America: no stranger to genocidal war crimes

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“To fight and kill is worth three months without sex. Maybe it sounds idiotic but it is better than sex… When you are on the field it is you or the enemy. And when you see the ‘red mist’ [blood spurt from the sniper victim]… it is indescribable. It’s why we are here. Sometimes we get lucky, I hit a Taliban in the neck from 2,770 meters on February 2. That was really great.”

This statement and others like it by NATO snipers will come out this week in an interview in the Norwegian magazine Alfa, a publication directed at the hyper testosterone world of career soldiers, mercenaries, and the kind of assorted white trash that is recruited by the private armies of Blackwater and CACI. After all making the country safe for democracy is a tough job, and the soldiers need to relax and have fun after a hard day’s work. Video games, television, sports, and even sex are just not enough to satisfy; but getting a high from randomly killing innocent Afghans, which the soldiers say is better than having sex, is just what the doctor ordered. Quite an admission from the otherwise sex-obsessed culture of European and American hedonism within the “free” world of Western secular fundamentalism.

These fresh revelations come on the heels of confessions by US soldiers who formed “kill teams” that murdered Afghan civilians for kicks and then collected body parts of the victims as souvenirs. Corporal Jeremy N. Morlock is one of five US enlisted men charged with pre-meditated murder in a case that includes allegations of widespread drug use, the collection of body parts, and photos of the US soldiers holding the Afghan bodies like hunter’s trophies. “He just really doesn’t have any problems with f—ing killing these people,” Morlock said on tape as he laid out the scenario he said the sergeant used to make it seem the civilians were killed in action. “And so we identify a guy. Gibbs [Morlock’s ‘crazy’ sargeant-commander] makes a comment, like, you know, you guys wanna wax this guy or what?” Morlock told military investigators during an interview. The corporal said Gibbs gave orders to open fire on the civilian at the same time Gibbs threw a hand grenade at the victim. Morlock said Sergeant Gibbs carried a Russian grenade to throw next to the body of the dead Afghan, to make it seem he was about to attack the American soldiers. That young soldiers can use deadly weapons against unarmed civilians without receiving any training about having respect for human life, is repugnant enough; but what can be said about “civilized” family members and attorneys for the accused who intend to fight all the charges?!

As the steady stream of public disclosures of American and coalition war crimes over the last ten years (Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, WikiLeaks, etc.) continues to filter through the media obfuscations of the conservative Christian Islamophobes and their Zionist manipulators, what is becoming more and more obvious is that American hegemonic power is waning not because Muslims hate Western liberties and freedoms, but because the American penchant for unscrupulous alliances, insatiable greed, and ravenous bloodlust cannot be curtailed. These are not isolated events and they are certainly nothing new; they are the very threads of an evolving tapestry that chronicles the history of an empire built on the degradations, dislocations, and extinctions of non-European peoples, considered by their occupiers to be little more than beasts or insects.

The CIA has financed kill teams and death squads for decades, in South America, Southeast Asia, and the Islamic East. The US–ˆDepartment of Defense got in on the racket with its own special forces operations (JSOC). Private contractors working for Blackwater and its NATO analogs are doing the same with the blessing of the DoD and CIA, as well as the US Congress, which has in recent years, under pressure from the White House, approved funding for extrajudicial assassinations of terrorists and their supporters. The CIA–ˆnow has a private army of 3,000 US-trained assassins/snipers, carrying out attacks on civilians not only in Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan.

Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired USAF lieutenant colonel of conscience and a writer for lewrockwell.com, writes,

This news-blip regarding murder and the collection of Afghan body parts leaves most Americans who see it with mild concern about our offensive policy around the world, and perhaps a vague sense of anxiety about what we will face as these soldiers come home to live in our neighborhood, to serve as our police forces and city inspectors, to marry our daughters and father our grandchildren. We will forget. This happened far away, and we have other problems, both local and national. The Afghans, on the other hand, will not. They are way ahead of us in terms of suffering at the hands of the Washington ruling elite. They are way ahead of us in terms of figuring out how to survive and deal with a brutal military and political occupation for the sake not of democracy or women’s rights or ‘the children’ but for the sustainment of the US military industrial complex, and expansion and stability of the US-centered commodities/currency dynamic, and as leverage for coming national defaults. We are murdering and warring for a Middle East that is safe for the complementary goals of Israel’s economic expansion into and US military domination of the region.

