World Order, Failed States and Terrorism

PART 4: Militarism and mercenaries

Henry C K Liu

PART 1: The failed-state cancer
PART 2: The privatization wave
PART 3: The business of private security

This aarticle appeared in AToL on March 11, 2005

Beyond social and financial security, a sovereign state is responsible for the military security of the nation. In the US political system, foreign security and domestic security are clearly separated to prevent the emergence of militarism. Protecting the nation from foreign enemies outside of US borders is the responsibility of the US armed forces. Domestic or homeland security is the responsibility of the National Guard, the local police, the Coast Guard and the Border Patrol. The United States Border Patrol (USBP) is now the mobile uniformed law-enforcement arm of the newly formed Department of Homeland Security (DHS). USBP was officially established on May 28, 1924, by an act of Congress passed in response to increasing illegal immigration from south of the border. As mandated by this act, the small border guard in what was then the Bureau of Immigration was reorganized into the Border Patrol. The initial force of 450 officers was given the responsibility of combating illegal entries and the growing business of alien smuggling. Homeland security became a primary concern of the nation after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Domestic security now involves not just internal threats and illegal immigration but foreign terrorist threats within US borders. Border security has become a topic of increased concern with the "war on terrorism".

The United States Coast Guard, one of the country's five armed services, is also one of the most singular agencies of the federal government. Its history traces back to August 4, 1790, when the first Congress authorized the construction of 10 vessels to enforce tariff and trade laws, prevent smuggling, and protect the collection of federal revenue. Smuggling had been rampant and profitable. In times of peace the Coast Guard operates as part of the DHS, serving as the nation's front-line agency for enforcing its laws at sea, protecting its coastline and ports, rescuing distressed boats and saving lives at sea. In times of war, or on direction of the president, it serves under the Navy Department.

Foreign intelligence had been the responsibility of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) while intelligence on domestic threats was the responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The separation had been maintained by law since the Central Intelligence Service (CIS) was created from the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) of World War II. The OSS was established in June 1942 with a mandate to collect and analyze strategic information required by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to conduct special operations, such as espionage and covert action. During World War II, the OSS supplied policymakers with essential facts and intelligence estimates and often played an important role in directly aiding military campaigns. But the OSS never received complete jurisdiction over all foreign intelligence activities, with all older government and military departments retaining their own intelligence operations. Since the early 1930s, the FBI, in addition to domestic investigation, had been responsible for intelligence work in Latin America, and the military services protected their traditional areas of responsibility. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which forced the US to acknowledge the breakdown of the separation of foreign and domestic security, both the armed forces and the intelligence community have been impacted by the fact that the "war on terrorism" needs to be waged both inside and outside US borders simultaneously. A new position of director of national intelligence has just been created, with John D Negroponte, a veteran diplomat, overseeing a staff of more than 500.

September 11 was generally acknowledged as the worst intelligence failure in post-World War II US history, and revealed that US intelligence gathering and analysis needed to be restructured and vastly improved. Many proposals have since been put forward to improve US intelligence capabilities. The pre-September 11 framework for US intelligence had been created in a different time to deal with different geopolitical problems. The National Security Act of 1947 signed by president Harry Truman, which established the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency, envisaged communist states such as the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China as primary adversaries. It also recognized the importance of protecting citizen rights domestically. The result was organizations and authority based on clear distinction of domestic versus foreign threats, of law-enforcement versus national-security concerns, and of peacetime versus wartime conditions.

Rooted in the English and early colonial tradition of citizen-soldiers providing local protection and law enforcement, the Revolutionary War veterans and male descendants of their families organized themselves into local militia units. Reflecting the provisions of the US constitution establishing the need for "a well-regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state", the federal government passed the Militia Act of 1792, which required all able-bodied men aged 18-45 to serve in their local militia units and provide their own weapons and equipment. It further authorized the governor of each state to appoint an adjutant general to enact the orders of the governor and to supervise unit training and organization. Reflecting the founding fathers' distrust of a large standing army, the act strictly limited the ability of the militia to serve outside of their state borders and placed effective control with the governors rather than the federal government.

With war looming, the Selective Service Act of 1917 was enacted, requiring the adjutant general of each state to set up local draft boards to institute military conscription. During peacetime the National Guard in each state answers to the political leadership in the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. During national emergencies, however, the president reserves the right to mobilize the National Guard, putting them on federal duty status. While federalized, the units answer to the combatant commander of the theater in which they are operating and, ultimately, to the president. Even when not federalized, the Army National Guard has a federal obligation to maintain properly trained and equipped units, available for prompt mobilization for war, national emergency, or as otherwise needed. The Army National Guard is a partner with the Active Army and the Army Reserves in fulfilling the country's military needs. In reality, the regular army holds a low expectation of the combat readiness of national guardsmen.

