Sunday, June 29, 2014

Grace Lee Boggs, 98, on transformation in Detroit and the world on PBS, ch. 6, Monday 9 o'clock



Harold Fields sent the following note on the PBS show Monday night at 9 on the visionary, feisty Grace Lee Boggs. A 98 year old revolutionary who lives in Detroit, Boggs sees the importance of ordinary people taking the lead in changing the world, as in the civil rights movement of which she was deeply a part (not mainly King or Malcolm, not more recently Obama), the union movement, the women's movement. She describes how in terms of urban gardening or transformative justice for prisoners, this movement is coming into existence in Detroit (and through Arab Spring and Greece and the occupations of the capital in Wisconsin, around the world). She suggests, rightly I think, that we should all burn our credit cards...

***

"Dear Friends:

I want to make sure you know about a new documentary that will air on Rocky Mountain PBS, Channel 6, this coming Monday, June 30, at 9:00 PM. POV: American Revolutionary - The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs, 98, is a Chinese American philosopher, writer and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. Her story unfurls to portray an evolving city—and to examine the power of ideas and imagination to propel change. (90 minutes)

She was also a good friend of Dr. Vincent Harding and has been a powerful person in the movements for civil and human rights. I also highly recommend you read her recent book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century.

Check out this link to a two minute preview of the documentary at http://video.rmpbs.org/video/2365202353/

Enjoy your summer,
Harold"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Speaking the truth and seeking hope: letters from Chris Mato Nunpa and Linda Hogan, pt 2




Chris Mato Nunpa is a leader of the Dakota Sioux. He fought for the passage of resolutions by the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Redwood City city councils, honoring his ancestors who were driven from Minnesota and whose lands were (further) stolen in 1862 by making this The Year of the Dakota, see here and here. He ia also a professor of indigenous literature at Southwest Minnesota State University and taught Linda Hogan's work for many years. In a passage from Mean Spirit, he invokes and feels through the powerful need for and the obstacles to hope in a way we all could learn from (Vincent Harding named hope as the vision of a beloved community, his group "The Veterans of Hope").

Though a gift or a presence, hope is a constant struggle.

***

When the brute unfairness of what is, especially towards a whole people, is endured, it is often hard to keep going (many who are active for a period of time "burn out"). After long struggle, some - even Linda's grandfather - give up. It is important that Chris has (lives with) the words from Mean Spirit.

***

Having taught as a poet and novelist for many years at Boulder, Hogan returned to work with her people, the Chickasaw, in rural Oklahoma (her return was a powerful act). See "Settler Aggression is now: a letter from Linda Hogan," part 1 here.

***

But there is as much justice for indigenous people in rural Oklahoma as in pre-civil rights Southern towns like Philadelphia, Mississippi, where my friend Andy Goodman was murdered 50 years ago June 21. See "Smoke and Water" here and Freedom Summer, shown last night, here.

***

Chris mentions again - see here - using Linda's words in the book he is writing "SICA TANKA KIN, THE GREAT EVIL: GENOCIDE, THE BIBLE, AND THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE U.S."

***

Law is hard to come by in rural Oklahoma. As Chris and George Mitchell, a founder of the American Indian Movement in Minnesota, say, justice for the US government\settlers is "Just us", just as it is for Chinese settlers in Tibet or Israeli settlers in Hebron (in October 2012 as part of the Dorothy Cotton Institute delegation, we saw the well-guarded "Jews-only Shahuda street" busting up the main bazaar and then down below the unbustling streets covered with wire, which did not keep out feces and urine poured down by settler teenagers...).

Settler "justice" - part of what is today recognized as ethnic cleansing - is the opposite of truth, decency,...justice.

***

The University of Oklahoma football team, as Linda relates, is famously nicknamed the "Sooners." This is like the University of Denver nickname the "Pioneers." (the administration has rightly eliminated "Denver Boone" as a symbol, but...).

Such names for indigenous people, and for any person of democratic inclinations who knows about the history, emblemize "settler" rapacity.

***

Linda has been writing and speaking truth for years and was perhaps fired for it by the federal government during the sequester (see below). How many missiles did such firings procure (lots of teachers have also been laid off since the end of the stimulus)?

***

Poetry cleaves to truth (these are not usual words; this is not sleepwalker speech; a poem can be said in no other way). Being employed by the government and coming to hearings does not alter a tendancy to name things aptly.

***

Chris has, as he says in his letter, stood up these long years. Sometimes hope ebbs, sometimes, in this way of life, it abounds.

***

I would appreciate, from lawyers on this list, any help that can be given to Linda Hogan. For this is the small town "justice" my friend Andy Goodman suffered in Philadephia Mississippi 50 years ago (as Chris says, one goes on feeling these stories). Someone needs to help put Linda's case right...

***

Candace Odom wrote about a similar experience she had in Florida with a house in Arkansas below. Though her letter underlines a danger in using "realtors" when one isn't living oneself in the house and is not wealthy, she was able to salvage the value (but not the increase of value in the 10 years she lived in it) of the house.

But she did not quite face settler "law," represented by the town attorney, near a reservation...

***

America has long been governed by a tiny elite, pitting groups, all of whom suffer, against those who are even more oppressed.

***

In the British colonies and then the American Revolution, as Peter Silver underlines in Our Savage Neighbors (2012), the elite made an effort to unify settlers and slaves (!) against indigenous people. As Silver stresses, Bacon's Rebellion in 1683 is sometimes invoked as an example of black-white unity. But this was not a unity against racism; instead, it was for ethnic cleansing against native americans.

***

In a contemporary contrast, as Lerone Bennett points out in "The Road not Taken," blacks and indentured whites sometimes fled to join native americans. Many colonies had laws barring slaveowners from taking blacks into indigenous territory. And anti-miscegenation laws (laws against interracial marriage, abolished by the Supreme Court in the Loving decision only in the late 1950s) also aimed to prevent multiracial unity.

***

In addition, the American Revolution created the first new nation. This Revolution required liberating blacks to fight Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia, who had freed all slaves and indentured servants (poor whites) willing to join with the Crown in November 1775. In a fierce military competition, George Washington recruited the First Rhode Island Regiment, made up of blacks and Narragansetts in 1778. Black Patriots and black Loyalists were, startlingly, the main dead at Yorktown, as German Private Georg Daniel Flohr wrote in his diary. Indigenous people also fought for the Americans and British. See my Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War of Independence here.

***

A rising abolitionist movement, led by black and white sailors and artisans, but sympathized with by some in the elite like John Laurens, won the greatest extension of freedom in the American Revolution: gradual emancipation was enacted throughout the North by 1804. In other words, there was a free North to fight the Civil War because of this - long forgotten, rarely noted before my 2012 book - achievement of the American Revolution.

***

Thus as Silver emphasizes, the unity of the American "Revolution", even though the Patriots recruited indigenous people, was against the Crown and against "savages" (those who committed genocide have the nerve to call others "savages"). For a video map of American pillaging across the Continent year by year since 1776, see here.

***

Even the Narragansetts were chased out of Rhode Island, treated even worse than free black veterans (some of whose descendants were settled on one-time indigenous land in Ohio in the 1820s - see Black Patriots and Loyalists).

***

That black folks involved in Bacon's Revolt confirmed slavery over themselves, that poor whites confirmed misery at the hands of British elite and then in the Revolution and subsequently (consider poor whites in the South who sometimes joined with blacks to fight racism, as in fighting for the North in the Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee or the early Populist movement or the Southern Tenants' Alliance), is the secret of the propagation and practice of racism, of which the long and obliterating racism against indigenous people, powerfully conjured in Chris's letter, is a paradigm.

***

Linda also wrote the article below on Tishomingo. The town is named for healing and healers, for the medicine/peace/ harmony chief. This beautiful Chickasaw name has, in the course of ethnic cleansing, public corruption and what I call Founding Amnesia, been forgotten. At most, today's residents think it is the name of a person...

***

"Hi Alan,

Thank you for sending this.

I have used Linda Hogan's book, MEAN SPIRIT (1990, Ivy Books, New York), in my Indigenous Literature class back in the 1990s and early 2000s. I loved, and still do, this book. One of her passages in the book really gripped me, and I have never forgotten it.

The passage is - "Stace was sitting by the water when he heard Belle approach. He looked up at her startling white hair, the whiteness of it surrounded by the old dark sky with its few early stars. Belle stood, looking down at him. "I brought you this blanket." He thanked her, but he was full of that dry, coarse silence of one who has been too much alone." "Is there anything else I can bring, anything at all you need?" she asked him. He thought about it a moment. "YES, I NEED HOPE." As soon as he spoke those words, he realized something else had spoken through him, a wiser part of himself, and his words made real that need. He felt overcome with a sadness. HE WANTED HOPE" (p. 370).

How many times, in my 73 "winters," have I felt this way - this sadness? and wanting HOPE? - the feeling of being alone, helpless and, perhaps, hopeless. The overwhelming odds against our Indigenous Peoples - their sheer numbers - tens of millions upon tens of millions of them their guns and technological weaponry their law against us, and protecting them their white friends filling the positions of power - Hogan's crooked realtor, her son being the attorney and closer, the FBI, an arm of the federal government, which government is supposed to be our "Trustee"

I remember an Anishinabe friend of mine, George Mitchell, one of the founders of the American Indian Movement in Minneapolis in the late 1960s, who said, "Justice for the white man means, "Just Us!" Their law protects them, not us, the Indigenous Peoples of the U.S.

If you feel like sending this on to Linda Hogan, please do so. I would do that myself but I do not have her email address. Linda came to Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, Minnesota back in the late 1990s or early 2000s (I can't remember). I really enjoyed talking to her.

Alan, keep sending the information to me - I learn from the materials that you send! Right now, I am still feeling the impact of Linda Hogan's story and of her passage above. Her writing is a source of encouragement and strength - to stay in the struggle (even at my old age).

Wopida Tanka eciciye do! "I extend to you my deepest appreciation."
Mato Nunpa de miye! ("I am Two Bear!"

The Struggle Continues,
Chris

p.s. As I think about Linda's passage above, I am thinking that I might use it in my Conclusion for the book which I am writing, "SICA TANKA KIN, THE GREAT EVIL: GENOCIDE, THE BIBLE, AND THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE U.S. I certainly need HOPE that the white man will start telling the TRUTH (GENOCIDE, in particular) about what really happened not only to the Dakota People of Minnesota but also to the Indigenous Peoples of the U.S."

***

In another letter (for her first letter, see here), Linda wrote:

"I moved to Oklahoma and experienced the same corruption and fraud my grandparents did. My grandparents, Chickasaws, had done well in life until their land was taken, stolen by the grandparents of thieves who live there now and do the same thing. As a Native person, it turned out that I was related to the person who had the first allotment where I lived back during the Dawes Act, and I used to walk the land, telling their spirit that I knew what had happened that they lost it to white people, probably "Sooners," as the football team is called.

I lost the money from my home, finally. The realtor had a reputation of lowering prices until people gave up, then sometimes buying them herself, her attorney son the closer. I asked the squatters who moved in without my permission to help with the payment because I lost more than home. I also lost work, time, selfhood, strength. As I said, I understand now what my family when through before Oklahoma was a state. My father was born in 1913. My grandfather, later , during the depression went looking for the banker and he carried a gun. He'd been pushed to the edge and I think he might have used it. After losing my own place, its value, the hardwood forest, the pasture, a larger home than how I now try to live in, I want to head that way with a gun just as he did.

He finally gave in to all his losses and became a man who sometimes slept with a bottle on the streets of Ardmore, Oklahoma, not far from the place once named for my great aunt. I understand the aggression myself from the previous story I told, understand it first hand. The attorney, son of realtor, made extra charges, backed me into a corner. Extortion, I believe. Then, when I questioned our $500 conference call and other items, they said I would postpone everything. Backed into a corner, I could only let them collect the money.

I now, like my own grandparents struggle to go on, to find a way to make a living. I do not teach. I left my position to go work for my own tribe. Permanently. With new policies and the sequester, my work was "eliminated." Perhaps it is more true that I wasn't silent about dishonest practices. I worked with issues in other departments, such as repatriation. At meetings I said what we might do better, or right, I always spoke the truth. Truth wasn't honored. I refused to sign a gag order on the publication of my book. The book was ready, typeset, introductions done, It was about Chickasaw life from the 50's ( and before) in rural SE Oklahoma until the present. What was there to be silent about? The book never came out.But I couldn't understand a gag order on a book contract or bring myself to sign it.. Also, they wanted to keep the copyright. I refused. My own people added to the harm of losing my life there, my livelihood. Tishomingo means Peace/Medicine/Harmony Chief when translated, but it has become a place of pit bull fighting and corruption. It is our oldest place, where business was done. Where theft through the Dawes Act had to be accepted. There isn't much peace or medicine there now. Not only that, but people think Tishomingo was the name of a man, not a long and historical position within our tribe. However, in a place where even a house painter might tear out your sink for some made up reason, then disappear with your money and/or your goods, someone might think of the original meanings of "Tish."

Linda"

***

And here is Linda's newspaper article which has not yet been published:

"Tishomingo and Corruption

This is a word that in Chickasaw means Peace Chief, or Medicine Chief. Tishomingo is near a place of my childhood memories. It is the place my grandfather went to the Harley Institute before statehood, interestingly, with classmates Jesse and Frank James.

It has a history unmatched. It is the Chickasaw Capital since the land losses that took place with Removal and again after the Dawes Act. It is a Main Street town near a small amount of remaining forest with wildlife hunting. But something seems not quite right in this town. A large number of houses sit empty or have been bulldozed away. The cost of homes is low. Various kinds of corruption seem obvious to many who remain silent because everyone knows their neighbor or perhaps is related. The pit bull fights break a person’s heart at night. So do the kind of people involved. Animal cruelty is only one painful part of the region, with puppy mills and animal labs nearby.

Aside from that, a Pulitzer finalist moved to Tishomingo with the happiness of a homecoming over five years ago. She had to leave the small town last year when her job was eliminated. Even well-known writers have day jobs. Linda Hogan is known best in Oklahoma for writing the award-winning novel about oil scandals of the early 1920’s. Mean Spirit was the first of her several novels and it concerned itself with the first of criminal activity around oil drilling, murder, and theft that resulted in the formation of the FBI.

And it was the FBI she called recently about the trouble she had with a realtor and her son, the closing attorney. Before that, there had been contractors who took money and ran. Or who did the job poorly, resulting in more damage.Many stories this woman tells about Tishomingo are not pleasant ones, beginning with the vet who killed her cat by “accident,” and a director where she worked who laughed about her loss. And the story didn’t end when she had to leave a job she thought permanent.

When she says the only honest man she met there was the plumber. He was called numerous times after the contractors did poor work.

To avoid having no income, she moved to the Denver area. Even then, the movers from Durant stole her good furniture.

When it took a long time to sell the home, with the price constantly lowering, Hogan considered that as a small town reality. The house had settled, and after the move, it settled even more, so it would cost 23,000 to repair. Hogan could hardly believe that her nine acres with pasture and hardwood trees, a harm-free fence for horses, a well-created barn someone made for show horses, a workshop, and extra space, would sell for less than the amount that the barn and fence could have cost. In addition, she’d had large amounts of work done on the home, without knowing she would have to leave. That work even included one foundation repair that fell.

Working at self-employment as a writer and public speaker from a cabin in Colorado, Hogan didn’t think realtors would break the ethical code they held. But after a contract was signed in February, the house didn’t close on the March 2nd date, then not April 2nd, the next date. The buyers seemed anxious to move a trailer of items to the house. Hogan told the realtor a trailer couldn’t hurt much and they could park it at the barn.

Instead the buyers brought horses, a house trailer, and moved in without the owner’s knowledge, using the stove and bringing their own appliances for use. The realtor had said something, almost under her breath about the price being lowered again because the refrigerator, washer, and dishwasher didn’t work.

“What do you mean? Everything worked.” Hogan couldn’t figure out how everything went out at the same time.

The response was a subdued answer about how, well, they don’t work now. Hogan thought it might be an electric switch. She had paid the realtor to have “her man” winterize the house, and was assured that everything was fine. Hogan was paying heat during that time. If the house was being shown, why not turn up the heat? Who wants to enter or purchase a cold house? As it turned out all the pipes froze and much destruction took place, including a melted freezer.

Then the realtor’s son, a busy attorney, read the abstract and found a problem two hundred pages apart, a problem that took place only in 2013. It’s a big abstract. Thick, it goes back to original allotment, a man related to Hogan, as she discovered later. But another shock was delivered when she learned that the son was the attorney, and the closer worked for him, and also the bank was in no hurry to settle the loan.

The attorney wanted three thousand dollars to clear the title. Hogan asked for the abstract, worried about the difference in pages apart. It didn’t arrive. Nor did anything else. The contract had been signed, but no closing date appeared even when Hogan spoke with other attorneys and then agreed to the amount wanted by the realtor’s son.As it turned out a few months later, she was told the problem was that the neighbor had sold some of her land. So, now, Hogan, the seller, researched the company that bought the land and found that they didn’t exist. Even the numbers the web creator gave Hogan for the two owners went unanswered. But another web site appeared for them a day later, and it was impenetrable without a code. Linda Hogan, by then suspicious all the way around, researched the president of the company, who had only one contact on Linked In and he turned out to be the vice president. As it appeared to her, the company is either a phantom company, or has violated financial laws. In any case, it is now land foreclosed on. The seller’s neighbor was foreclosed on along with her phantom petroleum company. Perhaps these were related.

Trying to find out if they might sign a quit claim, Hogan was told by the attorney’s office that was impossible.

Months passed, months that others lived like squatters on the Hogan land and the home she was paying for. Worse, the realtor knew about it. Hogan, in Colorado, asked a friend to go see how the place was. Her friend said she thought the home had been sold. They had horses there, and children. The refrigerator was full, the house had laundry, and at least the dining room was being used.

Finally, after Hogan asked questions, the realtor refused to return calls or emails to her. The closing still didn’t take place. Hogan made more house payments for the people living there, calling others for help.

She thought again of her town as a place where no one could be trusted or believed. And she was helpless to do anything.

After suggestions from another attorney, a very small amount of justice took place. Perhaps. A quit claim was signed. The home has another tentative closing date, four months after the contract and the free months of rent of one family.

From her many losses in the Southeastern Oklahoma area, Linda Hogan says it will take her a long time to feel good about her own homeland again. Some day, she said, she will write about the place.

But first, she will have to learn to trust again, to rebound from all her losses, from the low selling price of the house to the special stolen furniture, and even to being unable to physically get moved into her new small space
because of arthritis and an almost disabling horse accident when younger.

She says it will be especially hard to trust a realtor who has lowered the price of many homes in the area, not shown them properly, sold them cheap, cheating the owners, purchasing a few herself, and not responded to her client’s needs, then been able to tell people, 'Have a blessed day.'”

***

"To Linda Hogan: I too, experienced this from our Realtor and her son, after my family moved to Florida. She was suppose to handle the property to sell but instead she used our property for her own use and went so far as to change the tile in our kitchen. I drove back to Arkansas to find out what was going on and took pictures of our house with her sons pick-up sitting in our driveway. We had lived there over ten years and our equity in the property was pretty high however, when I showed up at the house and wanting our keys back they were shocked. I told them I wanted it back or closed out before I would go back to Florida. It is a criminal offense to take someones house and they call it collusion of property. They set up the closing and I was able to get our mortgaged paid off, and our 2nd mortgage paid back and our property taxes paid. But then I took them to the Real Estate Board and proved that the Realtor was a shiester and a thief, I wanted my equity in the home however, the Real Estate Board was friends with the realtor and denied me and my family the equity in our home. She had to pay a fine, thats all. I hope no one uses Nadine Yates in Springdale, Florida for their real estate agent. CMO [Candace Odom]"





Monday, June 23, 2014

Poem: smoke and water



June 21, 2014
For Andy


You went

to the church

burnt out

"They’re nice folks



kicked at the wood


you wrote


for trying to vote

smoking

to your


arrested for a flat

kicked loose at midnight

tortured

Jim Chaney cut worst


mom

buried in bleeding dam

by highstriding

whiteXristians


fifty years ago today

fifty years where you might have

rough earth


become more cautious

or fought on

burntsun

no bullet in the head

for equality

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Settler aggression is now: a letter from Linda Hogan




Linda Hogan, a Chickasaw, a wonderful and celebrated poet whose vision of nature is alive, a faculty member at Boulder who went back to work with her people in Oklahoma, and author most recently, of Dark, Sweet: new and collected poems (July, 2014) here, sent me this powerful letter about settler aggression right to this moment (study Pine Ridge as the poorest community in the nation and you will also understand many implications of this...):

"Let me tell you a brief story about our removal from Mississippi. The settlers moved in before we were even out of our homes. Then my own grandparents lost everything to squatters and thieves.

