Weekly Editorials Page
11/1 to 11/7, 2001
 


11/8/2001: I've toned down a bit what I wrote last night. I'm not as shocked as I was then.
    All our modern history is, in my opinion, far better than was the ancient world. In the ancient world, "to the victor went the spoils". The winners of a war looted the vanquished, putting them to the sword or selling them into slavery. The women could count on being raped. Torture was an official instrument of the state. And warfare was chronic.

11/7/2001: I've had a rude awakening. 
The Mexican War
    In the 1999 Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, I looked up the Mexican War. Mexico had invited U. S. citizens to settle in Texas. At first,  In 1835, the Texans declared themselves a separate country ("The Republic of Texas"), winning their independence from Mexico in 1836. In 1845, they became one of the states of the United States. Texas claimed that its border went all the way to the Rio Grande, while Mexico claimed that it stopped about 100 miles east, at the Nueces River. In 1845, President Polk sent James Slidell to Mexico City to negotiate the border dispute, and to try to purchase California from Mexico. President Santayana refused to see him. In 1846, President Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor to advance to the Rio Grande. The Mexicans considered this to be an invasion of Mexican territory, and in May, the Mexicans joined General Taylor in battle. The United States then declared war on Mexico. The U. S. forces were outnumbered more than two-to-one, but prevailed in each engagement. The war settlement gave the U. S. California and the land to the Rio Grande, in return for $15 million (equivalent to perhaps $15 billion today in terms of relative GNP's). But it was a territorial dispute. It sounds as though President Santayana was unwilling to discuss the situation with the United States.
The Spanish-American War and the Philippines
    The Mexican War pales in comparison with the Spanish-American War. A revolutionary movement in Cuba was seeking Cuba's independence from Spain. The U. S. sent the battleship Maine to Cuba to protect its business interests in Cuba. On the night of February 15, 1898, a huge explosion destroyed the Maine in Havana Harbor. (Our historians have suggested that the explosion might have been implemented by U. S. interests seeking to foment a war with Spain. William Randolph Hearst was egging on a war in his newspapers, and wired his homesick correspondent in Cuba, Frederic Remington, "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war.")
     The encyclopedia says,
    "The formal peace negotiations took place in Paris, beginning on Oct. 1, 1898. The American representatives had committed themselves to an expansive imperialistic policy for the United States. Spain granted Cuba its independence, and the United States was given Puerto Rico and Guam. The difficult issue was the Philippines. McKinley was undecided on what to do about the 7,000-island former Spanish colony. Soon, however, he was caught up in the fervor of imperialism that was sweeping the United States. He finally concluded that "the march of events rules and overrules human action." The Philippines would be annexed, and--in the words of New York Tribune editor Whitelaw Reid--the Philippines would 'convert the Pacific Ocean into an American lake.'
    "Spain parted with the Philippines in exchange for a payment of 20 million dollars from the United States."
    In the meantime, the Philippines were making a bid for their independence from Spain, led by a revolutionary general named Emilio Aguinaldo. Aguinaldo, expecting support from the United States, became the President of the new Philippine Republic.
    "Officials in the United States had other ideas, however. After liberating the islands from Spain, the United States refused to accept the notion of Philippine independence. The United States wanted to establish a military and commercial presence in the Far East, and the island nation seemed to be the perfect outpost. 
    "To keep the Philippines the United States fought a bloody three-year guerrilla war. The United States found itself doing in the Philippines precisely what it had condemned Spain for doing in Cuba. It has been estimated that more than 600,000 Filipinos were killed in the insurrection led by Emilio Aguinaldo against the United States (see Aguinaldo). The actual number is probably much higher, though exact figures have never been released by the Department of the Army. Some estimates place the number as high as 3 million--15% to 20% of the population? Protests against the war in the United States were nearly as vehement as those against the Vietnam War three or four generations later. Hostilities ended in March 1901, when Aguinaldo was captured. (See also Aguinaldo, Emilio.) It has been called the first genocide of the 20th century. Mark Twain protested the conflict bitterly in one of his most powerful pieces of writing, 'To the Person Sitting in Darkness.' In it he stated that the American flag should have 'the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross bones.'
    "William Howard Taft, a future president, was appointed the first civil governor of the Philippines. In order to counter the embarrassing domestic and foreign criticism of its imperialism, the United States worked out a plan that guaranteed Philippine independence when the Filipinos were prepared for it. Meanwhile, the United States governed within the existing structures of Philippine society. Gradually the Filipino elites were granted increased authority by gaining representation in government. By 1907 a national assembly had been elected. The Nationalist party, led by Sergio Osmena and Manuel L. Quezon became the dominant political force in the islands."
    The bottom line is that, apparently, it was blatantly imperialistic. It was aimed at giving the U. S. a presence in the Far East, and although I hate to say it, our treatment of the Filipinos sounds barbaric. Killing one to three million Filipinos and mestizos (half-Spanish/half-Filipino) was worthy of Nazi Germany, or of Stalin's extermination of the Kulaks. Apparently, it was about imperial aspirations, and the greed of already-wealthy men (or at least that's how our historians have presented it).
    I checked other history books besides Compton's Encyclopedia and found a similar story.

    I'm shocked. I didn't know this until today.

11/6/2001: In gathering news about the "war on terrorism", I've tried to tap sources beyond U. S. borders. So far, I've relied upon British sources, but I'm going to try to ferret out all sides of the story by tapping Middle Eastern as well as Western sources. The editorial, "Naked Aggression follows Terrorism", in the Milli Gazette is a shocker. The author says that a giant superpower is ruthlessly pounding a poor devastated nation which was already reeling under US-imposed sanctions and a three-year long drought. (I'm wondering what the US sanctions were.) The author continues,
  
   "Afghanistan, rather the ruling Taliban, and their ‘guests’ Usama & Co have been pronounced ‘guilty’ without offering the world any evidence about their supposed responsibility for manifestly terrorist and coward attacks on targets in the US on 11 September. It is still not clear who is/are really responsible for those dastardly acts. 
    "The culprits may be home-grown terrorists a-la McVeigh, or Israel which has already perpetrated such acts with finesse, like bombing the American Centre in Alexandria and USS Liberty, or criminally-ambitious elements in America’s own military and political establishment who had earlier planned to bomb their own country in order to justify sharp foreign policy turns, or over the last two hundred years in Central and South Americas, Indo-China, Japan, Middle East, Africa and elsewhere whose human and political rights have been systematically crushed in order to manipulate their countries and their wealth for the benefit of America and its greedy allies whose sole aim is to maintain their high life styles at the expense of a naked and hungry world."
     To me, the problem with positing a non-Muslim conspiracy behind the September 11th atrocities is that they were suicide missions performed by Muslims who had planned such missions for years. Their trails are easy to follow. For one thing they enrolled at U. S. flight schools. It's hard for me to imagine recruiting 18 or 19 Islamists to perform a suicide mission for the CIA or the Israelis. 
    I can't speak to the subject of "the victims over the last 200 years whose human and political rights have been systematically crushed in order to manipulate their countries and their wealth for the benefit of of America and its greedy allies whose sole aim is to maintain their high life styles at the expense of a naked and hungry world." The United States has only been in existence a little over 200 years. Until our involvement in World War I, (1917), we were self-sufficient, drawing upon our rich land and our cornucopia of resources, Our wars were with the British (1812), Mexico (1848), our Civil War (1861), and Spain (1898). Other than that, we've lived in peace and harmony with our neighbors, Canada and Mexico. We gave the Phillippines their independence, and offered independence to our other Hispanic possessions. The latter chose by referendum to stay with the U. S., though as territorial possessions rather than states. We bought much of our land through the Gadsden Purchase, the Louisiana Purchase, and the purchase of Alaska. In our dispute with Canada, we settled our border by negotiation. The only disputed territory acquired by war was Texas. (We bought Florida, Arizona, and New Mexico.) (Of course, our relationship with our Indian population is another story.)
    Throughout the 19th century, we had no "greedy allies". This was a period of colonial imperialism in which the United States did not participate.
    During the first half of the 20th century, the United States was criticized for being "isolationist". We imported some goods from abroad, but most of our needs were met at home. Most of our purchases had "Made in USA" stamped upon them. ("Made in Japan" was the most common exception.) During the first half of the 20th century, third-world countries were British, French, Dutch, etc., territorial possessions, including China. The United States had no part in this, and contributed to the defense of China through volunteers such as Claire Chennaults' "Flying Tigers".
     After World War II, the United States took on the role of the defender against communism. Communism was spreading across borders, as the U. S. S. R. carried out the Bolshevik Grand Mission of converting the world to the benefits of communism. U. S. citizens fought and died in Korea after North Korea attempted to carry the hammer and sickle southward by invading South Korea. Later, the United States became entangled in South Vietnam in an effort to stem the red tide in southeast Asia. 
     I don't see anyone plumping for communism in the Middle East these days. Communism was a failed idea from the Communist Manifesto onward, but it loomed over us like a threatening cloud for 75 years. Pakistan could be communist, or recovering from communism had nothing stood in its path.
    If the author's indignant over "America’s umpteen victims... whose human and political rights have been systematically crushed in order to manipulate their countries and their wealth for the benefit of America and its greedy allies whose sole aim is to maintain their high life styles at the expense of a naked and hungry world", imagine what he must think of the British, who subjugated his country for over 300 years! 
    I hadn't intended to defend the U. S. tonight, but as I reviewed the ideas set forth in the Milli Gazette's Editorial, these were the thoughts that came to mind.
                                               (To be continued)   

