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

Gil Scott Heron’s Winter in America

July 14, 2009 by admin1  
Filed under Featured, Media

Following video was put together by ‘Show Live’ before the 2004 election. Timely words for tough times.

The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak

March 10, 2009 by Russell Means Freedom  
Filed under News

Russell Means:

“Hau Mi Kola (Hello My Friends).  The following missive which I am forwarding to you all, is nothing more than a mirror and this is for those that can think critically.”

Mitaku Oyasin
(we are all related)

The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak

[Note to TomDispatch Readers: This week, the website Foreign Policy In Focus, whose work I greatly admire and whose co-director John Feffer is a TomDispatch regular, will be using this piece to kick off its new strategic focus on empire. FPIF will be exploring the question of whether the Obama administration is likely to wind down our empire or will simply try to implement a somewhat kinder and gentler version of the same. Its weekly e-newsletter, World Beat, is particularly useful and can be subscribed to by clicking here. Tom]

The Imperial Unconscious

Afghan Faces, Predators, Reapers, Terrorist Stars, Roman Conquerors, Imperial Graveyards, and Other Oddities of the Truncated American Century By Tom Engelhardt

Sometimes, it’s the everyday things, the ones that fly below the radar, that matter.

Here, according to Bloomberg News, is part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s recent testimony on the Afghan War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

“U.S. goals in Afghanistan must be ‘modest, realistic,’ and ‘above all, there must be an Afghan face on this war,’ Gates said. ‘The Afghan people must believe this is their war and we are there to help them. If they think we are there for our own purposes, then we will go the way of every other foreign army that has been in Afghanistan.’”

Now, in our world, a statement like this seems so obvious, so reasonable as to be beyond comment. And yet, stop a moment and think about this part of it: “there must be an Afghan face on this war.” U.S. military and civilian officials used an equivalent phrase in 2005-2006 when things were going really, really wrong in Iraq. It was then commonplace — and no less unremarked upon — for them to urgently suggest that an “Iraqi face” be put on events there.

Evidently back in vogue for a different war, the phrase is revelatory — and oddly blunt. As an image, there’s really only one way to understand it (not that anyone here stops to do so). After all, what does it mean to “put a face” on something that assumedly already has a face? In this case, it has to mean putting an Afghan mask over what we know to be the actual “face” of the Afghan War — ours — a foreign face that men like Gates recognize, quite correctly, is not the one most Afghans want to see. It’s hardly surprising that the Secretary of Defense would pick up such a phrase, part of Washington’s everyday arsenal of words and images when it comes to geopolitics, power, and war.

And yet, make no mistake, this is Empire-speak, American-style. It’s the language — behind which lies a deeper structure of argument and thought — that is essential to Washington’s vision of itself as a planet-straddling goliath. Think of that “Afghan face”/mask, in fact, as part of the flotsam and jetsam that regularly bubbles up from the American imperial unconscious.

Of course, words create realities even though such language, in all its strangeness, essentially passes unnoticed here. Largely uncommented upon, it helps normalize American practices in the world, comfortably shielding us from certain global realities; but it also has the potential to blind us to those realities, which, in perilous times, can be dangerous indeed. So let’s consider just a few entries in what might be thought of as The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak.

War Hidden in Plain Sight: There has recently been much reporting on, and even some debate here about, the efficacy of the Obama administration’s decision to increase the intensity of CIA missile attacks from drone aircraft in what Washington, in a newly coined neologism reflecting a widening war, now calls “Af-Pak” — the Pashtun tribal borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since August 2008, more than 30 such missile attacks have been launched on the Pakistani side of that border against suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban targets. The pace of attacks has actually risen since Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, as have casualties from the missile strikes, as well as popular outrage in Pakistan over the attacks.

Thanks to Senator Diane Feinstein, we also know that, despite strong official Pakistani government protests, someone official in that country is doing more than looking the other way while they occur. As the Senator revealed recently, at least some of the CIA’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) cruising the skies over Af-Pak are evidently stationed at Pakistani bases. We learned recently as well that American Special Operations units are now regularly making forays inside Pakistan “primarily to gather intelligence”; that a unit of 70 American Special Forces advisors, a “secret task force, overseen by the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command,” is now aiding and training Pakistani Army and Frontier Corps paramilitary troops, again inside Pakistan; and that, despite (or perhaps, in part, because of) these American efforts, the influence of the Pakistani Taliban is actually expanding, even as Pakistan threatens to melt down.

