News Release Archive - Imperialism

World Said No to Iraq War, Backers of Invasion Now Running Policy

STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes@usfca.edu
Zunes is professor of politics at the University of San Francisco who has written extensively on the Mideast. He said today: “Eighteen years ago today, tens of millions of people around the world, in the largest single protest event in history, came out against the incipient U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. I spoke before half a million people gathered in San Francisco. Every mainline Christian denomination, 90 percent of Mideast scholars, and the vast majority of the world’s governments were saying no to war. The following current U.S. office-holders, however, insisted we were all wrong and that Bush and Cheney were right:
Joe Biden (President)
Anthony Blinken (Secretary of State)
Chuck Schumer (Senate Majority Leader)
Mitch McConnell (Senate Minority Leader)
Steny Hoyer (House Majority Leader)
Kevin McCarthy (House Minority Leader)

“In other words, current leaders of both the executive and legislative branches have demonstrated their belief that the United States somehow has the right to illegally invade a country on the far side of the world that is no threat to us despite being warned of the disastrous humanitarian, strategic, fiscal, and environmental consequences. People like that should not be in positions of power. Don’t think for a moment they won’t try to get us into another war. (And they all insist we should still have combat troops in Iraq 18 years later.)”

Mount Rushmore: Tip of Iceberg

NICK ESTES, nicholas.w.estes at gmail.com, @nick_w_estes@The_Red_Nation
Estes is an assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. He is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and host of the Red Nation podcast. His latest book is Our History is The Future.

He was on “Democracy Now!” Monday morning, noting that while Trump talks about preserving history, protestors were just arrested for asserting history and standing for treaties at Mount Rushmore. One protestor, Nick Tilsen, is still being held. Estes also addressed the impact of the pandemic on native people in the U.S. and the toppling of a Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore.

Bloomberg Law reported Monday: “Dakota Access Oil Line to Be Shut by Court in Blow for Trump.” Estes is co-editor of Standing with Standing Rock — see an in-depth interview with Estes on “Flashpoints” last year.
He notes the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, also created the Confederate memorial at Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Estes recently appeared on the podcast Intercepted, stating that colonialism revolves around “God, gold, and glory,” noting: “Mount Rushmore is named after a gold prospector who had illegally entered into Lakota treaty territory to begin prospecting. … The Black Hills [where Mount Rushmore is located] were also a place of origin and a place of cultural and spiritual significance for over 50 Indigenous nations.”

George Washington “was known as ‘town destroyer.’ He was given that name by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy because he led a scorched-earth campaign against the Haudenosaunee prior to the Revolutionary War, but also during the Revolutionary War, to push them further westward. …

“Thomas Jefferson was really the architect of Indian removal as we now know it, like the Trail of Tears or the removal of the southeastern tribes from what we now know as the South, places like Georgia and North Carolina. But he was the one who really envisioned that, and that’s why he facilitated something like the Louisiana Purchase, because he imagined moving — basically creating a large Indian reserve — west of the Mississippi River. And of course, that, later on, became Oklahoma Territory. He also envisioned that the entire western hemisphere would be dominated” by Anglo-Saxons and “this was really the foundation of what we know as Manifest Destiny. …

“Lincoln himself is a very controversial figure for our people because he signed the death sentence for 38 Dakota patriots who took up arms against the United States after a breakdown in treaty obligations happened during the Civil War. … In 1862, you had the passage of the Homestead Act. … Dakota Uprising, as it’s known [happened] in 1862 … because the United States failed to live up to its treaty obligations to the Dakota people and … they took up arms. … But as the state of Minnesota reorganized itself for retaliation, they began organizing these irregular settler militias that were composed” of “recent European immigrants to basically create what we now know as the National Guard to crush the Indigenous uprising.”

The fourth face blasted into the mountain is that of “conservationist” Theodore Roosevelt. He is known for his role in the Spanish-American War with the “Rough Riders” and then for “gunboat diplomacy” during his presidency. Estes notes that even his role as “preservationist” is an ominous one for native people since “for settlers to appreciate nature, Indigenous people had to be ‘removed’ from nature.”

Estes notes that with respect to Minneapolis: “Leading up to the uprising and the killing of George Floyd, the conversation that I was hearing on the ground there, not just from Indigenous people but all people in that community … was the question of housing because housing prices were skyrocketing. So the intensification of police violence always correlates with profound inequality and we can trace that inequality in a place like Minneapolis back to its colonial origins when they expelled my ancestors.”

Intercepted played audio of Russell Means of the American Indian Movement: “And originally AIM, of course, was organized to combat police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But it grew, because the ideas of self-determination, the idea of being able to stand on your own two feet, eye-to-eye with the white man and say, ‘Wait a minute. Stop.'”

