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.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Ludwig Watzal
What Israel is Really All About
Randy Shields
Matters of National Insecurity
Vacy Vlanza
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Through Eyes of an Activist for Palestine
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Martin Billheimer
Lessons Paid in Full
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
David Yearsley
The Brilliance of Velasquez
July 20, 2017
Sebastian Friedrich – Gabriel Kuhn
A New Class Politics
Patrick Cockburn
The Massacre of Mosul: More Than 40,000 Civilians Feared Dead
Paul Street
The Abandonment: Reflections on James Foreman’s “Locking Up Our Own”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail