Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Circumpolar World

In this Inuit Knowledge Centre video, we learn that security in the Arctic is a social, not a military issue. In order to secure the Inuit way of life, sovereignty in the Arctic must address a changing climate, oil exploration, shipping and international politics. To continue to survive there, the Inuit must communicate the human dimension of the circumpolar world to sometimes childish politicians and peoples elsewhere.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Getting It Right

As indigenous nations and modern states reset their relationship within the context of the evolving international human rights regime, the role of indigenous NGOs -- like the Assembly of First Nations in Canada and the National Congress of American Indians in the United States -- will also change. Perhaps, as each indigenous nation reasserts its sovereignty in self-determining its internal affairs and territorial jurisdiction, the indigenous NGOs will serve more as deliberating bodies and less as lobbying institutions.

While they played a vital role in helping modern states and indigenous nations lay the groundwork to end the colonial relationship that resulted from power imbalances that accrued between the time of 18th Century treaty-making and the present, they will soon need to serve more in a research and education mode, in order for their constituent indigenous governing bodies to resume their full responsibilities, unencumbered by the misperceptions dominant society and mainstream media associate with such notions as dominion and plenary power. As indigenous nations reacquire their international legal status and resume their concordant responsibilities, they will continue to regroup into more appropriate regional bodies better-suited to their histories and needs, renewing their kinship-based indigenous identities and rejecting the institutional identities imposed on them by the legal constructs of colonial theories, boundaries and jurisdictions.

While the growing pains of political evolution are no doubt uncomfortable for those who've grown accustomed to colonial corporate states, the new attire of respectful relations will in time be a better fit. Someday -- when tribes, institutions, markets and networks better understand their roles -- we will perhaps wonder how we ever managed to get it so wrong.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Partners in Crime

With the scandalous abuses of power by US, EU and UN humanitarian agencies over the last dozen years, little attention has been paid to the creation, co-optation and corruption of human rights NGOs that help lay the groundwork for humanitarian intervention using the militaries of NATO to subdue states resistant to US control. Yet, as an increasingly vital element of justifying military aggression for allegedly humanitarian purposes, NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have become what the Centre for the Study of Interventionism terms partners of the UN Human Rights Council that are in reality, "para-governmental organisations whose goal is to introduce the concept of interventionism in those regions where NATO and its allies want to intervene to pursue their geo-strategic interests."

As PR puppets of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), these NGOs help sow division in civil society, and help promote regime change by means of interventions in electoral processes, economic sanctions and military coups. Through joint lobbying at the Human Rights Council, in addition to direct interference in the internal affairs of foreign states, these para-governmental organisations often obtain support for interventions based on little more than hearsay and accusations created out of thin air.

As the revolving door between the U.S. State Department, the UN and NGOs churns out perpetrators like Suzanne Nossel, the credibility of the human rights industry not only loses legitimacy, but creates the conditions for all NGOs to be treated abroad with the same suspicions as U.S. embassy personnel who've engaged in destabilization campaigns alongside NED, USAID and CIA agent provocateurs. While this might not trouble the higher echelon at the State Department, those who inevitably find themselves threatened, arrested or held hostage might view it otherwise. At a time when we desperately need to build greater trust between the peoples of the world, this human rights charade is rapidly putting that goal out of reach.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Militarizing Environmentalism

With the U.S. military consuming one million barrels of oil a day, one might be inclined to think closing foreign military bases and curtailing acts of military aggression by the Pentagon would be a climate friendly proposition. But, as Cyril Mychalejko reports, that proposition would have to confront American cultural pathologies like the fantasy of progress. In his article at Toward Freedom, Mychalejko examines the dangers of militarizing environmentalism.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Asymmetrical Warfare

There was no illusion of collaboration between Ottawa and the Assembly of First Nations on Friday. AFN is wholly dependent on Ottawa for its existence. They are collaborators by colonial design. They may see themselves as making the best of a bad situation, but they are not challenging the system of dominion.

As I noted in my editorial yesterday, there are ample lessons from other liberation movements that illustrate the spectrum of tactics available in asymmetrical warfare. Only the researchers, analysts and activists within the movement can discern which to use, how and when.

What is clear, though, is that institutionally controlled negotiation has failed. Not surprising given the market’s coup of modern states worldwide.

If indigenous nations and civil society are to free themselves from state and market domination, they will first need to free their minds from orthodoxies of radicalism that limit their imagination. They will also need to challenge their habitual assumptions about the prospects of reform within the capitalist system.

The global war on democracy, the environment and First Nations — what is often termed the Fourth World war — cannot be defeated if useful tactics of resistance are ruled out in advance. There are many roles involved in a liberation movement, and individuals must choose for themselves which roles and tactics they are comfortable with.

As I noted in my essay Power of Moral Sanction, the challenge of leadership is determining the mix, the timing and the emphasis of various tactics as a movement matures. When done effectively, they reinforce each other, and propel the movement forward. 
Part of any victorious movement, I should note, is a well-organized research, analysis and intelligence gathering network that constantly informs the movement’s organizers and educators. Without a built-in respect for this network, no movement can succeed.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Still in Denial

As Chelsea Vowel notes at Indian Country Today, the Government of Canada is still in denial about its history of relations with the original peoples and governments of North America. Until Canada accepts its responsibility for past and present wrongs, no progress can be made. As Vowel observes, the blueprint for a better future was laid out twenty years ago in the findings reported by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. All Canada has to do is follow its advice, but first it must get its head out of the sand.

Monday, January 07, 2013

A World of Their Own

For the first twelve years of this century I resided in the wealthiest county in California. Marin county, the peninsula opposite San Francisco and sharing with it the Golden Gate Bridge, is also a heavy hitter in the philanthropic world.

All that wealth combined with a prevalent politically correct ethic makes serious money available to greens, gays, new-agers and indigenous rights advocates. When people like Winona LaDuke and Rebecca Adamson needed seed money to launch major initiatives, they went to Marin.

In a way, I suppose one might say the hippie ethic of the 1960s still reverberates there, albeit in a modified form. While the hippies of San Francisco started free medical clinics, communes and soup kitchens funded by rock concert benefits featuring Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Grateful Dead, the yuppies of Marin fund NGOs by playing the stock market.

As one might expect, this difference in funding has societal implications. First and foremost, the capitalist orientation of the nouveau riche Marin philanthropists restricts their perception of social change. They are reformers, not revolutionaries. The system has been good to them, and like Obama, they don't want to challenge it. While not all of them are part of the 1%, many of them aspire to be. Thus, while it is good they support people like LaDuke, it is more telling that they give generously to Adamson, who, like them, is a staunch advocate of the capitalist system.

The fact that system is what is destroying the environment and indigenous societies worldwide is merely one of those dissonances the Marin elite rationalize over long lunches at the exclusive bistros and wine bars they frequent. While they have the capacity to influence the world at large, they live in a world of their own.

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