The separation between the military and the civilian police is as fundamental as the separation of church and state in the US polity. The US constitution puts strict limits on the role of the military. The Third Amendment sets conditions for quartering of soldiers during time of peace or war. The Fourth Amendment protects civilians from "unreasonable search and seizure". These two plus eight other amendments to the constitution encompass the Bill of Rights, created to protect the people from government abuse and from inevitable encroachment on civil liberties. These amendments were written with the intent of protecting the population from government repression, a lesson learned after much suffering under British tyranny, including the forced quartering of British soldiers and military impunity to domestic civilian law. Other limits to the military's role in domestic activities were later written into law. The earliest and most far-reaching was the Posse Comitatus Act of the late 1800s, which placed strict restrictions on the US military at a time when they were repeatedly being used by incumbents during election campaigns.

Militarism at Little Rock
On May 17, 1954, the US Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs Topeka Board of Education that segregated schools are "inherently unequal" and must be integrated "with deliberate speed". In September 1957, as a result of that ruling, nine black students enrolled at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. As popular opposition threatened violence and social disorder, governor Orval E Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to surround Central High School to keep the nine students from entering the school to defuse social unrest and to maintain law and order. On September 2, 1957, the day before the nine black students were to enter Central High, national guardsmen surrounded the school. In a televised speech that night, Faubus explained that he had called the national guardsmen because he had heard that white supremacists from all over the state were descending on Little Rock. He declared Central off-limits to blacks and Horace Mann, the black high school, off-limits to whites. He also warned that if the black students attempted to enter Central High, "blood would run in the streets".

President Dwight D Eisenhower, after procrastinating for 18 days, federalized the National Guards. But fearing for the dependability of the local militia, the members of which were from the local community and were in sympathy with the segregationist governor, who had the overwhelming support of the local population, Eisenhower ordered 1,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock to ensure the safety of the "Little Rock Nine" and to prevent the breakdown of law and order. Thus the unpopular ruling of the Supreme Court was upheld in a hostile community with military intervention. Eisenhower, a southerner and personally sympathetic to segregation, publicly stated that he found the need for federal troops "repugnant" and he sent them not to support desegregation but to establish law and order and he did so not as president but as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, which incidentally had remained segregated until September 30, 1954. Eisenhower's entire distinguished military career took place under a segregated military and his years at West Point as a cadet were spent without ever encountering a black classmate. It was not until July 26, 1948, that president Truman signed Executive Order 9981 establishing the Presidents Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. It was accompanied by Executive Order 9980, which created a Fair Employment Board to eliminate racial discrimination in federal employment. The entire Second World War to defend freedom and democracy was fought under strict segregation in the US government and armed forces.

Little Rock was the first time since the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction that federal troops had been sent to the south over racial issues. It was a classic failed-state syndrome through the exercise of militarism. The crisis was televised for the whole world to see.

Eisenhower said on a television broadcast on September 24, 1957: "At a time when we face grave situations abroad because of the hatred that communism bears towards a system of government based on human rights, it would be difficult to exaggerate the harm that is being done to the prestige and influence and indeed to the safety of our nation and the world. Our enemies are gloating over this incident and using it everywhere to misrepresent our whole nation. We are portrayed as a violator of those standards which the peoples of the world united to proclaim in the Charter of the United Nations." But he took the argument out of his own rhetoric by denying publicly that his actions were to support the moral principle of desegregation. Instead of being a committed leader of moral righteousness, he deferred to how the US might look bad to communists around the world if segregation, for which he publicly professed personal sympathy, were allowed to continue. The southern segregationists had a point: if desegregation was not the issue, then Eisenhower merely exercised the power of a police state by sending federal troops to Arkansas, since governor Orval E Faubus had sent in his National Guard also not to resist desegregation, but only to maintain public order.

Senator Richard B Russell of Georgia likened Eisenhower's paratroopers to "Hitler's storm troopers", a charge that could not be summarily dismissed by Eisenhower's own logic. What Eisenhower unleashed was not high moral principle backed by legitimate force, but militarism to preserve order in a power struggle between a governor who defended state rights under pressure of a pending democratic election and a president who was obliged to preserve the union once again by upholding the authority of the federal government. Eisenhower was revisiting Abraham Lincoln's dilemma almost a century after the Civil War, to bring the south once again to its knees over an issue of state rights by the pretext of a moral principle with which both he and Lincoln personally did not sympathize. George W Bush, a politician from Texas, that stronghold of state rights in domestic politics, was acting against his own political heritage when he violated sovereign state rights of self-determination in international relations to impose by illegitimate militarism a moral imperialism on an alien culture.

