The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Afghanistan as "Longest War" Highlights Invisibility of Indigenous and Iraq Wars

The New York Times claimed in a lengthy piece this weekend that President "Obama has now been at

The New York Times claimed in a lengthy piece this weekend that President "Obama has now been at war longer than any other American president."

ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ, rdunbar at, @rdunbaro
Dunbar-Ortiz is author or editor of seven books, including An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States. She will be in New York City beginning Wednesday.

She said today: "President James Monroe ties with Obama, the First Seminole War, 1816-1823, the Army commanded by General Andrew Jackson, who as president oversaw the Second Seminole War, which Martin Van Buren continued, 1835-42; The Third Seminole War, 1855-58, was overseen by two different presidents, Pierce and Buchanan. A pattern very similar to the Iraq wars, 1991 and ongoing. The Seminole Wars were formative for future invasive wars that have been endless, few days in U.S. history without the U.S. military making war somewhere."

In the conclusion of her book, Dunbar-Ortiz writes: "The conventional narrative of U.S. history routinely segregates the 'Indian Wars' as a sub-specialization within the dubious category 'the West.' But, the architecture of U.S. world dominance was designed and tested by the period of continental U.S. militarism, 1790-1890, the Indian Wars. The opening of the twenty-first century saw a new, even more brazen form of U.S. militarism and imperialism explode on the world followed by two major military invasions and hundreds of small wars employing U.S. Special Forces around the globe, establishing a template that continued after their political power waned.

"One highly regarded military analyst stepped forward to make the connections between the 'Indian Wars' and what he considered the country's bright imperialist past and future. Robert D. Kaplan, in his 2005 book Imperial Grunts, presented several case studies that he considered highly successful operations: Yemen, Colombia, Mongolia, and the Philippines, in addition to ongoing complex projects in the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, and Iraq. While U.S. citizens and many of their elected representatives called for ending the U.S. military interventions they knew about -- including Iraq and Afghanistan -- Kaplan hailed protracted counterinsurgencies in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Pacific. He presented a guide for the U.S. controlling those areas of the world based on its having achieved continental dominance in North America by means of counterinsurgency and employing total and unlimited war....

"Kaplan sums up his thesis in the prologue to Imperial Grunts, which he subtitles 'Injun Country':

"Kaplan writes: 'By the turn of the twenty-first century the United States military had already appropriated the entire earth, and was ready to flood the most obscure areas of it with troops at a moment's notice. The Pentagon divided the planet into five area commands -- similar to the way that the Indian Country of the American West had been divided in the mid-nineteenth century by the U.S. Army. . . . [A]ccording to the soldiers and marines I met on the ground in far-flung corners of the earth, the comparison with the nineteenth century was . . . apt. "Welcome to Injun Country" was the refrain I heard from troops from Colombia to the Philippines, including Afghanistan and Iraq... The War on Terrorism was really about taming the frontier.'"

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