30 June 2011

Border Militarization Destroys Indigenous Communities

Alex Soto, Tohono O’odham:

"...the Border Patrol troops are the real trespassers, not us. How can I, a Tohono O'odham person, be trespassing on my own land? Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration Custom Enforcement and their corporate backers such as Wackenhut, are the true criminals. Troops and paramilitary law enforcement, detention camps, check points, and citizenship verification are not a solution to ‘issues’ of migration. Indigenous Peoples have existed here long before these imposed borders, and Elders inform us that we always honored freedom of movement. Why are Indigenous communities and the daily deaths at the border ignored? The impacts of border militarization are constantly being made invisible in and by the media, and the popular culture of this country. Even the mainstream immigrant rights movement has often pushed for 'reform', which means further militarization of the border, leading to increased suffering for Indigenous communities. Border militarization destroys Indigenous communities." (see: O'odham: Border Patrol Lock Down Trespassing Charge Dropped, CENSORED NEWS, 23 June 2011)

In Arizona, O'odham have been mobilizing against the Border Patrol that has disrupted and displaced indigenous communities and militarized their space. As Alex Soto explains, "Currently the state of Arizona is pushing for the construction of the South Mountain Loop 202 freeway extension on Akimel O’odham land (Phoenix Area). The Loop 202 is part of the CANAMEX transportation corridor, which is part of the larger NAFTA highway project. The two proposed routes will either result in a loss of approximately 600 acres of tribal land, and the forced relocation of Akimel O'odham and Pee-Posh families or would gouge a 40-story high, 200-yard wide cut into Muadag Do'ag (O'odham name for South Mountain), which is sacred to all O'odham and Pee-Posh."

With the construction of the current fortified U.S./Mexico border, 45 O’odham villages on or near the border have been completely depopulated. According to No More Deaths, from October 2009 to April 2011 there have been more than 338 deaths on the Arizona border alone. In addition, 1,200 National Guard troops have been stationed along the southwestern border since June 2010. Also, the state of Arizona recently passed a bill which will allow for Arizona to build its own border wall. The law goes into effect July 20 of this year. The video below was produced as part of the O'odham mobilization against the militarization of their border areas:

In connection with this, please see the O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective, and the Border Opposition Action Fund.

Regarding border militarization, see Brenda Norrell's "Hacked data reveals US Marines as contract killers, hunting migrants on the border." Thanks to the hacktivism of LulzSec which penetrated the Arizona Department of Public Safety last week, just before the group closed down, we learn of the hunting and murder of migrants by U.S. Marines along the Arizona border.

Arizona law enforcement officers were aware that migrants were being hunted by off-duty Marines patrolling the border with assault weapons. The information was contained in a report from October 2008 by Arizona's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Investigative Support Center:

"In other incidents reported in October, U.S. Border Patrol agents encountered two subjects who claimed to be members of the Border Watch Group the Blue Lights based on the Caballo Loco Ranch. The subjects, armed with pistols and at least one M4 rifle, were dressed in full desert camouflage uniforms, similar to those of the United States military. They stated they were not members of the Minutemen, but paid contract employees who ‘get the job done’ and ‘were not just volunteers.’ They possessed valid United States Marine Corps identification cards."

As Norrell explains, "Arizona and federal agents have largely ignored the militia and white separatist groups patrolling this area, along the border of the Tohono O’odham Nation, south of Three Points, and southwest of Tucson."

29 June 2011

For the Sake of Mining Interests and "Security": Canadian and U.S. Surveillance and Suppression of Indigenous Communities in the Americas, as Revealed by Wikileaks

First, from Brenda Norrell's exceptional effort to keep us all abreast of a wealth of daily news concerning indigenous struggles--CENSORED NEWS: Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights--some extracts (please see the complete articles at the links below), with the most recent articles listed first:

Wikileaks: Top six ways the US and Canada violated Indigenous rights--Wikileaks reveals how the US and Canada worked globally to systematically violate Indigenous rights:

  1. The United States worked behind the scenes to fight the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In Ecuador, the US established a program to dissuade Ecuador from supporting the Declaration. In Iceland, the US Embassy said Iceland's support was an "impediment" to US/Iceland relations at the UN. In Canada, the US said the US and Canada agreed the Declaration was headed for a "train wreck."

  2. The United States targeted and tracked Indigenous Peoples, community activists and leaders, especially in Chile, Peru and Ecuador. A cable reveals the US Embassy in Lima, Peru, identified Indigenous activists and tracked the involvement of Bolivian President Evo Morales, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivia Ambassador Pablo Solon, prominent Mapuche and Quechua activists and community leaders. President Chavez and President Morales were consistently watched, and their actions analyzed. Indigenous activists opposing the dirty Tar Sands were spied on, and other Indigenous activists in Vancouver, prior to the Olympics.

  3. The United States was part of a five country coalition to promote mining and fight against Indigenous activists in Peru. A core group of diplomats from U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Switzerland and South Africa formed an alliance with mining companies to promote and protect mining interests globally. In other illegal corporate profiteering, Peru’s government secretly admitted that 70-90 percent of its mahogany exports were illegally felled, according to a US embassy cable revealed by Wikileaks. Lowe's and Home Depot sell the lumber.

  4. Canada spied on Mohawks using illegal wiretaps. Before Wikileaks hit the headlines, it exposed in 2010 that Canada used unauthorized wiretaps on Mohawks. Wikileaks: "During the preliminary inquiry to Shawn Brant's trial, it came out that the Ontario Provincial Police, headed by Commissioner Julian Fantino, had been using wiretaps on more than a dozen different Mohawks without a judge's authorization, an action almost unheard of recent history in Canada." The United States and Canada tracked Mohawks. In one of the largest collections of cables released so far that targeted Native people and named names, the US consulates in Montreal and Toronto detailed Mohawk activities at the border and in their communities.

  5. The arrogant and insulting tone of the US Embassies and disrespect for Indigenous leaders is pervasive in US diplomatic cables. The US Embassy in Guatemala stated that President of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom, called Rigoberta Menchu a "fabrication" of an anthropologist and made other accusations. Menchu responded on a local radio station that Colom was a "liar."

  6. The collection of DNA and other data, makes it clear that US Ambassadors are spies abroad. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton states that the Intelligence Community relies on biographical information from US diplomats. In cables to Africa and Paraguay, Clinton asked US Embassy personnel to collect address books, e-mail passwords, fingerprints, iris scans and DNA. “The intelligence community relies on State reporting officers for much of the biographical information collected worldwide," Clinton said in a cable on April 16, 2009. Clinton said the biographical data should be sent to the INR (Bureau of Intelligence and Research) for dissemination to the Intelligence Community.

Wikileaks: Canada says UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights headed for 'Train Wreck'

In a diplomatic cable marked 'sensitive,' US Ambassador David Wilkins states that the US and Canada agree that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is 'ill conceived and is headed for a train-wreck.' It was written five weeks after the United Nations adopted the Declaration.When the United Nations adopted the UN Declaration, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia were the four countries that voted against it. Although the four countries later took action on it, the US and Canada gave only lip service and did not sign on to it, or fully endorse it.

Wikileaks Quito: US worked against UN Indigenous Rights Declaration in Ecuador--US Ambassador in Quito carried out US mission of working against adoption of UN Declaration:

"Wikileaks reveals that US Ambassador Jewell in Quito, Ecuador, described steps taken by the US to dissuade Ecuador from supporting the Declaration in 2006, the year before it was adopted by the UN. Jewell stated the government of Ecuador was inclined to support the Declaration in 2006. She said, however, that the US took steps to present papers to show that the UN Declaration 'is fundamentally flawed'."

Wikileaks Peru: US feared Indigenous power--US Ambassador in Peru obsessed with fears of Venezuela, radicalism and Indigenous rule:

"Wikileaks releases from Peru once again reveal the pro-copper mining and anti-Indigenous sentiment of the US Embassy in Lima. Former US Ambassador Curtis Struble in Peru expresses fear that Indigenous may once again govern Peru. Struble is again on the look-out for Venezuela's "meddling," and again is tracking Indigenous activists. This time, on the US watch list, is Aymara activist Felipe Quispe of Bolivia, leader of Pachakuti Indigenous Movement, according to the June 19, 2007 cable. In one of six cables released Friday, Feb. 25, from Lima, Ambassador Struble writes of the regions of Peru. He said the southern highland province of Puno has an 'affinity for far-left radicalism.' Struble fears Venezuela is involved here and fears the movement of Bolivarism. 'Evo Morales is widely popular, but he is admired for his poor, indigenous background, not for his political views,' Struble wrote. Continuing his obsession with the feared 'radicalism' and Indigenous rule in Peru, Struble writes of the 'ethnocacerism' of Antauro Humala. He calls this 'a murky philosophy that seeks to return Peru to a past when only indigenous persons wielded political power'."

Wikileaks: US engaged in espionage of Indigenous activists

"A Wikileaks cable reveals the US Embassy in Lima, Peru, identified Indigenous activists and tracked the involvement of Bolivian President Evo Morales, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivia Ambassador Pablo Solon, prominent Quechua activist Miguel Palacin Quispe and community leaders. Since the writing of this cable, the bonds with Native Americans and First Nations have grown stronger in the struggles for justice. Bolivian President Morales and Ambassador Solon were in the forefront of the Indigenous global climate change efforts in 2010. Palacin was in Tucson for an anti-mining conference in 2007, and more recently at the climate summits in both Cochabamba and Cancun. The US Embassy report dated March 17, 2008, focuses on Indigenous activists and their supporters who, the cable states, were organizing "anti-summit" protests against the European Union-Latin American Heads of State summit scheduled for mid-May of 2008 in Lima. James Nealon at the US Embassy in Lima wrote the cable released Sunday, Feb. 13. 'The greatest concern among our European Union mission colleagues is the threat that radicals could hijack the protests by aggressively confronting ill-prepared security forces, as occurred in Cusco in February'."

Wikileaks Peru: US Ambassador targeted Indigenous activists, promoted mining--Diplomats protecting mining interests of Barrick, Newmont, BHP; US, Canada, Australia, UK, Switzerland and South Africa:

"...The diplomatic cables reveal the US promoting multi-national corporations, while targeting Indigenous activists and their supporters. The new cables reveal that a core group of diplomats formed an alliance with mining companies to promote and protect mining interests globally. The diplomats were from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Switzerland and South Africa."

Wikileaks on Indigenous Peoples: US white privilege:

"The most disturbing aspect of the US State Department cables on Indigenous Peoples is the haughtiness and white privilege that bleeds through the print. The cables make it clear that to the United States, Indigenous Peoples are annoying, even potential terrorists, and must be dealt with. Along with the Mapuches defense of their land and environment, the Wikileaks cables released so far [to December 2010] show the United States’ obsession with Bolivian President Evo Morales and his growing popularity. In the Bolivian cables, the incorrect facts, poor content and unreliable sources are the most glaring aspect."

Chile: "The US spy in Santiago said, 'Secretariat General of the Presidency Minister Viera Gallo told the Ambassador January 30 that the GOC – and Chilean society - are only belatedly taking seriously a growing problem with Chile's indigenous (largely Mapuche) population, which has never been fully integrated and is becoming increasingly radicalized. Mapuche alienation and protest activity could impact on issues such as terrorism, energy, and development in environmentally sensitive regions.' This cable, and other cables, show the growing concern by the United States of the rising collective power of Indigenous Peoples, it terms of uniting with other groups and stopping the development of enormous development projects such as dams that destroy Indigenous lands. With the Mapuches, the US is concerned about connections to the Basque and NGOs (non-governmental organizations.)"

Iceland's support of Indigenous Declaration an 'impediment' to US relations

"The United States scrutinized Iceland's support of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, according to new cables released by Wikileaks. The US cables reveal the behind-the-scenes maneuvers of the United States, the last country in the world to support the Declaration. US Ambassador Ambassador Carol van Voorst said Iceland's support of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was an 'impediment' to full cooperation between the US and Iceland at the United Nations. Van Voorst said Iceland is the only country in the Nordic that does not have Indigenous Peoples. Iceland officials, however, said they would join other Nordic countries in support of the Declaration, Van Voorst wrote to the US State Dept."

Second, from APTN:

U.S. considers ‘Native Canadian groups’ as possible terror threats: embassy cables

"The U.S. has been keeping regular intelligence on potential security threats in Canada, including the activities of unnamed First Nations groups, according to two cables sent by the U.S. embassy in Ottawa and obtained by APTN National News....The cables, sent from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, and titled, Security Environmental Profile Response For Mission Canada, appear to be part of regular updates on the situation in the country. The U.S. identified the involvement of Aboriginal groups in anti-U.S. demonstrations and as possible terror threats in a Feb. 27, 2009 cable."...'Human rights groups, small political protest/grass roots organizations and Canadian Aboriginal groups are prone to carrying out demonstrations aimed at the host government and sponsor anti-U.S. demonstrations,' reads the cable from 2009....The cables also list potential terrorist threats in Canada. Under the heading 'Indigenous Terrorism,' the cables outline several subgroups of interest, including Anti-American Terrorist Groups and Other Indigenous Terror Groups....The cables...include Aboriginal groups under the heading of 'Other Indigenous Terror Groups'..."

Third, from rabble.ca:

Wikileaks comes to Canada: Federal failure on aboriginal rights

"You just know things are bad when the U.S. criticizes Canada for its treatment of Indigenous people. Wikileaks late last week released a memo from the American Embassy in Ottawa to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, outlining a land claim process that is hopelessly mired in bureaucracy, costly court cases, allegations of the mismanagement of First Nations funds and assets, and the lack of any lucid definition of aboriginal rights. The disparaging memo, which dates back to August of 2009, ends rather pessimistically. 'As long as Canada lacks a clear definition of aboriginal rights or a uniform model for negotiations, effective mechanisms to resolve aboriginal grievances in a timely manner will remain elusive'...."

15 June 2011

The Militarization of Canada's Universities: From simulation programs to unmanned drones, Canada's schools have joined the fight

This article is reproduced here with the author's permission. It was first published in The Mark on 01 June 2011, and then on WL Central on 03 June 2011. The author, Laura Beach, is a student in anthropology at Concordia University and an activist. A longer version of the work below will be published in a forthcoming volume edited by Maximilian Forte, The New Imperialism, Vol. II.

Fifty years ago, in his farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower warned the American public against the “unwarranted influence” of industry and military interests on academic institutions. A close look at this influence within the context of Canadian universities suggests he had good cause to worry.

The influence of what Eisenhower termed the “military industrial complex” within the university sphere has been facilitated by a number of radical changes in post-secondary research and funding paradigms. Over the past four decades, a shift away from numbers-based funding toward “performance”-based indicators has effectively minimized the importance of enrolment, retention, and graduation rates while maximizing the importance of job placement data, faculty productivity, and external funding for research.

External (corporate) funding for research has assumed a central role in the university funding paradigm with the rise of proprietary research, accompanying sales and revenues generated through royalties, and a growing emphasis on public-private research partnerships. A significant portion of federal funding to Canadian universities now flows through “matching funds” projects where industry and government share financial investment.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Networks of Centres of Excellence both participate in “matching funds” projects, favouring research that has direct applications in private industry. It is within this context that the influence of the military has become so pervasive in universities across the country.

This influence has myriad manifestations, as does the involvement of Canadian professors and students who are involved in military-related research. Social and political scientists contribute to the perpetuation of militarist ideology through academic publications, media interviews, and social events funded by the Department of National Defence (DND).

Professors and students of science and engineering departments contribute to the development of military weapons technology through research partnerships and funding from DND, Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), NSERC, the National Research Council, the Intelligent Sensing for Innovative Structures, Canada Research Network, and various corporations. Some branches of the United States military, including the Defence Threat Reduction Agency, also provide funding to Canadian universities.

The main channel for military funding to social and political science departments is the Security Defence Forum (SDF). Established during the Cold War by DND, the SDF exists to distribute department funds to Canadian political and social science departments through “centres of expertise.” In return for funding, centres are expected to produce academic articles, conduct media interviews, publish Op-Ed articles, participate in conferences, and host a number of events to reach out to the public. The impartiality of funding allocation for research topics is seriously questionable, and casts doubt on the objectivity and academic freedom of these centres.

For example, Arthur C. Perron, a retired vice-president of communications at Capital Area Energy, a military weapons service provider with millions of dollars in contracts across the globe, and H. Cameron Ross, a retired military general and senior military advisor to EnCana Corp., a high-grossing natural gas corporation, have both sat on the SDF selection committee. This is the body in charge of allocating funding to centres and effectively determining the nature of the research conducted.

Funded research topics include terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, defence procurement and management, Canadian forces transformation, Canada-U.S. defence relations, and the international role of the Canadian Forces.

There are 12 “centres of expertise” across Canada, involving professors and graduate students from 14 universities, including Concordia University, York University, the University of British Columbia, Université de Montreal, and McGill University. Over the 2007-2008 fiscal year, these centres received $2.4 million in funding through the SDF and DND in research grants, salaries, academic awards, special projects funds, international conference funds, and national conference funds. The centres collectively wrote more than 100 Op-Ed articles, conducted over 1,300 media interviews, and hosted 412 events, reaching out to over 18,000 people.

Critics of the SDF, including Operation Objection, a not-for-profit anti-militarist organization, have highlighted a correlation in funding increases through the SDF and escalating and/or controversial Canadian military activity.

The Defence Department is also one of the main funding sources for science and engineering research toward the development of military technology. In 2010 and 2011, more than $17 million in research contracts were awarded to science and engineering departments in Canadian universities. DRDC is an even bigger funding source, donating roughly $150 million per year to public-private research partnership programs.

Through these funding partnerships, Canadian professors and students have contributed to the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), military simulation programs used for training military personnel, and Solid Fuel Air Explosives (bombs) used to target insurgents in Afghanistan.

The most common weaponry developed in Canadian universities is that of UAVs, which are operated remotely, sometimes from thousands of miles away, and are used for a variety of military operations, including targeted assassinations. They have been criticized for the physical removal of soldiers from the battlefield, making it psychologically easier to kill, and for the indiscriminate nature of the bombs used that tend to incur a shocking amount of “collateral damage” – in other words, killing innocent civilians.

If we consider such factors as human rights violations and lives lost in battle, the impact of military technology developed in part by professors and students of Canadian universities is deeply disturbing. However, not one Canadian university is willing to consider the impacts of the application of military technology beyond the classroom before they approve research and funding contracts.

The common rule of “do no harm” included in all university ethical research policy does not extend beyond the immediate ramifications of research. So long as no one is hurt during the design of a bomb, it does not matter what the bomb is designed for. It is against this logic that organizations like DeMilitarize McGill, Science for Peace, and Operation Objection rally.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers speaks to the time-honoured role of education toward the betterment of society, asserting that “education’s most basic purpose is to enhance life and the dignity of the human person.” In marked contrast, the complicity and lack of concern demonstrated by Canada’s universities, its faculty, and students exemplify a growing emphasis on ethically questionable private-public military research.

The oversight of current research policy denies the deliberation of ethical implications and robs universities and the community at large of the opportunity for transparent and open dialogue. There is a great need to frankly address the shifts in raison d'être of Canadian universities if the influence of the military industrial complex is to be kept in check.

The author wishes to acknowledge the following books in her research: Con U Inc: Privatization, Marketization and Globalization at Concordia University (and beyond) by David Bernans; The University in Chains by Henry Giroux; The Military-Academic Complex by Nick Turse (published on Z-net).

Militarism and Canadian Universities

The following links and extracts come from the website of the Campagne d'opposition au recrutement militaire--please click on the links for the complete documents, which represent excellent statements on the problem of militarization in Canada and the encroaching militarism in Canadian universities specifically:

At the same time that Canada has adopted a more aggressive, militaristic foreign policy in cooperation with American imperialism and the “war on terror”, it has also become more aggressive and militaristic at home....We believe that it important for us to recognize that this militarization is neither distant from us nor out of our control. In fact, it has deep roots in our universities and communities, and it can only continue to be effective with our direct and indirect support....Our goal is to cut off our support; to uproot militarization in our universities and make clear our refusal to participate in repression, occupation, and war.

The military presence on campuses has also become more and more important. Efforts to recruit students have intensified, and along with the visible recruitment of our bodies, the military has also been quietly recruiting the minds of students and professors through military research projects in our universities. Whether they are oriented toward weapons development or toward the production of political analysis, these academic activities all have effects on our society. Are these activities serving the cause of peace?...Across the country, university administrations have taken stances in favor of military research, and against ethics policies to regulate it....

See the comprehensive table of publicly issued military contracts to universities, which does not include research grants or funding provided by the Security Defence Forum.

Funding from the Canadian military for research, training, and other services can be found at most universities in Canada and Quebec. Funding for research also comes from the US military, and from corporations that sub-contract the university to do work that they have been contracted to do by the military. These descriptions of military research are small examples of militarization for each university. There are definitely many other such examples that can be uncovered and opposed....

The Security and Defence Forum (SDF) is not the only method used by the military to influence academic research in the field of social sciences. There is a source of financing that is even less transparent than the SDF. It is often the case that the corporate sector is responsible for delivering research subsidies according to the priorities of the government. This approach consists of a suspicious political practice in which the government delivers disguised government subsidies to universities with the help of a corporate intermediary. Profit-oriented businesses do not have to comply with the same transparency norms as governmental agencies. It is thus impossible to precisely determine the total amount of money that is given to professors in this way....In Quebec there are a few research groups (like the CERIUM at the Université de Montréal or the Raoul-Dandurand chair at UQAM) that are specialized in the military domain, but financed by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), not the SDF. This organization has no direct link with the military, because it depends on the Department of Industry. In addition to those SSHRC subsidies, these research groups are financed by a wide range of organizations. For example, the CERIUM receives subsidies from the American embassy, the weapons producer SNC Lavalin, and from political parties. Can those institutions really finance military research in a disinterested way?...

If the Department of National Defence has resorted to dishonestly using the SDF to influence public opinion in its favor, this must be because the task is especially difficult. The military has to convince the public that its actions are legitimate and useful in order to continue growing. We can see that the army is attempting to reach this goal by any means necessary - including those that are associated with political manipulation - in order to successfully convince the public that by using weapons we will make the world a better place, and that by waging war we will bring peace.

....At the end of 2005, the budget of the organization intended to provide funding for university research increased by 32% (the total SDF budget increased by 25%). We can therefore conclude that the increase in the funding of academic research (which is in no way independent, and is intended to influence the opinion of the Canadian people) happened at the same moment that the army had an urgent need to convince the public of the legitimacy of a more aggressive military mission [in Afghanistan].

...The Department of National Defence claims that the total annual budget distributed to universities by the SDF is $1.8 million, but this in no way corresponds to the real amount. It is a well-known strategy of the military to make some expenses less important than they really are so that they appear more more acceptable to the public....The most obvious example of an unaccounted expense is the bursary program for graduate students. A SDF selection committee chooses the recipients of these bursaries, which aim to support the research work of the students or offer them a paid internship with a partner institution of the Department of National Defence (which often ends up being a think tank entirely financed by the military). This amount does not appear in the SDF budget. In reality, there are nearly $400,000 worth of bursaries that are given each year in this unaccounted way. Officially, this amount is attributed by the DND to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. This association is in no way involved in the management of this money, which is at the disposal of the SDF. Furthermore, the distribution of bursaries is apparently not done in an objective way, but according to criteria that are advantageous for the military (see the “Brain recruitment” section for more on this).

We should also consider the “special events” that are organized in the academic sector. During these activities (which are usually conferences), professors, military officers, politicians, representatives of the weapons industry and sometimes students and people from the general public get together to discuss security issues. The financing of these events does not appear within the total amount that is given to the different research centers on a five year basis. These event subsidies are accounted for separately, and in 2006-2007 amounted to $308,000....

....In summary, by considering the additional financing from the bursary program and the special events program, we can see that the total amount of subsidies administered by the SDF is at least 40% greater than what is publicly announced....

13 June 2011

Domestic Counterinsurgency in Canada

By Walter Pels via Marion Doss from Scranton, Kansas, USA (080727-N-1974P-046) [Public domain or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
We have previously posted on Canadian counterinsurgency with an article by Jon Elmer--see: "Counterinsurgency: From Afghanistan to First Nations Resistance in Canada." Now we want to feature extracts from the controversial 2005 draft Counterinsurgency Operations manual (leaked in 2007) and the final 2008 version, both produced by the Department of National Defence (and available below). We will also underline some key points of public discussion that have transpired, which we think help us to understand the significance of these documents, and add some further analytical considerations of our own.

The Counterinsurgency Manuals

To begin, the draft Counterinsurgency manual contained the following section on page 11, in paragraph 37, in Section Three (Overview of Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies):
The rise of radical Native American organizations, such as the Mohawk Warrior Society, can be viewed as insurgencies with specific and limited aims. Although they do not seek complete control of the federal government, they do seek particular political concessions in their relationship with national governments and control (either overt or covert) of political affairs at a local/reserve ("First Nation") level, through the threat of, or use of, violence.
This is the paragraph that attracted a lot of controversy and condemnation. The DND appears to be accusing the Mohawks of being guilty of wanting self-determination. It alleges they do not seek "complete control" of the federal government, as if they ever mention wanting any such control. The language used ensures heightened alarm, even when speaking of goals that are not Mohawk goals, while delegitimating their demands that treaties be respected by calling these "concessions." Nor does the document address the excessive violence routinely used against Aboriginal persons and communities by the authorities. What is also instructive is that the above paragraph, highlighted as a box quote in the document, follows paragraphs that suggest violent insurgencies may use "terrorism" against the civilian populace and, interestingly enough, that they emerge in failed and failing states that ignore the basic needs of the populace. Perhaps it was the placement of a Canadian example in that context that led to the erasure of the box quote from the final draft, more than any concern for having offended Aboriginals.

[As a side note, like its American counterpart which has been accused of containing numerous plagiarized sections, the block quote above was lifted directly, and without credit, "from the master’s thesis of military historian Timothy Winegard who has written a book on the 1990 Oka Crisis" (APTN).]

The revised and finalized version, issued on 13 December 2008 (the second document below), removed the Mohawk example, but still distributed the key ideas of indigenous self-determination as insurgency, across several paragraphs. For example, the new document now refers to these elements:
  • occupying authority (par. 1, p. 11)
  • nationalist desires for independence or autonomy (par. 4, p. 12)
  • inherent racial, cultural, religious or ideological divisions that lead to a lack of national cohesion (par. 5, p. 12)
  • acquire specific but limited political advantages or control (par. 7, p. 12)
  • may only require the support of a powerful portion of the populace (tribe, business class, ethnic minority (par. 10, p. 13)
Thus the document manages to preserve and even amplify the typical traits associated with indigenous self-determination movements, without mentioning Mohawks, but retaining a sense of broad applicability to an even wider variety of Aboriginal organizations in Canada--which struggle against what they identify as occupation, seek greater autonomy, emphasize cultural difference, seek limited control, and are based on support within their nations. In other words, Canada's Department of National Defence manages to effectively criminalize what is in the UN Charter on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, even while the reluctant federal government eventually signed on to that same Charter. The final document is arguably more disturbing than the draft.

Afghan Blowback or Canadian Colonial Continuity?

The Counterinsurgency Operations handbook appears at a particular time and within a specific context. It follows Canadian participation in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, counterinsurgency in Haiti and the overthrow of President Aristide, and Canadian involvement in Iraq. It also comes as Canada has effectively eliminated its engagement in peacekeeping and ended its posture as a more or less neutral party in international affairs. It closely follows the turn to counterinsurgency in U.S. foreign policy and military doctrine. However, it also comes after the deployment of Canadian soldiers during the 1990 Oka crisis, and the 1995 Ipperwash conflict, on top of a long history of Canadian suppression of Aboriginal resistance, including outright warfare. It therefore becomes a challenge to understand whether counterinsurgency doctrine in Canada reflects part of the blowback of Canadian intervention in Afghanistan and Haiti, reflecting an importation and application at home of what has been learned and practiced abroad, or whether it manifests a further articulation of experience gained at home in ongoing internal colonialism, or both. The drive to dominate on all fronts, military, political, economic, and cultural, with so-called "whole of government" approaches, "three block war," and "full spectrum" dominance is apparent in varying degrees in both, and they may be reinforcing each other.

Either way, it seems clear with the production and adoption of this document that the Canadian state has made war central to its policy in confronting substantive difference and opposition outside of parliament. It shows a weakening ability to secure legitimacy and negotiate resolutions. As much as the counterinsurgents appeal to "culture," the doctrine manifests a failure to understand or respect difference in the first place, with the eventual resort to violence coming into play. At best, it offers partial diplomatic approaches after the fact of war, which is a failure of diplomacy itself. This development also reflects the growing militarization of public policy at home and foreign relations abroad, alongside an even tighter alignment to U.S. and NATO imperialism. It stands as an affront to peace, and it should worry all Canadians, because while one might argue that the state has exported its war against "the Indians" to places such as Afghanistan, it seems that the state is equally willing to "bring back home" what it has done abroad.

Some of the steps taken can be seemingly innocuous, but are part of the counterinsurgency doctrine's "winning hearts and minds" and employing propaganda: deploying Canadian troops to Manitoba and Quebec to assist victims of flooding (when the government always has the option of using civilian public workers instead) is part of a plan to raise the profile of the Canadian military in local communities, to heighten military visibility, and to ensure a presence that seeks to win support and build respect for the institution. This tool is used to remove beyond question the significantly increased resources devoted to a military buildup, and to make the military look like a natural, and thus inevitable, part of Canadian social life. The result is to make local and present what was for a while marginal and justified for defense from foreign attack. Regimentation of politics and mindsets is the apparent, sought after outcome of keeping Canada in a permanent "state of exception," and that too should worry Canadians.

To read more on this subject, see:

12 June 2011

Anthropology, the Military, Global and Domestic Counterinsurgency

Already we knew that "human terrain analysis" was making its way across a variety domains, in geographical and technological terms, and in various areas of U.S. military operation, with translations of the effort to be found in the U.K., Germany, and Canada. Examples of the spread of human terrain research and the application of anthropology and other social sciences in assisting counterinsurgency (COIN), gathering intelligence, and aiding psychological operations, include what follows below. In addition, a large constellation of dozens of private defense contractors are engaged in human terrain work. Further down, we look at some examples of "human terrain" applied to global counterinsurgency, especially targeting indigenous peoples, and the involvement of anthropologists. At the end, we consider some ways that anthropologists should counteract these forces within their own domains of research.