Now I am in the same position. A home for sale in Oklahoma. Me paying house payments. Realtor dishonest and fraudulent. Her son the attorney and closer. I discover the people who signed to buy it in Feb. are living there and not paying rent. I am stuck paying house payments while I own the property stolen by realtor.

It continues. Same history. I have been trying to fight it and can't. Realtor knows I know what she is and won't respond to calls or emails. Going there, what would I accomplish? Tentative closings set over and over. No hope. It is the same thing my ancestors experienced and it continues. I am the child of all this loss and experiencing it first hand with no one to help. No attorneys will go that far away, to southeastern rural Oklahoma, and the attorney and asst DA in town is her son! Even the FBI doesn't want to handle it. So let's talk about settler aggression. It is not the Sand Creek Massacre with vigilante volunteers off the streets of Denver. For that I have to be grateful.

Linda"




Saturday, June 21, 2014

Working link to the video map of Manifest Destiny since 1776



My friend Doug Rippey, the University of Denver archivist, sent the following instruction on how to reach the video of the moving map year by year - you may have to give it a couple of minutes to load. It last 1 minute, 27 seconds. This is the most vital part of my post on Manifest Destiny since 1776 here and worth looking at.

***

"Alan.

The video was available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJxrTzfG2bo
last night and just now. Loads very slow via Comcast -- your mileage may vary.

The map itself, of course, is the best part.

Doug Rippey"

The link to the map of "Manifest Destiny" since 1776



Several people have written to me about the defective links to the maps for the last post "A videomap of American aggression against indigenous people from 1776 on and renewed war in Iraq" here.

There is a map at this address: http://invasionofamerica.ehistory.org/

The video has been blacked out (since two days ago, last I tried).

Friday, June 20, 2014

A videomap of American aggression against indigenous people from 1776 on and renewed war in Iraq



Below is a link to a map of the stealing of indigenous territory by "Treaties" - never honored for long, the "big guns" of the time against some (today's names: Apache helicopters, Tomahawk missiles), divide and rule, attack "hostiles" and soon afterwards, "friendlies", move ever West even to Hawaii and the Philippines: Manifest Destiny . The currently forgotten phrase Manifest Destiny, that of American racism and ethnic cleansing, ought to be taught as a theme of American political science and history.

***

In Colorado, for example, in 1864, the Sand Creek massacre drove out the Cheyennes and Arapahos, while Governor John Evans dealt "peacefully" (with a threat of superior force) with chief Ouray and the Utes; in 1879 under Governor Pitkin's slogan "The Utes Must Go," the Utes, too, were killed and dispossessed...

***

If Native Americans are human as most of us now - belligerent racists of which there are still some, aside - recognize, what does that make the "Christians"?

***

The Methodists today, particularly Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, have acknowledged this and made a new start. See here. But what I have called Founding Amnesia still possesses many people in Colorado and across the country. For a video which makes clear the millions of acres seized year by year, see here.(h/t Steve Fisher). For an interactive, year by year map, see here.


***

The video is brief, worth looking at several times to take in American rapacity "towards"/as "savages"...

***

The aggressors came from across the sea and stole everything with their guns. Who were the "roamers," the "raiders," the "savages"? (h/t Tink Tinker, Billy Stratton, and Nancy Wadsworth)

***

The Christian aggressors raided stable Indian communities, as at Sand Creek, butchering the inhabitants. Who were the "savages"?

***

Murder including of women, children and the elderly was a hallmark of Christian conquest. Who were the "savages"?


***

The doctrine of Christian discovery, launched by the Popes and foolishly embraced by Chief Justice Marshall in Johnson v. M'Intosh, is the pseudo-justification for American "savagery." "I (at least the Federal Government) discover you, murder you and steal everything you have; I am made whole by Catholic and Protestant 'blessing.'" (not to mention a Supreme "Court" of, in this case, lawlessness and aggression).

***

This is what the democratic theorist John Rawls calls the original position. Just describe the acts of the settlers and the government without naming them, and then ask of the colonialist slurs against the "enemy," who deserves the words. See here.

***

The indigenous or Native American point of view toward the slaughters is not "just a perspective" among others, as Rawls' intellectual device shows. It is also, morally speaking, the truth. The map's evidence, chillingly, underlines this.

***

The map is disturbing, unsettling.

***

Descendants of settlers need to be unsettled...

***

The Protestant Churches have now repudiated the "doctrine of discovery." See Settler Aggression here.

***

If the US goes fatally gunslinging in Iraq in a renewed hopeless aggression (chanted for in the Beltway and by the corporate press) - see here - the rapacity of American aggressions toward indigenous people, veiled by a now uneasy "Founding Amnesia," is an important source.

***

Robert Kagan, who demands ever more war, has gleefully "studied" American wars (in addition to being a vicious imperialist, he is also, as the New York Times' reporter dutifully and exclusively called him, "an historian") and offers the thesis that America is always at war. See here. He is right about that. It is just that he is, morally speaking, entirely on the wrong side about ethnic cleansing and extends this, ever and again, to Iraq. See here.

***

We live, noticeably in Colorado on the lands of others, Arapahos and Cheyennes in particular. That this needs to be recognized and steps taken to rectify, to some extent (nothing will bring back the people slaughtered, the environment destroyed) the injury and injustice is clear.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Aggressors on Parade: the foreign policy establishment and renewed War in Iraq, part 2



For Part 1, see here and for Torturers on Parade, here.

***

Andrew Sullivan and David Corn have been, amusingly, ripping the frothing aggressors on parade in the media, Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick and Liz Cheney, Tony Blair and Robert Kagan. See "Kristol Meth" below. These are all major American and British war criminals (save Liz Cheney who was at the time peripheral). At a modern Nuremberg or Tokyo War Crimes Trial, would have a tough time, under American and international law (though the latter no longer envisions capital punishment), not being shot.

***

They also repeat, with a kind of fixation, lies and stupidities, unchallenged in the corporate media. "Noble" lying to the American people, not particularly central to Leo Strauss, is, however, a standard feature of neo-con political ops, loyal to Strauss and Wohlstetter, like Wolfowitz and Kristol.

***

Sullivan, who once believed in the neocons and ripped out the throats of establishment doubters of the initial Iraq aggression, saw he was wrong, and has been a fine commentator on the dangers of endless American wars ever since. People who see their errors and change are often clear headed voices for the future; those who doubledown exude a kind of spiritual misery, a ghoulish quality which makes them - it is part of Andrew's reaction - pretty repulsive. (One central point of nonviolence: if Andrew Sullivan could change, so might others, though their continuing harms must first be stopped).

***

Even Obama meets with Robert Kagan to discuss "their differences" and appointed Victoria Nuland, Kagan's wife and partner, as assistant secretary of state. See Robert W. Tucker, the leading conservative American realist's startling debate with bombs-first Kagan in 2004 in Foreign Affairs ; in "The Sources of American Legitimacy," Tucker, sometimes a willing aggressor himself as in the 1973 "energy crisis" (he recommended seizing the Saudi oil fields...), remarks on the damage Bush-Cheney policy has done to America's standing in the world for generations here.

***

In the truckling New York Times' piece on Kagan below, he is named primarily an historian, not a war criminal (he and Bill Kristol and Gary Schmitt - Kristol and Schmitt are followers of Leo Strauss - were the three principals of the Project for a New American Century's petition, signed by all the principals but Dick Cheney who was otherwise occupied as head of Halliburton - to urge war on Iraq on President Clinton in 1996, and on September 20, 2001 to recommend to W. attacking Iraq...

***

Kagan now purports himself a "humanitarian interventionist," the preferred name of the baying for war Democratic "neo-neo cons" who for the most part favored the initial Iraq invasion (Samantha Power didn't). In today's New York Times below, Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Obama official and now chief executive of the New America Foundation, plumps for war in Iraq and Syria.

***

Curiously, Obama has surrounded himself with a coterie of women aggressors, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Hilary Clinton (who, once again, opposes military action so far in this case). That is an interesting psychological facet of his policy making - Power connected with Barack over humanitarian intervention (see her The Problem from Hell in which she omits US arming and building up of Saddam Hussein). One would think he could find one cautious foreign policy advisor among four women (or four men), but not in this foreign policy establishment. This is a circle of more or less learned (from an ideological point of view, to serve imperial power or the war complex) neo-neo cons and they, even more than Democratic politicians generally, are unlike the American people who opposed the Iraq war before the fact and have, fortunately, for now at least, had it with aggression.

***

This bipartisan establishment reveals the chameleon-like character of American militarism. One gets attention in the press, "Face Time on television," reports Leslie Gelb, former head of the Council on Foreign Relations, wondering in retrospect why he had advocated the foolish and losing war [he could not say: aggression} in Iraq by bellowing for war. Moral affectation - the neo cons have it too - disguises from these people how troubled, bent, they are (Samantha Power comes out the best of them, but she has shifted repeatedly, for instance on the Palestinians, to gain her role as UN ambassador).

***

The foreign policy clique in administrations of both parties hangs out together, and as Syria revealed, is almost uniformly pro-war (Obama is generally more restrained about wars, but not there), stopped only by protest from below in England and among Ron Paul conservatives as well as liberals and radicals. In that case, the opposition ran 9 to 1 among ordinary people in Democratic Maryland (Elijah Cummings's district) and Republican Oklahoma (Tom Cole's district).

***

Though Obama steers a course different from the Kagans, the Democratic neo-neo cons, with his permission, nip at his heels and Kagan hails Hilary (Hilary is doing better on opposing boots on the ground in Iraq, but a Clinton presidency will be probably quite dangerous for the world and America...). To be part of the foreign policy establishment, bridled to only a limited extent by Obama, is thus to bray for war, viz. Wolfowitz, Kristol, McCain, Lindsey Graham, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and during the run up to Iraq, Clinton, the New York Times, and even Sullivan...

(Sullivan is much more his own person, not simply part of the establishment, than the others).

***

Some of the quality of evidence and thinking - now widely recognized as lies as bad or worse than "Remember the Maine!" or "Remember the Alamo!" or "Saddam kills infants in hospitals in Kuwait" (the first Gulf War) - this is an old American imperial tradition - is revealed by David Corn and Sullivan below.

***

Obama's error on Syria, spurred by neo-neo cons Samantha Power and Susan Rice, opened the door for this. Obama himself shades in the direction of "humanitarian intervention" (Kagan is really trying to cozy up...). But the American people do not want war and stopping Qaddafi's slaughter in Benghazi of people like "rats" is barely a one off. Continuing "intervention" in Libya has just been part of more killing with no clear moderating direction or even, narrowly for the American elite, US imperial control of oil.

***

The corporate media solemnly plays up the murderous neo-con fools as "experts." They could not win in a debate with the near establishment - Corn or Sullivan - let alone with the vast number of academics who have opposed these wars (interestingly, think tank academics are still militarists, but academia is less a part of this, in the run up to the second Gulf War and now, than at any time in the past, except at the height of Vietnam). The neo-cons also could not win a policy debate with Ron Paul and his followers. Hence, there is no chance that the corporate media or parties will sponsor such debates...

***

While Obama has commendably not gotten the US into a war with Iran, and will now perhaps unite with it against ISIS (gnash your teeth, Kristol, Kagan, Wolfowitz, Netanyahu, Adelson and Romney; Iran is the chief diversion, used by the Israeli government to divert attention from its Occupying boot on the neck of Palestinians) and continue the deescalation/negotiation over its nuclear program as well. This is, so far, the most common good seeking, disaster-preventing aspect of Obama's foreign policy.

***

All the braying for war is undergirded by the trillion dollar war complex. Then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke belligerently of the US as the "indispensable nation"; it has made itself, bipartisanly, an agent of harm and repression through 1280 military bases around the world (the military has divided the world into 6 military zones...), through training and arming every repressive military (Mubarak and Al-Sisi, take a bow..) and spending, in real terms, over a trillion dollars a year funding weapons (Wall Street and Boeing must have their contracts) and nurturing Xe Corporation and the profitable "privatization" of the army, even though W. left mold growing in Walter Reed Hospital for the blown apart veterans flown back from Iraq and Obama has left the VA in such disarray - many vets with serious illness are delayed for months for appointments or never even scheduled.

***

It took the Sanders-McCain bill, shamefacedly passing the Senate; of the House, we will see - to begin to remedy some of this.

***

Where does the official $708 billion or so, and the rest of the war money go?

Check out the super secret JSOC - Joint Special Operations Command, the President's private army (the hallmark of a tyranny...), traced in Jeremy Scahill's Dirty Wars or the symbiotic eating from within of the American military by mercenary corporations - even Obama sent 7 mercenaries secretly for every 3 soldiers (30,000 publicly, 70,000 secretly) in the surge in Afghanistan.

***

It is this ship of war and militarism which Obama, alone in the establishment, names and tries to bend. But the confabs of Obama and Kagan, Kagan's pathetic confidence in Hilary, and the aggressors, the dead war criminals on parade in the fantastic disguise of "humanitarian interventionists" about shooting up Iraq again underline how difficult this is.

***

"Kristol Meth
JUN 16 2014 @ 8:19PM


What do you do with near-clinical fanatics who, in their own minds, never make mistakes and whose worldview remains intact even after it has been empirically dismantled in front of their eyes? In real life, you try and get them to get professional help.

In the case of those who only recently sent thousands of American servicemembers to their deaths in a utopian scheme to foment a democracy in a sectarian dictatorship, we have to merely endure their gall in even appearing in front of the cameras. But the extent of their pathology is deeper than one might expect. And so there is actually a seminar this fall, sponsored by the Hertog Foundation, which explores the origins of the terrible decision-making that led us into the worst foreign policy mistake since Vietnam. And the fair and balanced teaching team?

It will be led by Paul D. Wolfowitz, who served during the Persian Gulf War as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and as Deputy Secretary of Defense during the first years of the Iraq War, and by Lewis Libby, who served during the first war as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and during the Iraq War as Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser [both Straussians] to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Next spring: how the Iraq War spread human rights … by Donald Rumsfeld.

Most people are aware that relatively few of the architects of a war have fully acknowledged the extent of their error – let alone express remorse or even shame at the more than a hundred thousands civilian deaths their adventure incurred for a phony reason. No, all this time, they have been giving each other awards, lecturing congressmen and Senators, writing pieces in the Weekly Standard and the New Republic, being fellated by David Gregory, and sucking at the teet of the neocon welfare state, as if they had nothing to answer for, and nothing to explain.

Which, I suppose makes the following paragraph in Bill Kristol’s latest case for war less shocking than it should be:

Now is not the time to re-litigate either the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 or the decision to withdraw from it in 2011. The crisis is urgent, and it would be useful to focus on a path ahead rather than indulge in recriminations. All paths are now fraught with difficulties, including the path we recommend. But the alternatives of permitting a victory for al Qaeda and/or strengthening Iran would be disastrous.

But it is shocking; it is, in fact, an outrage, a shameless, disgusting abdication of all responsibility for the past combined with a sickening argument to do exactly the same fricking thing all over again. And yes, I’m not imagining. This is what these true know-nothing/learn-nothing fanatics want the US to do:

"It would mean not merely conducting U.S. air strikes, but also accompanying those strikes with special operators, and perhaps regular U.S. military units, on the ground. This is the only chance we have to persuade Iraq’s Sunni Arabs that they have an alternative to joining up with al Qaeda or being at the mercy of government-backed and Iranian-backed death squads, and that we have not thrown in with the Iranians. It is also the only way to regain influence with the Iraqi government and to stabilize the Iraqi Security Forces on terms that would allow us to demand the demobilization of Shi’a militias and to move to limit Iranian influence and to create bargaining chips with Iran to insist on the withdrawal of their forces if and when the situation stabilizes."

What’s staggering is the maximalism of their goals and the lies they are insinuating into the discourse now, just as they did before.

Last time, you could ascribe it to fathomless ignorance. This time, they have no excuse. ISIS is not al Qaeda; it’s far worse in ways that even al Qaeda has noted undermine its cause rather than strengthen it. It may be strategically way over its head already. And the idea that the US has to fight both ISIS and Iran simultaneously is so unhinged and so self-evidently impossible to contain or control that only these feckless fools would even begin to suggest it. Having empowered Iran by dismantling Iraq, Kristol actually wants the US now to enter a live war against ISIS and the Quds forces. You begin to see how every military catastrophe can be used to justify the next catastrophe. It’s a perfect circle for the neocons’ goal of the unending war.

I don’t know what to say about it really. It shocks in its solipsism; stuns in its surrealism; chills in its callousness and recklessness. So perhaps the only response is to republish what this charlatan was saying in 2003 in a tone utterly unchanged from his tone today, with a certainty which was just as faked then as it is now. Read carefully and remember he has recanted not a word of it:

"February 2003 (from his book, “The War Over Iraq“): According to one estimate, initially as many as 75,000 troops may be required to police the war’s aftermath, at a cost of $16 billion a year. As other countries’ forces arrive, and as Iraq rebuilds its economy and political system, that force could probably be drawn down to several thousand soldiers after a year or two.

February 24, 2003: “Having defeated and then occupied Iraq, democratizing the country should not be too tall an order for the world’s sole superpower.”

March 5, 2003: “We’ll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction.”

April 1 2003: “On this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

Yes, “always been very secular”. Always. Would you buy a used pamphlet from this man – let alone another full scale war in Iraq?"

***

"Why Is Paul Wolfowitz On Television?
JUN 17 2014 @ 11:13AM

A reminder (from David Corn) of the man’s fathomless ignorance about Iraq (as well as the blood of well over 100,000 on his hands). Here’s the intellectual’s assessment of the possibility of sectarian warfare once Iraq had been invaded:

There’s been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia along with the requirement for large policing forces to separate those militias. And the horrors of Iraq are very different from the horrific ethnic cleansing of Kosovars by Serbs that took place in Kosovo and left scars that continue to require peacekeeping forces today in Kosovo. The slaughter in Iraq—and it’s been substantial—has unfortunately been the slaughter of people of all ethnic and religious groups by the regime. It is equal opportunity terror.

The tape is here. It’s reminiscent of Bill Kristol’s conviction that sectarianism was a fantasy:

We talk here about Shiites and Sunnis as if they’ve never lived together. Most Arab countries have Shiites and Sunnis, and a lot of them live perfectly well together.

I wish I could feel calm contempt for these people. But it is interwoven with rage."