Mystifyingly enough, however, this Pakistani part of the American war in Afghanistan is still referred to in major U.S. papers as a “covert war.” As news about it pours out, who it’s being hidden from is one of those questions no one bothers to ask.

On February 20th, the New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and David E. Sanger typically wrote:

“With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government… Under standard policy for covert operations, the C.I.A. strikes inside Pakistan have not been publicly acknowledged either by the Obama administration or the Bush administration.”

On February 25th, Mazzetti and Helene Cooper reported that new CIA head Leon Panetta essentially bragged to reporters that “the agency’s campaign against militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas was the ‘most effective weapon’ the Obama administration had to combat Al Qaeda’s top leadership… Mr. Panetta stopped short of directly acknowledging the missile strikes, but he said that ‘operational efforts’ focusing on Qaeda leaders had been successful.” Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal reported the next day that Panetta said the attacks are “probably the most effective weapon we have to try to disrupt al Qaeda right now.” She added, “Mr. Obama and National Security Adviser James Jones have strongly endorsed their use, [Panetta] said.”

Uh, covert war? These “covert” “operational efforts” have been front-page news in the Pakistani press for months, they were part of the U.S. presidential campaign debates, and they certainly can’t be a secret for the Pashtuns in those border areas who must see drone aircraft overhead relatively regularly, or experience the missiles arriving in their neighborhoods.

In the U.S., “covert war” has long been a term for wars like the U.S.-backed Contra War against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s, which were openly discussed, debated, and often lauded in this country. To a large extent, when aspects of these wars have actually been “covert” — that is, purposely hidden from anyone — it has been from the American public, not the enemies being warred upon. At the very least, however, such language, however threadbare, offers official Washington a kind of “plausible deniability” when it comes to thinking about what kind of an “American face” we present to the world.

Imperial Naming Practices: In our press, anonymous U.S. officials now point with pride to the increasing “precision” and “accuracy” of those drone missile attacks in taking out Taliban or al-Qaeda figures without (supposedly) taking out the tribespeople who live in the same villages or neighboring compounds. Such pieces lend our air war an almost sterile quality. They tend to emphasize the extraordinary lengths to which planners go to avoid “collateral damage.” To many Americans, it must then seem strange, even irrational, that perfectly non-fundamentalist Pakistanis should be quite so outraged about attacks aimed at the world’s worst terrorists.

On the other hand, consider for a moment the names of those drones now regularly in the skies over “Pashtunistan.” These are no less regularly published in our press to no comment at all. The most basic of the armed drones goes by the name of Predator, a moniker which might as well have come directly from those nightmarish sci-fi movies about an alien that feasts on humans. Undoubtedly, however, it was used in the way Col. Michael Steele of the 101st Airborne Division meant it when he exhorted his brigade deploying to Iraq (according to Thomas E. Ricks’ new book The Gamble) to remember: “You’re the predator.”

The Predator drone is armed with “only” two missiles. The more advanced drone, originally called the Predator B, now being deployed to the skies over Af-Pak, has been dubbed the Reaper — as in the Grim Reaper. Now, there’s only one thing such a “hunter-killer UAV” could be reaping, and you know just what that is: lives. It can be armed with up to 14 missiles (or four missiles and two 500-pound bombs), which means it packs quite a deadly wallop.

Oh, by the way, those missiles are named as well. They’re Hellfire missiles. So, if you want to consider the nature of this covert war in terms of names alone: Predators and Reapers are bringing down the fire from some satanic hell upon the peasants, fundamentalist guerrillas, and terrorists of the Af-Pak border regions.

In Washington, when the Af-Pak War is discussed, it’s in the bloodless, bureaucratic language of “global counterinsurgency” or “irregular warfare” (IW), of “soft power,” “hard power,” and “smart power.” But flying over the Pashtun wildlands is the blunt-edged face of predation and death, ready at a moment’s notice to deliver hellfire to those below.

Imperial Arguments: Let’s pursue this just a little further. Faced with rising numbers of civilian casualties from U.S. and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan and an increasingly outraged Afghan public, American officials tend to place the blame for most sky-borne “collateral damage” squarely on the Taliban. As Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen bluntly explained recently, “[T]he enemy hides behind civilians.” Hence, so this Empire-speak argument goes, dead civilians are actually the Taliban’s doing.

U.S. military and civilian spokespeople have long accused Taliban guerrillas of using civilians as “shields,” or even of purposely luring devastating air strikes down on Afghan wedding parties to create civilian casualties and so inflame the sensibilities of rural Afghanistan. This commonplace argument has two key features: a claim that they made us do it (kill civilians) and the implication that the Taliban fighters “hiding” among innocent villagers or wedding revelers are so many cowards, willing to put their fellow Pashtuns at risk rather than come out and fight like men — and, of course, given the firepower arrayed against them, die.

