In the mid-19th century Gen. James Henry Carleton ordered 9,000 Navajos to walk 400 miles from their ancestral home in the southwestern semi-desert to marshy land along the Pecos River. He thought he could force them to change abruptly from semi-nomadic hunter-farmers to sedentary farmers.
On the Pecos they suffered terribly from disease, hunger, raids by Comanches and Apaches, and depression -- shock -- from the destruction of their culture. After several years it was clear this relocation was a disastrous failure.
In the early 21st century, George W. Bush ordered the invasion and conquest of Iraq over non-existent weapons of mass destruction. He thought he could force Iraq to change abruptly from a Middle Eastern dictatorship to a liberal Western democracy.
Three and a half years later -- scores of thousands of dead and wounded and crippled and psychologically maimed Iraqis and Americans later, trillions of dollars later -- it is clear that this invasion is in most ways a disastrous failure.
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The reason so many citizens of other countries consider America an imperialist nation is that too often our leaders have acted as though we had a right to empire. We don't.