Russell served as governor of Georgia when falling state revenue was causing recurring fiscal deficits, with rampant unemployment, courtesy of the Great Depression, falling cotton prices and falling cotton production as a result of boll-weevil infestation. Between 1931 and 1933, Russell worked on reorganizing the government along New Deal lines, making it more effective and less corrupt, and began a vast program of road building and other public works to create jobs, as well as strong support for public education, albeit segregated, to revive the state's economy. Russell went to Washington as senator from Georgia in 1933. Over the next four decades, Russell became a major figure in Washington, especially as a powerful committee chairman. In the Senate, he became known as a supporter of a strong military, federal subsidy to agriculture, and state rights on the issue of segregation. He felt that Georgians could deal with race relations in their own ways with more sensitivity and effectiveness without coercive counter-productive federal intervention. Separate but equal was the defense of moderate southerners, and to them the segregated southern institution was more tolerant toward black Americans than the de facto segregation in the north. To support their view, southerners pointed to that fact that Georgia produced many distinguished black Americans in all fields under segregation, such as W E B Du Bois.

As the world prepared to celebrate a century of progress at the 1900 International Exposition in Paris, Du Bois, then a sociology professor at Atlanta University, was approached by Thomas Calloway, a black lawyer who called for black participation in the exposition, to illustrate progress made by black Americans since Emancipation. Du Bois, Calloway and Daniel A P Murray, a son of freed slaves and assistant librarian of Congress, compiled books, manuscripts, artifacts and some 500 photographs of people, homes, churches, businesses and landscapes that defied stereotypes. A Small Nation of People brings together more than 150 of these photographs in a single volume for the first time. The book is about "The Exhibit of American Negroes" shown at the 1900 World's Fair in Paris. The display included a set of charts, maps and graphs prepared by Du Bois recording the growth of population, economic power and literacy among blacks in Georgia. It also included photographs that exemplified dignity, accomplishment and progress, such as images of blacks attending universities and running businesses.

Segregation, while inherently wrong and unjust, was a complex issue that many northern desegregationists oversimplified as an abstract principle by imposing coercive corrective measures that in reality exacerbated violent resistance, at least over methods. The same oversimplification has infected the self-righteous, simplistic US crusade for universal democracy and human rights as pretext for neo-imperialism. Few in the world are against democracy or human rights, but many will resist to the end the way the US goes about imposing its preferred version through illegitimate militarism.

Russell was appointed to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he chaired for years. Among the legislation he proposed were federal farm relief, soil conservation, rural electrification, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the Farm Security Act, and the National School Lunch Act. He was a champion of state rights, and a crusader against government waste and corruption. Although a strong supporter of the military throughout his career he opposed the decision to send troops to Vietnam. He was a member of the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of president John Fitzgerald Kennedy. As president pro tem of the US Senate, he was third in line to ascend to the presidency.

In 1952, Russell ran for the Democratic nomination for president, having already won the New Hampshire primary. Over the next two months after New Hampshire, his stand in support of segregation would define this Georgia political icon. Growing up in the racially segregated south, Russell not only defended his conviction that segregation was a workable way of life for Georgia, he voted his conviction and, in the end, paid the price for his way of thinking. Russell actually had a good chance at the nomination, with strong support in the south and many Democrats privately supporting him across the United States. Realizing that segregation would not sell in the north or the west, the Democrats asked Russell to renounce his stand on segregation. Russell refused, stating that he believed ending segregation abruptly would destroy once again the fabric of southern society. The Democrats chose as their candidate Adlai Stevenson, who lost the election to Eisenhower, a war hero and a southerner who publicly declined to support desegregation.

From 1952 on, Russell, embittered by the high price he had paid for his gradualism on racial matters, turned reactionary to fight a hopeless battle, trying to preserve the institution of segregation as it was dismantled piece by piece. After the historic 1954 Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs Topeka Board of Education, Mississippi senator James Eastland stated: "The south will not abide by nor obey this legislative decision by a political court." Senator Russell, by contrast, took a more moderate approach: "Ways must be found to check the tendency of the court to disregard the constitution and the precedents of able and unbiased judges to decide cases solely on the basis of the personal predilections of some of its members as to political, economic and social questions." Texas senator and majority leader Lyndon Baines Johnson, a Russell protege, moved civil-rights legislation through the Senate in 1957. It was the first such legislation passed by Congress in 80 years. Russell and others formed a "southern bloc" of senators opposed to legislation giving equal rights to blacks. This bloc voted against the civil-rights legislation of 1964 and 1965, the programs of Johnson's Great Society, and many judicial nominations. If Russell had been president instead of Eisenhower, the Little Rock crisis might have been averted and racial integration might have proceeded more smoothly and with less violence and hatred, for the south might have moved voluntarily toward what it knew was moral and right, without rallying behind the shield of defending state rights. As the election of liberal southern governors such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton to the presidency demonstrated, southern politicians can deal with racial issues more effectively and with more understanding of southern sentiments. The Little Rock crisis was a manifestation of failed statehood and a triumph for militarism.

