Counting Coup – Lakota Citizens Stop US Helicopters from Landing at Wounded Knee

May 3, 2010 by Russell Means Freedom  
Filed under Featured, News

By : Russell Means
In answer to today’s United States Government and its Colonial Corporation, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Govenment’s press conference:
“We the Lakotah People, do not want our massacred dead bodies of Men, Women and Children at the mass grave at Wounded Knee used for publicity by the United States Government nor their colonial corporation, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Government.”

On May 1, 2010, two young men, the Camp brothers counted coup on the first 7th Cavalry helicopter and Debbie White Plume, an elder and grandmother who charged the second helicopter preventing it from landing. By running under the blades and touching them without harming the enemy and getting away is how the Lakotah counted coup on this eventful day.

May 2, 2010 at 9:35am
Dakota.
To the Original Peoples of the Fourth World and all International Press Services:

At high noon today US Army helicopters of the US Seventh Cavalry air division attempted to land their Blackhawk aircraft upon Lakota Sacred Burial grounds in South Dakota. The presence of military aircraft from this unit is a sad and insulting reminder of the slaughter of more than 300 American Aboriginals on December 29, 1890 when soldiers of the US 7th Cavalry gunned down more than 300 Aboriginal Minneconjou Lakota refugee children, women, infants and the elderly at what is now called Wounded Knee in South Dakota Indian Country. The military then left the bodies of their victims to decay unburied in the driving snow.

According to reports from Indigenous Rights Movement Radio host Wanblee this afternoon, Lakota resident Theresa TwoBulls was given less than 24 hrs notice that three US Army 7th Cavalry helicopters would make a landing on the sacred burial grounds at Wounded Knee. As of this writing, the US military was confronted by angry but peaceful and steadfast community resistance as the Aboriginal people of the area have so far, according to reports from Lakota people on the ground, managed to prevent the aircraft from touching Indigenous ground.

For all American Aboriginals of the Americas, this is a sacred area. This is the place where the promise of a people died while fleeing from a genocidal US military unit hell-bent on liquidating the continent of its Indigenous population. There has never been any official apology offered for this massacre and the military awards bestowed upon the genocidal aggressors involved in this conflict still stand, as does a physical monument in honour of the US Army killed during Custer’s “last stand” against a defiant and united Indigenous resistance to their own demise.

The history of the US Army 7th Cavalry is important to understanding the level of violence used against Indigenous peoples. It is important to remember that after the US Seventh Cavalry officially ended the “Indian Wars” at home, they were then dispatched to do battle against Indigenous Filipinos struggling to maintain their hard-won national independence from the colonialist Spanish. In other words, the US War Department sent this very same unit to do overseas what was done here to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. In this historical light, it is only logical for Indigenous peoples to assume that the Obama administration is attempting to make a political point out of this spectacle. Only, what sort of message are you sending by insulting and humiliating a people already suffering from five centuries of continuous pro-Europocentric, anti-Indigenous genocide?

This domestic military action is a deliberate insult and an obvious message of ongoing colonialism, state-sponsored racism and apathetic Indigenous genocide to all Indigenous peoples across the Fourth World; to the whole of the Lakota/Dakota Nation; and to the Indigenous residents of Pine Ridge and Wounded Knee. The symbolism of dispatching the Seventh Cavalry to Wounded Knee in an attempt to land weapons of mass destruction on Aboriginal sacred ground tells us how little this government, and this particular administration, respects the people of Indian Country and our significant historical perspective as survivors of the racist Euro-settler xenophobic purges waged against the Indian in the Americas.

To make matters worse, this action comes on the heels of newly-passed legislation in Arizona state that requires law officers to racially-profile anyone they believe “looks”, “sounds” or “dresses” like an illegal immigrant, a thinly veiled “race law” that directly effects both our Indigenous sisters and brothers native to Occupied Mexico as well as the Native American population of Arizona in the United States. Given that most Indigenous peoples of the Americas share the same general physiotype and more often than not, similar Spanish last names, the passage of this guideline will without a doubt lead to widespread abuses against that state’s brown-skinned population. The legal door now opened, Texas and other states led by neo-confederate constituencies are moving to pass their own anti-immigrant/anti-Indigenous directives that will broadly effect anyone and everyone who could be perceived by the colonial European majority as a “foreign invader”.

The Obama administration has shown America and the world that they are no different than any other previous US government in their view that the American Indian on both sides of the US border is nothing more than a prop or a tool to be displayed only when it is useful to promote the “contemporary” 21st century neo-colonialist capitalist agenda. The Obama administration, an office headed by a man of African descent, has shamed itself and all those who have supported his candidacy in arrogantly dismissing the memory of our people interred at Wounded Knee by rubbing the military might of the historically anti-Indigenous 7th Cavalry in our faces by forcibly entering Indian Country in an attempt to land their machines of war on top of the bodies of our ancestral dead.

