"If used in numbers, atomic bombs not only can nullify any nation's military effort, but can demolish its social and economic structure and prevent their re-establishment for long periods of time. With such weapons, especially if employed in conjunction with other weapons of mass destruction such as pathogenic bacteria, it is quite possible to depopulate vast areas of the earth's surface, leaving only vestigial remnants of man's material works." Report of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Operations Crossroads, June 30, 1947 (17). As we explore the issue of weapons of mass destruction in conjunction with the history of the Native Americans, the picture that will be drawn is that this statement to the Joint Chiefs of Staff is not a passing statement of recognition, but a declaration of what the true reality is for all secretive and deadly munitions.
As we examine past history comparing it with the present, it will show its demonic head desiring to exterminate not just the "vestigial remnant[s]" of man's works, but, man himself. This war is not limited to an enemy, an enemy's weapons or capabilities, but against all life forms. Often the true intent is hidden under the need to fight off a supposed enemy, as in the cold war era or the need to protect the country against a "possible" invasion of like kind such as the Iraqi pretense. The need to protect against an invasion from without is, in reality, a facade to draw the gaze from the enemy within.
The most secret weapons of mass destruction are combined with known WMD to complete the extermination. As one rock and roll group called MegaDeath advertised their tour as "Count Down to Extinction", even so, those who are in the power to wield these weapons seem hell-bent on total annihilation.
It seems that man can never learn peace from his bloody past. If man has learned anything at all from his past, it is how to wage massive destruction with lightning speed on a scale that is staggering to the imagination. This bloodthirsty dragon of unequaled carnage hides under the gentle lamblike mask of peace and brotherhood.
A Los Angeles Times article dated Friday, December 26, 1997 says "the United States is poorly prepared to defend its armed forces." The release goes further to lament that, "officials acknowledge that they are taking only the first steps to develop the high-technology gear, medicine and organization needed to respond to germ arsenals believed held by 16 nations and, perhaps, terrorist groups as well. One top official who refused to be identified said, 'We have a long way to go.'" Why should such a powerful nation as the U.S. be so fearful of an attack from WMD munitions? Can we hear in present-day fears a growing realization that past injustices are lining up at the door for an accounting?
How has WMD warfare been used in the past? What really are our capabilities? Is the current situation realistic or is it a highly manufactured scare tactic designed to hide another more insidious threat? Should we all rush to government agencies like lemmings who rush to the cliff, rolling up our fearful patriotic sleeves as we go, demanding anthrax inoculations? Or should we inquire into past "inoculations" to see what they have done to those who took them? What are the real purposes behind the manufacture and stockpiling of WMD? Who is the biggest conspirator in the use and abuse of WMD? Saddam? Russia, or should we look within our own locked files? A nightmarish journey down a road of unequaled terror begins as we examine the well-worn freeway to extinction by weapons of mass destruction.
In regards to defining weapons of mass destruction, the term, as used today, may be considered relevant to the times. "Mass" according to the dictionary is, "a great amount or number, the majority." If there are only 100 members of a group and 99 are murdered, then 99% of the population was massacred. It may not be a Hiroshima type destruction, but it is a mass destruction. Today's nuclear bomb is a far greater weapon of mass destruction in comparison to the first atomic bomb. If we were to go backwards in time, we would find that "little boy" dropped on Hiroshima was the greatest weapon of mass destruction ever concocted in comparison to all previous technology. A submachine gun may be termed a weapon of mass destruction in comparison to a single shot rifle not only in effectiveness, but in terms of capability to kill many more people. A repeating rifle with a long range scope could be termed a weapon of mass destruction in comparison to a knife. What are known as WMD today may become obsolete if time should march on and new weapons are manufactured.
Another way of seeing weapons of mass destruction correctly would come from comparing one nation's technology with another. When one nation has only a cavalry on horses and another has tanks, those with the tanks would possess the weapons of mass destruction in comparison, even though they may exist contemporaneously. The tribe with bows and arrows faces a weapon of mass destruction when their rival has a Hotchkiss gun or a howitzer. The massive destruction may not come from a single application weapon, but, if the end result is a mass killing, could not the application apply? With CBW, a single weapon such as anthrax is, in reality, many thousands of germs disseminated over a large area.
While it may not be thought of as chemical biological warfare from a modern perspective, CBW has been around a long time when current definitions are applied. In past wars, men have poisoned wells, burned crops and catapulted rotting dead bodies infected with disease over the walls of their enemies. Modern warfare has become increasingly sophisticated in these applications. We may not catapult a dead body over a wall, but any chemical or biological agent introduced into the sovereign nation of another producing injury or death will qualify. If we examine past U.S. history and compare it to the current day applications of CBW, we can draw some striking similarities and parallels in the present use of WMD. This may also show us where prevalent U.S. practices will lead in the future and the purpose for its steady production despite popular protest.
Most WMD are very secretive. The greater the destructive force, the greater the need for secrecy. During the first atomic bomb construction it was referred to as simply the "gadget." What is revealed about current WMD proves that far greater weapons exist, for the secrets about "little boy" were not exposed until after it was used openly. Most WMD hide under names that are the exact opposite of what they really are. Places where weapons are manufactured hide under names belying the true operations within. "Little boy" was not "little" in terms of destruction.
The CIA during the cold war hid torture cells in "hospitals" and placed anthrax in asthma spray bottles. These topics will be explored in future articles, but the point to be understood is that in war the label does not always describe the contents. The name does not describe the article. The name of an institution does not reveal the nature of the activities carried on within its walls. With these thoughts in mind we now journey into the past and examine America's treatment of its first citizens, the Native Americans.
When Christopher Columbus landed on Hispaniola, the estimates for the number of Native Americans were astronomical in comparison to what the number is today. Estimates place 800 separate nations, with one-hundred fifty language families and 1,500 to 2,000 dialects. Population studies show between seventy-five to one-hundred forty-five million inhabitants in North and South America. By 1890, the number in North America had been reduced to 250,000. Total tribes have been annihilated. (18). While ecologists lament the extinction of the dodo bird and the senseless slaughter of whales, what is this in comparison to the total eradication of a race of men created in the image of God?
Sizing up the weapons of the natives Columbus noted, "The people of this island and of all the other islands which I have found and seen . . . have no iron or steel weapons, nor are they capable of using them, although they are well-built people of handsome stature, because they are wondrous timid." Going on to describe the natives he says, "They are so artless and free with all they possess, that no one would believe it without having seen it. Of anything they have, if you ask them for it, they never say no; rather they invite the person to share it, and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts; and whether the thing be of value or small price, at once they are content with whatever little thing of whatever kind may be given them." (18). With no weapons to fight ironclad soldiers who came brandishing swords and guns led by trained man-eating dogs, the Spanish met little resistance from these docile naked people. (1)
When the Spaniards came to North America, Europe had already been ravaged with smallpox, measles, bubonic plague, diphtheria, influenza, yellow fever, typhoid, syphilis, tuberculosis and a host of other plagues. But the Americas had been isolated from these great ravages. When the sailing ships appeared on the horizon, they came not only to plunder but to spread their diseases as well. While it is not documentable that the Spanish deliberately spread diseases, it is well documented that they were merciless with the natives. Whole nations were destroyed by the invaders and their European plagues. Estimates nearing a 98% death rate from diseases alone are not uncommon. One island group that demonstrates the horrendous extent of the slaying was the Dominican Republic and Haitian islands named Hispaniola by Columbus.
Hispaniola had an estimated original population nearing 8,000,000 by some sources. From 1492 to 1496 the population had fallen to four or five million. By 1508 it was down to less than 100,000 and by 1518 the populace stood around 23,000. By 1535 "for all practical purposes the native population was extinct." (Bartolome de las Casas-1). The terrible inroads of disease combined with the sword, slavery, starvation and suicide brought on by the former evils had reduced a once prolific people in forty-three years to extinction. These same statistics can be applied to the North American natives with blood-chilling accuracy. (18).