The paratroopers stayed in Little Rock until the end of November 1957. The federalized national guardsmen stayed for one year. Eight of the nine black students stayed at Central High School for the whole academic year and one, Ernest Green, graduated to college. Another, Minnijean Brown, on December 17, dumped her lunch tray over the heads of two white boys who had been taunting her. Even though the boys later confessed, as most decent human beings would under calmer conditions, that they "didn't blame her for getting mad" after all the insults she had endured over the course of the year, Minnijean was suspended for six days. She was "reinstated" on probation on January 13, 1958, with the agreement that she would not retaliate, verbally or physically, to any harassment but would leave the matter to the largely indifferent school authorities to handle. But she was expelled in February after she called a girl who was mercilessly provoking her "white trash", while none of her white tormentors were disciplined for racist insults yelled at her constantly. The whites in the school were jubilant, making up cards that said, "One down ... eight to go!" The nine black students during their year were regularly spat on by their fellow white students. Acid was thrown on the face of one. The school's principal had his life threatened and threats were made to bomb the school.

A photograph taken by Will Counts, of a subdued but determined Elizabeth Eckford walking to enter Central High, taunted by white students, with Hazel Massery behind her shouting with hostility, circulated all over the world, illustrating the ugliness of the event. Eckford recalled her experience: "I stood looking at the school - it looked so big! Just then the [national] guards let some white students through. The crowd was quiet. I guess they were waiting to see what was going to happen. When I was able to steady my knees, I walked up to the guard who had let the white students in. He too didn't move. When I tried to squeeze past him, he raised his bayonet and then the other guards moved in and they raised their bayonets. They glared at me with a mean look and I was very frightened and didn't know what to do. I turned around and the crowd came toward me.

"They moved closer and closer. Somebody started yelling, 'Lynch her! Lynch her!'

"I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the mob - someone who maybe would help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me. They came closer, shouting, 'No nigger bitch is going to get in our school. Get out of here!' I turned back to the guards but their faces told me I wouldn't get any help from them."

Hazel Massery was one of the white students who attempted to stop Elizabeth Eckford and the other eight blacks from entering Little Rock's Central High School. She was interviewed by Peter Lennon in The Guardian on December 30, 1998: "I am not sure at that age what I thought, but probably I overheard that my father was opposed to integration. I vividly remember that the National Guard was going to be there. But I don't think I was old enough to have any convictions of my own yet. I was just mirroring my adult environment. I wasn't following Elizabeth. She happened to come along, the crowd shifted and I was standing in that spot, so I just went along with the crowd. I'd soon forget about it all. I married as a teenager, right out of school. I was not quite 17. But there were Martin Luther King's civil-rights activities and gradually you began to think that even though he was a trouble-maker, all the while, deep in your soul, that he was right.

"I think motherhood brings out the protection or care in a person. I had a sense of deep remorse that I had wronged another human being because of the color of her skin. But you are also looking for relief and forgiveness, of course, more for yourself than for the other person. I called her [Elizabeth Eckford]. The first meeting was very awkward. What could I say to her? I thought of something finally and we kind of warmed up.

"The families are not at ease about this relationship. Housing is still strictly segregated in Little Rock. There is some tension regarding our safety. On one side there are blacks who feel Elizabeth has betrayed them by becoming friends with me, and certain whites feel that I have betrayed them by becoming friends with [her], and certain whites feel that I have betrayed our culture. But we have become real friends."

Many southern political leaders were ahead of the general population on the race issue, but the institution of democracy prevented them from voicing their conscience, lest they should be voted out of office. The fact that governor Orval E Faubus was facing a second-term election had much to do with his actions in the Little Rock crisis. In 1954, Faubus had run for governor as a liberal promising to increase spending on schools and roads. In the first few months of his administration, Faubus desegregated state buses and public transportation and began to investigate the possibility of introducing multi-racial schools. This liberal program solicited political attack from Jim Johnson, leader of the ultra-conservative wing of the Democratic Party in Arkansas. This attack caused Faubus to reconsider his political position for the upcoming election and led him to oppose the 1954 Brown vs Board of Education decision by the US Supreme Court that separate schools were unequal and therefore unconstitutional. Democracy is merely a process that reflects majority opinion; it does not always yield good or moral outcomes if the majority hold views that are not moral. President George W Bush's assertion that democracy brings peace is merely cheap sloganeering.

In a 1991 booklet called The Faubus Years, Orval E Faubus offered this explanation and defense of his actions in the 1957 Central High School integration crisis:

Following my election in 1954, I was inaugurated as governor on January 11, 1955. The US Supreme Court decision nullifying the separate but equal doctrine in the public schools was handed down on May 17, 1954. During my first term some public schools proceeded with integration. These included Fayetteville, Bentonville, Charleston, Hot Springs, Fort Smith and Hoxie. Opposition developed at Hoxie, the federal authorities intervened and the district was torn apart by the conflict. Another district, Sheridan in Grant county, made an early announcement that it would integrate the schools. The opposition was so intense that the decision was rescinded. Still, by 1957 Arkansas had more integrated public schools than 11 other states combined which had a comparable problem with the change from the separate but equal school system ...

In Little Rock a small band of white integrationists began the discussion of a plan to integrate Central High School ... The plan was never clear as to how many students, who they were and from whence they came. Those who sought to gain the information were put off with indefinite answers. The sponsors always claimed the plan would have only a limited number of black students. It was widely discussed day after day for months by radio, television and the print media, and from pulpits, schools and all manner of meetings.

Finally, it began to be widely disseminated that the integration of Central High School would set the pattern and the example for all the state and for all the south. Editorials to that effect appeared in a number of newspapers.

Those who opposed integration of the schools by court order and by compulsion, which was the great majority in Arkansas, became concerned. They thought, "If the Central High School case is to set an example that affects us, then we better be concerned about the outcome."

Thus the anti-integration meetings began. There were rallies with great attendance in various places with prominent people as speakers. Out-of-state speakers were brought in and the interest in Central High School, a local school, spread beyond the state borders.

The small band of white integrationists, who hoped to become overnight celebrities, while denying their integrationist sentiments, saw their hopes and plans jeopardized by the rising tide of opposition. They redoubled their efforts and became more determined.

Thus, Central School in Little Rock became a focal point of contest. It became a key point of conflict, not just for the city, not just for the state, but for a wider field including the nation.

I have always felt, and still firmly believe, that if the school authorities in Little Rock had handled the affair quietly, the intense conflict over integration at Central High would never have developed. If the school authorities had said, "This is our own local problem. We'll handle it the best we can based on our local conditions. This does not concern any other school. Just us." If they had said that and the media had followed that lead, there would have been no Central High School Crisis as we now know it.

There were other forces at work, other unusual factors in the Central High School situation.

The little band of white integrationists had seen themselves as instant celebrities, their names became household words. They were to receive credit and praise for a plan and an accomplishment that had been achieved by no others. In their impractical dreams and misguided views, they saw their acclaim in the publicity, for which they had already arranged, about to be swept away in the rising tide of opposition. They became more desperate in their demands for help from higher authority.

I could not then, nor could I in the years that have followed, detect any such attitude in the black leaders who were involved in the controversy. I give them full credit for sincerity in their efforts, for the faith that their cause was just, and for honest hope that their goals would be achieved. In later years some black leaders have emerged who might be regarded as extremists, but no such black leaders were apparent then.

Another factor was the oft-expressed thought that Little Rock was deliberately chosen as the place to bring about court-ordered integration in the South. There is now some concrete evidence to bolster that thought.

Osro Cobb, a native of Arkansas, a longtime resident of Little Rock and a prominent Republican leader in the state, was the US attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. In that position he represented the federal authorities during the so-called Central High School crisis. Since that time, Mr Cobb has written a book entitled Osro Cobb of Arkansas in which he discusses his role in the controversy. In Chapter 21, page 175 of his book, Mr Cobb writes:

"I operated from the eye of the hurricane that enveloped the city, representing the federal government as chief law-enforcement officer with the responsibility of collaborating with the Justice Department to cope with the situation.

"Thurgood Marshall, who later became a justice of the US Supreme Court, participated in some of the court hearings regarding Central High School. During a recess in one of the hearings, he volunteered the information to me that Little Rock Central High School had been picked as a target for testing integration because the Little Rock community had exhibited a remarkable tolerance in race relations."

At the time of the Little Rock crisis, Thurgood Marshall was the chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Evidently Little Rock was chosen in the highest circles of some national organizations.

Another major factor, perhaps the most important, was the attitude of the national Republican administration in Washington, which was then quarterbacked by attorney general Herbert Brownell. It is conceded by almost everyone, if not all, that Brownell was calling the plays for the national administration in the Little Rock Central High School Crisis.

On June 6, 1990, at a symposium on civil-rights issues held at the Dwight D Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, in which both Brownell and I participated, the former attorney general in a speech to the symposium made the following statement:

"Over a period of months we in the Justice Department had the growing realization that a clash of historic importance between the president, who was required by the constitution to enforce the law of the land, and political leaders in the south was inevitable. We had engaged in 'contingency planning' so we would not be caught unprepared. Thus, by the time the groups from White Citizens Councils from various parts of the south converged on Little Rock, Arkansas, we had completed our studies ..."

At another point in his speech, Brownell, in speaking of sending federal troops to Little Rock, said: "He [the president] ordered the 101st Airborne Division, which he knew had crowd-control experience, to go to Little Rock."

The Brownell statement tends to confirm the reports we had from soldiers in the 101st Division that they had been training for several days at their home base of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in preparation for their dispatch to Little Rock.

Now it becomes clear why the Central High School Crisis occurred. Because of the widespread publicity of a "plan" to integrate the school and make it an example for all the state and the South, it became a focal point of contest. Even Brownell in his speech at Abilene, and Mr Cobb in his book, speak of gathering forces at Little Rock.

It was now apparent that Little Rock was deliberately chosen for integration and a confrontation if necessary. It is clear that more than the local integration leaders were involved in the decision.

And now it is clear that the federal authorities did not want a quiet, peaceful solution to the Central High problem. Brownell wanted "a clash of historic importance" and he wanted it in Little Rock, the capital of a state that had only eight electoral votes, which were always cast in the Democratic column.