Human Terrain--Across the World:
  • In Canada we have, at least in terms of objective conditions, all of the necessary ingredients waiting to come together to foment a Canadian version of the Human Terrain System: military colleges, troops in Afghanistan, a domestic spy agency (CSIS), collaboration with the U.S. in Guantanamo interrogations, mass mediated allegations of "terrorist" cells in Canada, growing anxiety in the national media over immigrants and militant Aboriginal protesters. Tom Blackwell, writing for Canwest News Service and the National Post related details in two articles (“Mapping ‘White’ Afghans aim to end civilian deaths” – Nov. 8, 2008; “‘Situational awareness’ teams deployed — Afghanistan; Units help military better understand local communities” – Nov. 15, 2008). He wrote in the first piece, “The Canadian government has created a new unit to help fight southern Afghanistan’s relentless insurgency and rebuild its shattered society. But none of the group’s five members will be wielding assault rifles or handing out development dollars”. Like American Human Terrain Teams (HTTs), these Canadian teams also consist of five members. They are formally referred to as “white situational awareness teams” and the Canadian team aimed “to map out the movers and shakers of the province [Kandahar] and how they relate to each other”. Moreover, an actual American HTT served with Canadian forces: “an American infantry unit operating under Canadian command has its own ‘human terrain’ team that includes a retired Soviet general who fought in Afghanistan 20 years ago”.
Human Terrain--Across Technological Platforms and Online:
  • In the Defence Science Board's February 2007 publication on "21st Century Strategic Technology Vectors," Pentagon planners discussed "enhanced training and continuous education, automated language processing, close-in sensor systems, the soldier as a collector in a network, rapid extraction of information hidden in massive amounts of data, and non-kinetic operations," and pointed to "the potential of models from the social and behavioral sciences to better understand how individuals, groups, societies, and nations are likely to act in response to changing circumstances" (p. iii). The report (see the bottom of this post) defined technology broadly, to include "tools enabled by the social sciences as well as the physical and life sciences" (p. v). Human terrain mapping is a key part of the capabilities sought.
  • In Lockheed Martin's magazine, Breakthrough, Second Quarter 2011, pages 7-10 (see the bottom of this post), we read of the development of the "Human Terrain Pathfinder," an application of human terrain data gathering to mining online social media. As Lockheed Martin states, the Pathfinder development "seeks a future in which understanding and forecasting of population sentiment in social media can become a new sensor for national security missions" (p. 8). On page 7, the magazine states: "Civil unrest often takes to the Internet and social media sites as readily as the streets, as demonstrated by recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Thus, a desire has emerged to capture and assess elements of the 'human terrain.' In areas of global instability, thoughtful gauging of the local population, culture and customs, sociological make-up and history improves tactical planning and operations, and ultimately, enhances national security missions". Lockheed Martin's own Human Terrain team, in association with Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS) – Security, built solutions upon systems like commercially available smartphones to offer affordable devices with a familiar user experience in the field. They developed applications, web services, databases and analytical tools with features critical for analysis and forecasting of emerging population-centric mission outcomes" (p. 9). Throughout the promotional article, images of U.S. troops reading handheld devices over maps of Middle Eastern "hot spots," accompanied by scenes of angry crowds, predominate.
Human Terrain--Across the Military:
  • In "The Pentagon’s Human Terrain, beyond the Human Terrain System," which was actually written with the assistance of a serving member in U.S. military intelligence, we read about multiple applications of "human terrain analysis," beyond the U.S. Army's own Human Terrain System. They purportedly base their work on social science research, but not necessarily ethnography, nor do they necessarily recruit academics directly. The employees are drawn from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and serve in the J2 Directorate, under the umbrella of the Joint Intelligence Center. Inside the JIC, there are various regional and functional branches, including the Iraq Branch, Iran Branch, Arabian Peninsula Branch, Counterterrorism Branch, Trans-Regional Issues Branch (WMD, Energy, and others), and what used to be the South and Central Asia Branch. General Petraeus appointed Mr. Derek Harvey to lead a new organization called the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence (COE) “to create an enduring capability to provide expertise, academic outreach, cultural training, and more strategic level analysis.” After some bureaucratic infighting, “this organization became its own division (like the JIC) within the J2 Intelligence Directorate.” The South and Central Asia Branch formed the basis of this new organization. The existing teams—Afghanistan Team, Pakistan Team, Insurgency Team, and a new (January 2009) Human Terrain Analysis Team–“became branches as the organization began to take shape and expand.” The COE has partnered with academic institutions. Each command–the Pacific Command, Central Command, Africa Command, and so on–is establishing this analytic capability, on the premise that “understanding the population and culture is important for decision-makers.”
  • SCRATs (Socio-Cultural Research and Advisory Teams) are another way of deploying social scientists to areas of U.S. geopolitical interest, specifically Africa, and operate under the aegis of the U.S. Army's new Africa Command (AFRICOM). SCRATs appear to be AFRICOM’s version of Human Terrain Teams (HTTs), and a SCRAT also comprises one to five members. There is no indication, in the documents made available (document 1, document 2), of whether SCRAT members would all be social scientists or not, a point on which the documents remain vague—in the second document: “A SCRAT is composed of individuals with a variety of skill sets. The specific composition of a SCRAT is determined by the SSRC [Social Scientist Research Center, based in Stuttgart, Germany] to best address problem-driven research.” A SCRAT’s work consists of providing “socio-cultural advice in support of DoD activities, to include exercises, humanitarian civic action, and interaction with security forces.” Left ambiguous here is what those Pentagon “activities” are, what is meant by “exercises,” and what is the nature of the “interaction” with “security forces”. SCRATs will deploy “prior to a U.S. military exercise,” in order to “conduct a socio-cultural assessment to better focus U.S. efforts and develop beneficial objectives.” They may also “accompany U.S. forces during the exercise in a cultural advisory capacity and conduct a post-exercise assessment of the impact on the local population.” In addition, “the SSRC and SCRAT will provide direct support to military task forces operating in Africa”. SCRATS might also undertake “research into socio-political conditions that could foster violent extremism”. HTS has also sought to sell itself to AFRICOM. More about AFRICOM follows below.
Global Counterinsurgency: From Mexico, to Africa, to Sri Lanka
  • Mexico: On 19 February 2009, the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juárez (Unión de Organizaciones de la Sierra Juárez [UNOSJO]) gave a press Conference in which the “México Indígena” geographic project is discussed. This project took place in Oaxaca and San Luis Potosí, México, from 2005 as part of the Bowman Expeditions of the American Geographical Society (AGS) financed by the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) of the U.S. Department of Defense. Carleton University is a participant and supporter of the project. The press conference deals with the following themes: research ethics; the ideological project of the Bowman Expeditions; the importance of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) in the choice of Oaxaca for study; and the ties between the Human Terrain System as a counterinsurgency strategy aiding the U.S. Army. According to UNOSJO, "University of Kansas geography professor Peter Herlihy approached local communities of the Sierra Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico to collect information for his project and declined to fully disclose his purpose or his funding sources. In addition to this failure to fully inform indigenous communities of the nature of the study, Mr. Herlihy's team took advantage of the good-faith of the Zapotec indigenous communities to undertake a study that appears to be of no benefit to the local people". UNOSJO specifically cited the role of the Bowman Expeditions in lifting private communal and individual data, planting said data into military databases, supporting counterinsurgency, and aiding Mexico's effort to privatize indigenous lands--all without gaining the informed consent of the communities concerned.
  • Somalia: Sazani Associates is an NGO based in the United Kingdom. Mark Proctor from Sazani is looking to expand into the national security arena via the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS). Sazani seeks funding to map the "human terrain" in East Africa/Somalia. What follows comes from a letter from Sazani Associates to HTS:
    “I recognize that this two year project, which overtly maps rural communities, trade connections and key local stakeholders with pastoralists around Hargesisa and Berbera, could be used as a resource for building Human Terrain Maps of this critical region of the Horn of Africa. We would be happy to do this in partnerships with [you]… As such there can be overt collection of Human Terrain data which opens the door to sensitively tailoring more in depth data collection. The project and Sazani Associates have a high level of buy in from the indigenous NGOs and will deliver tangible local benefits. I have close personal ties to the security sector and I am aware of both the precarious nature of Somalia and the value of HTS for operationalising [a] military response. I am interested discussing the matter with an appropriate entity regarding the securing of resources for delivery of the project and would be grateful if you could forward this email on to someone within your company who may be interested. What we are look for is the funding to deliver the project and costs to support more in depth HT data collection and we are hoping that will be made easier when we finish registration as a IPVO early next month.”
    The Sazani overture to HTS continues: “We are a UK based NGO who have offices in Tanzania and Belize and the majority of our work is around sustainable livelihood development and various forms of education. One of our areas of expertise is Zanzibar–our associates have a long history there, one being a fluent Kiswahili speaker. Islamic east Africa is therefore a place we are very comfortable to operate in”. Sazani indicates that its project “was designed with three partners, the Universities of Somaliland (GOLLIS), Somali Progressive Society (UK) and Consortium of Somaliland Non Governmental Organizations (CONSOGO)(Somalia) all of which will be involved in delivering. The main contact for the UK Somali entity is an honorable man who is the president of the Somaliland Chamber of trade in UK, so he has access at the governmental level in Somaliland”.
  • AFRICOM, culture, and anthropological knowledge: Anthropologist Robert Albro cites examples of the multiple other ways that “culture,” and anthropological knowledge, are being drafted to serve military goals, specifically with reference to AFRICOM and modeling cultural terrain using computational models. As Albro states: “Contemporary anthropology should be debating what sort of role, if any, it has with respect to such burgeoning high-tech military humanitarianism, including the instrumentalized conception of culture that goes with it. Such a discussion must take us beyond the conventional consideration of the ethics of fieldwork to encompass new arenas of practice.” Albro makes two critical forecasts that take us beyond the ethics debates of HTS fieldwork. One points to the annual Quadrennial Defence Review which emphasizes the importance of the social sciences to future military missions, along with greater emphasis on cultural knowledge in military doctrinal frameworks, new Pentagon funding of the social sciences slated to last for at least several years, offering us what Albro says are reliable indicators that “this security context promises to be a long-term fact for anthropology that will outlast the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq” (p. 22). A second is that “future iterations of HTS are likely to take us beyond the ethics of fieldwork to more varied applications of the conceptual apparatus of anthropology, and in particular to increasing importance of the culture concept in the absence of fieldwork. But we have so far thought very little about this”.
  • Sri Lanka: A Sri Lankan soldier writing on the defeat of the Tamil rebels, as quoted by John Stanton: “You have no sense about the intriguing world of intelligence gathering! I am dead scared of a Peace Corps…Team wanting to help a strategically important country affected by a natural disaster [rather] than a CIA team stationed in [an] embassy or a very safe house. These Peace Corps… Teams consist of academics, experts and intellectuals. They basically are Human Terrain Teams that have ‘social scientists’ who map relationships and create databases of local leaders, economic issues, social problems, castes and political disputes as well as using mapped knowledge and cultural insights to advise military commanders”.
Anthropologists and Domestic Counterinsurgency in Hawaii and Guam

