Lessons from Past Western Incursions in the Middle East.
A speech by Juan Cole
at the New America Foundation
in which he discusses his new book, Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East
, and the relevance and lessons of Napoleon's expedition in Egypt to the current American occupation of Iraq. A shorter version, covering many of the same points, is in this article: Pitching the Imperial Republic
"The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust,
wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy
. There is more money
in it, more territory
, more sovereignty
, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion. She has been so eager to get every stake that appeared on the green cloth, that the People who Sit in Darkness
have noticed it – they have noticed it, and have begun to show alarm
. They have become suspicious of the Blessings of Civilization."
Freedom's Defenders or Politicians' Pawns?
No pretense of protecting Americans’ freedom went into the decision to enter into the Spanish-American War
. It was out-and-out imperialism and nothing more. Veterans of that war may have helped to liberate Cuba , Guam , Puerto Rico , and the Philippines from Spanish rule; but those same veterans then turned around and rammed the jackboot of the U. S. military into the faces of those they had just liberated. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans and Filipinos, who had thought they were being freed only to find out they had merely exchanged one colonial master for another, were killed in their own independence-from-Uncle-Sam movements. When they finally did throw off direct U. S. rule, they were then saddled with dictators of Uncle Sam’s choosing. No credit for the defense of Americans’ freedom can be granted to veterans of this war.
Compare to this: Gunning For Saddam
We report, you decide indeed...
In 1898, the United States made a major move in the direction of colonial imperialism with the acquisition of the Philippine Islands from Spain. President Bush, in a recent speech in the Philippines, pointed to that country's story as a model for rebuilding Iraq
. Perhaps a history lesson
about the American and Filipino experience in this occupation is in order for both us and our President. The atrocities
committed during the Filipinos' struggle for independence (including the use of concentration camps
), the high death toll
(between 250,000 and 1,000,000, according to this article), and the American occupation which spanned six decades lead me to question whether Bush is just ignorant of the associations made in this comparison, or if it's a subtle way for the administration to set the stage for what possessing Iraq is actually going to entail. (Most links courtesy of the outstanding BoondocksNet
, a collection of primary and secondary sources related to American imperialism.)