Now it is clear why Brownell did not respond to my phone calls from Little Rock seeking information and a way to avoid violence. Now it is clear why congressman Brooks Hays, a man of infinite goodwill, and I had our efforts for an amicable settlement torpedoed by the attorney general at the Newport conference when we had made genuine progress with the president.

In this situation with the opposing forces gathering at Little Rock, with no assistance available from federal authority to prevent disorder, or restore order if violence occurred, I placed a small force of national guardsmen on duty to preserve the peace. They were to be assisted by the state police.

Although crowds gathered, everything was peaceful with the few guardsmen in control. In the course of events a federal judge, at the request of the Justice Department (Brownell), ordered me to remove the National Guard. I promptly complied with the order. The next school day there was disorder and the president sent 1,100 troops of the 10lst Airborne Division to Little Rock and placed 10,000 federalized national guardsmen on duty. Brownell had what he had planned, "a clash of historic importance".

As the opposing forces were gathering before school began, I conferred with my counsel, W J Smith. He advised me to let violence erupt and then call out the National Guard.

I could not wait for violence because the evidence I had from the state police and others with whom I conferred had convinced me that an incident similar to the one that later occurred at the University of Mississippi would occur at Central High School. I could have been blamed for any blood that was shed because of my failure to take preventive measures. It could have been said that I had blood on my hands, so to speak. I had served with a front-line infantry division in all five major campaigns on the continent of Europe in World War II and participated in the major battles of Normandy [and] Mortain and the Battle of the Bulge and I knew something about bloodshed. This I could not permit when it was in my power to see that it did not happen. I told my counsel that I had a duty to perform and I would not shirk from it, even though my actions would place me at a disadvantage in the controversy.

I am fully convinced that my handling of the situation, and my advice to the people once the school and the city were occupied by the federal troops, helped to prevent violence and disorder.

School was conducted the entire year of 1957-58 with federal soldiers on the school grounds and in the rooms and hallways of the Central building. Then the people of the Little Rock district voted to close the senior high schools rather than submit to another year of classes under the control of federal troops or US marshals. The senior high schools only remained closed for a year. All other schools operated normally ... Classes were resumed in all Little Rock schools in the school year 1959-60.

In all that two-year period, there was no property damage, no one was injured sufficiently to be hospitalized and no one was killed. Contrast that record with the racial riots that followed in more than 200 American cities, none of them in Arkansas, in which many lives were lost, thousands were injured and property damage ranged into the millions of dollars, and Little Rock and Arkansas came out remarkably well.
Faubus was undeniably on the wrong side of the issue. Yet his point that outside forces and federal military intervention created the crisis is not without merit. The issue was not desegregation. The issue was a federal attack on state rights through the problem of desegregation. Faubus was re-elected for another four terms as governor of Arkansas and became a heroic figure of state rights in US politics. After the 1965 Voting Act made it easier for black Americans to vote, the political climate in Arkansas changed. Faubus was defeated in the 1966 Democratic primary by the segregationist Jim Johnson, who was then defeated in the general election by liberal Republican reformer Winthrop Rockefeller. In 1992, Arkansas governor Bill Clinton defeated incumbent George H W Bush for president with the help of the black vote.

In the academic year 1958-59, Little Rock voters voted to close all public schools rather than accept desegregation, and president Dwight Eisenhower did not act to protect the civil rights of Little Rock children to receive public education. In this sense, Faubus lost the battle of Little Rock to federal militarism, but he won the war on state rights. Though there is no doubt that segregated schools are inherently unequal, the all-black Horace Mann School in Little Rock was of relatively high quality. Thus the closing of all public schools in the city hurt all students in the state, particularly blacks and low-income whites who were generally unable to afford private schools. Central High did not open up with a desegregated school population until 1960. As late as 1964, only 3% of black American schoolchildren attended desegregated schools nationwide. The battle then moved on to the issue of busing in blacks to all-white suburbs to combat de facto segregation of education by housing patterns and household income, most contentiously in the north.

On September 25, 1997, the 40th anniversary of the Little Rock crisis, president Bill Clinton, who had come to the White House from his governorship in Arkansas, welcomed the "Little Rock Nine" to Central High School through the same doors from which they had been barred, saying: "If those nine children could walk up those steps 40 years ago, all alone, if their parents could send them into the storm armed only with schoolbooks and the righteousness of their cause, then surely together we can build one America, an America that makes sure no future generation of our children will have to pay for our mistakes with the loss of their innocence." He did not give credit to the militarism imposed by Eisenhower. The issue was not whether desegregation should be implemented, but whether it should be implemented through state militarism.

The real defenders of freedom were the "Little Rock Nine", not the paratroopers nor the national guardsmen nor the politicians of a failed state. The lesson is clear: Let the US send its young men and women into the storm of injustice around the world with schoolbooks to promote real American values of freedom and democracy, instead of with tanks and precision missiles to promote neo-imperialism, paid for with the loss of their innocence. Much injustice remains to be removed inside the US before it earns the right to promote anything outside with state militarism.