Thanks to DMZ-Hawai'i/Aloha 'Aina, we read in “Pentagon Takes Aim at Asia-Pacific, and deploys mercenary social scientists” about two social scientists--James Kent and Eric Casino--the first self-described as “an analyst of geographic-focused social and economic development in Pacific Rim countries,” who heads James Kent Associates, and the second described as “a social anthropologist and freelance consultant on international business and development in Southeast Asia and the Pacific”. These two individuals helped to publicly announce their presence and the nature of their operations with a very badly received Op-Ed in Hawaii's Star Advertiser (“Hawaii, Guam raise profiles in Pacific: Islands grow in importance as U.S. shifts military, political and economic strategies,” 14 March 2011). Kent and Casino have worked as consultants for the U.S. Marine Corps in an effort to manipulate native opposition to militarization, where local beaches would be used for amphibious assault training. They tried to advance the militarization of local communities, under the preposterous banner of “creative and bold rethinking” that misappropriated the ethos of the Arab Spring, of all things. James Kent Associates (JKA) “engaged in informal community contact and description by entering the routines of the local communities” in support of the Marines and their acquisition of local spaces for military training.

In the language of counterinsurgency, JKA states that before it intervened the National Environmental Policy Act process “was being 'captured' by organized militants from the urban zones of Hawaii.” As outlined in James Kent's article, "From Stabilization to Sustainability" (see below), Guam is repeatedly cast in military strategic terms adopted from the war in Afghanistan. James Kent transfers military social engineering and nation-building to the domestic arena, and states: “The global architecture of the future will emerge organically from these day-to-day nation-building and society-building operations at the grassroots level”. To prevent the formation of a “zone of chaos”--where chaos is the social disruption caused by militarization and opposition to it--James Kent relies on the counterinsurgent trope of “stabilization,” also a favourite of occupation regimes such as the one that reduced Haiti to a UN protectorate. The idea is to find ways to accommodate the locals to a massive disruption of their lives, by a planned move by the Marines that involved relocating 20,000 Marines and their dependents, plus another 20,000 persons in construction crews, when Guam only has a population of 178,000 persons. James Kent argues that the Marines should do this in a culturally and ecologically sensitive manner, without much in the way of detail, and with a lot more focus on how to manage local responses. The method of adapting the locals to this intrusion is a counterinsurgent one that echoes HTS:
“As the Marines become grounded in everyday cultural life on Guam, they will develop direct relations with the people. Appropriate institutions will be brought in as needed in a supporting function, and the political will become less volatile and less susceptible to political maneuvering of extreme voices.”
Thus, the Marines, with the aid of mercenary social scientists, can “stabilize the various communities from the 'inside out'.” Going back to at least 2000, and anticipating the Human Terrain System, both the Marines and JKA developed a plan for splitting the indigenous community: “radicals who object to any circumstances are separated from community support because the informal systems understand how the training activity, through enhancements to their culture, can directly benefit them” (see page 42, in "Including the Excluded Population in Marine Corps Environmental Decisions" below). If anything, such statements reaffirm the colonial relationship between the U.S. and Hawaii, and the U.S. and Guam, where it seems that the act of conquest and expropriation is an ongoing one. In an attempt to pit indigenous Hawaiians against each other, JKA claims that “the militants were less able to dominate the process and to bring forward their ideological agenda”.

What JKA is covering up on its project page was that its intervention was a failure--as the DMZ-Hawai'i article explains:
What they don’t report on their website is that they failed to win over the community. Opposition to the Marine amphibious exercises was so strong that PACOM [Pacific Command] hosted an unprecedented meeting between Wai’anae community leaders on the one hand and CINCPAC, the Governor, and other public officials on the other. As preparations were made for nonviolent civil resistance, CINCPAC canceled the exercise in Makua and moved the amphibious landing to Waimanalo, where the community also protested.
DMZ-Hawai'i calls for further action via the upcoming Moana Nui conference in November of 2011.

Domestic Counterinsurgency in Canada

See our next post, which focuses on this topic.

The Global Counterinsurgency Regime

According to anthropologist John Allison, who underwent training in the U.S. Army's Human Terrain System, one of the instructors, Dr. Tom Marks, explained to the class that he defines “extremists” within U.S. society as being exemplified by figures such as Noam Chomsky, comparing them to non-Islamic terrorists in such places as Columbia, Nepal, the Philippines, and Somalia. This he calls Mission Creep in the War on Terror, and he sees it as an opportunity to remake the world in the way “we” (the U.S.) want it:
"You just keep following and killing the Bad Guys until you’ve got them all, everywhere. Then the world will be safe for enterprise, survival of the fittest, and we will all have jobs and security. Simple. Not easy, Lots of tax dollars needed. Don’t expect results for a long time. It’s gonna be a long war."
In other words, John Allison concludes,
"the War on Terror has become the umbrella for getting the Bad Guys anywhere on the earth; guys that They – the NATO global military society – all agree on, like Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Fidel Castro, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Daniel Ortega, Kim Jong Il, …. Muslims, socialists, communists...they are all The Enemy; the Bad Guys. The Bad Guys disagree with the assumptions of global capitalism and advocate a different kind of social order."
Allison also relates how Marks thinks "that all idealistic goals, such as ethnic/linguistic self-determination, universal education, etc., these are all simply to rouse and recruit the poor exploited masses to get them involved in a violent insurgency; and once the insurgent cadre has gained power, those goals will become only idle words."

What Can We Do?

Disobey, disrupt, disseminate, critique, collaborate, and counteract:

  • Disobey the pressures to militarize the discipline because university administrations, which inflate their personnel and salaries, complain that they are cash-strapped, as public funding for research is cut and realigned toward corporate efforts, with added pressure to "go where the money is." 
  • Disrupt the deferential, civil tone of disciplinary accommodation to political, corporate and military elites, which would have us take on board imperial designs in a spirit of collegiality. Anthropologists, and universities as a whole, have become tools of the powerful--we are in a position where even the act of speaking out goes against the imposed grain of neoliberalism and privatization.
  • Disseminate documentation that unmasks the workings of power and the insidious nature of military appropriation of the products of anthropology and other social scientific research that serves the aims of invasion, occupation, surveillance, and counterinsurgency. Disseminate information on how some anthropologists have chosen to violate standing codes of ethics in selling out information gain from indigenous communities and passing it on to corporate and military elites.
  • Critique the current efforts to abduct anthropology to serve war and domination. Remind our students that anthropology is about gaining understanding others, not managing their subordination, and not resorting to tools of violence to settle differences, or to erase spaces where cultural difference can exist. Critique the attitude that, in a never-ending quest for "recognition" of our "value," that we must be relevant to policy-makers, and that we must not question policies.
  • Collaborate with peace movements inside the academy and in civil society, and develop mutually supportive relationships that can further the goals of demilitarization. Collaborate with indigenous communities in developing tools to understand and counter neoliberalism and militarism. 
  • Counteract by developing organizations, events and position statements that challenge militarization and its implications. Teach anthropology in ways that it cannot be readily appropriated or reverse engineered by military recruits seeking knowledge on how best to dominate target societies. Research and write about subjects that unmask the powerful and render them more transparent to the dominated, rather than make the dominated more legible to the authorities. Work in the public interest, and not in the interest of the state, its military branches, or private corporate elites.

