Origins of the Doctrine of Christian “Discovery”

 

Well, I’ll be damned. Take a look at this:

Source: http://ili.nativeweb.org/sdrm_art.html 

To understand the connection between Christendom’s principle of discovery and the laws of the United States, we need to begin by examining a papal document issued forty years before Columbus’ historic voyage In 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued to King Alfonso V of Portugal the bull Romanus Pontifex, declaring war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically sanctioning and promoting the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian nations and their territories.

Under various theological and legal doctrines formulated during and after the Crusades, non-Christians were considered enemies of the Catholic faith and, as such, less than human. Accordingly, in the bull of 1452, Pope Nicholas directed King Alfonso to “capture, vanquish, and subdue the saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ,” to “put them into perpetual slavery,” and “to take all their possessions and property.” [Davenport: 20-26] Acting on this papal privilege, Portugal continued to traffic in African slaves, and expanded its royal dominions by making “discoveries” along the western coast of Africa, claiming those lands as Portuguese territory.

Thus, when Columbus sailed west across the Sea of Darkness in 1492 – with the express understanding that he was authorized to “take possession” of any lands he “discovered” that were “not under the dominion of any Christian rulers” – he and the Spanish sovereigns of Aragon and Castile were following an already well-established tradition of “discovery” and conquest. [Thacher:96] Indeed, after Columbus returned to Europe, Pope Alexander VI issued a papal document, the bull Inter Cetera of May 3, 1493, “granting” to Spain – at the request of Ferdinand and Isabella – the right to conquer the lands which Columbus had already found, as well as any lands which Spain might “discover” in the future.

In the Inter Cetera document, Pope Alexander stated his desire that the “discovered” people be “subjugated and brought to the faith itself.” [Davenport:61] By this means, said the pope, the “Christian Empire” would be propagated. [Thacher:127] When Portugal protested this concession to Spain, Pope Alexander stipulated in a subsequent bull – issued May 4, 1493 – that Spain must not attempt to establish its dominion over lands which had already “come into the possession of any Christian lords.” [Davenport:68] Then, to placate the two rival monarchs, the pope drew a line of demarcation between the two poles, giving Spain rights of conquest and dominion over one side of the globe, and Portugal over the other.

During this quincentennial of Columbus’ journey to the Americas, it is important to recognize that the grim acts of genocide and conquest committed by Columbus and his men against the peaceful Native people of the Caribbean were sanctioned by the abovementioned documents of the Catholic Church. Indeed, these papal documents were frequently used by Christian European conquerors in the Americas to justify an incredibly brutal system of colonization – which dehumanized the indigenous people by regarding their territories as being “inhabited only by brute animals.” [Story:135-6]

The lesson to be learned is that the papal bulls of 1452 and 1493 are but two clear examples of how the “Christian Powers,” or “different States of Christendom,” viewed indigenous peoples as “the lawful spoil and prey of their civilized conquerors.” [Wheaton:270-1] In fact, the Christian “Law of Nations” asserted that Christian nations had a divine right, based on the Bible, to claim absolute title to and ultimate authority over any newly “discovered” Non-Christian inhabitants and their lands. Over the next several centuries, these beliefs gave rise to the Doctrine of Discovery used by Spain, Portugal, England, France, and Holland – all Christian nations.


References

Cherokee Nation v. Georgia 30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1, 8 L.Ed. 25 (1831).

Davenport, Frances Gardiner, 19l7, European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, Vol. 1, Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Johnson and Graham’s Lessee V McIntosh 21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 543, 5 L.Ed. 681(1823).

Rivera-Pagan, Luis N., 1991, “Cross Preceded Sword in ‘Discovery’ of the Americas,” in Yakima Nation Review, 1991, Oct. 4.

Story, Joseph, 1833, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States Vol. 1 Boston: Little, Brown & Co.

Thacher, John Boyd, 1903, Christopher Columbus Vol. 11, New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons.