11/5/2001:
  Tonight’s Science News includes links to several Asian newspapers (Friday Times (Lahore), Arab Media Internet Network, The Milli Gazette- Indian, The Star- Malay, and the Weekly Mirror International), and to several excellent articles ( Afghan roadmap needed, Top Ten Tips For Ambitious Indian Prime Ministers, THE DESERTION OF ARAFAT, Intifada in the Aftermath, Solidarity Convoy for Peace, A vision to lift the spirit, The carat and the stick, Exploding the myth of Islamic terrorism, Paradise lost, and Algerian security forces kill five armed Islamic guerrillas) in these papers. 
    Faiza S. Khan's "Paradise Lost" is, to me, a meaningful read. These articles may not make us comfortable, but I think it's a privilege to be able to hear other perspectives, particularly from astute observers who are close to the problem.

   Given this kind of instant access to the whole wide world and all its inhabitants, surely war is going to become less prevalent than it has in the past. How can we hurt friends we care about? Also, our friends' opinions and needs are going to register a lot stronger in Washington and Peoria than they did in the past. 
  Here in the U. S., we're all running our Lilliputian errands ninety to the minute, going to the kids' soccer games, painting the house, changing diapers and the oil in the car, mowing, edging, and trimming the lawn, washing the dishes, and reading the children bedtime stories....  not to mention our jobs. We realize in a dim and distant way that the U. S. has some influence in the world, but most of us live in our little, local worlds, racing from one chore to another. But the Internet, by connecting our personal, inner worlds with the personal, inner worlds of friends halfway around the globe, is, at least for me, changing all that. One of the articles in the Arab Media Internet Network is saying that breaking the monstrous Israel/Palestinian cycle of violence/counter-violence is now in President Bush' hands. 
   As Faiza says, the dropping of food packages has been  admitted to be a token gesture compared to the full-scale relief that might be provided through the various relief organizations, and possibly, through relief agencies in Pakistan. Perhaps, though, as the Dalia Lama has observed, it's better than the indiscriminate and heartless targeting of civilians that has characterized prior wars. 
11/3/2001:  The editorials that were listed here may be found on the Editorial pages.  

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