As English colonists living in America understood, living under an empire is not a pleasant experience. Empire officials are inevitably arrogant, pretentious, pompous, haughty, big-headed, insufferable type of people. They believe that others should bow down them, pay them homage, and behave subserviently to them.
American colonists, of course, haven’t been the only ones who have had to suffer under the dominion of imperialist officials. Generations of people in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia have had to live under the insufferable rule of officials in the French Empire and British Empire.
And now we have the U.S. Empire, whose officials have proven to be no different in how they treat people around the world. Like other empires in history, U.S. empire officials treat foreigners like garbage. That’s precisely why there is so much deeply seated resentment against the United States all over the world — not because people resent Americans for their wealth, freedom, or values but because people are sick and tired of being treated like garbage by the U.S. Empire.
The most recent example is, of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Whatever might be said about Putin — that he himself is an arrogant, pompous, dictatorial autocrat — the fact remains that ever since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. Empire has treated him, other Russian officials, and the entire Russian populace like garbage.
Consider what Putin told the Russian people after the Crimea independence vote about the U.S. Empire:
They cheated us again and again, made decisions behind our back, presenting us with completed facts. That’s the way it was with the expansion of NATO in the East, with the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. They always do the same thing: “Well, this doesn’t involve you.”
According to the New York Times,
He said that the United States and Europe had crossed “a red line” on Ukraine by throwing support to the new government that quickly emerged after Mr. Yanukovych fled the capital following months of protests and two violent days of clashes that left scores dead.
Mr. Putin, as he has before, denounced the uprising as a coup carried out by “Russophobes and neo-Nazis” and abetted by foreigners, saying it justified Russia’s efforts to protect Crimea’s population.
“If you press a spring too hard,” he said, “it will recoil.”
At the end of the Cold War, the American people had a grand opportunity — to dismantle the enormous military-intelligence empire that had been grafted onto our constitutional order after World War II. It would have made sense. This enormous imperialist apparatus was ostensibly brought into existence to fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union, which had been America’s World War II partner and ally. Since the Cold War was now over, there was no reason for keeping this massive Cold War military-intelligence empire in existence.
But the empire wasn’t about to let that happen. Too much money and power involved. Officials in the military, CIA, and NSA and their armies of weapons contractors within the military-industrial complex had come to the conclusion that their national-security state empire was now a permanent part of America’s governmental system. The end of the Cold War, the original justification for the empire, was considered irrelevant.
The mindset was: “We won the Cold War. We are the world’s sole remaining empire. We now rule. There is no one to oppose us. We will prevent the rise of potential rivals. Everyone will defer to us. We rule the roost. We govern and police the world. Everyone is expected to defer to us and serve us.”
In the process, they treated people like garbage, just like empires always do.
Consider Iraq. They killed countless people in an unlawful and unconstitutional war of aggression against the Iraqi people. There was never a congressional declaration of war, as the U.S. Constitution requires. More important, neither the Iraqi people nor their government had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks. It was a clear-cut war of aggression, the type of war condemned at Nuremberg.
In the process, the Iraqi people were treated like garbage. The invasion and occupation was treated like a cost-benefit analysis: It was considered okay to kill unlimited numbers of Iraqis in the attempt to bring “democracy” to that country.
Think about what that says about the value of human life — that is, the life of an Iraqi, as U.S. Empire officials viewed it. That life didn’t matter. It never mattered. What mattered was “democracy.” That was much more valuable than the petty lives of the Iraqi people. So what if people lost their brides, grooms, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, or countrymen? So what if Iraqis lost their homes. The deaths and losses were always considered worth it, compared to the value of “democracy.”
That is what is called treating people like garbage.
Or consider Abu Graib. Not one single one of those victims of torture and extreme sex abuse had anything to do with 9/11. Not one single one of them deserved to be treated like that. They didn’t even deserve to be in jail. After all, what was their worst crime? To resist the invasion of an illegal invader and occupier. They treated the Iraqis they put into Abu Ghraib like garbage and relished and enjoyed the experience, even taking photographs of the proceedings.
Consider Afghanistan. The empire goes looking for a small group of people who were supposedly responsible, as conspirators, for the 9/11 attacks. Yet, week after week, month after month, year after year, countless people who were totally innocent of the 9/11 attacks were killed, maimed, and injured in imperial shootings and bombings, without any remorse, sadness, or regret on the part of the Empire. Indeed, how many times did we learn that wedding parties were bombed, supposedly inadvertently? They called it unfortunate “collateral damage.”
That is what is called treating people like garbage. It has never mattered how many people in Afghanistan were killed. They placed no value on their lives. Their value has always been considered the same as the value of garbage.
I ask you: How many Iraqi people did the Empire kill? How many Afghan people did the Empire kill? You can’t tell me. And the reason you can’t tell me is that the Empire made a conscious decision at the outset of its invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan not to keep count of how many Iraqis and Afghans it killed. It was the only the deaths of Americans they would keep track of. That’s because Iraqis and Afghans are like garbage in the eyes of the Empire. The Empire doesn’t keep track of its garbage. And it also doesn’t keep track of Iraqis and Afghans it kills.
Consider Iran. How many people there have suffered the ravages of the brutal economic sanctions that the Empire is enforcing against that country? It doesn’t matter. The Iranian people are looked upon like garbage, just like the Iraqi people were when U.S. imperial sanctions were killing hundreds of thousands of their children during the 1980s. Indeed, just ask the Cuban people what it’s like to be treated like garbage. They’ve been suffering the ravages of the U.S. Cold War embargo for decades.
Let’s not forget about the torture and incarceration victims at the Empire’s imperial outpost in Cuba. They’ve been languishing in an imperial jail for years, not to mention being subjected to brutal torture. No jury trial. A presumption of guilt. No speedy trial. That’s because every one of those jailed people is considered to be garbage.
Through it all, Empire officials have played the innocent. They blame the anger, hatred, and animosity that people all over the world have for the United States on America’s freedom and values and financial success. The conceit and arrogance that afflicts Empire officials blinds them to the truth — that the reason people hate America is because they don’t like being treated like garbage by arrogant, pompous, hypocritical, self-righteous, duplicitous, imperialist political and bureaucratic hacks.
It’s time to do the right thing. It’s time for the American people to lead the world in the right direction, in a moral direction. It’s time to stop treating people like garbage. It’s time to dismantle the U.S. Empire.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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