Williamson, James A., 1962, The Cabot Voyages And Bristol Discovery Under Henry VII, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wheaton, Henry, 1855, Elements of International Law, Sixth Edition, Boston: Little Brown, and Co.

Ziegler, Benjamin Munn, 1939, The International Law of John Marshall, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.

Satellite Shootdown Fraud

The Defense Department claims it is planning to shoot down a rogue ultra-secret spy satellite because the fuel onboard poses a danger to people on the ground.

This explanation is so transparent it is almost laughable. The likelihood of being injured by the satellite has been calculated as something like one in a trillion, whereas being hit by lightning is somewhat more likely: one in 1.2 million.

The real reason for the shootdown attempt?

1) Components from the ultra-secret spy satellite could survive the re-entry and be recovered by bad guys.

or

2) It is a perfect opportunity to test the U.S. missile to satellite intercept capabilities.

or

3) Both

We’ve learned a lesson starting back in 1960, when President Eisenhower lied to the American people and to the world that the crash of Gary Power’s U2 over the USSR was a “weather balloon.”

Ike got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Ever since then, we’ve come to the realization that sometimes we have to take what our government says with a very, very large grain of salt

Internationalism overtakes isolationism – International Relations

Beginning with the U.S. entry in the Spanish-American War, America experienced a shift of diplomatic and military isolationism from European affairs to one of internationalism and brief imperialism. It is important to note that no single event or person can explain U.S. foreign policy behavior entirely. American foreign policy is the result of a combination of causes and events, including the influence of several sources. These influences include five major categories to the making of U.S. foreign policy, including the following: external sources, American societal norms, the make-up of the U.S. government, the roles of individuals and institutions and lastly, the effect that individual people have in contributing to the foreign policy making process.

America’s “splendid little war” with Spain in 1898 provided the US with a colonial empire almost overnight. These newly acquired, or annexed, foreign lands, and the accompanying responsibilities thereof, included the Phillipines, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii, and Cuba. One of the primary reasons that America went to war in 1898 was Spanish meddling in the affairs of Cuba, contrary to the Monroe doctrine. This American doctrine, however, did not preclude America itself from meddling in Caribbean affairs, or meddling in the affairs of any Western Hemisphere country for that matter. Spain had a massively larger army, but its navy was in disrepair. The U.S., on the other hand, had modernized its Navy under the direction of Alfred T. Mahan. This naval supremacy was the tipping point in the Spanish-American war between the two nations – the New World vs. the Old World.

When the US defeated the Spanish navy at Manila the victory propelled the US onto the world stage as a true and tested global actor. Up to that point, the US had been isolationist in nature, still recovering from the horrific American Civil War in the 1860’s. Some scholars believe that once U.S. western expansion was completed in 1880 and industrialization had come full bore after the Civil War, the American capitalist machine turned its eye to new markets in Latin America and the Far East.

The first openings of the Chinese market in the Far East put the U.S. in direct competition with the European powers, particularly Britain, Spain, France and Russia. There was a rush by the great powers at this point into the Chinese markets. The U.S. did not want to be left behind because this was a large market for U.S. industrial goods and source of seemingly infinite raw materials. John Hay, President McKinley’s Secretary of State summed up the U.S.’s awkward position at this juncture in history: “…we do not want to rob the Chinese ourselves, and our public opinion will not permit us to interfere, with an army, to prevent others from robbing her…”

The US, therefore, developed an Open Door Policy toward China, meaning that the US would not tolerate the division of China into “spheres of influence,” insisting that its territorial integrity be respected. This was a bold move on America’s part because it had little more than morality on its side, not a vast army, and only a small navy compared to European powers. This American “policy” had little effect because the United States was not prepared to support the Open Door policy with force. Successive administrations to the 1940s, however, considered it the cornerstone of their Far Eastern policy.