She goes on to say, “United States foreign policy is brutal. Just ask (if you can find any) native Americans who trace ancestry back to the geography of the Appalachians or the Great Plains. The great mass murderers on both sides of the War between the States in the 1860s had practiced their craft on Native Americans for years, and Mexicans too, for good measure. During and after Reconstruction, these senior officers and their lieutenants continued their era of extermination of those we held in contempt, those who lived on land we wanted, and those who would not conform to our religious, economic and social world order.” A quick look back at the history of a formative America, even the sanitized versions we became acquainted with in US elementary and high schools, will show that violence now has always been predicated on fear of future threats, usually nonexistent, to national security and dominance by non-white peoples –” native indians, Africans, Chinese, Japanese, and now Muslims. Coldblooded, just for fun, gangland-style, trophy-hunting, punch drunk, hilarious murder is as American as baseball, apple pie, and Hollywood.

Extermination of Native Americans

All right-wing conservative tendencies, programs, and policies to eliminate and exterminate the enemy or the “other”, usually non-white peoples, is bound up with the idea of Manifest Destiny, the belief that white Europeans were fated by the hand of God to bring enlightenment and civilization to the rest of the world. All this of course preceded America by hundreds of years, however, the idea is at the root of American territorial expansion and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous residents of the continent, leading to the formation and perpetuation of the American empire and nation-state. America’s current wars of occupation and its continued support for the Israeli genocide of the Palestinians suggest that the US identity is not unique at all, having never outgrown its original European legacy.

For those infected with their own manifest destiny, the chief question about other peoples has always been, “Are they really human; or are they subhuman savages or just beasts?” For the Spanish colonizers of the “new” world, informed by centuries of Hellenistic Christian doctrine portraying Europe as the center of enlightenment and civilization while representing the rest of the world in oriental terms as those others who were created for the sole purpose of facilitating the fulfillment of European destiny, the matter was pretty simple as they were not convinced that the native populations of the Americas actually had a soul. According to Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, the official historian of the Spanish crown,

On the other hand, those who are dim-witted and mentally lazy, although they may be physically strong enough to fulfill all the necessary tasks, are by nature slaves. It is just and useful that it be this way. We even see it sanctioned in divine law itself, for it is written in the Book of Proverbs, “He who is stupid will serve the wise man.” And so it is with the barbarous and inhumane peoples [the Indians] who have no civil life and peaceful customs. It will always be just and in conformity with natural law that such people submit to the rule of more cultured and humane princes and nations. Thanks to their virtues and the practical wisdom of their laws, the latter can destroy barbarism and educate these [inferior] people to a more humane and virtuous life. And if the latter reject such rule, it can be imposed upon them by force of arms. Such a war will be just according to natural law…

Now compare these natural qualities of judgment, talent, magnanimity, temperance, humanity, and religion [of the Spanish] with those of these pitiful men [the Indians], in whom you will scarcely find any vestiges of humanness. These people possess neither science nor even an alphabet, nor do they preserve any monuments of their history except for some obscure and vague reminiscences depicted in certain paintings, nor do they have written laws, but barbarous institutions and customs. In regard to their virtues, how much restraint or gentleness are you to expect of men who are devoted to all kinds of intemperate acts and abominable lewdness, including the eating of human flesh? And you must realize that prior to the arrival of the Christians, they did not live in that peaceful kingdom of Saturn [the Golden Age] that the poets imagine, but on the contrary they made war against one another continually and fiercely, with such fury that victory was of no meaning if they did not satiate their monstrous hunger with the flesh of their enemies.

…what is more appropriate and beneficial for these barbarians than to become subject to the rule of those whose wisdom, virtue, and religion have converted them from barbarians into civilized men (insofar as they are capable of becoming so), from being torpid and licentious to becoming upright and moral, from being impious servants of the Devil to becoming believers in the true God?

It was this attitude –” aided by the deliberate contamination of local water supplies and blankets with the small pox, bubonic plague, and tuberculosis pathogens, and abetted by macabre atrocities committed by European “explorers” –” that was responsible for the liquidation of somewhere between 40 and 100 million native lives in South, Central, and North America. In addition to cutting off women’s breasts, castrating mature men, leaving disemboweled babies as roadside markers, and sending “stray” natives back to their villages with their dismembered hands and noses tied around their necks, these Spanish conquistadors enjoyed “dogging.” Accompanying them on their drunken orgies of massacre were wolfhounds and mastiffs raised on a steady diet of human flesh. These dogs would entertain the troops by pursuing natives like game animals and then ripping them apart when they caught up to them; the dogs found the soft bodies of infants particularly tasty, and for this reason, native children were routinely “fed” to the hungry predators (in this instance, recall the outcry from white America when African American football player Michael Vick was publicly pilloried and then imprisoned for 18 months on being cruel to dogs).

