Meet the New Boss…

America is so innocent. We went into Iraq to free the people from the oppressive and brutal Saddam Hussein. Our troops are spreading democracy and freedom all through the land. We’re not an occupier, we hold no imperialist plans, all the United States cares about is freedom and bringing that freedom to all the people in the world.

King Leopold II said the same thing when he claimed the Congo for his own. The Belgiums were protecting the Africans from Arab slave-traders, they were bringing religion and the light of god to the naked heathens, they were bringing education and industry, trains and houses and money. Oh the money. They brought guns, lots of guns, and left nothing but a stripped jungle.

After the ivory ran out, Europeans discovered a plethora of uses for rubber. Rubber could be made into many useful things for factories and people back in Europe and America. Rubber, believe it or not, actually comes from trees or vines. There was a lot of rubber in the Congo. But it was a pain in the ass to collect and African men, having no need for rubber, saw no reason to go collect it. Whenever a white man approached a village, the Africans would flee into the jungle instead of being forced to collect rubber. Often, villagers didn’t flee far enough and the white men would kidnap the village’s women. When the men returned and collected the quota of rubber, their wives would be returned to them.

One hundred fifty years later, not much has changed except the players. Reported last week, to overwhelming silence, is the American tactic of kidnapping the wives of suspected insurgents. The hope is the husband will turn himself in to get his wife back. Of course, there’s a flaw in this logic. Why would someone, turning themselves in to the Americans, expect to see their wife again? They’re going away. They don’t know when, or if, they’ll be back. One would think that “the best and brightest of this country” could figure out a smarter way of taming a country.

We’re not as innocent as we like to think we are.

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