Clearly, the culture war against the American Indian is not over. Welcome to the new American century.

Pass this on We must get the word out…..Let everyone know..Contact the your local media….Tell them the the Local Media in (Rapid City, SD) haven’t even mentioned this in the news…So typical for rapid city SD media…and if they did post it, it would not be the truth..I tried to contact the Rapid City Urinal….LOL. They wont return my calls or post any of the comments I have made in defense of our people.
James ( Magaska) Swan AIM Black Hills South Dakota

iReport —CNN news 5/3/2010
Today at just past Noon Central Time; Three US Army Helicopters attepted to land on Lakota Sacred Burial grounds at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
The Helicopters were from the Seventh Cavalry which were Historically remnants of General G.A. Custer whose troops were defeated at Little Big Horn in one of the Many battles the United States as they waged a war of attrition and Genocide on Native Americans after the Civil War.
On Dec 28, 1890 remnants of the Seventh Cavalry Mowed down more than 300 Babies, Children, Women, Old People and Men; at what is now called Wounded Knee, South Dakota and left their Victims bodies unburied and Frozen.
Theresa TwoBulls was given less than 24 hrs Notice that Three US Army 7th Cav helicopters would Land on the Burial Grounds at Wounded Knee today.
They were met with Peaceful but Firm resistance, as Lakota (Sioux) Women and Children stood Immobile on that Sacred Ground, preventing the Gross, Unspeakable Insult of 7th Cav. choppers to Land on the same ground where more than 300 Murder Victims lay Buried.
A Lakota Mother said..”I cannot believe they are doing this, have they ( 7th Cav) NO Respect for Our Dead ” ?
Evidently the 3 Helicopters & Brass in Charge did not know their history..and what a Unspeakable Insult it was to the Residents of Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee and the Lakota People; to have the ACTUAL Seventh Cavalry Choppers attempt to land on this Sacred Ground.
This was Broadcast Live on Blogtalkradio, Indigenous People Rights today.
More to follow as reports come in.

Hopi & Navajo Update

October 5, 2009 by admin1  
Filed under Featured, Media

Russell Means speaks to the Navajo & Hopi about their recent decision to bar environmentalists from protesting a coal fired power plant on their reservation.

Russell Means on Native America Calling

August 26, 2009 by admin1  
Filed under Featured, Media

nativeamericacalling-588

Russell Means speaks on the nation-wide broadcast of Native American Calling. Among the topics discussed are the denial of Leonard Peltier’s appeal and its implications, as well as the ‘Freedom to Travel’ that is guaranteed within the areas covered by the 1851 & 1868 Fort Laramie treaties.

Click here to play Russell Means interview with Harlan McKosato

Whose Iraq is it? – 21st Century Colonialism in Iraq

July 27, 2009 by admin1  
Filed under Featured, News

dahr-colonialism-588

One of the earliest metaphors President George W. Bush and some of his top officials wielded in their post-invasion salad days in Iraq involved bicycles. The question was: Should we take the “training wheels” off the Iraqi bike (of democracy)? Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for example,commented smugly on the way getting Iraq “straightened out” was like teaching your kid to ride a bike:

“They’re learning, and you’re running down the street holding on to the back of the seat. You know that if you take your hand off they could fall, so you take a finger off and then two fingers, and pretty soon you’re just barely touching it. You can’t know when you’re running down the street how many steps you’re going to have to take. We can’t know that, but we’re off to a good start.”

That image (about as patronizingly colonial as they come) of the little pedaling Iraqi child with an American parent running close behind, was abandoned when around the first corner, as it turned out, was an insurgent with an rocket-propelled grenade. Many years and many disasters later, though, Americans, whether in the Obama administration, the Washington punditocracy, or the media are still almost incapable of not being patronizing when it comes to Iraq. Take a typical recent piece of “news analysis” in the New York Times by a perfectly sharp journalist, Alissa J. Rubin. It was headlined in print “America’s New Role in Iraq Prompts a Search for Means of Influence” and focused, in part, on Vice President Joe Biden’s recent trip there supposedly to “assuage” Iraqi feelings that they are being “moved to the bottom shelf.”

Rubin writes (and this sort of thing has been written countless times before) that the Americans are now in search of a “new tone” for their dealings in that country. (In the Bush years, this was often called — in another strange imperial metaphor — “putting an Iraqi face” on things.) “They have,” she comments, “a reputation for being heavy-handed, for telling Iraqis what to do rather than asking what they want.” But of course, as the piece makes clear, whatever his tone, Biden arrived in Iraq to tell Iraqis what they should do — or as she puts it, to try to “solve” the “troubles… that stymied three previous ambassadors and President George W. Bush”: continuing sectarian animosities, the passage of an Iraqi oil law, and the Kurdish problem.

