(Originally written June 14, 2009)
The (UK) Sunday Times Online Edition, June 14, 2009, reported that the Bush II administration Iraq policy agreed to accept 30 civilian deaths (murders) for each attack on a “high-value” target. Under the Obama administration the acceptable number has been reportedly reduced to single digits (“Afghan Villagers Slain As They Took Cover,” by Jon Swain).
Examination of US military history reveals a long pattern of contempt for civilians, rationalizing their murders, usually by ignoring them, or dehumanizing them such that they are not considered human. Since US intervention is generally illegal, and consequently unpopular with the majority of the victim-nation’s citizenry, many locals join the resistance, as is their right under international law. The US, of course, sees them as unlawful combatants.
The very foundation of US civilization is built on genocide Number One of millions of Indigenous people, termed “savages” and “vermine,” who for multiple generations had resided on lands in the Western Hemisphere forcefully taken from them by European invaders. Our Declaration of Independence describes the Indigenous Americans as “merciless Indian Savages.” In 1779, during the “Revolutionary War,” General George Washington described the Indigenous Americans as “beasts of prey,” ordering their destruction while “chastizing” them with “terror.” The U.S. Constitution did not recognize Indigenous Americans as citizens. In effect, they were non-persons.
Genocide Number Two occurred with the forceful ravaging of numerous African communities, killing the majority in a violent process capturing millions to acquire “free” chattel slaves to build the early agricultural and industrial base of the US. Our US Constitution explicitly denied African-American slaves the status of people or citizens, treating them merely as property.
During the Twentieth Century, hundreds of military and thousands of covert interventions in more than one hundred nations enabled the U.S. to acquire lucrative markets and cheap resources and labor, murdering at least 20 million innocent poor in the process, to assure success, at virtually any cost, of the American Way Of Life (AWOL). This latter record amounts to genocide Number Three. The U.S. civilization is built on genocides, enabling selfish addiction to money and material goods through violent, deceitful control of virtually everything in our path, causing incalculable destruction to people and the environment. People of “color,” or of little means, are worth less, often nothing, as we consider ourselves “exceptional.”
During the Spanish American War, the behavior of the U.S. military repressing the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902), matched and exceeded use of official terror as applied against US Indigenous right up to the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota in December 1890.
Angry at Indigenous resistance, the US referred to native Filipinos as “goo-goos.” Army Brigadier General “Hell-Raising” Smith ordered Marine Major Littleton W.T. Waller on Christmas Eve 1901: “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn; the more you kill and burn the better you will please me.” General Smith declared that “the interior of mountainous Samar must be made a howling wilderness,” ordering all persons killed who were capable of bearing arms and engaging in combat.
President Theodore Roosevelt congratulated the General in charge of conquering Batangas Province in Luzon for his successful scorched earth policy that killed, according to an estimate of the secretary of the province, one-third of the population through shootings, starvation, and war-induced disease.
By the time the bulk of the guerrillas had surrendered or been killed in 1902, nearly 5,000 U.S. military had died. But estimates of Filipinos murdered in the nearly three-and-a-half year campaign of “scorched earth” range from 200,000 to 600,000, many buried in mass graves.
Secretary of War Elihu Root under President Mckinley and Teddy Roosevelt justified the US conduct against the “the cruel and treacherous savages who inhabited the island,” citing two precedents as authority: (1) General George Washington’s orders to General John Sullivan in 1779 to use “terror” to “destroy” and “lay waste” the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; and (2) General William Tecumseh Sherman’s request in December 1866 to General Ulysses S. Grant to “act with vindictive earnestness, even to their extermination, men, women, and children” against the Sioux Indians as punishment for their having trapped and defeated an 80-man detachment of the 27th US infantry from Fort Phil Kearny, Nebraska that had defied orders by straying across Lodge Pole Creek as they chased what they believed were panic-stricken warriors. [See Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980), p. 329]
Thus was established an official United States policy of murdering civilians and caring little about distinguishing them from combatants. My experience in Viet Nam of learning of mindless bombings of undefended, inhabited fishing villages finally woke me up to this sick reality. But, it seems, the US population is conditioned to accept such belligerent policy, for if they were severely opposed, they would assure permanent occupations in the streets making governance impossible.