The Spanish view of the native as subhuman only set the tone for the more callous English colonization of North America, where in addition to the above, the British also rationalized that the disease plague visited on the natives was divinely ordained as part of “God’s plan for the New World.” And so to increase the tenor of punishment meted out upon the natives, these new colonizers did not hesitate to immolate scores of Indians every chance they got. In describing one such massacre, Puritan leader Cotton Mather said, “In a little more than one hour, five or six hundred of these barbarians were dismissed from a world that was burdened with them.” He also described a similar massacre, against the Wampanoags in 1676, as a “barbeque.”

A hundred years later, the independent Americans who took over from British colonial rule, pursued the same ethnic cleansing policies in their inexorable westward territorial expansion. First American president, George Washington, who waged a war of extermination against the Iroquois Indians in 1779, observed that “the Indians were little different than wolves, both being beasts of prey, tho’ they differ in shape.” Thomas Jefferson, third American president, pursued a policy of relocation (think Palestine today) of Indians living in the east, where they were being pushed out by European settlers and squatters, to other properties west of the Mississippi River, where they would impinge on the properties of Indians living there (think of the Palestinians since 1948). This policy of relocation and creating a “permanent”–ˆIndian frontier where the savages (read terrorists) could live without interference from the white man eventually culminated in the Trail of Tears in 1838, in which the Cherokee Nation was forcibly relocated to former Osage lands in Oklahoma.

The permanent Indian frontier envisoned by Jefferson turned out to be a very flexible concept; indeed it was all but gone in 30 years. The so-called frontier continued to shift ever westward –” until it was ultimately driven into the Pacific –” as the Americans’ greed for land and for gold grew (remind them of this the next time they have a fit when the Muslims talk about pushing Israel into the sea). The entire program of relocation was fraught with bad faith, double dealing, hypocrisy, and outright treachery. No promise, either in words or writing, made to an Indian was binding, and the murder of multitudes of Indians was considered to be a cause for celebration. On the other hand, the retaliatory murder of white settlers and treaty breakers provoked the genocidal impulse of the European occupiers, leading to indiscriminate slaughter of the natives. After disarming the natives with their promises and treaties of good faith, the Americans proceeded to abrogate every agreement they signed, in many cases the authors of the treaties secretly encouraged would-be settlers to instigate murders to be blamed on the Indians so that the treaties could be broken. And the government, which was supposed to be fairly representing everyone, spared no opportunity to accommodate the settler/squatter/colonizers, turning a blind eye to their excesses, and facilitating by force of law backed up by the military their land grabs and forced expulsion of the natives.

In chronicling this heavy-handed betrayal Isaac Gibson, an advocate for the rights of the Osage Indians, wrote,

It is almost without precedent, yet strictly true, one great cause of their decline has been fidelity to their pledges. More than sixty years [ago] they pledged themselves by treaty to perpetuate peace with the white man. That promise has been nobly kept –” kept in spite of great and continual provocation. Individual white men have committed upon them almost every form of outrage and wrong, unchecked by the Government, and unpunished. Every aggressive movement of the whites tending to the absorption of their territory has ultimately been legalized. Thus, a kind of premium has been offered by the Government to enterprising scoundrels to ply their vocation at the expense of the Osages. The Government itself has been careless of its obligations, indifferent, it would seem, alike to its own honor and the security of the Indians. It has failed or neglected to afford them protection, and yet has allowed the Osages’ persistent fidelity to truth to tie their arms and render them powerless to protect themselves.

The further west the Americans went, the more severe their depredations became. Rather than forcing themselves to have to endure contact with the “savages” (terrorists), they preferred to preemptively slaughter them wherever they found them, the more so whenever gold was to be discovered in a particular area. The following is one army lieutenant’s testimony about the Sand Creek Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians,

In going over the battleground the next day, I did not see a body of a man, women, or child but was scalped, and in many instances their bodies were mutilated in the most horrible manner… I heard one man say that he had cut out a woman’s private parts and had them for exhibition on a stick; I heard another say that he had cut the fingers off an Indian to get the rings on his hand; according to the best of my knowledge and belief these atrocities that were committed were with the knowledge of J.M. Chivington [commander of the battalion and Methodist preacher], and I do not know of his taking any measures to prevent them; I heard of one instance of a child a few months old being thrown in a feedbox of a wagon, and after being carried some distance left on the ground to perish; I also heard numerous instances in which white men had cut out the private parts of females and stretched them over the saddle-bows and wore them over their hats while riding in ranks.”