These, it seems, are still our burden and we really can’t imagine it any other way. As the Iraqis quoted in Rubin’s piece make clear, the dominant role played by the U.S. is resented by the occupied — especially the elite — who have contempt for the occupiers, even if they find it hard to imagine life without them.

I mention this only because the tone of American writing and thought on Iraq has always been tinged with what Michael Schwartz, TomDispatch regular and author of a superb study, War Without End: The Iraq War in Context, says is a deeper colonial urge, one that unfortunately may not be fading, even as discussion of a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq grows. (Catch a TomDispatch audio interview with Schwartz by clicking here.) Tom


Colonizing Iraq

The Obama Doctrine?
By Michael Schwartz

Here’s how reporters Steven Lee Myers and Marc Santora of the New York Timesdescribed the highly touted American withdrawal from Iraq’s cities last week:

“Much of the complicated work of dismantling and removing millions of dollars of equipment from the combat outposts in the city has been done during the dark of night. Gen. Ray Odierno, the overall American commander in Iraq, has ordered that an increasing number of basic operations — transport and re-supply convoys, for example — take place at night, when fewer Iraqis are likely to see that the American withdrawal is not total.”

Acting in the dark of night, in fact, seems to catch the nature of American plans for Iraq in a particularly striking way. Last week, despite the death of Michael Jackson, Iraq made it back into the TV news as Iraqis celebrated a highly publicized American military withdrawal from their cities. Fireworks went off; some Iraqis gathered to dance and cheer; the first military parade since Saddam Hussein’s day took place (in the fortified Green Zone, the country’s ordinary streets still being too dangerous for such things); the U.S. handed back many small bases and outposts; and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki proclaimed a national holiday — “sovereignty day,” he called it.

All of this fit with a script promisingly laid out by President Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign. More recently, in his much praised speech to the students of Egypt’s Cairo University, he promised that the U.S. would keep no bases in Iraq, and would indeed withdraw its military forces from the country by the end of 2011.

Unfortunately, not just for the Iraqis, but for the American public, it’s what’s happening in “the dark” — beyond the glare of lights and TV cameras — that counts. While many critics of the Iraq War have been willing to cut the Obama administration some slack as its foreign policy team and the U.S. military gear up for that definitive withdrawal, something else — something more unsettling — appears to be going on.

And it wasn’t just the president’s hedging over withdrawing American “combat” troops from Iraq – which, in any case, make up as few as one-third of the 130,000 U.S. forces still in the country — now extended from 16 to 19 months. Nor was it the re-labeling of some of them as “advisors” so they could, in fact, stay in the vacated cities, or the redrawing of the boundary lines of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, to exclude a couple of key bases the Americans weren’t about to give up.

After all, there can be no question that the Obama administration’s policy is indeed to reduce what the Pentagon might call the U.S. military “footprint” in Iraq. To put it another way, Obama’s key officials seem to be opting not for blunt-edged, Bush-style militarism, but for what might be thought of as an administrative push in Iraq, what Vice President Joe Biden has called “a much more aggressive program vis-à-vis the Iraqi government to push it to political reconciliation.”

An anonymous senior State Department official described this new “dark of night” policy recently to Christian Science Monitor reporter Jane Arraf this way: “One of the challenges of that new relationship is how the U.S. can continue to wield influence on key decisions without being seen to do so.”

Without being seen to do so. On this General Odierno and the unnamed official are in agreement. And so, it seems, is Washington. As a result, the crucial thing you can say about the Obama administration’s military and civilian planning so far is this: ignore the headlines, the fireworks, and the briefly cheering crowds of Iraqis on your TV screen. Put all that talk of withdrawal aside for a moment and — if you take a closer look, letting your eyes adjust to the darkness — what is vaguely visible is the silhouette of a new American posture in Iraq. Think of it as the Obama Doctrine. And what it doesn’t look like is the posture of an occupying power preparing to close up shop and head for home.

As your eyes grow accustomed to the darkness, you begin to identify a deepening effort to ensure that Iraq remains a U.S. client state, or, as General Odierno described it to the press on June 30th, “a long-term partner with the United States in the Middle East.” Whether Obama’s national security team can succeed in this is certainly an open question, but, on a first hard look, what seems to be coming into focus shouldn’t be too unfamiliar to students of history. Once upon a time, it used to have a name: colonialism.

Colonialism in Iraq

Traditional colonialism was characterized by three features: ultimate decision-making rested with the occupying power instead of the indigenous client government; the personnel of the colonial administration were governed by different laws and institutions than the colonial population; and the local political economy was shaped to serve the interests of the occupying power. All the features of classic colonialism took shape in the Bush years in Iraq and are now, as far as we can tell, being continued, in some cases even strengthened, in the early months of the Obama era.

