finally destroy your liberties.


Boy Mayor Kucinich wife Sandy and arch rival Council president George Forbes <> <> <> Muni Plant 1941

This book is primarily an account of the long term efforts by interlocking private banks, private electric utilities, and corrupt politicians to privatize the 75 year old public Cleveland Electric company known as Muny for their own financial gains at the expense of the citizens of Cleveland and of the political efforts of Dennis Kucinich to stop them, ultimately resulting in Cleveland being forced into default on its various bonds and loans. Kucinich prevailed and Muny is not only still in operation, it is expanding and has saved the citizens of Cleveland hundreds of millions of dollars. In December of 1998, 19 years after the events chronicled in this book, Cleveland honored Kucinich for his role in saving Muny Electric.

Dennis Kucinich

Politics is inherently transactional. It is a process of give-and-take, and compromise. The distinction between normal politics and corrupt politics can therefore, be difficult to recognize. The line is crossed when the reward is personal to the office-holder – – private sector jobs for friends or relatives, contracts for personal business interests, admission to a desirable network of associates, support for a favorite charity, and well-timed campaign contributions can be inducements that cause an elected official to favor a private interest over the public interest. Corruption is much more than cash slipped under the table. Its forms are endless. This process is so endemic that it is actually accepted as “The System”. Every newly-elected office-holder, as I once was, must decide early on if he or she will participate in The System, or challenge it. Ignoring corruption or pretending it does not exit is not a real option, because acquiescing without trying to impede or stop it, you become complicit in facilitating it. Once elected, you must either join The System or fight it. I engaged The System energetically, and it cost me dearly. What is worse is that many others, whose only sin was helping me, also suffered…Was it worth it? Having finished the book, I now know the answer, I really had no choice, if I wanted to live an authentic life with integrity…I have no regrets.

At 562 pages this book, centering on Kucinich’s 1977-1979 term as Mayor of Cleveland when Cleveland was forced into default by the banks, is a surprisingly engrossing, suspenseful, page turner. If you question the soundness of Kucinich’s memory after 42 years, he includes 42 pages of end notes referencing massive qualities of supporting documentation. One could spend years going through this material.