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imperialism & war

Thoughts on Protest and War

A different opinion.
The foundation of American political stability is in many ways similar
to the foundation of bioevolutionary mechanics. Stability comes from
the mutual interdependecies and supports of the plural instabilities of
diversity. It is a government that exists in flux, and from that flux
stems its resiliency to foundational change.

On a generalized and abstracted level, the fluctuations in American
politics shift power in varying degrees between two different sites:
the centralized federal level, and the decentralized folk level. The
people grant a certain degree of power and autonomy to their federal
government, and they reserve the right to challenge that government.
These challenges are constant, diverse, and frequently contradictory to
one another. Nonetheless, it is the right of the people, and the
person, to act, that drags power away from the centralized federal
government and brings it towards the folk level. It is for this reason
that Americans are the most empowered people, as well as nation, on the
Earth. That is a very important distinction to note, so I'll say it
again, we are the most empowered People on the Earth, as well as the
most empowered nation. It is this empowerment of the People that makes
us so great, that is the American dream, that is the reason for the
founding of the country, the framing of the Constitution, etc.

The exercise of the right of protest and disagreement itself protects
and furthers American freedom and power.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were also protests. They were
actions designed to drag power away from the American centralized
government and towards the folk level. However, they were actions
designed to drag power not into the hands of American folk, but into the
hands of Islamic Extremist folk. It is in this way that those actions
were most profoundly breaches of our national boundaries.

The system of flux and conflict we have established as our political and
social system exists within a very specific border: the line that
distinguishes our nation-state. Our right of protest exists to shift
power from nexus of power to nexus of power within that border. It is
due to certain social contracts, assumptions, declarations, policing
agencies, and other mechanisms that we, as Americans, can allow for the
conflict and the fluctuations in power. It is because of these
agreements that we make as Americans that our system of diversity and
instability is, in fact, so stable.

The terrorist attacks were attacks on the very boundary that allows for
the shifting and fluctuating power in our system to remain contained in
the hands of Americans. Thus, as attempts to steal our power and
thereby our freedom to do what we will with that power, these attacks
cannot be tolerated or left unaddressed.

However, to seek out and fight the terrorists as a group is a dangerous
proposition. International relations and foreign domestic policy
represent aspects of a dialogue or polylogue that occurs between
nation-states. If the US addresses the terrorists directly, then that
dialogue is no longer taking place between nations, but rather between a
nation-state and a folk. Folk cannot be defeated by a nation-state.
The impact that one woman sitting on a bus can have on our domestic
policy is a testament to the power that resides at the folk level. It
would be to blaspheme the foundation of stregth of the American body
politic not to admit this power and the nexus of its location: in the
hands and voices of individuals.

Additionally, it is perhaps irresponsible to chase the terrorists
themselves, for to do so is to disrespect the years of suffering and
labor, sweat and tears, blood and lives that have been spent to create
the border that surrounds our system of power. To condescend to
allowing the terrorists to be an identity, a threat, a group recognized
by our military is perhaps to forget what we are, and how we got here.
We are America. We are a nation. Courage and fortitude, perseverance,
vision and belief are what brought us to where we are. We do not waste
our time with piss-ants, cowards, and murderers. We talk to nations.

To disallow the terrorists the act of dragging American power towards
the hands of non-American folk, it is necessary to maintain this Act and
Scene of the international dialogue at the level of the nation-state.
In forming an anti-terrorist coalition of nations, we are doing
precisely this. In attacking nations who knowingly harbor terrorists,
or actively fund and support them, we are maintaining this discussion at
the level of the nation-state. It is in the act of bombing Afghanistan
as a nation, because their governmental leaders will not cooperate with
our objective of securing our national boundaries, that we do the
greatest good for ourselves and the greatest ill to the aims of the

Our national security is most greatly bolstered by guaranteeing that
those who engage us in dialogue do so from the standpoint of their own
national body. Those nations that allow or support non-nations in
engaging us in dialogue must cease to be nations at our hand, for the
message this sends is one of support for every national body on Earth
that wishes to engage us as a national body and a reinforcement of our
committment to our own political system and the proliferation of that
system worldwide.