11 June 2011

Spying on Indigenous Groups, Defending Mining Companies: The U.S. and Peru, What Wikileaks Tells Us

First published as:

A Wikileaks cable reveals the US Embassy in Lima, Peru, identified Indigenous activists and tracked the involvement of Bolivian President Evo Morales, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivia Ambassador Pablo Solon, prominent Quechua activist Miguel Palacin Quispe and community leaders.

Since the writing of this cable, the bonds with Native Americans and First Nations have grown stronger in the struggles for justice. Bolivian President Morales and Ambassador Solon were in the forefront of the Indigenous global climate change efforts in 2010. Palacin was in Tucson for an anti-mining conference in 2007, and more recently with Indigenous Peoples from around the world at the climate summits in both Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

The US Embassy report dated March 17, 2008, focuses on Indigenous activists and their supporters who, the cable states, were organizing "anti-summit" protests against the European Union-Latin American Heads of State summit scheduled for mid-May of 2008 in Lima.

James Nealon at the US Embassy in Lima wrote the cable released Sunday, Feb. 13. "The greatest concern among our European Union mission colleagues is the threat that radicals could hijack the protests by aggressively confronting ill-prepared security forces, as occurred in Cusco in February."

The US Embassy's espionage of the Indigenous Peoples and their supporters is obvious in the cable, which is designated "secret."

Nealon wrote, "A variety of radical Peruvian social movements and European anti-globalization NGOs have been planning protests against the May European Union-Latin America summit since at least early 2007 under the slogan Linking Alternatives 3 ("Enlazando Alternativas 3"), according to internal planning documents shared with poloffs," Nealon said.

"The documents show that organizers have held a series of workshops and meetings among dozens of social movement leaders to coordinate roles and international fundraising efforts. On the European side, principal groups include Attac -- an anti-globalization organization that has led protests against several European summits -- the leftist solidarity group France Amerique Latine, the Spanish environmental organization Ecologistas en Accion, the Amsterdam-based scholar-activist Transnational Institute, and many others," Nealon wrote.

Along with naming the names of support groups in Europe, the US Embassy also named other Indigenous activists and community organizers opposing mining in South America.

The US Embassy's insult of Bolivia Ambassador Solon reveals the US bias. It refers to Solon as an "anti-free trade and globalization guru."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a separate cable, states that the Intelligence Community relies on biographical information from US diplomats. In cables to Africa and Paraguay, Clinton asked US Embassy personnel to collect address books, e-mail passwords, fingerprints, iris scans and DNA. In other words, Clinton asked US Ambassadors to engage in espionage.

"The intelligence community relies on State reporting officers for much of the biographical information collected worldwide," Clinton said in a cable on April 16, 2009. Clinton said the biological data should be sent to the INR (Bureau of Intelligence and Research) for dissemination to the Intelligence Community.

The cable released from Lima, which insults and targets world leaders and Indigenous activists, fails to describe the underlying reasons why Indigenous Peoples are fighting to protect their land, resources, families and communities.

There is no hint in the cable of the fact that multi-national corporations are responsible for widespread displacement of Indigenous Peoples, the poisoning of the land, water and air and the assassination of Indigenous community leaders opposed to mining.

Instead, Nealon focuses on Palacin in the report.

"Anti-summit leader Miguel Palacin complained to the EU mission that the GOP (Government of Peru) appears intent on criminalizing democratic protests, which makes dialogue useless; the government in turn argues that protesters want only to undermine the government and to sully its international image."

Palacin is the president of Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indigenas (CAOI) the Andean Coordination of Indigenous Organizations and a Quechua Indigenous leader. Palacin was also president of the National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining in Peru (CONACAMI) which was instrumental in uniting communities affected by mining in Peru.

In the theme that runs throughout the leaked Wikileaks diplomatic cables, the United States focuses criticism on President Morales and President Chavez, tracking their activities, naming their associates and undermining their efforts.

In a previously released cable, the US Embassy in Lima reveals its bias against Indigenous Peoples protecting their homelands, and in favor of mining.
It reveals that a core group of diplomats formed an alliance with mining companies to promote and protect mining interests globally. The diplomats were from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Switzerland and South Africa.

The US and Canadian Ambassadors met with these mining companies: Antamina, Newmont (Minera Yanacocha), Minera Quellaveco, Barrick, BHP Billiton (Tintaya mine).

The diplomats were from the US, Canada, the Swiss Charge, the new Australian Consul General, and the British Embassy Trade and Investment. "A representative from the South African Embassy, which forms part of this diplomatic mining group, was unable to attend," the cable said.

The cable states that their goal was to improve the climate for investments and security around mines.

The cable exposing the diplomatic mining group does not describe the devastation of Indigenous lands by mining. Two of those corporations targeting Indigenous lands globally -- Newmont and Barrick -- targeted Western Shoshone lands for gold mining in Nevada. A federal lawsuit remains before the court to halt Barrick from coring out sacred Mount Tenabo for an open pit gold mine.

In September of 2007, about six months before the Lima cable was written in March of 2008, Palacin was in Tucson, along with Native American and First Nations activists opposing mining on their lands.

Speaking out against mining, Quechua leader Palacin said Andean Peoples from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina have organized to protect Indigenous territories in this region. Palacin spoke of his work as coordinator of the Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indigenas (Andean Federation of Indigenous Organizations.)

"This group is working to protect Indigenous rights," Palacin said, speaking with Brenda Norrell, publisher of Censored News, at the Western Mining Action Network Conference 2007, held in Tucson on Sept. 28 – 29.

Palacin said the concept of Indigenous territories does not only refer to the lands of Indigenous Peoples, but also to Indigenous' languages, cultures, values and clothing. Indigenous territories include the right to autonomy and self-governance based on Indigenous Peoples' own legal systems and principles.

"This is a fundamental right, a right that is being offended by the politics of globalization, the invasion of transnational corporations and the contamination that is damaging the life and culture."

Palacin said it is essential to grow in visibility and expose the mining, energy and hydroelectric corporations seizing Indigenous territories for profit.

He said Indigenous territories are under attack by governments. "The governments are campaigning against the social movement." This is particularly true in Colombia, where Indigenous Peoples are confronted by the federal government, FARC and the paramilitaries.

"In Colombia, there has been a lot of death and displacement."

However, Palacin said there is also hope. In both Bolivia and Ecuador, new Constitutional reforms propose changes that respect Indigenous Peoples rights.

Further, the Andean Federation of Indigenous Organizations is now proposing the establishment of Indigenous Diplomats, to meet with governments to explain their positions. These include opposition to Free Trade agreements and militarization. Further, concerns are arising because of new visa and passport requirements.

In support of these struggles, Indigenous Peoples plan mobilizations throughout South America on the "Day of Genocide," October 12, followed by a delegation to Europe on Oct. 13, he said.

"The Indigenous movement has power in the south. We want to be included in the transformation of our countries. Indigenous Peoples have the right to govern their countries," Palacin said.

Attorney Javier Aroca of Lima, Peru, said the government of Peru has criminalized the social movement to protect the land. "Mining is very strong. The government really supports this industry because they view it as a means of receiving a lot of revenues.

"Whoever opposes mining is seen as a terrorist and anti-patriotic," Aroca said, during an interview in Tucson at the anti-mining conference in 2007.

At issue now are the mining companies who obtain their leases from leaders without consultation of the community, including copper mines.

"The biggest concern is water," Aroca said, pointing out that water from the mountain tops flows throughout the region. Where copper mine exploration is being carried out, there are natural protected reserves in the high mountain region. "These mountain top areas are the source of water."

