FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraq and the American Borg

by NELSON VALDES

Americans consider themselves rugged individualists who by nature resist the coercion or imposition of any arbitrary external power. This self-definition of Americanism is represented in numerous ways in American popular culture. The symbol of that independent attitude has been well represented by the Texan rattlesnake and the phrase ‘don’t tread on me.” Literature and popular science fiction have conveyed a similar message. In the Star Trek series, Commander Jean Luc Picard and the Starfleet crew encounter the vastly technologically superior war machine of the conquering Borg. These inter-galactic colonialists claim that their way of life is immensely superior and constitute a liberation-by-integration, thereby raising “the quality of life of all species.” The Borg’s message is quite to the point: “all resistance is futile.” Yet, the response conveyed by the French born Jean Luc and his comrades is simple enough as well: in the face of overwhelming force, resistance is an imperative and death is preferable to conquest or submission. Thus, the American ideology of defiance was voiced.

Yet, one thing is what we claim to believe and what actually guides the country’ s foreign policy. American military doctrine of “Shock and Awe” assumes that instilling fear of death will achieve “rapid dominance” over the adversary. The doctrine was first elucidated by Harlan K. Ullman, professor at the US War College. A corollary of “Shock and Awe,” also enunciated by the professor, is that the United States can ‘turn the lights on and off’ of an adversary as we choose” and no choice will be left “except to cease and desist or risk complete and total destruction.” Or so goes the “logic.”

On April 11 the Washington Post reported that Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, commander of the 1st Batallion, 5th Marine Regiment, from outside the city of Fallujah stated, “What is coming is the destruction of anti-coalition forces in Fallujah. . . . They have two choices: submit or die.” For the American Marine commander, in a Borg-like fashion, resistance is also futile.

Perhaps it will be too much to ask of US foreign policy makers or military commanders and strategists to learn the history and culture of the country they help invaded. It might be too complicated or disconcerting to understand the roots of Iraqi nationalism. A simpler solution, perhaps, would be to watch and understand Jean Luc Picard’s reasoning for organizing resistance against the Borg: “I will not sacrifice the Enterprise. We have made too many compromises already; too many retreats. They invade our space and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further! And I will make them pay for what they’ve done.”

Yet, the sources of resistance in the face of overwhelming odds are limitless. We should know by merely paying attention to our own imagined cultural archetypes. History tells us as much. Defiance has many names: self-respect, honor, courage, pride, revenge, nationalism, self-determination, religious calling, soul power, liberty, family, neighborhood, community and, of course, choice.

In the long run overwhelming technological military coercion is no match against a people fighting for its own independence. The American Borg’s resources, military doctrine and efforts will be futile when battling against a population who believes in the subversive standard of “give me liberty or give me death.”

Nelson Valdés is professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico and visiting professor at Duke University.

Nelson P. Valdes is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail