Just as during the Long March under the guidance of Mao Zedong and Chou-En-Lai, or during the early days of the Russian Revolution, what was perceived by the revolutionary cadres of those epic periods was the understanding of tactical and strategic prudence with revolutionary adore. The march by American veterans to Standing Rock, North Dakota is a heroic stand that has historic significance. As they prepare for their three-day “deployment” in coordination with their “operation orders’ which is to not allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to run through the Lakota and Dakota tribes’ native land and to support those Native American Indians – to “draw attention to the human rights of warriors of the Sioux tribes”- we must also draw attention to the art of defense and offensive tactics in this militant engagement.
But there is more than just militant engagement at Standing Rock, even with the presence of the arriving American veterans. When one thinks of the resistance of the Lakota and the Dakota Indians in their struggle against the class and racist imperialism imposed upon them by the American government, then is it not their right to fight for their way of life or fight for self-determination. “The right of self-determination means that a nation may arrange its life in the way it wishes. It has the right to arrange its life on the basis of autonomy.” If the Native American Indians do not have due recourse to having full rights to determine their way of life on their tribal lands, then it is entirely possible that more than a non-violent protest could be enacted on the plains and hills at Standing Rock.
One of the American veteran leaders, Wes Clark Jr., a member of Veterans Stand For Standing Rock, commented: “We’re not going out there to get in a fight with anyone… They can feel free to beat us up, but we’re 100% nonviolence.”
Wes Clark Jr. and his fellow veteran comrades, who are members of the political web series “The Young Turks”, could be formidable, but we should understand that this man and the others have yet to prove themselves as steady and schooled in political and military resistance like General Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who led the Young Turks in toppling the Ottoman Empire. My opinion is that the leadership of the American veterans should include the Native American leadership among the cadres of veterans, and that the leadership should also be from those men and women of American working class origins who have known the full meaning of struggle for most or all of their lives. The political worth of these former soldiers who were once a part of the American armed forces will be tested by their opponents, the militarized police and possibly National Guard troops, at Standing Rock.
Regarding the issue of uprisings against a nation-state, it is not only boldness that is required from those in the resistance against the political tyranny perceived as such by the Native Americans and their allies regarding the preservation of their tribal lands.
An understanding of the history of the historical war between the Native American Indians and the Federal Government should also be examined and studied thoroughly by the leadership at Standing Rock so as to create tactical initiatives and an overall strategy in the engagement at hand. Among the tribal, Indian lands, federal tyranny has revealed its fascist deployment of militarist police and the possibility of aggressive National Guard troops. Therefore, concerning any ‘deployment’ of well-meaning American veterans, I have a cautionary warning in which I shall quote Carl Von Clausewitz:
The value of the moral powers, and their frequently incredible influence, are best exemplified by history, and that is the most generous and the purest nourishment which the mind of the General can extract from it.
There is no general or generals leading the Veterans Stand For Standing Rock. The veterans will be a leaderless force of American veterans consisting of former sergeants, officers, and enlisted men and women who will carry their protests to the barricades at Standing Rock. This stand should and must be in the spirit of Crazy Horse, meaning in the spirit of the Native American way of life and in their own conception of the art of political struggle and confrontation. At the present stage at Standing Rock, those in the overall resistance movement are engaged in a political confrontation that could have either tragic consequences or could bring about a national consciousness that would be unprecedented in modern American history.
In passing, when I think of the brave and heroic struggle of Standing Rock, I am reminded of a poem by Mao Zedong in which he wrote:
Our mighty army, a million strong, has crossed the Great River. The City, a tiger crouching, a dragon curling, outshines its ancient glories; In heroic triumph heaven and earth have been overturned.
If one listens to the Native American women who have been arrested and detained at Standing Rock, you will remember their words of the ancient grandmothers who were buried there, remember their young voices speaking about how they held out their tobacco in their hands to their Creator as they were dragged away by the militarized police.