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boys were sent off to die with *beautiful ideals* painted in front
of them. No one told them that *dollars and cents* were the real
reason they were marching off to *kill and die*."
--Gen. Smedley Butler, 1934
It is easy for
millions of Americans to believe that the Iraq war, or for that
matter, any other war this century, was fought for high- sounding
ideals, like freedom and democracy.
It is easy.
Yet it is wrong.
In the earlier
half of the 20th Century, when the U.S. invaded the Philippines,
it proclaimed its duty as bringing "civilization" to the
benighted peoples of the islands. There, Filipino rebels were waging
an independence war against the Spaniards and were on the verge
of winning their freedom. Lo and behold, the U.S. stepped in, and
proclaimed that they too were on the side of "freedom."
Spain, reading the handwriting on the wall, rather quickly capitulated.
Under the fog of "freedom", however, lay other motives,
ones expressed openly by Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge, who
Philippines are *ours forever... and just beyond the Philippines
are Chinas illimitable markets....* The Pacific is *our ocean.*"
[Source: Howard Zinn, *A People's History of the United States*
(1995), p. 306.]
clearly had other ideas, for they had just ended a war for independence,
after all, with one waning empire. They were in no mood to join
another. But the Americans, using their media and their politicians
to promote "civilization" as their "mission",
brought in troops, who were ordered to "Burn all and kill all."
military killed over 600,000 Filipinos to "civilize" them.
The great American novelist, Mark Twain, so outraged by the American
actions there, joined the Anti-Imperialist League, became its
Vice-President, and would later exclaim:
seen that we do not intend to free but to subjugate the Philippines
and so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle
put its talons on any other land.... I have a strong aversion to
sending our bright boys out there to fight with a disgraced musket
under a polluted flag." [Source: Philip Foner, *Mark Twain:
Social Critic (1958), p. 260.]
the U.S. supported the corrupt and brutal Marcos Regime in Manila,
where freedom was a joke and democracy an illusion. It took a broad
rebellion by Filipinos to remove him from power.
The native dead
from the Vietnam War rarely enters American debate, even though
some 2,000,000 men, women and children lost their lives. When U.S.-
backed dictatorships unleashed their CIA-trained death squads on
their own people, killing hundreds of thousands since the 1970s
in Central America, who among us bothered to even count these peasants?
When the U.S. bombed its way into Panama in 1989 to remove Noriega
(and install their own kleptocracy), thousands of Panamanians
were slain during the invasion. How many? The U.S. hadnt bothered
During the first
Gulf War, in 91, the U.S. killed an estimated 150,000 Iraqis.
But like the Panamanians, the Central Americans, the Filipinos before
them, they were faceless, nameless, and largely forgotten. In U.S.
military parlance, they are "collateral damage".
So too, the
bombing campaign of the most recent Iraqi war was brought to you
by Raytheon, and Lockheed, and the imperial press corps, complete
with uniforms. They can tell you how many bombs were dropped, where
they were dropped, indeed how much each bomb weighed and cost. Yet
who they hit, and how many they killed is not
news. As non-Westerners, as nonwhites, they are expendable; forgettable.
Do you really
think that there will be a democratic' Iraq?
What if a majority
of Iraqis want to found an Islamic state? The U.S. Secretary of
Defense Rumsfeld had already announced that such a polity would
be "unacceptable." "Democracy" thus may really
mean, "do what the Americans want you to do." For the
better part of a century, the words, "democracy," "civilization."
and "freedom" have
been code words for something else indeed. They have been code words
for Empire. And what *is* Empire? It is the looting and exploitation
of the world for profit. Let us return briefly to Sen. Beveridge
for the flavor of the Philippines invasion and slaughter, to reflect
the real reasons for that war, as well as an inkling of the latest
invasion of Iraq:
Philippines give us a base at the door of all the East... No land
in America surpasses in fertility the plains and valleys of Luzon.
Rice and coffee, sugar and coconuts, hemp and tobacco.... The wood
of the Philippines can supply the furniture of the world for a century
to come. At Cebu the best informed man on the island told me that
40 miles of Cebus mountain chain are practically mountains
My own belief
is that there are not 100 men among them who comprehend what Anglo-Saxon
self-government even means, and there are over 5,000,000 people
to be governed.
It has been
charged *that our conduct of the war has been cruel.* Senators,
it has been the reverse... Senators must remember that we are not
dealing with Americans
or Europeans. *We are dealing with Orientals.*" [Source: Zinn,
this pervasive racism fueled American colonialism at the beginning
of the 20th century.
if you look far enough, it is with us still.
Check out Mumia's
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life
of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com
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is Final -- Free Mumia!
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.