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.

More articles by:

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

January 18, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Destabilizer: Trump’s Escalating Threats Against Iran
John W. Whitehead
Silence Is Betrayal: Get Up, Stand Up, Speak Up for Your Rights
Andrew Day
Of “Shitholes” and Liberals
Dave Lindorff
Rep. Gabbard Speaks Truth to Power About the Real Reason Korea Has Nukes
Barbara G. Ellis
The Workplace War: Hatpins Might Be in Style Again for Women
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Sickness in May’s Britain
Ralph Nader
Twitter Rock Star Obama’s Silence Must Delight Trump
John G. Russell
#Loose Lips (Should) Sink … Presidencies … But Even If They Could, What Comes Next?
David Macaray
The “Mongrelization” of the White Race
Ramzy Baroud
In Words and Deeds: The Genesis of Israeli Violence
January 17, 2018
Seiji Yamada
Prevention is the Only Solution: a Hiroshima Native’s View of Nuclear Weapons
Chris Welzenbach
Force of Evil: Abraham Polonsky and Anti-Capitalist Noir
Thomas Klikauer
The Business of Bullshit
Howard Lisnoff
The Atomized and Siloed U.S. Left
Martha Rosenberg
How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science
George Wuerthner
The Collaboration Trap
David Swanson
Removing Trump Will Require New Activists
Michael McKinley
Australia and the Wars of the Alliance: United States Strategy
Binoy Kampmark
Macron in China
Cesar Chelala
The Distractor-in-Chief
Ted Rall
Why Trump is Right About Newspaper Libel Laws
Mary Serumaga
Corruption in Uganda: Minister Sam Kutesa and Company May Yet Survive Their Latest Scandal
January 16, 2018
Mark Schuller
What is a “Shithole Country” and Why is Trump So Obsessed With Haiti?
Paul Street
Notes From a “Shithole” Superpower
Louisa Willcox
Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness: Stewart “Brandy” Brandborg
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Sinister Plan to Kill the Iranian “Nukes” Deal
Franklin Lamb
Kafkaesque Impediments to Challenging Iran’s Theocracy
Norman Solomon
Why Senator Cardin is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning
Fred Gardner
GI Coffeehouses Recalled: a Compliment From General Westmoreland
Brian Terrell
Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo
Don Fitz
Bondage Scandal: Looking Beneath the Surface
Rob Seimetz
#Resist Co-opting “Shithole”
Ted Rall
Trump Isn’t Unique
January 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Democrats and the End(s) of Politics
Paul Tritschler
Killing Floor: the Business of Animal Slaughter
Mike Garrity
In Targeting the Lynx, the Trump Administration Defies Facts, Law, and Science Once Again
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
Uri Avnery
Bibi’s Son (Or Three Men in a Car)
Dave Lindorff
Yesterday’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa
Jeff Mackler
Lesser Evil Politics in Alabama
Jonah Raskin
Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John McMillan
Jose-Antonio Orosco
Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy
David Macaray
Everything Seems to Be Going South
Kathy Kelly
41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo
Weekend Edition
January 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
George Burchett
Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail