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December 14, 2006

We Need More Comparisons Of Iraqis To American Indians

This, by James Woolsey in the recent Vanity Fair article about the chastened neocons, is a good start:

[Woolsey draws a] historical parallel, to the U.S. campaigns against Native Americans in the 19th century, to make another point: that the absence of Iraqi auxiliaries deprived coalition soldiers of invaluable local intelligence. "Without the trained Iraqis, it was like the Seventh Cavalry going into the heart of Apache country in Arizona in the 1870s with no scouts. No Apache scouts. I mean, hello?"

But we need much more where this came from. The lack of this is, I think, what has caused so much ill-will towards us among Iraqis. Only when they hear the United States constantly comparing them to Native Americans will they understand how truly glorious the future we have planned for them is.

Posted at December 14, 2006 03:00 PM | TrackBack

George A. Custer
George W. Bush

Why didn't I think of that!?!?

Posted by: donescobar at December 14, 2006 03:14 PM

I understand that, before the white man came, the Iraqis lived a simple life of friendship with nature and also really ate the shit out of every part of the buffalo.

Posted by: mathpants at December 14, 2006 03:53 PM

Seventh Cavalry in Apache country? Hmmm. Maybe so, though I thought the Seventh was assigned to the Northern plains - Lakota and Cheyenne country. According to Wikipedia, they never engaged the Apache.

The 7th didn't rush into Little Big Horn without scouts, by the way. They had scouts. The scouts warned Custer. Custer didn't listen. There aren't enough Indians in the world to defeat the 7th Cavalry, he is reported to have said, so Bring 'Em On!

The 7th were also the guys at Wounded Knee, FYI. So many relevant historical parallels - why did the author have to make one up?

Posted by: JeffC at December 14, 2006 04:41 PM

Answer to my own question - John Wayne always fought the Apache in his movies.

Posted by: JeffC at December 14, 2006 04:47 PM

One of the war profiteering companies supplying mercenaries is called "Custer Battles" - I always wondered why they chose that name.

Posted by: mistah charley at December 14, 2006 05:01 PM

Apache, Lakota, Cheyenne, Sunni, Shiite, Kurd. Who can be bothered with these details when one is bringing freedom and/or civilization to the lesser peoples of the world?

Posted by: Whistler Blue at December 14, 2006 07:07 PM

It's not hard to figure out his confusion. For guys like Wolsley there really isn't one.

Brown skin is brown skin is brown skin is brown skin.

Who really cares if they're in the Northern Plains or Arizona or Mexico or Iraq. We gotta eradicate 'em all!

Posted by: georgecs at December 14, 2006 07:56 PM

It does all make sense now:
Apache/Lakota = Sunni/Shiite

buffalo = oil

Buffalo Bill = Halliburton

kidnapping & scalpings by savages = kidnappings & beheadings by terrorists

circling the wagons = proper armor for Humvees

building schools for the natives = building schools for the natives

Posted by: Whistler Blue at December 14, 2006 08:28 PM

It is of course not a coincidence that hostile areas of Iraq, e.g. the "Red Zone," is referred to as "Injun country" by many of our soldiers. The same held true for Vietnam, Korea, etc.

The Iraqis don't need James Woolsey to clue them in to the racism of American imperialism, they've got a front-row pew.

Posted by: Rojo at December 15, 2006 01:58 AM

Re: Custer Battles. I seem to recall that the two men who set up the company were Fred Custer and Mike Battles.

Posted by: Alex at December 15, 2006 04:53 AM

Instead of casinos, they gots th' oil! And their scalping skillz are off: they tend to cut about six inches too low.

Posted by: PhillyD at December 15, 2006 06:59 AM

So which US general actual fought the Apache? That would be General George Crook (ehem). According to PBS:

"Considered the army's greatest Indian fighter, General George Crook earned that reputation by developing a respect for his enemy that carried over into his relationships with Native Americans off the battlefield as well...

"His success led to President Ulysses S. Grant personally placing Crook in charge of the Arizona Territory, where beginning in 1871 he waged a successful campaign to force the Apache onto reservations. The hallmarks of this campaign, as of his broader general career, were his extensive use of Indian scouts, his relentless pursuit of Indians on their own territory and his readiness to negotiate rather than force conflict...

"In 1882 Crook again returned to Arizona, where the Apache had fled their reservation and resumed their guerrilla war under the Chiricahua leader, Geronimo. Over the next four years, Crook repeatedly forced his adversary to surrender, only to see him retreat into the mountains. Finally, in 1886, Crook was relieved of command and saw his long-time rival, General Nelson A. Miles, bring an end to the long Apache war by exiling Geronimo and his band to Florida.

"The campaign against Geronimo was the last in Crook's military career. He remained a senior officer, but during his last years campaigned vigorously on his lifelong enemy's behalf, speaking out against white encroachments on Indian land and attempting to persuade the Lakota to accept allotment of their reservation, which Crook (like many others) believed would speed their entry into the American mainstream. According to the Lakota chief Red Cloud, a one-time adversary, Crook "never lied to us. His words gave the people hope.""

I think our leaders could learn a thing or two by studying Crook, rather than Custer. But especially by studying history, rather than relying on their faulty memory of old John Wayne movies and being motivated by their unfulfilled 8-year-old desires to come riding over the hill in the nick of time to save the day.

Posted by: JeffC at December 15, 2006 09:30 AM

The Apache gunships are hard at work though. Always appreciated that name. As Noam Chomsky said, it's as if the Germans named their helicopters after the "Gypsy" and the "Jew".

Posted by: qlipoth at December 15, 2006 09:49 AM

I don't think you quite grasp what Woolsey was saying here. We should have had more Iraqi scouts working for us. That's the only comparison he's making misplaced General and all. We had many Indian scouts during the American revolution. My own family the Colburns of New England for example. They were critical in the early campaigns. Contrary to popular opinion they weren't just slaughtered en masse by the white man. Some were since it was a war for territory, but things are never as cut and dry as partisans paint things. To say this sort of faux genocide is what we are there to do in Iraq is farcical. Only a blind fool would believe such a thing. The tribes are still here so there's your first pitfall to wish away.

Posted by: Mark A. York at December 18, 2006 04:21 PM

My grasp of what Woolsey is saying is that rather than use an actual historical reference, he made one up.

The 7th never fought the Apaches.

The 7th is the epitome of utter military failure due to the hubris of its commander. Not whether or not they had scouts.

Woolsey's illustration is nonsensical. That is my point.

Posted by: JeffC at December 18, 2006 05:17 PM

Then it is you who is nonsensical. All Woolsey did was misstate the correct Cavalry in the correct state. His point is we should have employed more Iraqis in the cause against Hussein's former army. Your point not seen is not all American army generals were Indian exterminators. Check your history this time for context.

Posted by: Mark A. York at December 18, 2006 07:21 PM

It's a shame that Blutarsky's otherwise excellent point was obscured by his error with respect to the origin of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Still, one mustn't hold drunken frat boys or former CIA directors to unreasonably high standards.

Posted by: Laertes at December 19, 2006 05:51 PM