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Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Domestic Imperialism • Henry A. Wallace National Security Forum

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Domestic Imperialism • Henry A. Wallace National Security Forum


>>Sonali Kolhatkar: The United States’ history of usurping lands and dominating the local
population began right here at home with our treatment
of indigenous Americans. How does the U.S. use those
same tactics overseas? Welcome to the Henry A.
Wallace National Security Forum. I’m Sonali Kolhatkar. From the early European
colonies in the 15th and 16th centuries all the
way up to the Indian wars and the late 1800s, the
U.S. routinely invaded in occupied lands held by indigenous peoples exploiting
natural resources, removing them from the land and
violating peace treaties. How has that history shaped
the way the U.S. interacts with the rest of the world. Joining me to answer that question is Roxanne
Dunbar-Ortiz, former professor and author of An
Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Welcome to the program, Roxanne.>>Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:
Thank you.>>Sonali Kolhatkar: Let’s
begin with taking a look at the history of the United
States and how it differs when examining it through the
lens of indigenous Americans versus the mainstream.>>Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:
Well, it’s very different because with a colonial
settler state, there’s a tendency
toward eliminationism. And it’s a really
pernicious form because it doesn’t really want
the native people for labor as the Spanish did or for
trade as the French did. But actually for
them to disappear, so they can bring settlers. And then land itself
becomes the main commodity for capital accumulation.>>Sonali Kolhatkar: Does
the U.S. today use the same reasoning that it did with the
settler colonialist project aimed at Indigenous Americans? Does it use that same reasoning in current foreign
interventions?>>Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:
Yes, it’s sort of, you know, the institutionalized,
this way of warfare, which is counter insurgency
using settlers on their own, a kind of settler democracy
fighting for that land. And they then form
armies, you know, once the United States
is independent based on counter insurgency. The Army is a back up for
the settlers to take land. So, those were the only
wars occurring were wars against the Native people
up until the Civil War. So, the imperialist urge was
there from the beginning, and it got institutionalized. It’s the core make up
of the U.S. Army today. And in almost every situation,
as they did in the Philippines and in Cuba, when the people
were revolting for independence and then coopting
that independence and then crushing it and
occupying those places. So, that has continued, and we see it being
played out every day today.>>Sonali Kolhatkar: Now, does the U.S. use a similar
legal basis for its current wars as it did for occupying the
majority of the U.S. country that was already settled
by indigenous Americans, is the legal basis similar?>>Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:
What we’ve seen playing out in the last 15 years or so,
and a little bit before that, is the concept of homo
sacer, which was also part of the Doctrine of Discovery,
and that is those people who resist colonization or
resist intervention are, well, how we call them terrorists. But homo sacer is a
person without any rights. So, we have the unlawful
combatants. And in several decisions
in the 19th century of the U.S. Supreme
Court, Native people who resisted the Seminole
Wars and the Modoc Wars, they actually found
that they had no rights. That they were unlawful
combatants. And those cases have
actually been used in the military tribunals of
the Guantanamo incarcerated.>>Sonali Kolhatkar:
So, Roxanne, let’s talk about the way
in which the doctrine of our military today, the
sort of culture and rules that inform the U.S.
military today are informed by the history of U.S.
settler colonialism.>>Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Well, because this Army
formed from popular militias that used counter insurgency to
take territory, take the land, they attacked the people,
the civilians on it and often the most
vulnerable of those people because Native people did come to form incredibly
guerilla warfare. The first guerilla warfares were in the Americas fighting
colonialism. And the Army has traditionally
studied this warfare and implemented it
and documented it. I know RAND Corporation
had the defense contract with the Department of
Defense during the Vietnam War to develop a counter
insurgency strategy. They were studying the wars with
the Apaches, with the Lakota, the Seminole Wars,
the Modoc Wars, and that these people
were the Vietnamese. The Indians were the Vietnamese. So, they even call enemy
territory Indian country. So, wherever they go,
it’s Indian country. Iraq was Indian country. Afghanistan and Vietnam
was Indian country.>>Sonali Kolhatkar: I
want to talk a little bit about what American Indians and Indigenous communities
today are experiencing. First, what sort of
autonomy do they enjoy given that supposedly they live
in sovereign nations? And second, what forms of resistance do historical
settler colonialism are taking place even today among
our Native Americans and indigenous communities
in the U.S.?>>Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: The
British had the tradition of making treaties where
they conquered people. But in actual law, the Doctrine
of Discovery, the definition of Native people as
domestic dependent nations without any inherent rights, that those reservations
are not the property, the collective property of
Native Americans but are a gift from the federal government, a
grant that can be taken away. So, it’s a very, very
precarious position that Native people have,
a very weak position. And with their numbers small,
you know, it’s very hard to fight especially , since
the Industrial Revolution, the big powerhouse
of the corporations.>>Sonali Kolhatkar:
Well, finally, Roxanne, I’m glad you brought
up this issue of how Native peoples are
fighting corporate domination. And I’m wondering if we
can end on this question. And we see today, for
example, Native communities in South America and
Latin America and Brazil and the Amazon fighting
off the encroachment of a corporate power and corporate takeover
of their lands. And in many ways it seems as
though the U.S. relationship in indigenous communities
has been rooted in corporate takeovers as well. So, I’m wondering
if you can end on or if you can expand a
little bit on that project and how the project
of imperialism and colonialism is
intertwined with the project of corporate domination
particularly aimed at indigenous communities?>>Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:
So, it’s my view that the United States
was an unusual entity to form as a nation state. That it was the first pure
capitalist state to exist. That it was formed
as a corporation, as a corporate body based on 200
years of corporate investments that every colonizing
venture from the British in those 200 years were
done by private companies from the very first one in
Jamestown with investors, with mercenaries along
to run the show and also with the programs that are
celebrated at Thanksgiving and, of course, the trade in
African bodies as well. And land sales. So, this built the capital,
the capital accumulation of the United States
that allowed it to go into the industrial
revolution very early and by the 1880s be the leading
economic power in the world.>>Sonali Kolhatkar: [Background
Music] Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, thank you so much
for joining us.>>Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:
Thank you, Sonali.>>Sonali Kolhatkar:
On the next episode of the Henry A. Wallace
National Security Forum, author [inaudible] talks
to us about U.S. invasion from the perspective of the people whose
country we’ve invaded.>>Speaker 1: If the U.S.
was generally interested in avoiding humanitarian crises,
then it would cut its support for these elements in
the Iraqi Security Forces and the [inaudible] militias who
are doing things that are just as bad as ISIS and
others groups. [ Music ]

2 comments on “Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Domestic Imperialism • Henry A. Wallace National Security Forum

  1. Astounding how little this imperative information be aired and most of all, understood by the American masses regardless where they hang their hat and/or head.

  2. "The United States was formed as a corporation, as a 'corporate body' based on 200 years of corporate investments."  Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

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