Militarism at Wounded Knee
On December 29, 1890, at Wounded Knee Creek, on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, some 500 soldiers of the US 7th Cavalry opened fire on approximately 350 Lakota (Sioux) native Americans of chief Big Foot's Miniconjou band. At the end of the confrontation, some 300 Sioux men, women and children, including chief Big Foot, were dead. This event marked the end of Lakota national resistance until 1973, eight decades later. Apart from the few minor skirmishes that followed, the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 ended the "Indian Wars".

The Ghost Dance movement was led by a Paiute named Wovoka who held a vision that the "Old Earth" would be destroyed and a new one created in which native Americans could again live as they had before the coming of the white man. He preached that the only way to survive the impending apocalypse would be to perform faithfully the Ghost Dance and the ceremonies associated with it. Wovoka's movement began as a peaceful one, which did not exclude other races from participating. Some followers, most notably Kicking Bear, a member of the original Lakota delegation sent to learn of Wovoka's teachings, radicalized the non-violent message into a call for the repulsion of the white man that resonated with many members of the Lakota tribes of South Dakota. Many of the more traditionalist Lakota, with memories of better times and white people's treachery still fresh in their minds, took up the Ghost Dance on these militant liberation terms.

In October 1890, the Ghost Dance movement reached Sitting Bull's Hunkpapa Lakota nation on the Standing Rock Reservation in northern South Dakota. The powerful Lakota chief welcomed the movement that revived the morale and spirit of his people. US government officials became deeply concerned about the popularity of the Ghost Dance movement and its increasingly militant message. Sitting Bull was identified as a major political leader of the movement. On December 12, days after Sitting Bull had asked for permission to leave the Standing Rock Reservation to visit with Ghost Dancers, General Nelson Miles issued an order for his capture.

Sitting Bull, a Sioux, had been a Hunkpapa chief since 1866. He was a warrior, spiritual leader and politician. He refused to attend the treaty at Fort Laramie in 1868 and fought surveyors over the route of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1872. On June 25, 1876, Sitting Bull fought Colonel George Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The victory of that battle created much hatred in US official circles for Sitting Bull. In May 1877, he retreated to Canada and stayed with his tribe until 1881, when he was detained as a prisoner of war at Fort Randall from 1881-83 under harsh treatment. In 1885, Sitting Bull was forced to travel around the world as a performer with Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show as "the slayer of General Custer". He supposedly first shot with a rifle the Cheyenne chief Yellow Hair, then stabbed him in the heart and finally scalped him "in about five seconds", according to his own account. Cody characteristically had the event embroidered into a melodrama - Buffalo Bill's First Scalp for Custer - for the autumn theater season. Hearing of the warrant for Sitting Bull's arrest, Cody volunteered to facilitate the arrest, presumably to assure Sitting Bull's safety. He was rebuffed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agent at Standing Rock, James McLauglin. Then on December 15, a scuffle erupted outside of Sitting Bull's home between Ghost Dancers and BIA agents sent to arrest the Lakota chief. During the fight Sitting Bull was shot and killed by BIA officer Red Tomahawk. When the shooting ended, eight Lakota and six BIA officers lay dead.

Sitting Bull's death created confusion and anger among many Lakota bands. Big Foot, leader of one of the most fervent bands of Ghost Dance practitioners, feared that the US Army was ready to retaliate forcefully against the movement. To avoid capture, he and his followers wandered through the South Dakota Badlands for several days. Once his people's supplies became scarce, he began a trek toward the Pine Ridge agency. His ultimate goal was to reach the protection of chief Red Cloud, who had a reputation for negotiating effectively with the US government. On December 28, during what would have been the last leg of their journey to Pine Ridge, Big Foot and his followers were intercepted by cavalry troops under Major Samuel Whitside and escorted to the Wounded Knee army camp. There the Lakota camped under a flag of truce, surrounded by 7th Cavalry troops under the command of Colonel James W Forsyth.

On the morning of December 29, Forsyth ordered the disarmament of Big Foot's band. The disarmament proceeded slowly as the Miniconjou were reluctant to give up their only means of protection. The slow progress of disarmament frustrated the cavalry officers, increasing the already heightened tension. The conflict came to a head when a young deaf Sioux named Black Coyote resisted the seizure of his brand-new rifle. In the ensuing struggle the rifle discharged into the air. Almost immediately after this first shot, the cavalrymen returned fire with an opening volley that struck and killed Big Foot. Hearing the firings in the Sioux camp, soldiers posted on the ridges overlooking the camp unleashed a barrage of light artillery. US soldiers fired indiscriminately on unarmed men, women and children fleeing the battle scene. The Lakota suffered hundreds of casualties; 25 soldiers perished, mostly from their own crossfire. One Lakota survivor was an infant who was found at her dead mother's side. Named Lost Bird, she was adopted by Brigadier-General Leonard W Colby, commander of the Nebraska National Guard.