With the annihilation of Hispaniola natives, new sources of slaves were needed for gold mining, plantation harvesting and deportation to Europe for display. The same savage merciless butchery was carried forward against the natives of America under the relentless slaughter of Portuguese and Spanish armies headed by deSoto, Cortez, Pedro de Quejo, Gordillo and others. When the Spaniard invaders came to North America, well-regarded specialists place the population at 18 million. Since the continent was so prolific in peoples, animals and natural resources, the conquerors thought there was no end from which to draw.
In Florida the Timucuan people were 90% dead by 1607 and by 1617 they were cut in half again by the invaders' germs and weapons. This mind-boggling death rate reduced 720,000 natives to 36,000. (18). The weapons used by the Spanish were very effective. By 1607, with the first small colony of 104 that settled at Jamestown, the continent was already reeling under a massive invasion of diseases and violence that had reduced the population to near extinction in comparison to what it was. Some of the closest smaller tribes were already extinct. They were wiped out before anyone could record their existence.
Later, Spanish explorers were amazed at the difference in the native population from what was recorded by earlier explorers. Where once before were voluminous amounts of people, now revealed near deserted villages. Other whole villages were found empty. The war had begun in deadly earnest.
"The proper response of the British against this 'viperous brood . . . of pagan infidels should be the same as that meted out by the Spanish: extermination." Edward Waterhouse (18).
Three important points to remember for effective biological munitions are: first, the introduction of chronic illnesses for which there is no known cure. The second, cloak the toxin under a guise so the "enemy" takes it unawares until it is too late. Finally, combine weapons so that what one weapon fails to accomplish, the subsequent weapons will finish. The British had seen the effectiveness of diseases among the natives and employed a disguise.
An English general named Jeffery Amherst understood this when, in April 1763, he offered a reward for Pontiac who had banded the tribes together against the British invasion. Amherst states, "Could it not be contrived to send a smallpox among those disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them. You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets to try and extirpate this execrable race." The tribes "inoculated" in this campaign were the Shawnee, Odawa and the Onondaga tribes. One native remarked afterwards, "terrible sickness among us, nothing but dead bodies among us." (4).
Speaking of the smallpox plague among the natives, Laurie Garret in her book, The Coming Plague, adds in a footnote that "smallpox may have been the most useful weapon of biological warfare in world history." When one views the amount of desolation from this one disease in North America alone, it is not hard to come to the same conclusion.
In 1738 an English trader named James Adair charges that "the Cherake (sic) received a most depopulating shock by the small pox, which reduced them almost one-half, in about a year's time: it was conveyed into Charles-town by the Guinea-men, and soon after among them, by the infected goods." The Guinea men referred to could have been the traders. After this endemic, trade with the Cherokee ceased for about a year-and-a-half. When trade began again, the remainder of the tribe suffered major psychosis when they saw for the first time the effects of the smallpox in mirrors sent as trade goods. The trauma was so great that it is reported many committed suicide.
Diseases were not fast enough to accomplish the dreaded annihilation, so they combined this biological warfare with the sword, guns and hunting dogs as the Spanish did to exterminate the "vermin." That the mercilessness of the British was not forgotten by invading settlers can be seen on the "trail of tears." On the trail of tears, which was nearly 300 miles in length, the Cherokee Indians were deliberately marched past areas known to have outbreaks of cholera and other epidemic diseases. To add to their debilitated state from diseases, the freezing weather, and the forced death march, they were fed spoiled flour and rancid meat. Nearly 8,000 died on this march out of 17,000. (19).
Another logical step in biological warfare is the deliberate withholding of treatments for diseases. One case among the Native Americans is the Apaches and their fight with tuberculosis. "Tuberculosis was allowed to affect the Apaches, e.g., the government could have returned the people to the southwest, which at the time was a popular remedy for TB. Instead, the government refused to allow the sick and dying Apaches to come home. So...not overtly, but certainly covertly, the government exercised revenge on the Apaches. And, if they could do that to one tribe, they could do it to all who resisted the encroachment." (21). In many cases there may have been no deliberate attempt at withholding a cure, but the end result was welcomed. We will see in future articles that this area of CBW is just as important as finding the right biological toxic agent that has no cure.
Educating the Indians - Part III
Sand Creek Massacre, Religion Outlawed - Part IV
Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee - Part V
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