***

"Mother Jones
POLITICS

FLASHBACK: Remember When Paul Wolfowitz Said Not to Worry About Sectarian Violence in Iraq?
The former Bush administration official is perhaps the worst person to give advice about the current crisis in Iraq—but that hasn't stopped him from speaking out.
—By David Corn | Tue Jun. 17, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

This past weekend, as the crisis in Iraq intensified, Paul Wolfowitz appeared on Meet the Press to share his wisdom on the current predicament there. Wolfowitz was the deputy defense secretary and an architect of the US invasion of Iraq during the Bush-Cheney administration, and he remarked on the show that talk of sectarian violence in Iraq was misguided: "This is more than just those obscure Shia/Sunni conflict[s]." He advised that the United States should "stick with our friends, and those friends are not always perfect." Wolfowitz seemed to be suggesting that the Obama administration should stand strong with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, despite Maliki's authoritarian, corrupt, and inept ways. But moments later Wolfowitz said, "It's a complicated situation in which you don't just come up with, 'We're going to bomb this, we're going to do that.'" And then he said, "Maliki is a big part of the problem. He's not a leader of Iraq. We need to find people there."

It was confusing. After the invasion of Iraq, the Bush crew backed a consolidation of power by the Maliki-led coalition of religious-oriented Shiite parties and decimated the Sunni establishment that had previously controlled the government and the military. And now Wolfowitz was saying that Washington should hang tough with its pal—but that its pal was also the problem. Huh? The big brain behind the Iraq war had nothing of consequence to recommend.

But the real question is, what was he doing on television anyway? Like his neocon comrades—Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Robert Kagan, and others—Wolfowitz does not deserve to be presented as an expert with important ideas about the ongoing mess. He and the rest of this gang should have had their pundit licenses revoked after the Iraq war. They got it all wrong: WMDs, the cost of the war, the consequences of the invasion. And these errors were compounded by the deaths of nearly 4,500 US service men and women—and 180,000 or more civilian Iraqi casualties. (Here's a partial list of Kristol's pre-war errors and misrepresentations.) So why care what they have to say now?

Instead, how about a a flashback? It's February 27, 2003, three weeks before the invasion. As some experts are pointing out that the war could cost a great deal and require the United States to keep hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq following the cessation of hostilities, Wolfowitz is testifying before Congress. He's insisting that the US will not have to maintain large number of troops in Iraq after the war—and he's refusing to provide a cost estimate. There's also another critical concern hovering at the time: whether a US invasion will create disorder that will trigger sectarian violence within Iraq. Wolfowitz, long known in Washington as a "defense intellectual," pooh-poohed the matter and indicated it was silly to fret such an outbreak.

Let's go to the tape:

Listen here.

"There are other differences that suggest that peacekeeping requirements in Iraq might be much lower than historical experience in the Balkans suggests. There's been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia along with the requirement for large policing forces to separate those militias. And the horrors of Iraq are very different from the horrific ethnic cleansing of Kosovars by Serbs that took place in Kosovo and left scars that continue to require peacekeeping forces today in Kosovo. The slaughter in Iraq—and it's been substantial—has unfortunately been the slaughter of people of all ethnic and religious groups by the regime. It is equal opportunity terror."

That is, no reason to fear Shiite-Sunni bloodshed after a US invasion. Yet in the aftermath of the invasion, such violent conflict began right away. And the Shiite-Sunni strife—exacerbated by the Bush-backed Maliki regime—has led to the crisis of the moment, with the ultra-extremists of the Sunni-led Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) having taken control of major Iraqi cities and threatening Baghdad.

At that same congressional appearance, Wolfowitz echoed the Bush-Cheney administration mantra of the time that the United States would be embraced by Iraqis after invading their nation.

"These are Arabs, 23 million of the most educated people in the Arab world, who are going to welcome us as liberators. And when the message gets out to the whole Arab world, it's going to be a powerful counter to Osama bin Laden… It will be a great step forward."

Now, 11 years after that message was supposedly sent to Bin Laden, Wolfowitz says, "Al Qaeda is on the march. Not just in Iraq, in Syria, and Libya."

A reminder: there was no Al Qaeda on the march in Iraq and this region before the US invasion of Iraq.

In 2003, Wolfowitz clearly did not know what he was talking about regarding sectarian tensions within Iraq—or much else about Iraq and its people and problems. (In our book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, Michael Isikoff and I reported that Wolfowitz at that time embraced an odd and convoluted conspiracy theory that held that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein controlled Al Qaeda and was responsible for all of its terrorism.) Wolfowitz is perfectly unqualified to be giving advice about the present situation—even if he helped cause it."

***

"Andrew Sullivan
Hathos Alert
JUN 16 2014 @ 11:21AM

A Kagan never disappoints. Several of them are being deployed right now across the neocon triangle to argue for the necessity of another war … to fix the catastrophe their first war created. But this paragraph is so special it deserves a place of its own in the annals of self-awareness:

"Rejoining the fight means immediately sending air support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; air transportation; Special Operations forces; training teams; and more military equipment back into Iraq. It does not mean re-invading Iraq."

My italics. I’m laughing because the alternative is too painful."

***

"New York Times
Events in Iraq Open Door for Interventionist Revival, Historian Says
Robert Kagan Strikes a Nerve With Article on Obama Policy
By JASON HOROWITZ JUNE 15, 2014
Photo

The historian Robert Kagan wants a more muscular approach to foreign policy. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

McLEAN, Va. — In a much-discussed [by whom?] essay, the historian Robert Kagan recently depicted President Obama as presiding over an inward turn by the United States that threatened the global order and broke with more than 70 years of American presidents and precedence. He called for Mr. Obama to resist a popular pull toward making the United States a nation without larger responsibilities, and to reassume the more muscular approach to the world out of vogue in Washington since the war in Iraq drained the country of its appetite for intervention.

The New Republic cover article, “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire,” struck such a nerve in the White House that many in the foreign policy establishment considered part of Mr. Obama’s speech last month at West Point outlining a narrower vision for American force in world affairs to be a rebuttal, and the president even invited Mr. Kagan to lunch to compare world views. But the rapid advancement of militants from Iraq and Syria on Baghdad, and Mr. Obama’s announcement on Friday that he was weighing the use of force to counter them, makes the debate suddenly less abstract.

To Mr. Kagan, American action to stop the militants is imperative, but a continued military presence in Iraq and action in Syria would have averted the crisis. “It’s striking how two policies driven by the same desire to avoid the use of a military power are now converging to create this burgeoning disaster,” Mr. Kagan said in an interview.

A decade after their fierce advocacy for the war in Iraq largely discredited neoconservatives like Paul D. Wolfowitz and Richard N. Perle, who argued most loudly for democracy exportation through military power, Mr. Kagan is hardly apologetic about the current mess. Instead, he believes that the widespread frustration over Mr. Obama’s disengagement despite the resurgence of organized terrorist groups in the region has created the climate to again make the case for interventionism.

And who better to lead a cast of assorted hawks back into intellectual — and they hope eventually political — influence than the congenial and well-respected scion of one of America’s first families of interventionism?

His father, Donald Kagan, a historian of ancient Greece, is a patriarch of neoconservatism {Kagan is a bad historian of Thucydides who misses the political corruption of Athens that accompanies its expansion; I debated him on KGNU in the run up to the Iraq War and his only argument was that disagreement with him was "unpatriotic"}. His brother, Fred, is a military scholar who helped conceive the American troop increase in Iraq in 2007. His wife and unofficial editor, Victoria Nuland, is an assistant secretary of state and one of the country’s toughest and most experienced diplomats, whose fervor for building democracy in Ukraine recently leaked out in an embarrassing audio clip. And Mr. Kagan, who often works in a book-lined studio of his cedar home here in the Washington suburbs, exudes a Cocoa-Puffs-pouring, stay-at-home-dad charm.

“A very nice family,” said William Kristol, a family friend and the founder of the conservative Weekly Standard, whose father, Irving, is another of neoconservatism’s father figures and one of Robert’s first bosses.

Mr. Kristol said he, too, sensed “more willingness to rethink” neoconservatism, which he called “vindicated to some degree” by the fruits of Mr. Obama’s detached approach to Syria and Eastern Europe. Mr. Kagan, he said, gives historical heft to arguments “that are very consistent with the arguments I made, and he made, 20 years ago, 10 years ago.”

Mr. Kagan, 55, prefers the term “liberal interventionist” to the neoconservative label, but believes the latter no longer has the stigma it did in the early days of the Obama presidency. “The sort of desire to say ‘Neocon! Neocon! Neocon!’ has moved out a little bit to the fringe,” he said.

Both Mr. Kagan and his brother are taking considerable pains to describe their advocacy as broadly bipartisan. “The urgent priority is to unite internationalists on both sides of the spectrum,” said Fred Kagan, while his brother, Robert, mentioned his briefing of a bipartisan congressional delegation at Davos and his good relations with top White House officials, including the national security adviser, Susan E. Rice (!). (Their father apparently did not get the memo, calling Mr. Obama’s speech “pathetic” and saying of the president, “We should not underestimate the possibility of extraordinary ignorance.”)

But Exhibit A for what Robert Kagan describes as his “mainstream” view of American force is his relationship with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes. Mr. Kagan pointed out that he had recently attended a dinner of foreign-policy experts at which Mrs. Clinton was the guest of honor, and that he had served on her bipartisan group of foreign-policy heavy hitters at the State Department, where his wife worked as her spokeswoman.

“I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,” Mr. Kagan said, adding that the next step after Mr. Obama’s more realist approach “could theoretically be whatever Hillary brings to the table” if elected president. “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue,” he added, “it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”

Whatever it is called, it is a dominant strain in the Kagan clan. As a boy, Robert accompanied his father to the faculty club on the Cornell campus, where high-level conversation made an impression. (So did the philosopher Allan Bloom, the author of the conservative manifesto “The Closing of the American Mind,” who accidentally put out a cigar in his hand at a poker game.)

Fred Kagan, more cerebral than Robert, went on to become a West Point professor, and his paper for the American Enterprise Institute, “Choosing Victory, a Plan for Success in Iraq,” served as the intellectual basis for the 2007 troop increase, the so-called surge. Later, he went on to spend months with his wife, Kimberly, now president of the Institute for the Study of War, in Afghanistan, poring over Taliban correspondence at the invitation of Gen. David H. Petraeus.

Robert Kagan, armed with graduate degrees in public policy and history, cut his teeth working in the Reagan administration. It was during that time that he attended a party thrown by Ms. Nuland, a disarmingly charming and talented young Foreign Service officer. The two had friends and a hometown in common, as she, too, had a famous Yale professor for a father, Sherwin Nuland, the author of “How We Die.”

