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Saturday, July 29, 2006

 

Encroachment and the Force of Empire (and Oil)

by poputonian

The mix is a little different today.

Two hundred and fifty years ago, the essential stakes were the abundant natural resources of North America, and the ostensible possessors of it were the Native Americans. The encroachers were the New Americans and their system of competitive trade, which paid premiums to anyone in a dominant position. To become dominant in America required settlement and expansion; to accomplish expansion required land. In 1758, an Ohio Valley Indian said this to an English missionary (source):

"We have great reason to believe you intend to drive us away, and settle the country; or else, why do you come to fight in the land that God has given us?"
...
"Why don’t you and the French fight in the old country, and on the sea? Why do you come to fight on our land? This makes everybody believe you want to take the land from us by force, and settle it."


It was true then, that gaining control of the land would require coercion, something best done systematically through the vehicle of trade and in the name of freedom. Writing in the mid-1990s, historian R. Douglas Hurt (source above) tells of the futility in making any resistance to the force of empire:

"White settlers and traders aggressively pushed into that region and prevented accommodation between the British and the Ohio Indians. These "Frontier People" sought not accommodation with the Ohio Indians but rather their removal. Compromise did not enter their thoughts, and magnanimity never governed their actions. Respecting personal freedom more than law and advocating their right to take unused land rather than to await negotiated settlements with trans-Appalachian Indians, these frontier people moved relentlessly into the Ohio Valley. By 1774, approximately fifty thousand whites lived on the trans-Appalachian frontier, and the British army could not control them. By that time, the British no longer remained the principal enemy of the Ohio Indians. Instead it was the relentless westward-moving Americans.

The paragraph below describes the manner in which the said force of empire deals with any attempt to resist it. This comes from another historian, also writing before 9/11, who tells how the British brain trust, along with the New Americans, discerned that they were opposed in North America by an organized conspiracy:

"How else, Amherst and his colleagues wondered, could so many diverse Indian groups have acted in concert against them? The British, trapped within their understanding of the Indians as childlike, violent creatures, could not explain what had happened to them in the west unless they could stipulate a French conspiracy behind it all. They never understood that the evidently synchronized attacks were loosely coordinated local revolts, all responding to the common stimuli of conquest, white encroachment, and Amherst's Indian policies, all animated by a religious revival with pan-Indian overtones, and all motivated by the desire to restore to North America a sympathetic European power to act as a counterpoise to the British and their numerous, aggressive colonists."

Hurt also noted that the Indian resistance " ... popularly known as the "conspiracy of Pontiac" ... should be more appropriately known as a "Defensive War" or as a war for independence by western Indians."

Everyone knows the rest of this particular story.

Today, the mix is different. It's oil instead of land, and a different opposing culture instead of Indians. But the alchemy is identical. It's the American system of unrestrained trade and a society dependent on a natural resource (oil) for its continued dominance; trade dominance, cultural dominance, material dominance, and religious dominance. Whatever brutal force is required to suppress anyone with an impulse to resist has become the de facto foreign policy. It's a foreign policy that fosters encroachment and builds empire. It's also a foreign policy that leverages the ambiguous qualities of liberty and freedom to ostensibly justify its violent suppression of any resistance. The President of the United States said so yesterday:

And so we have, we've taken a foreign policy that says: On the one hand, we will protect ourselves from further attack in the short run by being aggressive in chasing down the killers and bringing them to justice.

And make no mistake: They're still out there, and they would like to harm our respective peoples because of what we stand for.

In the long term, to defeat this ideology - and they're bound by an ideology - you defeat it with a more hopeful ideology called freedom.

And, look, I fully understand some people don't believe it's possible for freedom and democracy to overcome this ideology of hatred. I understand that. I just happen to believe it is possible.

And I believe it will happen.

And so what you're seeing is, you know, a clash of governing styles.

For example, you know, the notion of democracy beginning to emerge scares the ideologues, the totalitarians, those who want to impose their vision. It just frightens them.

And so they respond. They've always been violent.

Here's a rewrite of the bolded phrasing that historian Anderson used above:

The British Bush, trapped within their in his understanding of the Indians Arabs as childlike, violent creatures, could not explain what had happened to them in the west America on 9/11 unless they he could stipulate a French an ideological conspiracy behind it all.


Encroachment and empire? Not understood here at home. Oil. Huh?

This is Bush's foreign policy of submit or die. It's happened before with great success.

Well, great success for those in the dominant position.



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