The U.S. media regularly records this argument without reflecting on it. In this country, in fact, the evil of combatants “hiding” among civilians seems so self-evident, especially given the larger evil of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, that no one thinks twice about it.

And yet like so much of Empire-speak on a one-way planet, this argument is distinctly uni-directional. What’s good for the guerrilla goose, so to speak, is inapplicable to the imperial gander. To illustrate, consider the American “pilots” flying those unmanned Predators and Reapers. We don’t know exactly where all of them are (other than not in the drones), but some are certainly at Nellis Air Force Base just outside Las Vegas.

In other words, were the Taliban guerrillas to leave the protection of those civilians and come out into the open, there would be no enemy to fight in the usual sense, not even a predatory one. The pilot firing that Hellfire missile into some Pakistani border village or compound is, after all, using the UAV’s cameras, including by next year a new system hair-raisingly dubbed “Gorgon Stare,” to locate his target and then, via console, as in a single-shooter video game, firing the missile, possibly from many thousands of miles away.

And yet nowhere in our world will you find anyone making the argument that those pilots are in “hiding” like so many cowards. Such a thought seems absurd to us, as it would if it were applied to the F-18 pilots taking off from aircraft carriers off the Afghan coast or the B-1 pilots flying out of unnamed Middle Eastern bases or the Indian Ocean island base of Diego Garcia. And yet, whatever those pilots may do in Afghan skies, unless they experience a mechanical malfunction, they are in no more danger than if they, too, were somewhere outside Las Vegas. In the last seven years, a few helicopters, but no planes, have gone down in Afghanistan.

When the Afghan mujahedeen fought the Soviets in the 1980s, the CIA supplied them with hand-held Stinger missiles, the most advanced surface-to-air missile in the U.S. arsenal, and they did indeed start knocking Soviet helicopters and planes out of the skies (which proved the beginning of the end for the Russians). The Afghan or Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaeda terrorists have no such capability today, which means, if you think about it, that what we here imagine as an “air war” involves none of the dangers we would normally associate with war. Looked at in another light, those missile strikes and bombings are really one-way acts of slaughter.

The Taliban’s tactics are, of course, the essence of guerrilla warfare, which always involves an asymmetrical battle against more powerful armies and weaponry, and which, if successful, always depends on the ability of the guerrilla to blend into the environment, natural and human, or, as Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong so famously put it, to “swim” in the “sea of the people.”

If you imagine your enemy simply using the villagers of Afghanistan as “shields” or “hiding” like so many cowards among them, you are speaking the language of imperial power but also blinding yourself (or the American public) to the actual realities of the war you’re fighting.

Imperial Jokes: In October 2008, Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, refused to renew the U.S. lease at Manta Air Base, one of at least 761 foreign bases, macro to micro, that the U.S. garrisons worldwide. Correa reportedly said: “We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorean base. If there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.”

This qualifies as an anti-imperial joke. The “leftist” president of Ecuador was doing no more than tweaking the nose of goliath. An Ecuadorian base in Miami? Absurd. No one on the planet could take such a suggestion seriously.

On the other hand, when it comes to the U.S. having a major base in Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian land that not one in a million Americans has ever heard of, that’s no laughing matter. After all, Washington has been paying $20 million a year in direct rent for the use of that country’s Manas Air Base (and, as indirect rent, another $80 million has gone to various Kyrgyzstani programs). As late as last October, the Pentagon was planning to sink another $100 million into construction at Manas “to expand aircraft parking areas at the base and provide a ‘hot cargo pad’ — an area safe enough to load and unload hazardous and explosive cargo — to be located away from inhabited facilities.” That, however, was when things started to go wrong. Now, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament has voted to expel the U.S. from Manas within six months, a serious blow to our resupply efforts for the Afghan War. More outrageous yet to Washington, the Kyrgyzstanis seem to have done this at the bidding of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has the nerve to want to reestablish a Russian sphere of influence in what used to be the borderlands of the old Soviet Union.

Put in a nutshell, despite the crumbling U.S. economic situation and the rising costs of the Afghan War, we still act as if we live on a one-way planet. Some country demanding a base in the U.S.? That’s a joke or an insult, while the U.S. potentially gaining or losing a base almost anywhere on the planet may be an insult, but it’s never a laughing matter.