They had some bad dates and then a good one at a Cuban restaurant where, Ms. Nuland said, they fell in love “talking about democracy and the role of America in the world.” The couple married in 1987. Ms. Nuland climbed the diplomatic ladder, serving as chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott — now her husband’s boss at the Brookings Institution — and in the Bush administration, as a key foreign-policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and ambassador to NATO. When asked about her husband, Ms. Nuland recites a “he’s him and I’m me” mantra. Mr. Kagan offers that “with any marriage where do you leave off and they begin?”

“It’s hard,” he said. “We’ve been living through this world together for almost 30 years, and I don’t think there is a huge gap between us.” Mr. Kagan challenges his wife’s answers to how-was-your-day questions with shouts of “You are giving me talking points! What are you really trying to do?” Ms. Nuland carves up his drafts, writing, “We don’t care” across pages and “barf” across paragraphs.

But they do have boundaries. In his work, Mr. Kagan is not permitted to use any official information he overhears or picks up around the house, and must steer clear of specific regions his wife is working on and avoid ad hominem attacks and a snarky tone.

But Mr. Kagan’s views have not influenced his wife’s career one way or another, the couple said. “It’s a touchy question,” Mr. Kagan said. “Because when she does something, like on Ukraine, the left — and right — go, ‘Oh that’s just those neocons.’ ”

Even before Mr. Kagan’s essay, some critics saw evidence of overly activist tendencies in his wife’s provocative decision in December to hand out cookies to Ukrainian protesters; ditto for a subsequently leaked private conversation in which she weighed in on the makeup of the new Ukrainian government and offered a profane directive to the European Union. “Now, another member of the Kagan family, albeit an in-law, has been orchestrating the escalation of tensions in Ukraine with an eye toward one more ‘regime change,’ ” Robert Parry, a liberal investigative reporter, wrote in February on his blog, Consortiumnews.com.

Ms. Nuland declined to comment on her husband’s critique of her current boss’s foreign policy. “But suffice to say,” she said, “that nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.”

Inside the Obama White House, Mr. Kagan is viewed, said one former top official, as a “gentleman,” whose perspective is sought out because of his excellent grasp of history. But there is also a feeling that he dangerously glosses over the devastating effect of the war in Iraq, and that American force, when unsuccessful, undermines rather than advances American security and the global order.

At an intimate fund-raiser for Democratic Senate candidates in May at the Upper East Side home of the financier Blair Effron, Mr. Obama became animated when answering a question about his foreign policy. He said calls from hawks like Senator John McCain for American intervention in Syria and other global hot spots weres grossly irresponsible, according to one attendee. The president added that the entire notion that America undergirded global order through a broad use of force was a dangerous fallacy.

Mr. Kagan is equally resolute. The possible fall of Baghdad, he said, demands a response from Mr. Obama, who he fears has made up his mind to retrench the United States into a more “normal” and less internationally engaged posture. “I would be delighted to be cosmically wrong {he has no idea...],” he said.

***

"The New York Times
The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Don’t Fight in Iraq and Ignore Syria
By ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTERJUNE 17, 2014
Photo

Credit Pablo Delcán

WASHINGTON — FOR the last two years, many people in the foreign policy community, myself included, have argued repeatedly for the use of force in Syria — to no avail. We have been pilloried as warmongers and targeted, by none other than President Obama, as people who do not understand that force is not the solution to every question. A wiser course, he argued at West Point, is to use force only in defense of America’s vital interests.

Suddenly, however, in the space of a week, the administration has begun considering the use of force in Iraq, including drones, against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which has been occupying city after city and moving ever closer to Baghdad.

The sudden turn of events leaves people like me scratching our heads. Why is the threat of ISIS in Iraq a sufficiently vital interest, but not the rise of ISIS in Syria — and a hideous civil war that has dismembered Syria itself and destabilized Lebanon, Jordan and now Iraq?

I suspect White House officials would advance three reasons.

First, they would say, the fighters in Iraq include members of Al Qaeda. But that ignores recent history. Experts have predicted for over a year that unless we acted in Syria, ISIS would establish an Islamic state in eastern Syria and western Iraq, exactly what we are watching. So why not take them on directly in Syria, where their demise would strengthen the moderate opposition?

Because, the White House might say, of the second reason, the Iraqi government is asking for help. That makes the use of force legitimate under international law, whereas in Syria the same government that started the killing, deliberately fanned the flames of civil war, and will not allow humanitarian aid to starving and mortally ill civilians, objects to the use of force against it.

But here the law sets the interests of the Iraqi government against those of its people. It allows us to help a government that has repeatedly violated power-sharing agreements in ways that have driven Sunni support for ISIS. And from a strategic point of view, it is a government that is deeply in Iran’s pocket — to the extent, as Fareed Zakaria reported in his Washington Post column last week, that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki would not agree to a residual American force because the Iranians forbade it.

The third reason the White House would give is that America fought a decade-long war in Iraq, at a terrible cost. We overturned a stable, strong but brutal government, although far less brutal than President Bashar al-Assad’s has proved to be, and left a weak and unstable government. We cannot allow our soldiers to have fought in vain, the argument goes, so we should now prop up the government we left in place.

This is where the White House is most blind. It sees the world on two planes: the humanitarian world of individual suffering, where no matter how heart-rending the pictures and how horrific the crimes, American vital interests are not engaged because it is just people; and the strategic world of government interests, where what matters is the chess game of one leader against another, and stopping both state and nonstate actors who are able to harm the United States.

In fact, the two planes are inextricably linked. When a government begins to massacre its own citizens, with chemical weapons, barrel bombs and starvation, as Syria’s continues to do, it must be stopped. If it is not stopped, violence, displacement and fanaticism will flourish.

Deciding that the Syrian government, as bad as it is, was still better than the alternative of ISIS profoundly missed the point. As long as we allow the Syrian government to continue perpetrating the worst campaign of crimes against humanity since Rwanda, support for ISIS will continue. As long as we choose Prime Minister Maliki over the interests of his citizens, all his citizens, his government can never be safe.

President Obama should be asking the same question in Iraq and Syria. What course of action will be best, in the short and the long term, for the Iraqi and Syrian people? What course of action will be most likely to stop the violence and misery they experience on a daily basis? What course of action will give them the best chance of peace, prosperity and a decent government?

The answer to those questions may well involve the use of force on a limited but immediate basis, in both countries. Enough force to remind all parties that we can, from the air, see and retaliate against not only Al Qaeda members, whom our drones track for months, but also any individuals guilty of mass atrocities and crimes against humanity. Enough force to compel governments and rebels alike to the negotiating table. And enough force to create a breathing space in which decent leaders can begin to consolidate power.

On the legal side, we should act in both countries because we face a threat to global peace and security, precisely the situation the United Nations Security Council was established to address. If nations like Russia and China block action for their own narrow interests, we should act multilaterally, as we did in Kosovo, and then seek the Council’s approval after the fact. The United Nations Charter was created for peace among the people of the world, not as an instrument of state power.

This is not merely a humanitarian calculation. It is a strategic calculation. One that, if the president had been prepared to make it two years ago, could have stopped the carnage spreading today in Syria and in Iraq.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, the president and chief executive of the New America Foundation, was director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011."

***

"Andrew Sullivan
Wolfowitz’s Noble Lies
JUN 18 2014 @ 11:32AM

I tend not to hold the somewhat conspiratorial view that followers of Leo Strauss, the guru of the neocon intelligentsia, actively believe in deceiving the American people in the pursuit of statecraft. Strauss argued that many critical texts in Western civilization were written with an esoteric teaching for the intelligent few, while presenting a less radical and palatable public doctrine for the masses. Hence the Straussian penchant for a noble lie – one that is good for the people to believe but which the elite knows is bullshit. Perhaps the classic example of this is the Straussian support for public religion, while the bulk of them are atheists. For them, religious faith is entirely instrumental – a way to lie your way to social order and cohesion.

In the case of the Iraq war, several untruths were told. Among them: there is no sectarianism in Iraq; it will cost next to nothing; it will be over in months; there are WMDs everywhere; Saddam and al Qaeda are joined at the hip. It’s hard to tell which of these untruths were sincerely believed by men like Wolfowitz and Kristol, longtime Straussians both, and which were a function of them not knowing anything about the country that was to be their text-book case of “creating reality”. But when a disgraced architect of that war goes on television to argue that the public needs to be told now that ISIS is al Qaeda, even though he knows that they are separate organizations with separate ambitions, I tend to withdraw whatever benefit of the doubt I give these men with the blood of hundreds of thousands on their hands.

Here’s the money quote from Wolfowitz:

We should say al Qaeda. ISIS sounds like some obscure thing; it’s even more obscure when you say Shia and Sunni … It means nothing to Americans whereas al Qaeda means everything to Americans … My point is that these are the same people, they are affiliated with the same people, who attacked the United States on 9/11 and still have an intention of attacking the United States and attacking Europe …

This is a rare moment in which a Straussian actually comes out and says: yes, we’re deliberately lying by conflating all sorts of different things in the Middle East – the Sunni-Shia divide; the hostility between ISIS and al Qaeda – in order to concoct a simple and terrifying message to the American people that will enable us to get into another war in order to advance our goals in the Middle East. Yes, we know this is a lie – just as our insinuation that Saddam and al Qaeda were in cahoots before 2003 was also a lie. But it’s a noble one, and that’s all that counts. That Wolfowitz was revealed as grotesquely incompetent in getting his war to achieve anything for the United States or Iraq but catastrophe is not something this smug propagandist has to worry about. We should not go into recriminations about the past, see. All of that is wiped from the ledger, and anything that went awry was someone else’s responsibility.

It’s not just that these people refuse to be held accountable for their incompetence, war crimes and catastrophic foreign policy. It is that they are still prepared to go on television and brazenly lie to the American people and to use fear to whip up another war in the Middle East. They are trying to do this again. It’s not just that they are shameless; they are actively dangerous in their ability to manipulate and lie this country into another disastrous war."





