Our Indian Wars Are Not Over Yet

John Brown - "I'd like to suggest another way of looking at the War on Terror: as a twenty-first century continuation of, or replication of, the American Indian wars, on a global scale. This is by no means something that has occurred to me alone, but it has received relatively little attention. Here are ten reasons why I'm making this suggestion."


Paul Hue said...

One of the stupidest analyses that I've read. I know of not a single supporter of the war who believes that the US is "god's chosen people". The original US war against Indians was premised on massacres and land confiscation. The current war is premised on establishing an independant democracy in an existing nation. We supporters of the current war, though, do indeed consider the battlefield opponents to be backwards, ignorant, and uncivilized. That's one of the few claims that I think this article got right.

Paul Hue said...

I still think that we have more to learn from an analogy with the US Civil War.
- The enemy here wants in some areas to take civilization backwards, and in others to hold it from advancing, with respect to universal rights of all humans to own their own bodies and ideas.
- The enemy here permits old-fashioned chattel slavery, and some of its national supporters (Sudan, for one) have economies premised on this kind of slavery. The Confederates, in contrast, were entirely premised on slavery.
- The enemy here bases its ideology on religious superiority, and imposition of it onto everyone else, whereas the Confederates similarly based their war footing on racial superiority, which they imposed on everyone else.
- The enemy marches under a banner of god. One difference is that a huge fraction of the US army during the US civil also feverously put god up front.
- The enemy in its geographical area represents a non-elected dictatorial minority that demands 100% control over all humans within its bountries, and with no rights. The confederates had a limited form of democracy, limited to whites-only, and limited to what could be considered.
- The enemy also demands to expand its bountries.
- The US fight against the confederacy tore the voting public apart, and led to fierce political opponents loudly denouncing lack of battlefield progress, violations of civil liberties, and the refusal of the US to permit "the people of the south to settle their own affairs."
- Both wars involved the US govt and military establishing democracies in areas where dictators had for decades forbade equal rights for all citizens.
- Many more simularities.

Of course no two things or situations are identical. Thus I do not dismiss the "Indian" analogy simply because it does not exactly describe the current situation. And there may be some things to learn

Nadir said...

I don't think your Civil War analogy is even close because the "bringing democracy to Iraq" argument is a hoax.

The indigenous nations of North America were sovereign nations. Europeans came to this land and claimed it for their own. The only differences between those wars and Iraq is that in Iraq they have established a puppet government, and the goal is not to create a settler colony, but to create a neo-colonial region that is under U.S. political and military control.

Paul Hue said...

Nadir: We see things very differently. If indeed you believe that the US has invaded Iraq in order to install a puppet government, then you cannot embrace certain aspects of my Civil War analogy. But even with this view of yours, the US-Indian wars don't seem to present more than just a few similarities. In the Indian wars, the US was attempting to overtake and directly control an entire continent, which was was then populated by many very different groups of Indians, who at best comprised just a few organized into anything resembling nation states.

Among the Civil War features that I believe do not apply here is that the Union army very clearly practiced terrorism, and sought to maximize civilian destruction of property, including destruction of infrastructure. Also the Civil War was largely a war between regular armies, with very little of guerilla-style fighting that defines the current conflict. Also, the US army's opponenets in the Civil War were unified as Confederates, whereas the US army today faces a coalition of forces that have their own incompatable aims. Yet even in the face of these descrepancies, I think that Abe Lincoln and George Bush find themselves in many important similar situations that did not face the presidents who presided over the Indian wars. One sentinal feature of both the Civil War and the current war in Iraq is that the voting public is enormously excited about these wars, and divided. Meanwhile, the Indian campaigns were never enormous political considerations, and they did not much divide the voting public. The widespread accusations that the president "tricked" the nation into a "war of choice, not of neccessity," lied about his intentions, and has switched his stated aims are also all integral to both the Civil and Iraq Wars, but absent from the various Indian campaigns.

If we are looking for historical analogies (a very useful activity in my view, but one that leads to very different antecedents depending on on how you perceive the current US-Iraq war), I think another conflict that bears considering is the original Mohammad-led war of conquest and expansion for Islam. Al Qaida's leaders clearly claim to be ressurecting these goals. You and I disagree on the validity of Bush's stated aims (I belive he seeks to establish a liberal, constitutional, modern democracy that includes minority rights, etc.), I certainly agree with Al Qaida's stated aims, which are the same as Mohammad and his various subsequent islamic dictators: to conquer all the lands of Arabia, India, North Africa, etc., and force all the people into submission to Islam, with zero freedoms for personal choices of expression and conduct, and no government "of the people", but rather of religious dictators and their interpretations of the koran.

A difference here would be that eventually the original demonic Islamic forces did unify into an intelligable unit, and represented one of the mightiest forces (and eventually into the very greatest) on earth, whereas the today's US opponents in islamic world are both disparate and lacking modern military might. Another difference is that the European powers at that long-ago time were also a pack of demons equally bent on conquering the external world, though I reckon you consider this to be a similarity with today.