When terrorists attack us, and those terrorists are supported by
Afghanistan, it is necessary to bomb Afghanistan. Not specifically to
kill terrorists, but because it is implicate to our interests as a
nation and speaker on the world stage. If Iraq harbors terrorists, it
is Iraq that must be bombed. This holds true for every nation that
supports or harbors those who would engage the US from a non-national
standpoint. Any non-national engagement of our country is a slap in the
face of every American who worked or died to create the thing that is
America. We must slap back, but specifically at the national level.

It is important to remember, also, that our ability to bomb any nation
that harbors or supports terrorists is not what makes us great. It is
simply a tool to preserve and further our greatness. What makes us
great is our right to protest our own actions in making these military
gestures. It is our diversity of opinion, our tolerance and
inclusionism, and the empowerment of our people that shows to the world
the success of the political and social experiment that has become our
country. Those same protesters we jokingly talk of punching as a means
of justifying or explaining our military presence in Afghanistan are a
part of that plural and diverse system of disagreement and struggle for
power and majority that makes it worth the effort to bomb Afghanistan on
our own behalf. It is the preservation of the protesters' right to spit
on their own sons and daughters who give their lives to protect them
that is the American way. It is this right and many others like it that
are the face of freedom and are the America worth killing to protect.

Some further argument has been brought to my attention that bears
consideration. Firstly, as the sole present superpower in the world, as
the leading economic, military, and cultural player on the stage,
America does, in fact, have an impact on the lives of, and thereby a
responsiblity to, the folk of other countries. It is highly important
that these folk have avenues and mechanisms in place to protect the
necessity and presence of their voice in any international discussion.
By working to maintain this discussion at the level of the nation-state
we are securing the national boundaries of every nation in the world,
and stabilizing the environment for discussion, dialogue, and policy.
By working to proliferate democracy, we are strengthening the access of
those folk to their governments, and in so doing opening and solidifying
their access to presence in that environment. American idealism and a
humane conscience dictate that every individual has a right to voice and
opinion in these dialogues. It is our responsibility as the
trailblazers of this great political system to ensure such access, just
as it is our responsibilty as a world leader to ensure the safety of the
system from the potentially violent expressions of certain opinions.
Put in simpler terms, everyone has a right to representation at the
table, no one has the right to come in shooting, and there will be armed
guards at every entrance to guarantee that this is so.

Secondly, in a situation such as Afghanistan where the present
government is arguably illegitimate, is without doubt a hindrance to the
process of bringing representation of its folk to the international
dialogue, and where evidence of violent attrocities and oppression of
its folk exists, it becomes important to remember why we've become
involved in the first place. An illegitimate regime holding power over
a nation weakens the security of our system of international dialogue.
Moreover, it works contrary to the humane and idealistic inspirations on
which society must be founded to be just. In such a situation, the
dismantling of the government and its subsequent reconstruction are not
simply an economic or military necessity, but also, and more
importantly, a responsibility of the powers of the world to that folk.
And just so there is no mistake, the "powers of the world" are nothing
more than the collective might, resolve, and inspiration of the folk of
those nations that have become world powers. The responsibility, though
many things, is in some degree a responsiblity of one individual for the
life and wellbeing of another.

This began as a simple argument in protection of the spirit of protest
as an American institution, but has grown, perhaps only a little, into a
discussion of some of the very spirit of America and democracy itself.
As informed and intelligent people we must recognize that to protest our
government is to take part in our government is to be very much a
patriot and is to express, however distorted by circumstance or personal
issue or whatever else distorts expressions as such expressions can and
do become, love for life, involvement in society, and responsibilty for
our fellow men and women. Heinlein suggested in a science fiction novel
that for one to be a citizen of a society it was necessary for that one
to serve his society first. In America, we have the opportunity to
serve as military personnel, rescue and safety personnel, policy-makers,
and as critics. All of these roles are necessary to make America great
as it was designed to be two hundred years ago, for this country's
greatness stems from the empowerment of its people, from the idealism of
its people, and from the role of responsibility it can and must play in
the world.