Monday, June 16, 2014

Patty Mills, the Spurs and the Stolen Generations of Australian Children



In the third quarter of the Spurs' vanquishing of the Heat Sunday night, Patty Mills launched beautiful arching three point shots. Small, 5'11", he outhustles others. After Kawhi Leonard, the series' most valuable player and breakout star, he was also a great contributor.

***

The Spurs have the most international team in basketball. They speak many languages (Manu Ginobili communicates with Tiago Splitter in Spanish and with Marco Belinelli in Italian; Tony Parker (Belgian/French) and Boris Diaw often speak French to each other; Mills, an indigenous Australian and Aron Baynes, also an Australian, have their own dialect; even Tim Duncan is from the US Virgin Islands. Greg Popovich spoke about Mabo Day for aboriginals in early June at a team meeting and said something of what it meant to Mills.

***

Looking into multicultural heritage, discarding racism, uniting the team, that is part of Pop's wonder as a coach (he has now won 5 NBA championships).

***

"Popovich has long espoused the virtues of an international roster, not merely because the players have a diverse set of skills but also because having them around enhances his own life. Popovich, who was born to a Serbian father and a Croatian mother, takes great pleasure, he said, in learning about his players’ lives and backgrounds. On road trips, the Spurs visit museums together.

'I think it’s just a respect for letting them know you understand they’re from another place,' Popovich said, adding, 'We all grew up differently.'

Popovich, who majored in Soviet studies at the Air Force Academy, draws on his past experiences when he interacts with players, and it goes beyond quizzing them on world affairs. When Hedo Turkoglu and Rasho Nesterovic were Spurs teammates several years ago, Popovich was capable of conversing with them in broken Serbian."

***

Popovich is the anti-(the original) Bear Bryant or Al Campanis or Donald Sterling...

***

Mabo Day was a long time coming:

"In 1992, Eddie Mabo, a Torres Strait Islander, won a land-rights case against the government, which had dismissed indigenous land claims as being on empty land. Five years later, the National Inquiry findings were issued and the government declared National Sorry Day to commemorate the Stolen Generations, though it was not until 2008 that a prime minister formally apologized."

***

Australian history parallels the American stealing of indigenous lands - Denver, for example, is built on the Sand Creek Massacre and driving the Cheyennes and Arapahos out of Colorado - the Israeli illegal Occupation of Palestinian territories and "transfer," and the Chinese ethnic cleansing in Tibet. America has done the genocide, and like Australia, now recognizes to some extent what it did, and takes timid steps toward healing; Israel is in the hourly act of criminality as is China, and the founding amnesia that surrounds these processes is thick, pathetic.

***

In the third quarter, the announcers even discussed Patrick Mills' aboriginal heritage and his pride in it. What they did not discuss is the genocide against aboriginals committed by the Australian state, which has only come to apologize for it - National Sorry Day - in the last 15 years...

***

Yvonne, Mills, Patty's mom, an Austrialian aboriginal was kidnapped from her parents by state and church, split up from her brother and sisters, and settled in a "white" home. She is part of the Stolen Generations among aboriginals:

"Yvonne Mills is a member of the Stolen Generations. That term refers to the indigenous children who were removed from their families and placed with white families as part of a government- and church-sanctioned program that began in the late 1800s. It was not outlawed in all states until 1969.

Born on the rural western edge of South Australia, Yvonne said, she was separated from her brother and three sisters, all of them older, when she was 2 ½ years old. She was placed in an institution before being sent to live with another family.

'I was always told she didn’t want me,' said Yvonne, who along with her siblings learned otherwise when their family’s files were released after a National Inquiry report on the separation of indigenous children from their families was issued in 1997. “I just had a few letters, but my brother had a large stack. She wrote: ‘I want my children back. Please give me my children back.’ ”

***

This is a tragedy of adoption generally, intensified by forced, racist transfer.

***

Patty Mills' parents both work hard for indigenous people:

"Yvonne and Benny, who have lived in the capital, Canberra, since they were married in 1982, have been deeply involved in supporting indigenous programs. Yvonne works for the capital government, developing policy and managing finances for indigenous health and education programs. Benny, who was dissuaded from becoming a pearl diver by his father, was sent to a boarding school in Cairns and has worked on federal assistance programs aimed at Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders."

The Torres Islanders are a different indigenous tribe.

***

Such child stealing - see the film Philomena - has a terrible effect on both mother and child. For aboriginals, it is part of the United Nations' definition of Genocide - see the Convention against Genocide here which includes the forced resettling of children of one group in another. This was done widely to American and Canadian indigenous people by the Catholic and Protestant Churches; as the NPR series in 2011 highlights, it is still a vile fact of life in South Dakota - see here and here.

***

Article 2 reads:

"In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

***

Article 2 was motivated by the Nazi stealing of some 200,000 blue-eyed blonde children from Poland - given "IQ tests," skulls measured through anthropometry - resettled in rural German homes. See the Clarissa Henry and Marc Hillel film, "Of Pure Blood."

***

The treatment of aboriginals was just like Jim Crow in the American South or apartheid toward Palestinians in Israel - see here:

"Some Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are old enough to remember an era when they could not sit with whites in theaters or use public toilets. They also lacked the same access to education and health care.

That they often lived on the fringe of towns was an apt metaphor for their place in society.'

'They came off missions and reserves; they didn’t always have jobs and homes to live in,' Yvonne said. 'Aboriginal people have this feeling of shame, of being unequal. They’ve carried this shame all these years, and you can understand why. They don’t want to compete against a white person.'"

***

What Yvonne refers to are standard transgenerational effects of genocide for which the process of healing - when the injury is not being freshly aggravated - is long (h/t Ramona Beltran who names this "transgenerational trauma").

***

Although perhaps an overly optimistic account by the Times' reporter,

"Benny and Yvonne made sure Patty would not have any insecurity. He played for the Shadows at age 4, immersed himself in sports like track and rugby, and attended Catholic schools until he turned 15, when he was admitted to the Australian Institute for Sport. There were few other indigenous children, and when racism arose, it was dealt with quickly. If it was on the court, Patty would let his game do the talking. If it was with an adult, his parents stepped in.

'We had to get him to understand he was special,' Yvonne said."

***

Patty Mills seems vigorous and in very good spirits.

As he looked up to the track star Cathy Freeman, Paddy Mills is also an example for many indigenous children to find hope in, emulate in whatever they go into:

"[the Mabo decision in 1996] served as the backdrop for the 2000 Olympics, where Cathy Freeman, an Aboriginal sprinter, lit the flame at Sydney Olympic Stadium and later delivered a signature moment of those games, winning the gold in the 400 meters and then carrying the Aboriginal flag around the track.

That moment was — I get shivers just thinking about it,” Mills, who had just turned 12, said as he pointed to goose bumps on his forearm. “I ran track, and my pet event was the 400 meters, and I wanted to be like Cathy Freeman. The whole country was on Cathy’s back during that race. Everyone was clued in during that race seeing her cross the line and how she handled herself, not only on the track, but before and after, because she had so much pressure.”

Mills would like to serve as a similar inspiration."

***

Mills, the leading scorer in the 2012 Olympics, is proud to be the first aboriginal Australian to play in and now be on a winner in the NBA championship series.

***

"New York Sunday Times
PRO BASKETBALL

Flying 3 Flags and Seeking One Banner
The Diverse Heritage of the San Antonio Spurs’ Patty Mills
By BILLY WITZ JUNE 14, 2014

For Photo, see here.

Patty Mills, above at center, San Antonio’s reserve point guard, is the first indigenous Australian to play in the N.B.A. finals. Credit Hamish Blair/Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO — Benny Mills, it appears, is the type of man who is incapable of speaking without a smile, one that instantly gives his cherubic face an impish glint. His wife, Yvonne, is a more serious study, a woman who chooses her words carefully, as if they are irrevocable, and speaks them with a quiet force.

Taken together, this charming earnestness — or perhaps it is an earnest charm — is readily apparent in their son, Patty Mills, the Australian backup point guard for the San Antonio Spurs whom they prefer to call Patrick.

It is visible when he waves a towel from the bench, exhorting his teammates with a bonhomie that does not feel over the top. It is present when he dives after a loose ball, as he did Tuesday night in Miami, knocking it ahead to a teammate to kick start a fast break, because as the smallest guy on the court at 5 feet 11, what choice did he really have?

Mills is among the many examples of the team-first ethic that the Spurs are being celebrated for as they close in on an N.B.A. championship, leading the Miami Heat by three games to one entering Game 5 on Sunday night.

Photo

Mills played for Australia against Spain in a preliminary round men’s basketball game at the 2012 London Olympics. Credit Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This inclusive notion, of playing for others, runs particularly deep for Mills.

His turn on basketball’s biggest stage is a source of pride for sports-mad Australians, but being the first indigenous Australian to play in the N.B.A. finals — his mother is Aboriginal and his father is a Torres Strait Islander — is immensely gratifying for him.

Mills speaks metaphorically of flying three flags: of Australia, the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islands, the archipelago off the northern tip of the continent. When he dressed after Game 2, he wore a tie that was adorned with the image of a dhari, the headdress that is the emblem of the Torres Strait Islanders’ flag, and a pearl shell, which his grandfather used to dive for.

“My heritage and my culture and where I’m from mean the most to me, more than anything,” Mills said.

But questions of culture and heritage — namely, what does it mean to be Australian? — are complicated and deeply personal, and ones that the country continues to wrestle with as it moves slowly toward reconciliation with its indigenous people after generations of marginalization and abuse.

Coming to terms with that history is continuing.

“To be honest, I think I still am,” said Mills, who is 25. “There’s still stuff I’ve learned and that obviously surprises me, and that’s how it’s been since I was young. I learned gradually as I grew up and I understand more. I think it’s a long process. Learning about our past is definitely important, not only for Australians but people around the world. It’s something that Australia should never be ashamed of. It’s part of our history. It’s part of us.”