Imperial Thought: Recently, to justify those missile attacks in Pakistan, U.S. officials have been leaking details on the program’s “successes” to reporters. Anonymous officials have offered the “possibly wishful estimate” that the CIA “covert war” has led to the deaths (or capture) of 11 of al Qaeda’s top 20 commanders, including, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, “Abu Layth al-Libi, whom U.S. officials described as ‘a rising star’ in the group.”

“Rising star” is such an American phrase, melding as it does imagined terror hierarchies with the lingo of celebrity tabloids. In fact, one problem with Empire-speak, and imperial thought more generally, is the way it prevents imperial officials from imagining a world not in their own image. So it’s not surprising that, despite their best efforts, they regularly conjure up their enemies as a warped version of themselves — hierarchical, overly reliant on leaders, and top heavy.

In the Vietnam era, for instance, American officials spent a remarkable amount of effort sending troops to search for, and planes to bomb, the border sanctuaries of Cambodia and Laos on a fruitless hunt for COSVN (the so-called Central Office for South Vietnam), the supposed nerve center of the communist enemy, aka “the bamboo Pentagon.” Of course, it wasn’t there to be found, except in Washington’s imperial imagination.

In the Af-Pak “theater,” we may be seeing a similar phenomenon. Underpinning the CIA killer-drone program is a belief that the key to combating al-Qaeda (and possibly the Taliban) is destroying its leadership one by one. As key Pakistani officials have tried to explain, the missile attacks, which have indeed killed some al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban figures (as well as whoever was in their vicinity), are distinctly counterproductive. The deaths of those figures in no way compensates for the outrage, the destabilization, the radicalization that the attacks engender in the region. They may, in fact, be functionally strengthening each of those movements.

What it’s hard for Washington to grasp is this: “decapitation,” to use another American imperial term, is not a particularly effective strategy with a decentralized guerrilla or terror organization. The fact is a headless guerrilla movement is nowhere near as brainless or helpless as a headless Washington would be.

Only recently, Eric Schmitt and Jane Perlez of the New York Times reported that, while top U.S. officials were exhibiting optimism about the effectiveness of the missile strikes, Pakistani officials were pointing to “ominous signs of Al Qaeda’s resilience” and suggesting “that Al Qaeda was replenishing killed fighters and midlevel leaders with less experienced but more hard-core militants, who are considered more dangerous because they have fewer allegiances to local Pakistani tribes… The Pakistani intelligence assessment found that Al Qaeda had adapted to the blows to its command structure by shifting ‘to conduct decentralized operations under small but well-organized regional groups’ within Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Imperial Dreams and Nightmares: Americans have rarely liked to think of themselves as “imperial,” so what is it about Rome in these last years? First, the neocons, in the flush of seeming victory in 2002-2003 began to imagine the U.S. as a “new Rome” (or new British Empire), or as Charles Krauthammer wrote as early as February 2001 in Time Magazine, “America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome.”

All roads on this planet, they were then convinced, led ineluctably to Washington. Now, of course, they visibly don’t, and the imperial bragging about surpassing the Roman or British empires has long since faded away. When it comes to the Afghan War, in fact, those (resupply) “roads” seem to lead, embarrassingly enough, through Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, and Iran. But the comparison to conquering Rome evidently remains on the brain.

When, for instance, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post recently, drumming up support for the revised, age-of-Obama American mission in Afghanistan, he just couldn’t help starting off with an inspiring tale about the Romans and a small Italian city-state, Locri, that they conquered. As he tells it, the ruler the Romans installed in Locri, a rapacious fellow named Pleminius, proved a looter and a tyrant. And yet, Mullen assures us, the Locrians so believed in “the reputation for equanimity and fairness that Rome had built” that they sent a delegation to the Roman Senate, knowing they could get a hearing, and demanded restitution; and indeed, the tyrant was removed.

Admittedly, this seems a far-fetched analogy to the U.S. in Afghanistan (and don’t for a second mix up Pleminius, that rogue, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, even though the Obama-ites evidently now believe him corrupt and replaceable). Still, as Mullen sees it, the point is: “We don’t always get it right. But like the early Romans, we strive in the end to make it right. We strive to earn trust. And that makes all the difference.”

Mullen is, it seems, the Aesop of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, in his somewhat overheated brain, we evidently remain the conquering (but just) “early” Romans — before, of course, the fatal rot set in.

And then there’s the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks, a superb reporter who, in his latest book, gives voice to the views of Centcom Commander David Petraeus. Reflecting on Iraq, where he (like the general) believes we could still be fighting in “2015,” Ricks begins a recent Post piece this way:

“In October 2008, as I was finishing my latest book on the Iraq war, I visited the Roman Forum during a stop in Italy. I sat on a stone wall on the south side of the Capitoline Hill and studied the two triumphal arches at either end of the Forum, both commemorating Roman wars in the Middle East… The structures brought home a sad realization: It’s simply unrealistic to believe that the U.S. military will be able to pull out of the Middle East… It was a week when U.S. forces had engaged in combat in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — a string of countries stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean — following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, the Romans and the British.”

With the waning of British power, Ricks continues, it “has been the United States’ turn to take the lead there.” And our turn, as it happens, just isn’t over yet. Evidently that, at least, is the view from our imperial capital and from our military viceroys out on the peripheries.

Honestly, Freud would have loved these guys. They seem to channel the imperial unconscious. Take David Petraeus. For him, too, the duties and dangers of empire evidently weigh heavily on the brain. Like a number of key figures, civilian and military, he has lately begun to issue warnings about Afghanistan’s dangers. As the Washington Post reported, “[Petraeus] suggested that the odds of success were low, given that foreign military powers have historically met with defeat in Afghanistan. ‘Afghanistan has been known over the years as the graveyard of empires,’ he said. ‘We cannot take that history lightly.’”

Of course, he’s worrying about the graveyard aspect of this, but what I find curious — exactly because no one thinks it odd enough to comment on here — is the functional admission in the use of this old adage about Afghanistan that we fall into the category of empires, whether or not in search of a graveyard in which to die.

And he’s not alone in this. Secretary of Defense Gates put the matter similarly recently: “Without the support of the Afghan people, Gates said, the U.S. would simply ‘go the way of every other foreign army that’s ever been in Afghanistan.’”

Imperial Blindness: Think of the above as just a few prospective entries in The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak that will, of course, never be compiled. We’re so used to such language, so inured to it and to the thinking behind it, so used, in fact, to living on a one-way planet in which all roads lead to and from Washington, that it doesn’t seem like a language at all. It’s just part of the unexamined warp and woof of everyday life in a country that still believes it normal to garrison the planet, regularly fight wars halfway across the globe, find triumph or tragedy in the gain or loss of an air base in a country few Americans could locate on a map, and produce military manuals on counterinsurgency warfare the way a do-it-yourself furniture maker would produce instructions for constructing a cabinet from a kit.

We don’t find it strange to have 16 intelligence agencies, some devoted to listening in on, and spying on, the planet, or capable of running “covert wars” in tribal borderlands thousands of miles distant, or of flying unmanned drones over those same borderlands destroying those who come into camera view. We’re inured to the bizarreness of it all and of the language (and pretensions) that go with it.

If The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak were ever produced, who here would buy it? Who would feel the need to check out what seems like the only reasonable and self-evident language for describing the world? How else, after all, would we operate? How else would any American in a position of authority talk in Washington or Baghdad or Islamabad or Rome?

So it undoubtedly seemed to the Romans, too. And we know what finally happened to their empire and the language that went with it. Such a language plays its role in normalizing the running of an empire. It allows officials (and in our case the media as well) not to see what would be inconvenient to the smooth functioning of such an enormous undertaking. Embedded in its words and phrases is a fierce way of thinking (even if we don’t see it that way), as well as plausible deniability. And in the good times, its uses are obvious.

On the other hand, when the normal ways of empire cease to function well, that same language can suddenly work to blind the imperial custodians — which is, after all, what the foreign policy “team” of the Obama era is — to necessary realities. At a moment when it might be important to grasp what the “American face” in the mirror actually looks like, you can’t see it.

And sometimes what you can’t bring yourself to see can, as now, hurt you.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of the American Age of Denial. He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), a collection of some of the best pieces from his site and an alternative history of the mad Bush years.

[Note: In thinking about a prospective Dictionary of American Empire-Speak, I found four websites particularly useful for keeping me up to date: Juan Cole's invaluable Informed Comment (I don't know how he stays at day-in, day-out, year after year); Antiwar.com and the War in Context, where editors with sharp eyes for global developments seem to be on the prowl 24/7; and last but by no means least, Noah Shachtman's Danger Room blog at Wired.com. Focused on the latest military developments, from strategy and tactics to hunter-killer drones and "robo-beasts," Danger Room is not only a must-follow site, but gives an everyday sense of the imperial bizarreness of our American world. Finally, a deep bow of thanks to Christopher Holmes, who keeps the copyediting lights burning in Japan, and TomDispatch eternally chugging along.]

Copyright 2009 Tom Engelhardt

Families Freezing in Nation’s Poorest County

February 27, 2009 by Russell Means Freedom  
Filed under News

Families Freezing in Nation’s Poorest County:

PUBLIC UTILITIES “CUT” ON CROW CREEK RESERVATION

(Fort Thompson, SD) Electric company caught “pulling meters” (CLICK TO VIEW THE VIDEO) in the poorest community in the nation, leaving America’s most vulnerable people without power in the dead of winter. Predatory electric companies continue to conduct these atrocious practices amid growing public outcry and damning national media scrutiny. Headlines in newspapers across the country highlight unnecessary tragedies as arctic winter months reveal the electric company’s controversial conduct of shutting off the community’s power, despite the rest of South Dakota having Seasonal Termination Protection Regulations.[1]

CORRECTION: “Central Power Electric Cooperative, Inc” is the wholesale provider, not the retail provider that has been illegally disconnecting the meters on Crow Creek Reservation. The real culprits are at the “Central Electric Cooperative:” We apologize for any confusion caused by this error and our happy to oblige the request of Loren Noess - General Manager of CENTRAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE to post his information here for your convenience. See his e-mail request below.

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NoessLoren Noess - General Manager

Text of Mr. Noess’ e-mail with:

To Whom it may concern:

Please change the address of Central you have on your web site. Also if you do some research on this video it was played last June on Utube [sic] and we know they were at Crow Creek last March of 2008 doing taping This video we believe is a year old. Our employees are on this video. They are doing their and should not be explosed[sic].

Please refer to the attached letter that I emailed to Eric Klein yesterday and also sent by mail.

I have sent copies of this letter to all 3 Congressional Leaders in Washington and the South Dakota PUC. The 3 Offices in Washington indicated they haven’t received any calls from the Reservation about disconnects. As you’ll read in our letter we haven’t disconnected any[sic] for the months of Dec. Jan and Feb.

Any questions please give me a call.

Loren Noess

General Manager

PO Box 850

1420 North Main

Mitchell, SD 57301

605-996-7516

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Contact Information

Office Hours: Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm
E-mail: cec@centralec.coop
Phone: 605.996.7516
Toll Free in SD: 800.477.2892
Fax: 605.996.0869

Office Locations:

Headquarters Office:
PO Box 850
1420 North Main Street
Mitchell, SD 57301 USA

Plankinton Branch Office:
PO Box 130
102 South Main Street
Plankinton, SD 57301 USA

Putting LIVES on the Line:

This winter, the Crow Creek Indian Reservation is experiencing record-low temperatures reaching fifty below zero. Hundreds of families living in government housing have had their electric meters removed by Central Electric Cooperative, the local electric cooperative. When these power meters are pulled the residents are left without power; the propane heaters do not run; pipes freeze; and there is no water for cooking, drinking, bathing or flushing toilets. Many of these households have family members whose lives depend upon electronic medical equipment such as defibrillators.

Ironically these families are paying some of the highest electricity rates in the country even though they live adjacent to the Big Bend Hydro-Electric Dam on the Missouri river. These homes are poorly insulated causing electric bills in excess of $300.00 in the coldest months.

Median income in the region is approximately $5,000 a year (typical of the thirteen Lakotah (Sioux) Reservations in the “Great Sioux Nation” as defined in the Treaties of 1851 and 1868 with the US Government).

“I’ve been to disaster areas around the world including Sri Lanka after the tsunami, hurricane Katrina, and after the Iowa floods, but, I have never witnessed such blatant disregard for human life as I have here in my own country on the Crow Creek reservation,” stated Eric Klein, Founder and CEO of Compassion into Action Network – Direct Outcome Organization (CAN-DO). “Especially now, with the new administration focusing on the development of America’s infrastructure, we need to focus our energies and resources immediately to address this critical situation where such infrastructure is being blatantly misutilized.”

Appalled by the abuse and neglect, one US Marine and Crow Creek resident took action to publicize the exploitation. Using a hand-held video recorder, he documented local power companies physically cutting electricity lines and removing meters in the peak of winter.

Watch the footage at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=wIVgpMK5-Jo&feature=channel

Utilizing their proven approach to providing lasting solutions with full accountability, efficiency and results, CAN-DO is addressing the operation at the Crow Creek Indian Reservation on the local level to raise the nation’s awareness of the urgent human right abuses taking place in the South Dakota region.

“We are calling for a collaborative effort by ethical individuals, organizations, schools and political leaders to assure that this damage is reversed,” said Klein. “Together, we can contribute to real change here at home.”

View the complete Crow Creek plan at www.can-do.org. Join in the ‘Call to Action.’

LAWS OF SOUTH DAKOTA TITLE 49

PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS

49-34A-2. Service required of utilities. Every public utility shall furnish adequate, efficient, and reasonable service.

49-34A-6. Rates to be reasonable and just – Regulation by commission. Every rate made, demanded or received by any public utility shall be just and reasonable. Every unjust or unreasonable rate shall be prohibited. The Public Utilities Commission is hereby authorized, empowered and directed to regulate all rates, fees and charges for the public utility service of all public utilities, including penalty for late payments, to the end that the public shall pay only just and reasonable rates for service rendered.

Source: SL 1975, ch 283, § 16.

THE LIE PROPAGATED BY THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

Crow Creek Sioux Tribe:

“Every night, the sun slips quietly away behind the bluffs of the Missouri River. These bluffs flank the western edge of the Crow Creek Reservation in central South Dakota. Located one mile south of tribal headquarters at Fort Thompson is Lake Sharpe, one of South Dakota’s Great Lakes. Water recreation abounds on the 80-mile reservoir created by the Big Bend Dam. Visitors enjoy boating, fishing and swimming as well as picnicking and camping along the water’s edge. The tribe’s wildlife department offers guided fishing and hunting trips. It also maintains a buffalo herd that often grazes north of Fort Thompson. ” http://www.travelsd.com/ourhistory/sioux/tribes/crowcreek.asp

THE TRUTH

… thousands of hectares of Indian land have been lost to dams. In North Dakota, a quarter of the Fort Berthold Reservation, shared by the Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa peoples of the upper Missouri, for example, was flooded as a result of a staircase of dams (the Missouri River Development Project (MRDP), built during the 1950s and 1960s. The land lost included the best and most valuable and productive land on the reservation – the bottom lands along the river where most people lived.105 Five different Sioux reservations also lost land. Again, the impact was quite severe: the dams destroyed nearly 90 per cent of the tribes’ timberland, 75 per cent of the wild game, and the best agricultural lands.106

Ultimately, the Missouri dams cost the indigenous nations of the Missouri Valley an estimated 142,000 hectares of their best land – including a number of burial and other sacred sites – as well as further impoverishment and severe cultural and emotional trauma. A guarantee, used to rationalise the plan in the first place, that some 87,000 hectares of Indian land would be irrigated was simply scrapped as the project neared completion. As researcher Bernard Shanks puts it: “MRDP replaced the subsistence economy of the Missouri River Indians . . . with a welfare economy . . . As a result of the project, the Indians bore a disproportionate share of the social
cost of water development, while having no share in the benefits.”.107

104 Pittja 1994:54.
105 Guerrero 1992.
106 United States v David Sohappy, Snr et al., 477 US 906 (1986), cert. denied. Cited in Guerrero 1992.
107 Guerrero 1992.

About CAN-DO:

Founded by Eric Klein, CAN-DO has set a new standard for humanitarianism and is changing the face of philanthropy. It quickly has become an organization people can trust and depend upon to “get it done” fast and effectively. It is a 501c3, relief organization dedicated to working on the local level to provide lasting solutions, with full accountability, efficiency, and results.
Video footage, photographs and the web site offer documentation of the organization’s efforts at every phase. CAN-DO supporters take pride in watching their generosity directly affect the lives of those in need through the organization’s VirtualVolunteer.TV.

CAN-DO’s successful missions to bring immediate and direct relief to areas in need have captured the attention of renowned philanthropists including Oprah Winfrey and former president Bill Clinton. The organization was recently awarded the Global Compassion Award at the United Nations for its global impact, unparalleled transparency and accountability. For further information, please visit www.can-do.org or email Eric Klein at ek@can-do.org.

About the Republic of Lakotah:

We are the freedom loving Lakotah from the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana who have suffered from cultural and physical genocide in the colonial apartheid system we have been forced to live under.

We are continuing the work that we were asked to do by the traditional chiefs and treaty councils at the first Indian Treaty Council meeting at Standing Rock Sioux Indian Country in 1974.

During the week of December 17-19, 2007, we traveled to Washington DC and withdrew from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country. We are alerting the Family of Nations we have now reassumed our freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law.

We do not represent those BIA or IRA governments beholden to the colonial apartheid system, or those “hang around the fort” Indians who are unwilling to claim their freedom.