Just as an afterthought, as patriots our complaint cannot be with our
military who serve us, cannot be with out protesters who serve us,
cannot be with our government who by and large is us. If any complaint
is to be made, it can only be with those who choose not to make use of
the empowerment that is theirs as Americans, those who do not
This is the joke referenced in the article 14.Oct.2001 15:24

The Old Gray Wolf rags_the_digger@yahoo.com

Helpful hints if you happen upon a Peace Rally:
> 1) Approach an ignorant, liberal person talking about peace and
> saying there should be "no retaliation. "
> 2) Have a brief conversation with them and ask if military force is
> appropriate.
> 3) When he says, "No, " ask him, "Why not?"
> 4) When he says, "Because that would just cause more innocent deaths,
> which
> would be awful, and we should not cause more violence."
> 5) Punch him in the face . . . hard.
> 6) When he gets up to punch you, point out to him that it would be a
> mistake
> (and contrary to his values) to punch you because he would be causing
> more
> violence.
> 7) When he agrees with you that he has pledged not to commit violence,
> punch
> him in the face again . . . only harder this time.
> 8) Repeat steps 2 through 7 until he understands that sometimes it
> is necessary to punch back

Very Funny 14.Oct.2001 19:22

B Appel

Helpful hints if you happen upon a person telling the above joke at a peace rally:

1) DUCK!

2) Politely request that the joker calm down.

3) Ask the joker why he or she attempted to strike you.

3) If the joker refuses calmly to discuss with you his or her agressive and seemingly unprovoked attack but instead again tries to attack you, duck once more.

4) Enlist the help of other non-violent activists. Use their presence to isolate the joker from any possible social support for his or her agressive position and to help provide moral force for the non-violent argument.

5) Continue this dance of ducking and talking until the joker either concedes to talk like a RATIONAL HUMAN BEING or goes away in shame.

A better opinion 14.Oct.2001 20:52

B. Appel

Some helpful hints on interpreting the above article:

1) Old Gray Wolf apparently believes that it is fine to protest the war as long as the protest has no real effect on the war; the war is amply justified according to Wolf's sketchy political philosophy.

2) The U.S. did not become the most "empowered" nation on Earth due to some fundemental correlation between people power and state power. If there is any correlation at all it is a negative one. Democracies (i.e., REAL democracies) tend to be rather inefficient; and as our current President said, "a dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier" than even our present representative "democracy." In fact, the U.S. became a world power largely because of its political and economic position after WWII, and this advantageous position came about due to circumstances completely unrelated or even opposed to our form of government--for example, our isolated geographical location (which is unrelated to our form of government) allowed the U.S. to remain virtually untouched by the ravages of the war; our policy of domestic imperialism, the driving of native people off their land, gave to American industry huge amounts of natural resouces at little or no cost, and thus greatly aided our ascent to ascendancy.

3) Wolf asserts that conflicts should take place between folk and folk within a state, and between state and state; but not between a state and a folk outside the state. Fine. But how is this to be applied to terrorists (all of them folk, I presume) who are allied with and part of no state? What if the terrorists are allied with an "illegitimate" government? Is bombing the land occupied by an illegitimate, terrorist sponsoring state a helpful response, or are we only harming the folk we wish to help?

4) Wolf states that only "those who choose not to make use of the empowerment that is theirs as Americans, those who do not participate," are blameworthy. This catagory would seem to include all those who would protest rather than (e.g.) call their elected representatives. Civil disobedience thus seems ruled out. So what do you do when your state acts immorally in spite of all attempt to create change from within the system?

5) Wolf's account assumes, contrary to fact, the myth of the American Dream, which contains the fallacy that if hard work brings success then all the successful ones got their success through hard work and, conversely, all the unsuccessful ones are too lazy to work hard for success. Wolf also assumes, contrary to fact, the myth that our elected officials work for the interests of the folk. There is too much evidence showing that in fact our elected officials answer to corporate interests.