Yvonne Mills is a member of the Stolen Generations. That term refers to the indigenous children who were removed from their families and placed with white families as part of a government- and church-sanctioned program that began in the late 1800s. It was not outlawed in all states until 1969.

Born on the rural western edge of South Australia, Yvonne said, she was separated from her brother and three sisters, all of them older, when she was 2 ½ years old. She was placed in an institution before being sent to live with another family.

“I was always told she didn’t want me,” said Yvonne, who along with her siblings learned otherwise when their family’s files were released after a National Inquiry report on the separation of indigenous children from their families was issued in 1997. “I just had a few letters, but my brother had a large stack. She wrote: ‘I want my children back. Please give me my children back.’ ”

Yvonne and Benny, who have lived in the capital, Canberra, since they were married in 1982, have been deeply involved in supporting indigenous programs. Yvonne works for the capital government, developing policy and managing finances for indigenous health and education programs. Benny, who was dissuaded from becoming a pearl diver by his father, was sent to a boarding school in Cairns and has worked on federal assistance programs aimed at Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

‘Giving People a Go’

Benny also helped establish an indigenous basketball program called the Shadows, which provided an opportunity to play for those who could not afford a conventional club. The Shadows was as much a social program as it was about basketball, an opportunity to learn life skills and feel connected.

“Australia prides itself on giving people a go,” Benny said, using the phrase that describes opportunity. “Eighty percent of the time it’s fine, but the others aren’t able to stand on their feet, get a job and have shelter. It’s about moving out of depending on the government and giving them the capacity to do it themselves. They need role models on how to do it.”

Photo
Mills with the Spurs facing the Miami Heat during the N.B.A. finals. Credit Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Some Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are old enough to remember an era when they could not sit with whites in theaters or use public toilets. They also lacked the same access to education and health care.

That they often lived on the fringe of towns was an apt metaphor for their place in society.

“They came off missions and reserves; they didn’t always have jobs and homes to live in,” Yvonne said. “Aboriginal people have this feeling of shame, of being unequal. They’ve carried this shame all these years, and you can understand why. They don’t want to compete against a white person.”

Benny and Yvonne made sure Patty would not have any insecurity. He played for the Shadows at age 4, immersed himself in sports like track and rugby, and attended Catholic schools until he turned 15, when he was admitted to the Australian Institute for Sport. There were few other indigenous children, and when racism arose, it was dealt with quickly. If it was on the court, Patty would let his game do the talking. If it was with an adult, his parents stepped in.

“We had to get him to understand he was special,” Yvonne said.

Benny added: “We told him, the best thing you can do is walk away. Come and tell us and we’ll sort it out. We felt that if he knew about his background and he was confident, he’ll put things in context and not back down.”

A Turning Point

As Patty was growing up, it was a time of great change in Australia. In 1992, Eddie Mabo, a Torres Strait Islander, won a land-rights case against the government, which had dismissed indigenous land claims as being on empty land. Five years later, the National Inquiry findings were issued and the government declared National Sorry Day to commemorate the Stolen Generations, though it was not until 2008 that a prime minister formally apologized.

That served as the backdrop for the 2000 Olympics, where Cathy Freeman, an Aboriginal sprinter, lit the flame at Sydney Olympic Stadium and later delivered a signature moment of those games, winning the gold in the 400 meters and then carrying the Aboriginal flag around the track.

“That moment was — I get shivers just thinking about it,” Mills, who had just turned 12, said as he pointed to goose bumps on his forearm. “I ran track, and my pet event was the 400 meters, and I wanted to be like Cathy Freeman. The whole country was on Cathy’s back during that race. Everyone was clued in during that race seeing her cross the line and how she handled herself, not only on the track, but before and after, because she had so much pressure.”

Mills would like to serve as a similar inspiration.

There is a documentary in the works on Mills, which will focus less on him as a basketball player (he was the leading scorer at the 2012 Olympics) than on his indigenous roots. Some of the film, titled “For My People,” was shot on Thursday Island, where his father still has relatives. He often listens to the islands’ ukulele-strained music.

“Patty embraces being a role model,” said his Spurs teammate Aron Baynes, from Queensland. “A lot of indigenous youth are fighting to get through, so if they can have somebody they can look up to, that’s a great thing.”

In the United States, Mills, who scored 14 points off the bench in Game 4, is more of a curiosity. He is often assumed to be African-American until he opens his mouth. Even his teammates are getting to know more about him. On June 3, San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich made a point at a team meeting of acknowledging Eddie Mabo Day. Popovich explained to the team why the holiday is so significant in Australian history and why it means so much to Mills.

It is the type of inclusive gesture the Spurs make a habit in their multicultural locker room. It was charming. It was earnest. And it explains why Mills feels so much at home."

***

"PRO BASKETBALL

The United Nations of the Hardwood
San Antonio Spurs Use Language Barriers to Their Advantage
By SCOTT CACCIOLA JUNE 15, 2014
Photo

San Antonio’s Tony Parker, left, and Boris Diaw are French. Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Canada are also represented on the roster. Credit Larry W. Smith/European Pressphoto Agency

SAN ANTONIO — The Spurs played seamlessly through all five games of the N.B.A. finals, moving the ball from player to player, from corner to corner, all their effortless teamwork earning them their fifth N.B.A. championship in 16 seasons.

On Sunday, they avenged their loss in last season’s finals, beating the Miami Heat, 104-87, at AT&T Center. They made a complicated game look easy — look being the operative word. On the court, it sounded a bit different and more complicated.

“You’ve got this language and that language and that language and this language,” the reserve guard Cory Joseph said before Game 5.

The Spurs, as has been well established, have developed an international flair under Coach Gregg Popovich. Eight players on the current roster were born outside the United States. Loosely translated, that means the Spurs use at least four languages — English, Spanish, French and Italian — to communicate among themselves.

Manu Ginobili, an Argentine, is the team’s one-man version of the United Nations, capable of conversing in Spanish with his Brazilian teammate Tiago Splitter and in Italian with Marco Belinelli, who was born outside Bologna. (Ginobili speaks in English with everybody else.)

Photo
The Spurs' Tiago Splitter, left, of Brazil, and Manu Ginobili, of Argentina, often speak to each other in Spanish on the court. Credit Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Boris Diaw, who is from France, converses en français with Tony Parker, who was born in Belgium but grew up in France. Both players also know some Italian, enough to eavesdrop on conversations between Ginobili and Belinelli.

Even the two team’s two Australians, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes, have their own dialect.

“We’ll hear them and be like, ‘Whoa!’ ” the assistant coach Chad Forcier said.

Tim Duncan, who is from the United States Virgin Islands, is considered an international player by the N.B.A.

Being fluent in another language helps on the team bus. Matt Bonner, who grew up in New Hampshire, seldom feels left out of conversations. But there are occasions when he does, he said.

“If Manu says something in Spanish and Tiago dies laughing, then I might be like, ‘What’d you say? Translate it!’ ” Bonner said.

Language barriers have not been an issue for the Spurs — quite the opposite, in fact. Players described it as an advantage since they can essentially speak in code to one another on the court. Parker can say something to Diaw — or even shout it across the arena — and the odds are that no one else will understand them. Likewise, Belinelli cited the benefits of playing with Ginobili.

“When me and Manu speak Italian on the court, we try to use that as an advantage,” Belinelli said. “All the time. All the time. I think it is good.”

Only a handful of players in the N.B.A. speak Italian. Belinelli rattled off a few of them: Danilo Gallinari, Andrea Bargnani and Kobe Bryant, who spent several formative years in Italy. So Belinelli tries be careful when other Italians are in his general vicinity, lest he divulge secrets during his conversations with Ginobili.

The Spurs’ predominant language, of course, is English. Everyone on the team speaks it fluently, and the coaching staff encourages the players to use English.

“We have to use our language to communicate the plays we’re calling and the defensive schemes we’re using,” Forcier said. “In terms of making sure you execute your system, communication is one of the most critical components of the game.”

In other words, everyone needs to be on the same page. If Diaw and Parker spend the entire game speaking in French, few others would understand them — teammates included — and it could cause breakdowns in their overall scheme. So they often resort to French in emergency situations — when one of them messes up, for example.

“When something urgent happens between them, they default to French,” Bonner said. “If that makes sense.”

Several of the team’s players are also known for indulging in the occasional monologue, using language not suitable for print. During ABC’s broadcast of Game 2, for example, Parker appeared to mutter an expletive to himself, pardon his French.

Timeouts, too, can be a well-choreographed adventure. After Popovich makes his points, Ginobili will lean over and reinforce the message to Belinelli in Italian. Belinelli has been in the N.B.A. since 2007, but this is his first season with the Spurs. Popovich has his own way of communicating, and understanding can be an acquired skill.

“If there’s any degree of hesitation where a language barrier could come into play, they want to make sure it’s eliminated,” Forcier said.

Popovich has long espoused the virtues of an international roster, not merely because the players have a diverse set of skills but also because having them around enhances his own life. Popovich, who was born to a Serbian father and a Croatian mother, takes great pleasure, he said, in learning about his players’ lives and backgrounds. On road trips, the Spurs visit museums together.

“I think it’s just a respect for letting them know you understand they’re from another place,” Popovich said, adding, “We all grew up differently.”

Popovich, who majored in Soviet studies at the Air Force Academy, draws on his past experiences when he interacts with players, and it goes beyond quizzing them on world affairs. When Hedo Turkoglu and Rasho Nesterovic were Spurs teammates several years ago, Popovich was capable of conversing with them in broken Serbian.

This season, Popovich has largely stuck with English, although there are exceptions. He sometimes greets Belinelli with an enthusiastic “Bonjourno!” (Or something that approximates enthusiasm for Popovich.)

“He also knows how to say, ‘Ciao!’ ” Belinelli said.

Growing up in Toronto, Joseph studied French through the ninth grade. He said he would be able to understand pieces of Parker’s conversations with Diaw if they would slow down. At least Joseph can take solace in his claim as the team’s lone Canadian.

“I just speak my own dialect,” he said. “Nobody understands me.”