More than 80 years later, on February 27, 1973, a group called the American Indian Movement (AIM) seized control of Wounded Knee. Led by AIM leader Russell Means, the liberation/occupation began as a protest against the reservation's officially sanctioned puppet government under the leadership of Dickie Wilson. Two people were killed during the 71-day occupation, 12 were wounded, including two US marshals, and nearly 1,200 were arrested. Inspired by the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, AIM put the issue of native American rights into the national spotlight. The siege at Wounded Knee began as Native Americans stood up against century-long US atrocities, and ended in an armed battle with US armed forces.

Corruption within the BIA and Tribal Council having been at an all-time high, tension on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was white-hot and quickly got out of control. In despair and faced with no options, elders of the Lakota Nation turned to AIM for assistance, bringing to a head more than a hundred years of racial tension and government corruption. On that winter day in February 1973, a large group of armed Native Americans reclaimed Wounded Knee in the name of the Lakota Nation. For the first time in almost a century, Oglala Sioux regained self-rule, free from foreign intervention, in their ancient tradition. This would become the basis for a TV movie, Lakota Woman, the true story of Mary Moore Crowdog and her experiences at the Wounded Knee liberation.

During the months preceding the Wounded Knee liberation, civil war brewed among the Oglala people. A division emerged between traditionalists and collaborationists. The traditionalists wanted more independence from the United States, as well as forcing the US to honor the 1868 Sioux treaty, which is still valid, according to which the Black Hills of South Dakota belong to the Sioux nation, and return of the sacred hills to the Sioux people. Another severe problem on the Pine Ridge Reservation was the strip-mining of the land. The chemicals used by the mining operations were poisoning the land and the water. People were getting sick, and children were being born with birth defects. The puppet tribal government had encouraged strip-mining and the sale of the Black Hills to the US government to lease to private mining companies.

For decades, the tribal government had been not much more than puppets of the BIA. The sacred Black Hills, along with many other problems, had become a wedge that would tear apart the Lakota nation. Violent confrontations between traditionalists and the US puppet agents, or GOONs (Guardians of Our Oglala Nation), became everyday occurrences. The young AIM warriors, idealistic and defiant, were like a breath of fresh air to most Native Americans, and their ideas quickly caught on. When AIM took control of Wounded Knee, more than 75 different native nations were represented, with more supporters arriving daily from all over the continent.

Soon US armed forces in the form of federal marshals and national guardsmen surrounded the large group. All roads to Wounded Knee were cut off, but still people slipped through the lines, pouring into the liberated area. The liberation forces inside Wounded Knee demanded an investigation into misuse of tribal funds and the GOON squad's violent aggression against people who dared speak out against the puppet tribal council. In addition, they wanted a Senate committee to launch an investigation into the BIA and the Department of the Interior regarding their handling of the affairs of the Oglala Sioux tribe. The liberation warriors also demanded an investigation into the 371 treaties between the native nations and the United States, all of which had been broken by the US.

The liberation warriors that occupied Wounded Knee held fast to these demands and refused to lay down arms until they were met. The US cut off electricity to Wounded Knee and kept all food and supplies from entering the liberated area. For the rest of that winter, the men and women inside Wounded Knee survived on minimal rations while they fought the armed aggression of US forces. Daily, heavy gunfire was issued back and forth between the two sides, but the native freedom fighters refused to give up.

During the Wounded Knee liberation, the warriors lived in their traditional manner, celebrating a birth and a marriage, as well as mourning the death of two of their fellow warriors inside Wounded Knee. AIM member Buddy Lamont was hit by M16 fire and bled to death inside Wounded Knee from lack of medical care, in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. AIM member Frank Clearwater was killed by heavy-machine-gun fire inside Wounded Knee. Twelve other individuals were intercepted by the GOON squad while backpacking supplies into Wounded Knee; they disappeared and were never heard from again. Though the US government investigated by looking for a mass grave in the area, when none was found the investigation was soon abandoned.

Wounded Knee was a great victory for the Oglala Sioux as well as all other native nations. For a short period of time in 1973, the Oglala Sioux were a free people once more. After 71 days, the siege at Wounded Knee had come to an end, with the US government making nearly 1,200 arrests of participants as common criminals, not as prisoners of war. But this would only mark the beginning of what had come to be known as the "reign of terror" instigated by the FBI and the BIA. During the three years following Wounded Knee, 64 tribal members became victims of unsolved murder, 300 were harassed and beaten, and 562 illegal arrests were made, with 15 convicted of criminal offenses. None were treated as prisoners of war, let alone freedom fighters.

A persecuted people regained their freedom for a brief 71 days on the land of their ancestors at a heavy price after being victims for 80 years of systematic ethnic cleansing. British and US atrocities committed against Native Americans over a period of four centuries remain unmatched in scale and duration by anything in history, including the despicable decade-long Nazi atrocity against the European Jews.

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