At the same time, the US was active in the external affairs of many Latin American countries. Of particular interest to US foreign policymakers was Panama and the isthmus canal project there. The US became directly responsible for Panama’s break from Columbia. Panama’s independence from Columbia secured America’s ability to connect the Atlantic and Pacific markets via the Panama shipping canal – a triumph of American economic and foreign policy.

Other external sources that influenced the U.S at this time included continued warfare between the great powers: The Russo-Japanese War; the British, German and Italian blockade of Venezuela; the clashes between Germany and France over French North Africa; the British-German naval arms race for control of the seas and the world’s commerce; and the growing tensions in the Middle East, where oil had been discovered. These were all inputs into America’s foreign policy decision-making process which pulled it from isolationism to internationalism. America was now vying with Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Japan for what future U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt called “the domination of the world.”

Societal sources also had their unique impact on American foreign policy. Domestic beliefs were transferred to the international sphere. For example, America has always had a sense of exceptionalism – the belief that America is a superior country in every way and that American beliefs and forms of government should be exported to other nations. One scholar put it this way: “The United States (s)hould transform other nations into communities that shared America’s political and social values and also its religious beliefs.” This is reminiscent of Democratic Peace Theory, which is still in vogue today as seen by America’s continuing attempt to export liberal democracy and free markets to other nations.

100 years to an Imperfect Union

“Ten years after Appomattox, Northern support for the newly enfranchised ex-slaves and their white allies had faded. Recalcitrant Southern whites, whose Ku Klux Klan night-riding had been aggressively repressed by the federal government in the early 1870’s, regrouped under the political aegis of the Democratic Party. By mid-decade, most of the Reconstruction state governments had fallen at the ballot box to the forces of white supremacy, the self-proclaimed “redeemers.”

Mississippi, with a large black voting majority, resisted longer than other states, but redemption finally came there too, in 1875, sealed by a new frenzy of paramilitary carnage and intimidation. Two years later, after a disputed national election, the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes finally won the White House by agreeing to remove from the South the last of the federal troops who had upheld Reconstruction at the points of their bayonets. The troubled effort to build a Southern interracial democracy out of the ashes of the Civil War was over.”

—-
Lessons for Iraq… The US couldn’t build democracy in the South after the Civil War. Democracy-building is an ambitious undertaking in sectarian and ethnic concalves, as we have seen repeatedly – even in our own history.

See NYT review of:

‘Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War,’ by Nicholas Lemann
Review by SEAN WILENTZ

Link to REVIEW

“The story of Reconstruction’s demise in Mississippi is familiar to historians, and Nicholas Lemann, in “Redemption,” retells it in all its terrible gore. His account squares with recent scholarship, which has challenged both the traditional “Birth of a Nation” view (of Reconstruction as a tragic era of black plunder and white degradation = a fallacy) and the skeptical scholarship of the 1960’s and after that questioned the reformers’ commitment. Lemann, the dean of the School of Journalism at Columbia and the author of “The Promised Land,” among other books, affirms Reconstruction as a noble, thwarted experiment, the nation’s “unfinished revolution,” in the words of the era’s current leading historian, Eric Foner. This book strives to burn that academic re-evaluation into the minds of nonacademic readers. Written on a dramatic human scale, and leavened by some fresh research and analysis, it is an arresting piece of popular history. “

Mars Spacecraft was Lost in Translation

NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from English to metric measurements when exchanging vital data before the craft was launched, space agency officials said.

A navigation team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory used the metric system of millimeters and meters in its calculations, while Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver, which designed and built the spacecraft, provided crucial acceleration data in the English system of inches, feet, and pounds.

As a result, JPL engineers mistook acceleration readings measured in English units of pound-seconds for a metric measure of force called newton-seconds.

In a sense, the spacecraft was lost in translation.

Mars Climate Orbiter

From 1998:

Source:  http://articles.latimes.com/1999/oct/01/news/mn-17288