Chivington was never brought to justice for these crimes, and even exploited the mass murder on speaking tours to build up his fame. Later on, President Theodore Roosevelt lauded the Sand Creek Massacre “as righteous and beneficial a deed as ever took place on the frontier.”

This pattern repeated itself with remarkable regularity, as the white colonizers/occupiers justified their mass slaughter campaigns with rhetoric about how they were dealing with savages (terrorists) in the only way they deserved. So inhuman and beastly were the Indians considered that they were not even officially counted until the 1890 census, when their numbers were represented at around 325,000. By the midpoint of the 17th century, it is estimated that more than 50 to 80 million of the indigenous people in the Americas had perished, some 80% of the population. In many instances the devastation was catastrophically fatal; between 1770 and 1850, nearly 95% of the Pueblo population in the Southwest was eradicated. Refer to the figure on the facing page, which shows the progressive genocide of the native peoples in the United States from 1850 to 1990.

By the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the final solution had already been delivered to the native population of the United States, and those responsible for the wholesale extinctions were now setting their sights on a new dark-skinned enemy: the freed African American slaves. The emergence of black America from slavery will be the subject of a future article, but suffice it to say that before reconstruction period following the American Civil War, the vast majority of recorded lynchings in the United States were white criminals; however after the black man was “freed” the number of lynchings of African Americans multiplied dramatically and did not completely abate until the 1960s.

“Civilizing” oppression gives birth to terrorism

Such is the soil in which American democracy, human rights, liberty, ideals, and justice for all, have been fertilized. The 21st-century fruit, like all previous harvests, has not fallen far from the tree. And why should it, when the poison feeding the roots is still as lethal as ever.

The Islamophobic rhetoric from the Christian Zionist right wing is no different than the eliminationist hysteria which scarcely blinked as millions of native Americans were humiliated and then snuffed out. The Indians, Africans, Chinese, and Japanese of the past are today’s Muslims of all stripes and colors, be they Palestinians, Afghanis, Iranians, Pakistanis, Turks, Iraqis, or Arabs. No human rights do they deserve because they are not considered to be human beings, and thus anything under the Sun can be done to them from genocide to kidnapping to torture to dislocation. They can be caged and hunted down like animals; they can be the guinea pigs for new and ever more painful chemical and biological weapons; their future generations can be destroyed by the lingering effects of depleted uranium bombs; and their lands can be totally defoliated so that they produce nothing for decades to come. A combined 2.7 million dead in Iraq and Afghanistan does not even come close to pricking any sort of moral conscience, which has been deadened by the silent desperation of the tens of millions who have already perished at the altar of a fanatically malevolent nationalism cum racism.

In addition, the histories written by the occupiers and oppressors will record all resistance efforts as terrorism, extremism, savagery, and barbarism; while simultaneously vindicating the aggressors as enlightened builders of civilization. They will characterize any victories by their victims as a “clash of civilizations” as if to suggest that their own militaristic civil society is on par with other civil societies. As they momentarily lose ground, they will use treaties and international agreements to buy time in order to facilitate future land grabs and resource thefts. The NPT, the desire to engage the “good” Taliban, and the “Peace Talks”–ˆin the Holy Land are all disingenuous. So long as the Muslims have no power, we can expect them to come to the bargaining table with a wink, a nod, and a knife hidden in the sock.

“Terrorism” is the response to this kind of world “order.” But today, it is not only Muslims who are its foot soldiers: listen once again to the words of Karen Kwiatkowski,

Indeed, can anyone swear –” given six degrees of separation –” that these recent Afghan victims (and those of the authorized murders conducted by CIA, DoD and contracted teams) were not in some way related to terrorism against the United States? I myself heartily disapprove of the criminally insane US foreign policy, and I hate our modern government, with its unlimited separated powers of bankster, shyster, and huckster. I would applaud loudly the bringing down of such a state. I count myself as a spiritual sister to those the US government has murdered, and I am angry at my powerlessness. I have the budding heart of a terrorist. Thank goodness, I’m part of a much larger group of Americans, young and old, who generally feel the same way.

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