6) If you rather liked Old Wolf's argument and you want more of the same, turn on your TV and watch the news (or any program really)!!

Response to a better opinion 15.Oct.2001 12:55

The Old Gray Wolf rags_the_digger@yahoo.com

B. Appel,

To the contrary, it is of the highest importance that civil disobedience, the acts of protest, etc. have an impact on the war, and any other aspect of American life. My point (and understand that this essay was originally written for a different audience than Indymedia, but shared for what I believed was its relevance) is that protest is a necessary mechanism in American politics and must be revered and practiced as such, and respected by those who generally disagree with the ideas of the protesters.

As for dealing with illegitimate regimes or terrorists who act on behalf of no nation, perhaps it is best to remember that to exist is to exist at a locale. Thus, geography is highly important and a viable tool for erradicating terrorism. Those countries who harbor and support terrorists must be accountable.

Also, this forum is one of open discussion for any opinion or coverage of any event that would not generally find its way into the mainstream media. I have stood in protest with Portlanders more than once, and reported on our protests on this site as well. I believe my points are worth consideration, and ones that would not be found in the mainstream media. That is why my words are here.

I am critical of my government. I am a patriot. I think very highly of our socio-political system. I am also critical of our socio-political system. In my opinion, the only path through the evils and inequalities of the present condition is through unification of our efforts and ideals from every location in society. The American Way is not limited to your economic model of hard work and reward. It is also a history of working towards equality, fairness, humane conditions, and integrity in action and structure. Of course it is not perfect. The job is not yet complete, nor is that completion imminent. There is much to be done to further the cause of justice and compassion on Earth. Work that must be done as a unified front.

To: Old Gray Wolf 16.Oct.2001 17:35

B. Appel


I'm sorry for having misunderstood you. I think we are for the most part in agreement about the role of protest and civil disobedience in a democratic society. I too highly respect our system of government, but (as I'm sure you would agree) there is much that can be improved.

On a purely theoretical level I agree that we must hold accountable those states that support and harbor terrorists. In our present situation, however, attacking a state such as Afghanistan is unlikely to bring about peace and justice; nor is it likely to secure the U.S. against future attacks. The most likely outcome of bombing Afghanistan is an intensification of the same anti-U.S. feelings that caused the S11 attacks. The bombing raids against Afghanistan (which affect millions of innocent people, not just the supposedly terroeist supporting Taliban leaders) will be seen by many in the East as just one more example of brutal U.S. imperialism.

There has been some talk that Iraq may have been partially involved in the S11 attacks. If this is the case, does bombing Iraq effectively "hold them accountable"? We've been bombing Iraq for the last ten years; should we not expect retaliation for this clear act of war?

Holding States accountable for the actions of their citizens and charges is all good and fine, but our current course of action is not about accountablity or justice or peace but about bombing unfriendly nations into submission to our will. Basically, the U.S. is the world's big bully, and on S11, one of the weaklings kicked him in the nuts while he was sleeping.

I think the best response so far to the S11 attacks has been freezing the assets of the suspected terrorists. Obviously this is not going to end terrorism. But at least it will not create NEW terrorist. As idealistic as it sounds, I think the best response would be to talk it out. I know this sounds terribly utopian and naive, but it IS possible. First however the U.S. must set the table: we must show the Third World that we have quit our imperialistic ways and are ready to make amends for the damage we've done. We have to give the people of the Third World self-determination and the means to achieve their goals. Of course it is not possible to do this all at once, but we must take this as OUR goal and show that we are comminted to it. Perhaps then those who hate us so much they are willing to sacrifice their lives and thousands of innocent others will come to the table and talk about how WE can make this a good world.

Anyway Wolf, that I think is my main disagreement with you. I apologize for implying before that your views were no different than those of the mainstream. Actually it was only some of your conclusions that seemed to echo the Idiot Box. Surely the T.V. does not offer the kind of analysis that you did with your Folk/State distinction. These views DO deserve to be heard and considered.