About Russia’s AND America’s Invasions
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I unconditionally condemn Russia’s unjust invasion of its neighbor, the Ukraine. Let’s get that said and out of the way first. I applaud America’s and other country’s protests and imposed sanctions against Russia for this act of aggression.
Having said that, I must add that there is something odd, perhaps even hypocritical, about the US (and I could add other countries) condemning an action it has taken many times—namely, unjustified acts of military aggression against other countries.
Any student of American history must know that America has in the past frequently militarily invaded other countries that were not at war against us or their neighbors. But my experience is that few Americans know how often this has happened or how often such acts of military aggression have been ethically wrong.
One can easily find on the internet lists of such American military acts of aggression against other countries. One list I found included over 100 examples.
Let’s begin here and now with the first one—before America was a nation state but continuing after we became one: America’s lethal attacks against Native Americans, First Nations, on the North American continent. While some European immigrants to North America attempted to live at peace with the indigenous peoples, often our governments’ militias and militaries went to war against them, slaughtering men, women and children unjustly. One notable example with which I am very familiar because I grew up in South Dakota is the first Wounded Knee Massacre.
What countries has the U.S. invaded militarily that were not any threat to us? Mexico, Honduras, Cuba, Grenada, Columbia/Panama, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Iraq, Spanish territories, and, surprisingly, Canada (when it was not yet Canada as we know it today but a British colony). Also, of course, Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam conflicts.
Yes, in some cases we used mercenary militias to carry out these invasions, but everyone knows they were directed and aided by our government. In some of these cases, our government invented reasons to justify the invasions, but historians have proven that those reasons were invented by our government and were not grounded in reality “on the ground.” Our reason in each case was a perceived threat to “American interests.” We, the U.S., at one time, if not today, believed we had a right to build an empire mostly in our hemisphere, creating a “sphere of influence” not that different in kind from Russia’s post-WW2 “iron curtain” empire.
Before we denounce another country for doing what we did, we need to acknowledge our similar mistakes and denounce and renounce them. There is something hypocritical about our denunciations of other countries that do the same as we did unless and until we denounce and renounce our acts of military aggression in the past.
Let me finish by repeating that I believe Russia’s military invasion of the Ukraine is unjustified, wrong, and worthy of condemnation by the world community. And I support economic sanctions the U.S. and other countries are imposing on Russia for this. All I am saying here is that we, the U.S., need to admit our past mistakes of a similar kind and promise the world that we will never do that again. Right now, the vast majority of Americans have no idea how often the U.S. has done what Russia is now doing—not that we have invaded the Ukraine but that we have militarily invaded and occupied countries that posed no threat to us. I wonder how or if that knowledge would change public opinion about Russia’s acts of aggression?
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