For further information, please visit www.republicoflakotah.com or call 605-867-1111.

– END –

The Beauty, Power & Brilliance of Matriarchy

February 25, 2009 by Russell Means Freedom  
Filed under Commentaries

The Beauty, Power & Brilliance of Matriarchy – A call for a paradigm shift!

As we all sit awestruck in front of the T.V., the computer or the newspaper, Russell offers us a solution to the current Global calamity. In this beautiful forty-five minute FREE video, Russell explains both how the World got into this mess and how we can move towards sanity and wholeness. We must, he says, return to Matriarchy, a balance, respectful way of life where we celebrate our differences, rather than stifle, or even, destroy them. CLICK TO VIEW VIDEO

The Illusion of Democracy

February 16, 2009 by Russell Means Freedom  
Filed under News

THE

ILLUSION

OF

DEMOCRACY

There are three points of view when it comes to the federal government:

1) Everything is more or less going along just fine. Sure we have some problems but we’ll work them out.

2) It’s too cumbersome and intrusive, taxes are excessive, the national debt is a disgrace, and our foreign policy is long on machismo and short on goodwill. The Democrats and Republicans got us into this mess and probably can’t get us out.

3) If you ignore it, it will go away.

Our recent presidential election took place in November of 2008. As usual, our so-called democracy basically gave us two choices.

The Democrats want an extensive, intrusive federal government to engineer social change and redistribute wealth. Higher taxes and more government involvement (intervention), thereby suffocating free enterprise and diminishing individual freedom. Their goal is to nurture (control) their subjects from cradle to grave.

The Republicans want a strong federal government to engineer endless economic growth and support a vast military-industrial complex. Increased military expenditures and more self-appointed international police action, thereby contributing to global strife and tarnishing our relationship with the rest of the world.

Both of these philosophies are extremely costly. Democrats and Republicans have driven our national debt up to nearly $12 trillion, and it continues to rise. Future generations will bear the burden for this insane federal spending recklessness.

If you’re enthusiastic about one of these two options, by all means stay the course.

But if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to choose the lesser of two evils, perhaps it’s time to unscrew your head back out of the sand and seek an alternative. Even though the media will try to convince you that a vote for anyone other than a Democrat or a Republican is a wasted vote, there are other alternatives.

The election process is meant to give the voters the illusion of a free democracy without actually having one.

The two major candidates for president, one Democrat and one Republican, are basically chosen by a handful of small states (the New Hampshire Primary, the Iowa Caucuses, etc.), then each of the candidates personally selects their respective running mate and potential successor.

To maintain their position of power and control, the two major political parties enacted election laws that have given them a decisive advantage over any emerging alternative philosophies.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress have awarded matching campaign funds to the two major political parties (themselves) while making it difficult for third parties to qualify for them. The candidates of these two parties are automatically placed on ballots in every state, while third party candidates must contend with legal quagmires on a state by state basis to get on ballots. And so on.

To anyone with a brain larger than a pinto bean this doesn’t seem like much of a democracy.

To make matter worse, the mass media focuses only on the two major political parties, as if they’re the only two points of view, further diminishing a free democracy.

There aren’t many choices when there are only two alternatives.

This unbalanced, unfair system wasn’t the result of evil intent. But government operates on endless compromise and those in power tend to manipulate the system to favor those in power. And the mass media goes along with it to maintain a positive relationship with those in power in order to obtain access.

Basically, the system is rigged.

The two parties in power have made it difficult for a third party to compete and the mass media has become their ally by promoting an illusion of a democracy, encouraging everyone to participate in the process under the mistaken premise that the public is apathetic rather than disgusted.

So the masses turn out every four years to do their civic duty and vote for the lesser of two evils. But a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil and an illusion of a democracy is only an illusion.

A two-party system is not a democracy – it’s a closed system tightly controlled by the two parties in power. Anyone who enthusiastically supports such a system is perpetuating a narrow, unjust form of government.

Every citizen has three choices:

1) You can participate in a rigged system, giving legitimacy to that system, by voting for one of the two major candidates as usual. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for doing your civic duty.

2) You can vote for a third party candidate, preferably one that seeks to limit the power and scope of government, sending a message to the two major parties and the mass media that politics as usual is unacceptable. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for having a mind of your own.

3) You can choose to ignore your enslavement by ever increasing government forces and bang your head against the wall. Be sure to pat yourself on the back so you don’t swallow your gum.

Choose wisely. The fate of eternity is in your hands.

___________

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. Contact bret@centurytel.net

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