The U.S. embassy in Iraq, built by the Bush administration to the tune of $740 million, is by far the largest in the world. It is now populated by more than 1,000 administrators, technicians, and professionals — diplomatic, military, intelligence, and otherwise — though all are regularly, if euphemistically, referred to as “diplomats” in official statements and in the media. This level of staffing — 1,000 administrators for a country of perhaps 30 million — is well above the classic norm for imperial control. Back in the early twentieth century, for instance, Great Britain utilized fewer officials to rule a population of 300 million in its Indian Raj.

Such a concentration of foreign officialdom in such a gigantic regional command center — and no downsizing or withdrawals are yet apparent there — certainly signals Washington’s larger imperial design: to have sufficient administrative labor power on hand to ensure that American advisors remain significantly embedded in Iraqi political decision-making, in its military, and in the key ministries of its (oil-dominated) economy.

From the first moments of the occupation of Iraq, U.S. officials have been sitting in the offices of Iraqi politicians and bureaucrats, providing guidelines, training decision-makers, and brokering domestic disputes. As a consequence, Americans have been involved, directly or indirectly, in virtually all significant government decision-making.

In a recent article, for example, the New York Times reported that U.S. officials are “quietly lobbying” to cancel a mandated nationwide referendum on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) negotiated between the United States and Iraq — a referendum that, if defeated, would at least theoretically force the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the country. In another article, the Times reported that embassy officialshave “sometimes stepped in to broker peace between warring blocs” in the Iraqi Parliament. In yet another, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes mentioned in passing that an embassy official “advises Iraqis running the $100 million airport” just completed in Najaf. And so it goes.

Segregated Living

Most colonial regimes erect systems in which foreigners involved in occupation duties are served (and disciplined) by an institutional structure separate from the one that governs the indigenous population. In Iraq, the U.S. has been building such a structure since 2003, and the Obama administration shows every sign of extending it.

As in all embassies around the world, U.S. embassy officials are not subject to the laws of the host country. The difference is that, in Iraq, they are not simply stamping visas and the like, but engaged in crucial projects involving them in myriad aspects of daily life and governance, although as an essentially separate caste within Iraqi society. Military personnel are part of this segregated structure: the recently signed SOFA insures that American soldiers will remain virtually untouchable by Iraqi law, even if they kill innocent civilians.

Versions of this immunity extend to everyone associated with the occupation. Private security, construction, and commercial contractors employed by occupation forces are not protected by the SOFA agreement, but are nonetheless shielded from the laws and regulations that apply to normal Iraqi residents. As an Iraq-based FBI official told the New York Times, the obligations of contractors are defined by “new arrangements between Iraq and the United States governing contractors’ legal status.” In a recent case in which five employees of one U.S. contractor were charged with killing another contractor, the case was jointly investigated by Iraqi police and “local representatives of the FBI,” with ultimate jurisdiction negotiated by Iraqi and U.S. embassy officials. The FBI has established a substantial presence in Iraq to carry out these “new arrangements.”

This special handling extends to enterprises servicing the billions of dollars spent every month in Iraq on U.S. contracts. A contractor’s prime responsibility is to follow “guidelines the U.S. military handed down in 2006.” In all this, Iraqi law has a distinctly secondary role. In one apparently typical case, a Kuwaiti contractor hired to feed U.S. soldiers was accused of imprisoning its foreign workers and then, when they protested, sending them home without pay. This case was handled by U.S. officials, not the Iraqi government.

Beyond this legal segregation, the U.S. has also been erecting a segregated infrastructure within Iraq. Most embassies and military bases around the world rely on the host country for food, electricity, water, communications, and daily supplies. Not the U.S. embassyor the five major bases that are at the heart of the American military presence in that country. They all have their own electrical generating and water purification systems, their own dedicated communications, and imported food from outside the country. None, naturally, offer indigenous Iraqi cuisine; the embassy imports ingredients suitable for reasonably upscale American restaurants, and the military bases feature American fast food and chain restaurant fare.

The United States has even created the rudiments of its own transportation system. Iraqis often are delayed when traveling within or between cities, thanks to an occupation-created (and now often Iraqi-manned) maze of checkpoints, cement barriers, and bombed-out streets and roads; on the other hand, U.S. soldiers and officials in certain areas can move around more quickly, thanks to special privileges and segregated facilities.

In the early years of the occupation, large military convoys transporting supplies or soldiers simply took temporary possession of Iraqi highways and streets. Iraqis who didn’t quickly get out of the way were threatened with lethal firepower. To negotiate sometimes hours-long lines at checkpoints, Americans were given special ID cards that “guaranteed swift passage… in a separate lane past waiting Iraqis.” Though the guaranteed “swift passage” was supposed to end with the signing of the SOFA, the system is still operating at many checkpoints, and convoys continue to roar through Iraqi communities with “Iraqi drivers still pulling over en masse.”

Recently, the occupation has also been appropriating various streets and roads for its exclusive use (an idea that may have been borrowed from Israel’s 40-year-old occupation of the West Bank). This innovation has made unconvoyed transportation safer for embassy officials, contractors, and military personnel, while degrading further the Iraqi road system, already in a state of disrepair, by closing useable thoroughfares. Paradoxically, it has also allowed insurgents to plant roadside bombs with the assurance of targeting only foreigners. Such an incident outside Falluja illustrates what have now become Obama-era policies in Iraq:


“The Americans were driving along a road used exclusively by the American military and reconstruction teams when a bomb, which local Iraqi security officials described as an improvised explosive device, went off. No Iraqi vehicles, even those of the army and the police, are allowed to use the road where the attack occurred, according to residents. There is a checkpoint only 200 yards from the site of the attack to prevent unauthorized vehicles, the residents said.”

It is unclear whether this road will be handed back to the Iraqis, if and when the base it services is shuttered. Either way, the larger policy appears to be well established — the designation of segregated roads to accommodate the 1,000 diplomats and tens of thousands of soldiers and contractors who implement their policies. And this is only one aspect of a dedicated infrastructure designed to facilitate ongoing U.S. involvement in developing, implementing, and administering political-economic policies in Iraq.

Whose Military Is It?

One way to “free up” the American military for withdrawal would, of course, be if the Iraqi military could manage the pacification mission alone. But don’t expect that any time soon. According to media reports, if all goes well, this isn’t likely to occur for at least a decade. One telltale sign of this is the pervasive presence of American military advisors still embedded in Iraqi combat units. First Lt. Matthew Liebal, for example, “sits every day beside Lt. Col Mohammed Hadi,” the commander of the Iraqi 43rd Army Brigade that patrols eastern Baghdad.

When it comes to the Iraqi military, this sort of supervision won’t be temporary. After all,the military the U.S. helped create in Iraq still lacks, among other things, significant logistical capability, heavy artillery, and an air force. Consequently, U.S. forces transport and re-supply Iraqi troops, position and fire high-caliber ordnance, and supply air support when needed. Since the U.S. military is unwilling to allow Iraqi officers to command American soldiers, they obviously can’t make decisions about firing artillery, launching and directing U.S. Air Force planes, or sending U.S. logistical personnel into war zones. All major Iraqi missions are, then, fated to be accompanied by U.S. advisors and support personnel for an unknown period to come.

The Iraqi military is not expected to get a wing of modern jet fighters (or have the trained pilots to fly them) until at least 2015. This means that, wherever U.S. air power might be stationed, including the massive air base at Balad north of Baghdad, it will, in effect, be the Iraqi air force for the foreseeable future.

Even the simplest policing functions of the military might prove problematic without the American presence. Typically, when an Iraqi battalion commander was asked by New York Times reporter Steven Lee Myers “whether he needed American backup for a criminal arrest, he replied simply, ‘Of course.’” John Snell, an Australian advisor to the U.S. military, was just as blunt, telling an Agence France Presse reporter that, if the United States withdrew its troops, the Iraqi military “would rapidly disintegrate.”

In a World Policy Journal article last winter, John A. Nagl, a military expert and former advisor to General David Petraeus, expressed a commonly held opinion that an independent Iraqi military is likely to be at least a decade away.

Whose Economy Is It?

Terry Barnich, a victim of the previously discussed Falluja roadside bombing,personified the economic embeddedness of the occupation. As the U.S. State Department’s Deputy Director of the Iraq Transition Assistance Office and the top adviser to Iraq’s Electricity Minister, when he died he was “returning from an inspection of a wastewater treatment plant being built in Falluja.”

His dual role as a high official in the policy-making process and the “top advisor” to one of Iraq’s major infrastructural ministries catches the continuing U.S. posture toward Iraq in the early months of the Obama era. Iraq remains, however reluctantly, a client government; significant aspects of ultimate decision-making power still reside with the occupation forces. Note, by the way, that Barnich was evidently not even traveling with Iraqi officials.

The intrusive presence of the Baghdad embassy extends to the all-important oil industry, which today provides 95% of the government’s funds. When it comes to energy, the occupation has long sought to shape policy and transfer operational responsibility from Iraqi state-owned enterprises of the Saddam Hussein years to major international oil companies. In one of its most successful efforts, in 2004, the U.S. delivered an exclusive $1.2 billion contract to reconstruct Iraq’s decrepit southern oil transport facilities (which handle 80% of its oil flow) to KBR, the notorious former subsidiary of Halliburton. Supervision of that famously mismanaged contract, still uncompleted five years later, wasallocated to the U.S. Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The Iraqi government, in fact, still exerts remarkably little control over “Iraqi” oil revenues. The Development Fund for Iraq (whose revenues are deposited in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York) was established under U.N. auspices just after the invasion and receives 95% of the proceeds from Iraq’s oil sales. All government withdrawals are then overseen by the U.N.-sanctioned International Advisory and Monitoring Board, a U.S.-appointed panel of experts drawn mainly from the global oil and financial industries. The transfer of this oversight function to an Iraqi-appointed body, which was supposed to take place in this January, has been delayed by the Obama administration, which claims that the Iraqi government is not yet ready to take on such a responsibility.

In the meantime, the campaign to transfer administration of core oil operations to the major oil companies continues. Despite the resistance of Iraqi oil workers, the administrators of the two national oil companies, a majority bloc in parliament, and public opinion, the U.S. has continued to pressure the al-Maliki administration to enact an oil law that would mandate licensing devices called production-sharing agreements (PSAs).

If enacted, these PSAs would, without transferring permanent ownership, grant oil companies effective control over Iraq’s oil fields, giving them full discretion to exploit the country’s oil reserves from exploration to sales. U.S. pressure has ranged from ongoing “advice” delivered by American officials stationed in relevant Iraqi ministries to threats to confiscate some or all of the oil monies deposited in the Development Fund.

At the moment, the Iraqi government is attempting to take a more limited step: auctioning management contracts to international oil companies in an effort to increase production at eight existing oil and natural gas fields. While the winning companies would not gain the full discretion to explore, produce, and sell in some of the world’s potentially richest fields, they would at least gain some administrative control over upgrading equipment and extracting oil, possibly for as long as 20 years.

If the auction proves ultimately successful (not at all a certainty, since the first round produced only one as-yet-unsigned agreement), the Iraqi oil industry would become more deeply embedded in the occupation apparatus, no matter what officially happens to American forces in that country. Among other things, the American embassy would almost certainly be responsible for inspecting and guiding the work of the contract-winners, while the U.S. military and private contractors would become guarantors of their on-the-ground security. Fayed al-Nema, the CEO of the South Oil Company, spoke for most of the opponents of such deals when he told Reuters reporter Ahmed Rasheed that the contracts, if approved, would “put the Iraqi economy in chains and shackle its independence for the next 20 years.”

Who Owns Iraq?

In 2007, Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve, told Washington Postreporter Bob Woodward that “taking Saddam out was essential” — a point he made in his book The Age of Turbulence — because the United States could not afford to be “beholden to potentially unfriendly sources of oil and gas” in Iraq. It’s exactly that sort of thinking that’s still operating in U.S. policy circles: the 2008 National Defense Strategy, for example, calls for the use of American military power to maintain “access to and flow of energy resources vital to the world economy.”

After only five months in office, the Obama administration has already provided significant evidence that, like its predecessor, it remains committed to maintaining that “access to and flow of energy resources” in Iraq, even as it places its major military bet on winning the expanding war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There can be no question that Washington is now engaged in an effort to significantly reduce its military footprint in Iraq, but without, if all goes well for Washington, reducing its influence.

What this looks like is an attempted twenty-first-century version of colonial domination, possibly on the cheap, as resources are transferred to the Eastern wing of the Greater Middle East. There is, of course, no more a guarantee that this new strategy — perhaps best thought of as colonialism lite or the Obama Doctrine — will succeed than there was for the many failed military-first offensives undertaken by the Bush administration. After all, in the unsettled, still violent atmosphere of Iraq, even the major oil companies have hesitated to rush in and the auctioning of oil contracts has begun to look uncertain, even as other “civilian” initiatives remain, at best, incomplete.

As the Obama administration comes face-to-face with the reality of trying fulfill General Odierno’s ambition of making Iraq into “a long-term partner with the United States in the Middle East” while fighting a major counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan, it may also encounter a familiar dilemma faced by nineteenth-century colonial powers: that without the application of overwhelming military force, the intended colony may drift away toward sovereign independence. If so, then the dreary prediction of Pulitzer Prize-winning military correspondent Thomas Ricks — that the United States is only “halfway through this war” — may prove all too accurate.

A professor of sociology at Stony Brook State University, Michael Schwartz is the author of War Without End: The Iraq War in Context (Haymarket Books), which explains how the militarized geopolitics of oil led the U.S. to dismantle the Iraqi state and economy while fueling a sectarian civil war. Schwartz’s work on Iraq has appeared in numerous academic and popular outlets. He is a regular at TomDispatch.com. (An audio interview with him on the situation in Iraq is available by clicking here.) His email address is m@optonline.net.