Israeli “Colonial” Expansion

RAMZY BAROUD, ramzybaroud at gmail.com, @RamzyBaroud
Baroud is editor of The Palestine Chronicle, which reports on a new congressional letter “spearheaded by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and signed by Reps. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, along with Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont” warning: “Should the Israeli government move forward with the planned annexation with this administration’s acquiescence, we will work to ensure non-recognition as well as pursue conditions on the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel, including human rights conditions.”

Other recent pieces include: “Palestine Chronicle Explains: What You Need to Know about Israel’s Annexation Plan.”

Baroud also wrote the piece “Palestine is Not Occupied, It is Colonized,” which states: “In some sense, the ‘Israeli occupation’ is no longer an occupation as per international standards and definitions. It is merely a phase of the Zionist colonization of historic Palestine, a process that began over a 100 years ago, and carries on to this day.”

He just wrote the piece “Why Israeli weapons should scare everyone,” which states: “Israeli officials are brimming over with pride. The country’s military exports are recovering very well, despite ‘intense international challenges and competition,'” as Israel has “managed to rake in $7.2 billion in so-called defence contracts last year alone.” The Chronicle also recently published the pieces “George Floyd and the Uprising: How Israel Contributes to the Militarization of American Police” and “Speaking against Settlement Expansion is just a Chore for the EU.”

Baroud also just wrote the piece “Tearing down the idols of colonialism: Why Tunisia, Africa must demand French apology.”

The Chronicle also reports on different forms of activism, including in the recent article “Pro-BDS Store Wins Major Legal Victory against Pro-Israel Advocates in the U.S.,” which states: “Advocates for the state of Israel have suffered a historic defeat in a decade-long legal battle to sue Olympia Food Co-op over its decision to boycott Israeli goods.

“The U.S. grocery store, which campaigns for ethical food consumption, was fully vindicated by a Washington appeals court on February 20 in a legal case that is likely to have positive ramifications for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights.”

Is Big Media Echoing Accusations to Demonize Russia and Continue Afghan War?

The New York Times on Friday published a piece titled: “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.”

The following analysts are scrutinizing this story:

MATTHEW HOH, matthew_hoh at riseup.net
Hoh resigned in protest from his State Department position in Afghanistan in 2009 over the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama administration; he also served in Iraq with the Marines.

He said today: “This is not the first time Russia has been accused of trying to harm U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. In 2017 and 2018 accusations were that Russia was supplying weapons to the Taliban were loudly repeated by the U.S. press, however, when put on record about such accusations, senior U.S., Afghan and NATO officials admitted there was no evidence to back such claims. In fact, the only confirmation of Russian involvement militarily in Afghanistan was the provision of 10,000 weapons to the Afghan government in 2016 by the Russians.

“This is more a story of the abdication of journalistic standards and critical practice than it really is about the war in Afghanistan. That nearly all corporate-owned media in the U.S. are simply repeating the claims of anonymous officials, claims that are made without any evidence, just demonstrates U.S. corporate media has become a public relations tool of the U.S. government. After corporate media’s willingness to repeat the baseless and unfounded claims, lies really, made by the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump in justifying U.S. war in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and now throughout Africa, it is no surprise they would go along, willingly and enthusiastically, with anonymous statements made without evidence, once again, in order to justify war in the Muslim world, to increase tensions with Russia, and to stoke Pentagon and military industry budgets. It should be noted nearly all the experts quoted in print or appearing on television/radio to speak about these claims are retired generals who are on the boards of military companies or residents of think tanks that receive funding from the U.S. government and/or the military industry.

“This has always been the nature of U.S. war in its imperial form, with false accusations supported by an excited media to create the domestic political support for war, or continued war. This is true of U.S. wars in Vietnam, Central America, the Spanish American War, the acquisition of Hawaii, the Mexican American War, U.S. support for the British Opium Wars, and, for hundreds of years, wars of genocide against the Indigenous people of this land.

“Of course, these dangerous accusations come at a time when peace efforts have reached a point in Afghanistan not seen since the early 1990s. Such an attempt to stop efforts to end a war with a continued value to the U.S. military industry, and elements within the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, should be expected.”

Hoh, a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy, who is also a 100 percent disabled veteran, has written extensively about U.S. wars for the last decade and has conducted hundreds of media interviews. See an appearance on CSPAN last year discussing the war in Afghanistan. His pieces include “Authorizations for Madness; The Effects and Consequences of Congress’ Endless Permissions for War,” “And the Armies That Remained Suffer’d: Veterans, Moral Injury and Suicide” and “Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies.”

SCOTT HORTON, via ed at scotthorton.org, @scotthortonshow
Horton is author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editorial director of Antiwar.com. He said of the recent reports: “The NYTWSJ and Washington Post stories all rely only on anonymous officials’ claims. These sources did not even describe the nature of the supposed intelligence to the reporters, much less prove their case. The journalists who wrote the articles have all cited each other as ‘confirming’ their stories on Twitter, when they all are still only repeating the same hearsay. (In a later follow-up, the Times added a few details, but still no reason to believe.)

“The timing is of course very suspicious due to impending negotiations with the Taliban and current negotiations with Russia, on U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and nuclear arms.

“After the intelligence agencies lied directly to the American people about Iraq’s unconventional weapons, Libya’s impending genocide, Syria’s ‘moderate rebel’ terrorists and especially the late-Russiagate hoax, every claim they make should be considered an outright lie until proven otherwise.

“Russia has supported U.S. efforts in Afghanistan since 2001. If they are now trying to give our government an excuse to stay bogged down in that no-win quagmire, then what does that say about our current occupation there in the first place?

“In 2017, the army admitted that there was no evidence for claims by officials to the media, such as CNN, that Russia was supplying weapons to the Taliban. War veteran journalists at Task and Purpose handily debunked those claims as well.

“There is no reason at all to believe the current accusations are any more credible.”

Others critics cited examples of U.S. policy killing or targeting Russians in Syria and in Afghanistan.

Challenging Monuments to “Colonialism and Slavery”

Several statues of Christopher Columbus have recently been brought down. In Albuquerque, Steven Ray Baca shot someone at a protest at a monument to a conquistador. Baca has reportedly been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

ROXANNE DUNBAR ORTIZ, rdunbaro pacbell.net@rdunbaro
Author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United StatesRoxanne Dunbar Ortiz said today: “As the movement for black lives protests against police violence … has spread to every part of the United States and around the world, some have turned to the glaring public symbols of the history that empowers such violence — colonialism and slavery. Statues celebrating Confederate officers and slavers have come down, as well as those of Columbus, who is best known for pioneering European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere and genocide of the Indigenous Arawaks in the Caribbean; he also brought the transatlantic African slave trade, as well as returning to Spain with enslaved natives who were sold on the European slave market.”

Dunbar also wrote the book Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New MexicoShe continued: “In New Mexico, which was first colonized by the Spanish in 1598, the descendants of those first settlers have in the past several decades erected statues of the genocidal conquistador, Don Juan de Oñate, as well as annually celebrating what they call the entrada, the arrival of the gifts of Christianity and European culture to people they considered savages. Actually, the Indigenous Peoples in New Mexico, called Pueblos, live in small city states with multi-storied communal homes made of adobe or cut granite and practiced irrigation agriculture all along the North Rio Grande River. The Spanish reduced the 98 city-states to 21 within ten years of ‘arrival.’ Today, most of the New Mexico state, county, and cities/towns, as well as the police are controlled by the Hispanos, as the descendants of the Spanish invaders call themselves. On Monday, June 15, one of these Hispanos shot into a group protesting the Oñate statue in Albuquerque, seriously injuring two protestors.”

Statues Tumble

Sam Gillies via Storyful

ADAM HOCHSCHILD, adamhochschild at earthlink.net
Hochschild has written about the conquest of the Congo in his King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa.

He said today: “As the impact of the video of George Floyd’s killing continues to ricochet around the world, one result has been an epidemic of toppling statues. In the United States, longstanding monuments to Confederate generals have fallen. In Belgium, statues of King Leopold II, the ruthless colonizer of the Congo, have been splashed with red or taken down, and in Australia a mountain range named after him lost its name. In Britain, a statue of Edward Colston, a Bristol merchant and slave trader, was tossed into the city’s harbor.”

Hochschild specifically mentions the statue of Edward Colston in his book on the British antislavery movement, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves.

“When people get shocked by an injustice today,” says Hochschild, “it’s only natural that they look around and realize that, on all sides of us, we have symbols of injustices in the past. We would be shocked if Germany had statues of Hitler in prominent places, but Leopold, like Hitler, was responsible for millions of deaths. I sympathize with the Belgians who want to see him gone. Congo today still suffers from the legacy of its ruthless colonization, and some modern corporations — Unilever, for instance — have roots that go back to the forced labor system founded by Leopold. And in so many ways, in Britain, the United States, and other countries, we are still dealing with the heritage of slavery.”

Hochschild teaches at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of ten books.