February 2, 2007

Revisiting old wisdom

From the first chapter of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States:

What did people in Spain get out of all that death and brutality visited on the Indians of the Americas? For a brief period in history, there was the glory of a Spanish Empire in the Western Hemisphere. As Hans Koning sumit up in his book Columbus: His Enterprise:

For all the gold and silver stolen and shipped to Spain did not make the Spanish people richer. It gave their kings and edge in the balance of power for a time, a chance to hire more mercenary soldiers for their wars. They ended up losing those wars anyway, and all that was left was a deadly inflation, a starving population, the rich richer, the poor poorer, and a ruined peasant class.

You can paste this quote directly into our war with Iraq and pretty much anything we've ever done over there, changing "Spain" to the US. Skeptics would of course point out their knee-jerk disconnect where the American Indians were not a "direct threat to Europe's security" like them gol-dern terrrists is. What they would of course be missing, as they always have, is that Islamic fundamentalists would not have gained so much power in that region had we not screwed it up so severely already. This quote doesn't just apply to the current war that we're still losing in Iraq, it applies to our days as early back as the 1950's when we installed the Shah in Iran, and maybe even before that. Iraqis, Afghans, Kosovars, you name 'em, they're the Indians. We're the Spaniards, English, Dutch, Italian, you name them too. It's the same thing, with a big horrific attack on our soil to distort our rationality and still give war mongers' racist, nationalist, imperialist, and bigoted points of view any miniscule amount of substance.

This is one of those rants that seems like it should have been posted a long time ago, but I think that even though America is overwhealmingly against the war, most Americans are probably just physically and mentally tired of it. It's not some kind of ideological shift, it's just a repeat of Vietnam: the longer it goes on, the more we hate it. We still don't really question why the war is happening, or why it was allowed to happen in the first place. We're just fatigued and simply want it to go away.

If I don't stop now I never will.

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