[Michael Schwartz's Note on Further Reading: For daily regular and reliable information about the now hard-to-keep-track-of situation in Iraq, you should go to Juan Cole's indispensable Informed CommentAntiwar.com, and Truthout. They all get you the news of the day and much more. For more focused and often in-depth information on specific topics, keep track of what is posted on Dahr Jamail's website, on Ben Lando's ever useful Iraq Oil Report, and read anything by Patrick Cockburn at the (London) Independent. Two of my favorite, though only occasional, commentators on things Iraqi are Badger at Missing Link and Reider Visser at Historiae. Both seem to have information and offer analyses that don't appear elsewhere.]

Colonialism and Self-Sufficiency – Russell Means Speaks Out

July 17, 2009 by admin1  
Filed under Featured, Genocide

colonialism

This is a short history of colonization of the Lakotah to explain why our people do not make efforts at self-sufficiency.

1.  The United States outlawed our religion, our spirituality.  Outlawed it.  Out people were sent to prison if they caught practicing our ways.

2.  They rounded up our children, all of our children, for over 80 years and forced them into government and religious boarding schools.  These utilized corporal punishment and mental and physical torture.  They worked to erradicate our language and our songs.  To forcefully teach us that our parents and grandparents were nothing more than stupid, savage pagans.  That education goes on today.

3.  The Constitution of the United States of America does not apply to any American Indian living on an federally recognized American Indian Reservation in the united states.  Therefore we haven’t any Constitutional protections against anyone or anything.  We are not permitted on the reservation to econmically develop.  Hence, our over 80% unemployment.  We cannot test our water officially for uranium poisoning or arsenic poisoning or any other type of minerals or heavy metals.  We can test for E Coli & harmful bacteria.  We are ‘allowed’ 4 tests for those items.

4. We suffer under the agriculture’s department’s starchy food program which is dispersed to us on a monthly basis.  The alledged 10s of 100s of millions of dollars spent on the Lakotah is actually not spent on us.  We are allowed to touch it, as it flies through the reservation to the white man that surrounds us.  We are permitted to own gas stations and convenience stores, where most people shop.  We have one grocery store on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is directly across the street from where the Bureau of Indian Affairs and nearby where Indian Health Service Hosptial employees work.

5. We have one Catholic High School, one Bureau of Indian Affairs High School, and two Tribally Controlled/BIA/No Child Left Behind High Schools.  over 95% of the High School students have expressed the desire and the intention to leave the reservation as soon as possible.  We have the Oglala Lakotah College, whose curriculum is designed to encourage graduates to leave the reservation.  After over 80 years of these policies they have successfully destroyed our families, and our communities.  Our entire culture is on the brink of extinction.  The vast majority who remain on the reservation have crushingly low self esteem and no will to better themselves.  The Christian Churches are vultures feeding off the carcases of our poverty.  And they are very rich.

This list is a microcosm of the colonial and genocidal tactics fostered and developed by the government of the United States of America.  For the above reasons and more is why we are asking for investment into our children, and investment in our self-determination.  We welcome all opportunities for individuals to assist and lend their efforts to counter these effects and improve the conditions our people are struggling against.

~Russell Means

End of the Pillage: Britian’s Dirty Demise

June 30, 2009 by admin1  
Filed under Featured, News

monbiot-588

George Monbiot talks about the history of Great Britian and the frequent blood and wreckage they have left in their wake. Now the crash has begun, with the bottom a long, long way down.

For 300 years Britain has outsourced mayhem. Finally it’s coming home
Opium, famine and banks all played their part in this country’s plundering of the globe. Now it’s over, we find it hard to accept.

Why now? It’s not as if this is the first time Britain’s representatives have been caught out. The history of governments in all countries is the history of scandal, as those who rise to the top are generally the most ambitious, ruthless and unscrupulous people politics can produce. Pushing their own interests to the limit, they teeter perennially on the brink of disgrace, except when they fly clean over the edge. So why does the current ballyhoo threaten to destroy not only the government but also our antediluvian political system?

The past 15 years have produced the cash-for-questions racket, the Hinduja and Ecclestone affairs, the lies and fabrications that led to the invasion of Iraq, the forced abandonment of the BAE corruption probe, the cash-for-honours caper and the cash-for-amendments scandal. By comparison to the outright subversion of the functions of government in some of these cases, the is small beer. Any one of them should have prompted the sweeping political reforms we are now debating. But they didn’t.

The expenses scandal, by contrast, could kill the Labour party. It might also force politicians of all parties to address our unjust voting system, the unelected Lords, the excessive power of the executive, the legalised blackmail used by the whips, and a score of further anachronisms and injustices. Why is it different?

I believe that the current political crisis has little to do with the expenses scandal, still less with Gordon Brown’s leadership. It arises because our economic system can no longer extract wealth from other nations. For the past 300 years, the revolutions and reforms experienced by almost all other developed countries have been averted in Britain by foreign remittances.

The social unrest that might have transformed our politics was instead outsourced to our colonies and unwilling trading partners. The rebellions in Ireland, India, China, the Caribbean, Egypt, South Africa, Malaya, Kenya, Iran and other places we subjugated were the price of political peace in Britain. After decolonisation, our plunder of other nations was sustained by the banks. Now, for the first time in three centuries, they can no longer deliver, and we must at last confront our problems.

There will probably never be a full account of the robbery this country organised, but there are a few snapshots. In his book Capitalism and Colonial Production, Hamza Alavi estimates that the resource flow from India to Britain between 1793 and 1803 was in the order of £2m a year, the equivalent of many billions today. The economic drain from India, he notes, “has not only been a major factor in India’s impoverishment … it has also been a very significant factor in the industrial revolution in Britain”. As Ralph Davis observes in The Industrial Revolution and British Overseas Trade, from the 1760s onwards India’s wealth “bought the national debt back from the Dutch and others … leaving Britain nearly free from overseas indebtedness when it came to face the great French wars from 1793″.

In France by contrast, as Eric Hobsbawm notes in The Age of Revolution, “the financial troubles of the monarchy brought matters to a head”. In 1788 half of France’s national expenditure was used to service its debt: the “American War and its debt broke the back of the monarchy”.

Even as the French were overthrowing the ancien regime, Britain’s landed classes were able to strengthen their economic power, seizing common property from the country’s poor by means of enclosure. Partly as a result of remittances from India and the Caribbean, the economy was booming and the state had the funds to ride out political crises. Later, after smashing India’s own industrial capacity, Britain forced that country to become a major export market for our manufactured goods, sustaining industrial employment here (and avoiding social unrest) long after our products and processes became uncompetitive.

Colonial plunder permitted the British state to balance its resource deficits as well. For some 200 years a river of food flowed into this country from such places as Ireland, India and the Caribbean. In The Blood Never Dried, John Newsinger reveals that in 1748 Jamaica alone sent 17,400 tons of sugar to Britain; by 1815 this had risen to 73,800. It was all produced by stolen labour.

Just as grain was sucked out of Ireland at the height of its great famine, so Britain continued to drain India of food during its catastrophic hungers. In Late Victorian Holocausts, Mike Davis shows that between 1876 and 1877 wheat exports to the UK from India doubled as subsistence there collapsed, and several million died of starvation. In the North-Western provinces famine was wholly engineered by British policy, as good harvests were exported to offset poor English production in 1876 and 1877.

Britain, in other words, outsourced famine as well as social unrest. There was terrible poverty in this country in the second half of the 19th century, but not mass starvation. The bad harvest of 1788 helped precipitate the French revolution, but the British state avoided such hazards. Others died on our behalf.

In the late 19th century, Davis shows, Britain’s vast deficits with the United States, Germany and its white dominions were balanced by huge annual surpluses with India and (as a result of the opium trade) China. For a generation “the starving Indian and Chinese peasantries … braced the entire system of international settlements, allowing England’s continued financial supremacy to temporarily co-exist with its relative industrial decline”. Britain’s trade surpluses with India allowed the City to become the world’s financial capital.

Its role in British colonisation was not a passive one. The bankruptcy, and subsequent British takeover, of Egypt in 1882 was hastened by a loan from Rothschild’s bank whose execution, Newsinger records, amounted to “fraud on a massive scale”. Jardine Matheson, once the biggest narco-trafficking outfit in history (it dominated the Chinese opium trade), later formed a major investment bank, Jardine Fleming. It was taken over by JP Morgan Chase in 2000.

We lost our colonies, but the plunder has continued by other means. As Joseph Stiglitz shows in Globalisation and its Discontents, the capital liberalisation forced on Asian economies by the IMF permitted northern traders to loot hundreds of billions of dollars, precipitating the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. Poorer nations have also been strong-armed into a series of amazingly one-sided treaties and commitments, such as trade-related investment measures, bilateral investment agreements and the EU’s economic partnership agreements. If you have ever wondered how a small, densely populated country which produces very little supports itself, I would urge you to study these asymmetric arrangements.

But now, as John Lanchester demonstrates in a fascinating essay in the London Review of Books, the City could be fatally wounded. The nation that relied on financial services may take generations to recover from their collapse. The great British adventure – three centuries spent pillaging the labour, wealth and resources of other countries – is over. We cannot accept this, and seek gleeful revenge on a government that can no longer insulate us from reality.

First appeared on guardian.co.uk:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/08/british-empire-colonies-banks-reform

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