Swindles, Lies, and War (James E. Miller)
Monday February 4th, 2013
To swindle is to achieve something by fraud or deceit. In stereotype form, the swindler is a snake oil salesman who promises miracles in a jar for an extra low price. While this sly vendor might be seen as unsavory company, he is harmless in a broader sense since his wares are only sold to consenting buyers. Sales pitches aren't weapons of aggression. The practice of state politics changes that dynamic. Swindlers are no longer a stain on the electoral marketplace but are praised for their politicking. The candidate rally is no more a glorified rummage sale than a zoo of devotees praying at the altar of central government. And there is no greater swindler than that of a politician equating society with the state and declaring allegiance with other nation states.
Recently, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul reiterated the number one maxim of U.S. foreign policy: that "any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on United States." In doing so, the libertarian standard bearer in Congress has joined with his neoconservative and leftist colleagues in all-out support for what might as well be considered the fifty first state in the nation. Paul's statement comes just as the Israeli military launched an airstrike within Syria as an attempt to destroy weapons believed to be traveling to Hezbollah. Prior to the attack, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, like Paul, declared that any attack on Syria constituted an attack on Iran.
This back-and-forth of national alliances is masked by fact that only a small band of elite politicians and interested parties have a hand in making these decisions. To the warmongers unafraid to pledge blood in defense of state friendship, the citizenry must be convinced their interest is one with the ruling class. I have yet to meet a single Israeli. But now, because of the desires of a few men in Congress and on the Council on Foreign Relations, I am forced to aid that country's struggle against external threats? Certainly my line of thinking does not come off as insane. Yet a great number of people would disagree that my heart does not beat in tandem with those in power. Being elected, or appointed by the elected, results in a transfer of will to political leaders. Or at least, that is the theory promoted in public schools and parroted through television screens.
The reality is not so bright and cheery. War, nationalism, foreign aid, and invoking the phrase "key allies" are all just fodder for the slow-brained to accept the perpetual thievery that finances an empire. The only friends made in this tumultuous and violent relationship are the elite rulers who make crucial verdicts. The prominent media outlets, which act as megaphones for state propaganda rather than real inquisitive bodies, will put their thoughts in print and present them as unquestionable certainty. Anybody who challenges this designated truth is smeared as overly scatterbrained.
The quest for global hegemony is hinged upon a vast number of individuals dutifully buying into the conception of a pre-determined need for state supremacy over world affairs. Similar to democracy, the people are told they have a vested interest in a successful outcome. But behind great wooden doors and smoke-filled rooms is where real progress takes place- never on a popular ballot.
American empirium in defense of Israel in the Middle East is driven by what Michael Lind called "Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution mingled with the far-right Likud strain of Zionism." During the Cold War beginnings, many dispirited communists gravitated to the side of conservatism for the purposes of supporting a planet-wide uprising of global democracy. In taking to the pages of National Review, these former followers of Trotsky would put a quick end to the lingering Old Right tradition of actual limited government and individual liberty. The influence has only grown and encompasses much of what is called "conservatism" today.
The ideology of unchallenged empire basks in the greater light of state authority. The modern day disciples of Bill Buckley and James Burnham are really just carrying on the tradition of corporatist, authoritarian government. This includes the lie of there existing greater good to be pursued by state leaders over the wishes of a duped public.
The plain, simple fact is that individuals are the only unit of human accounts that acts. Statism in general is the religion of the collective acting as one full unit for the good of mankind. It is one part falsity and one party naivety. An aggregation of individuals is incapable of real action. Whatever deed comes forth from a group represents the actions of individuals who provide its makeup. These persons, no matter their claim, are always taking steps to achieve their own valued ends.
If war should be carried out by large posses of private individuals, there is no inherent crime committed with the exception of whatever injustice sparked the conflict. Government warfare turns this dynamic on its head. One group of men and women claims to speak for millions as they send battalions of troops to the battlefield. These state leaders remain safe while the greater populace is treated as a cash machine to forcefully draw funds from even as it now subject to greater danger. Wars are hardly ever in the interest of taxpayers. As Murray Rothbard writes,
The root myth that enables the State to wax fat off war is the canard that war is a defense by the State of its subjects. The facts, of course, are precisely the reverse.When a pol speaks of an unbreakable bond between nations, he should be taken as nothing more than a shyster driven by profit-motive or his own delusional conceptions. Either way, state-empowerment is their intention. Individualism is to be crushed in favor of collectivism. The talk of hawkish neoconservatives may be sprinkled with platitudes of putting a tight leash on Leviathan but it's only part of the "noble lie." They lust for the master state and a permanent seat at the court. False logic, emotion, banalities of national greatness, and a conflating of the government with society make wonderful corralling tools for the herd as they march toward a mass slaughter.
A majority of Americans are opposed to further military activity in the Middle East but that is not likely to last. Transport and intelligence support are being provided in for France's military operation in Africa. In all likelihood, there will be a prominent American military presence within the Dark Continent soon. The Middle East will remain militarily occupied with clandestine operations continuing to take place. The delirious euphoria that empire and evangelical nationalism brings is too much for most politicians, and the public, to resist another great swindle.
James E. Miller holds a BS in public administration with a minor in business from Shippensburg University, PA. He is the editor-in-chief at the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada and a current contributor to his hometown newspaper, the Middletown Press and Journal. He currently works in Washington D.C. as a copywriter.