Aroca said the Peruvian government supported the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to free, informed and prior consent and Indigenous Peoples' rights to their territories.

"But in practice, the Peruvian government is doing the opposite."

09 June 2011

"America never went to war with a country that had a McDonald's"

The title for this post comes from a statement spoken by a U.S. soldier on patrol in Iraq, as we heard and saw in a documentary we previously posted, "Mission Accomplished." It speaks to the irreconcilable values between the counterinsurgents and those they deem to "liberate," and throughout the film we hear U.S. military personnel awkwardly recite the officially sanctioned belief that U.S. forces in Iraq are there to "free" the Iraqis from bondage. When one American in uniform is asked what if Iraqis want to be free of the U.S. presence, the interviewer (Sean Langan) gets a cold stare. "We are here to help you," blasts an American Humvee in thick Baghdad traffic as seen above, amplifying the U.S. presence as one that is an alien invasion, announced by heavily clad troops resembling imperial storm troopers. When someone says he is here to help you, one has to wonder: if it was obvious and welcome, why then is there a need to declare it? "Maybe we should slap down five or six McDonald's on this strip, then the people would be happy" (see "Mission Accomplished"). If you cannot make the locals "happy" with the foreign occupation, then you have to kill them: in the same film, following U.S. troops on a night raid, after an order to "go in hard," the microphone picks up the voice of one of the men saying to another, "you can kill anything if you want to." Anything.

Building rapport with the host nation civilians--and yet brutal violence on a staggering scale. Gaining trust--and yet the shocking night raids. Winning hearts and minds--and yet the widespread and routine sexual, physical, and psychological abuse against innocent inmates at Abu Ghraib. Helping to build a new nation--and yet the torture, arbitrary detention, and outright theft. Defeating terrorism--and yet attacking and occupying countries and peoples that never caused any harm to Americans or Canadians. Counterinsurgency, in actual practice, is as schizophrenic as it is frenetic. While the writers of doctrine preach "less is more," that never seems to apply to the foreign presence to begin with, which in both Iraq and Afghanistan underwent massive "surges". Never we do see an ability to recognize and understand that counterinsurgency, like all other forms of violent and imposed occupation, will always generate more and more reaction against it. We have had endless evidence of this fact after a decade of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq--no one has the right to treat the observation as if it were controversial any more. Counter-counterinsurgency (understood on many different levels) is not only inescapable, it is necessary and legitimate.

The need to see the world with reference to McDonald's symbolizes an approach to difference that treats the latter as a problem, to be cured (by candies or by cudgels). Jean Baudrillard put this best when he wrote in "The Despair of Having Everything,"
The West's mission is to make the world's wealth of cultures interchangeable, and to subordinate them within the global order. Our culture, which is bereft of values, revenges itself upon the values of other cultures.... 
Singularities are not inherently violent. Some can be subtle, unique characteristics of language, art, culture or the human body. But violent singularities do exist, and terrorism is one of them. Violence revenges all the varied cultures that disappeared to prepare for the investiture of a single global power. This is not really a clash of civilisations. Instead, this anthropological conflict pits a monolithic universal culture against all manifestations of otherness, wherever they may be found. 
Global power — as fundamentalist as any religious orthodoxy — sees anything different or unorthodox as heretical, and the heretics must be made to assume their position within the global order or disappear completely. The West's mission (we could call it the "former West" since it lost its defining values long ago) is to reduce a wealth of separate cultures into being interchangeable, of equal weight, by any brutal means possible. A culture that is bereft of values revenges itself on the values of other cultures. Beyond politics and economics, the primary aim of warfare (including the conflict in Afghanistan) is to normalise savagery and beat territories into alignment. Another objective is to diminish any zone of resistance, to colonise and tame any terrain, geographical or mental.
Military strategists and policy makers pay tribute to counterinsurgency (COIN) as a "new" way of winning hearts and minds and part of a nation-building strategy aimed at defeating "terrorism" (and many other ever shifting goals, all packed into one confusing jumble). The actual practice is much more sobering: both superficial and deadly, and at times inconsequential. Turning to Afghanistan, in the audio and video below produced by Stars and Stripes ("Marines wrestle with exasperation in battle for hearts and minds") this is what we get: a U.S. Marine says, "I wish I could go out and just shoot everybody"; another Marine says "If you facilitate the Taliban, then you're just as guilty, and that includes women and kids too." Then watch a patrol get stuck in the mud, out in the open, for hours, and as they start fearing a Taliban attack...what do they do? They bring in the village boys closer, and pay them to shovel mud. Had there been a Taliban attack, and those boys had been killed, inevitably the Taliban would have been blamed. There would be no official report, nor media discussion, about how this is a clear instance of U.S. Marines using locals as human shields.

Yet the Marines claim this is a successful COIN Op. Having armed men pay a young boy to do work for them is treated as if support had been won. There is no open admission about how paying people to do something, does not mean that they like and support you. The Marines cannot even communicate verbally with the locals. Even as they claim to have built bridges, one of the Marines finds his equipment has been stolen by the local boys.

Canadian forces in Afghanistan are supposedly about to bring their combat mission to an end. A Canadian soldier was killed just a few days ago, as an ill conceived mission shifts, not having achieved any of its broader goals. What has been the outcome of years of Canadian counterinsurgency in Afghanistan?

  • A war fought without legitimacy, consistently opposed by the majority of the Canadian public;
  • The unacceptable complicity of Canadian Forces in human rights abuses;
  • Our government's disrespect for parliament and senior diplomats in covering up its complicity;
  • The increasingly shrill politics of the pro-war crowd that would seek to militarize mainstream Canadian values and appropriate Canadians' democratic achievements to the military;
  • Over $18.5 billion spent (and more spent than in any other Canadian foreign development assistance);
  • Mounting Canadian casualties;
  • Continuing deaths of civilians;
  • An Afghan resistance that has never been more powerful and never more legitimate;
  • Rather than some fabled war against misogyny, women's rights have receded dramatically under a regime dominated by warlords, which our government and our taxes support;
  • The occupation has spread war into Pakistan;
  • And, yet the public statements of several high-ranking NATO military officers attesting to the fact that the war cannot be won.
The armour-plating, the longing for a Big Mac and porno, the loud speakers that blare peace from a vehicle of military occupation--these wars were unjust and immoral to start with, but now they are not even slightly credible, on the very terms of those doing the fighting. What we need to still fight is the blowback of increased militarization at home, erosion of democracy, and the domestic application of counterinsurgency. If Canadians opposed counterinsurgency abroad, they have all the more reason to counter it at home.
"The state – an institution that is defined in terms of enjoying a monopoly on the use of violence – is particularly attractive to men and women whose 'dark sides' are closer to the surface than those of more tolerant and peaceful persons. When the state energizes this 'dark side' – which it does particularly in wartime, the quality that led Randolph Bourne to identify war as 'the health of the state' – otherwise decent men and women can turn themselves into agents of savage brutality. When their murderous acts are conducted on behalf of the state – with which most people identify themselves – their actions acquire an aura of legitimacy that would not have obtained under other circumstances.... 
"Identifying ourselves with the state, in other words, has a way of turning us into sociopaths. It is not that the state does this to us, but that our willingness to attach ourselves to external entities – and the values upon which they are grounded – separates us from our focused inner sense of being. This applies not just to the pilots of helicopter gun-ships over Baghdad, but to more visible political figures such as Madeleine Albright – who defended her Clinton-era policies that led to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children – and Janet Reno, who defended her massacre of Branch Davidian men, women, and children at Waco. More recent application of these dynamics are found in George W. Bush’s fascination with starting pre-emptive wars against the rest of the world, and Barack Obama’s apparent willingness to use nuclear weapons in future pre-emptive attacks, as well as to assassinate Americans. 
"People who are willing to embrace – or even to tolerate – such sociopathic conduct, have lost all touch with what it means to be human; have lost their souls. No federal bailouts; no increase in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, or decrease in unemployment levels, will overcome this loss. Nor can any “stimulus package” be enacted – with or without bipartisan support – to restore the personal integrity long since lost." (Butler Shaffer, "How We Lost Our Souls")
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