The War on Terrorism Is One Fine Scamby Jacob G. Hornberger
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Throughout the Cold War, the proponents of the national-security state assured us that the only reason the United States needed to adopt this totalitarian-like apparatus was because of the international communist conspiracy emanating from the Soviet Union and Red China. Once the Cold War was won, the statists said, America could restore the limited-government constitutional republic that the Constitution established.
Of course, the argument was a sham. The proponents of empire, standing army, and CIA knew that the possibility that the Cold War would ever end was virtually non-existent. They knew that the "communist threat" could be used as a perpetual justification for the existence of America's warfare state and its ever-growing budgets and army of contractors and subcontractors. The statists just loved big government and figured that they had come up with the perfect scam to achieve it on a permanent basis.
And then the unexpected happened, which sent the national-security state and its proponents into a state of fear and panic. The Cold War ended. Suddenly, the justification for the national-security state apparatus, which had fundamentally altered the American way of life, was gone.
What to do now?
One option was the obvious one: dismantle the national-security state by closing all the overseas bases, bring all the troops home, discharge them, dismantle the enormous standing army, close domestic military bases, abolish (i.e., not reform) the CIA and the NSA, and end all the taxation needed to support this gigantic, privileged force in American life.
After all, if the Cold War was the justification for bringing the warfare-state apparatus into existence, and if the Cold War was now over, then why not send the warfare-state apparatus out of existence?
Alas, it was not to be. The national-security state steadfastly remained in existence and, even worse, went abroad in search of hornets' nest to poke, thereby engendering anger and hatred that would, not surprisingly, end up manifesting itself in anti-American terrorism. That's what 9/11 was all about, along with the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, and others.
With 9/11, the national-security state now had its new justification for its existence and expansion: "a war on terrorism" that would replace its Cold War "war on communism."
This new justification was as good as, if not better, than the old one. A war on terrorism could easily be made perpetual, especially given that the U.S. government could easily produce anti-American terrorism with its interventionist policies abroad.
In fact, the whole thing actually became a perpetual terrorist-producing motion machine: Send the troops abroad to combat terrorism, which produces the anger and hatred that leads to terrorism, which is then used to justify keeping the troops abroad to combat terrorism.
Can you show me a more ideal scam than that? Especially when the gullible masses easily swallow and embrace the line, "Anti-American terrorism has nothing to do with U.S. interventionism abroad. Those horrible terrorists just hate us for our freedom and values."
Consider the two countries that were invaded and occupied for more than a decade in the name of the "war on terrorism"--Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, they are both hell-holes, despite the fact that the U.S. national-security state continues to inculcate in us the belief that U.S. troops died in the process of converting Iraq and Afghanistan into paradises of freedom, democracy, peace, and prosperity. That's why the members of Congress won't even take even one of their much-ballyhooed junket vacations there.
President Obama's recent trip to Afghanistan pretty much says it all. Like his other trips that he's made to that country, this one was made in the darkness of night, unannounced to the public. After spending a few hours with the troops at Bagram Air Force Base, he quickly got on his plane and returned home.
Why? Why didn't Obama make a big public announcement before going to Afghanistan? Doesn't he do that when he's traveling to, say, England? Why sneak into the country? Why not spend even one night there? Why not tour the country? Why not visit President Karzai in Kabul, the capital of the nation?
The answer is simple: Obama and his advisors do not consider it safe to be in Afghanistan. Despite more than a decade of U.S. occupation, one in which U.S. troops have had unfettered authority to kill anyone they want, Afghanistan is a hell-hole of anger, rage, violence, shootings, ambushes, raids, torture, incarceration, corruption, dictatorship, and deep anti-American sentiment.
In his recent speech at West Point, Obama said he feels haunted by the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. He should feel haunted. After all, what have they died for? Like the 58,000 plus U.S. soldiers who the national-security state sacrificed in Vietnam, the soldiers who have died in Afghanistan have died for nothing.
Of course, Obama should also feel haunted by the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been killed by U.S. troops, 99 percent of whom had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Those people died for nothing too.
Now that the U.S. military empire has been booted out of Iraq and is sort of and slowly exiting Afghanistan, what is being done with all those overseas troops?
No, they're not being brought home and discharged, which is what should have happened when the Cold War ended.
Instead, a new mission must be found for them, over there. After all, to bring them home would be considered "isolationist."
So, now Obama's army is "pivoting" to Africa of all places.
Didn't you know? There are "terrorists" in Africa. So we need to move the much-vaunted "war on terrorism" from the Middle East to Africa.
And if that doesn't work, we can move it to Latin America. Hey, there are terrorists there too, especially in the drug war.
Didn't I tell you that the war on terrorism is even better than the war on communism? It's like the Energizer Bunny. It just keeps going and going and going.
And what happens when some of those African terrorists retaliate with some sort of big terrorist attack here in the United States? We all know what will happen. U.S. national-security state officials will trot out all the post-9/11 bromides about how those African terrorists hate us for our freedom and values. And they'll tell us how fortunate it is that the troops are already in Africa fighting the "war on terrorism." Oh, and they'll also tell us how urgent it is to increase military spending.
What happens if the "war on terrorism" in Africa doesn't generate the necessary fear and anxiety among the American people?
No problem. The national-security state can always return to the Cold War and the international communist conspiracy, ginning up some new crisis with "aggressive" Russia or "assertive" Red China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, or whatever. Hey, didn't you see that Russia and China are now working together? What better proof of an international communist conspiracy than that?
When will Americans recognize all this for the scam it is? It's the perfect scam to keep the warfare-state apparatus in its fortified exalted position in America's governmental structure, a position that continues to infringe upon our freedom and privacy and damage our economic well-being and security?
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News' Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.