Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, October 2004

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October 30, 2004

Like a bad dream, Osama bin Laden is back, having released a videotape stating that terrorism against the United States is rooted in U.S. government foreign policy in the Middle East rather than in hatred for America’s “freedom and values.” This is also what the CIA agent “Anonymous” emphasizes in his recent book Imperial Hubris:

“No, I don’t think they hate everything that they — that we stand for. In fact, the same polls that show the depths of their hatred of our policies show a very strong affection for the traditional American sense of fair play, the idea of rule by law, the ability of people to educate their children. I think the mistake is made on our part to assume that they hate all those things. What they hate is the policy and the repercussions of that policy, whether it’s in Israel or on the Arabian Peninsula. It’s not a hatred of us as a society, it’s a hatred of our policies.”

It is also what we here at FFF have been stating for many years, both before 9/11 and after 9/11.

Both Bush and Kerry responded to the bin Laden videotape in their predictable way: they would not be intimidated into changing the course of U.S. foreign policy. Their response could be rephrased as follows: “The government of the United States has the right to wreak death and destruction among innocent people anywhere in the Middle East and no terrorist has the right to interfere with us.”

Essentially, the Bush-Kerry response was the same response that U.S. officials took after the Timothy McVeigh terrorist bombing at Oklahoma City, when their position after learning that McVeigh’s attack was rooted in anger and hatred for U.S. gun-control policy which took the lives of dozens of innocent people, including women and children, at Waco: “The government of the United States has the right to wreak death and destruction among innocent people anywhere in the United States and no terrorist has the right to interfere with this activity.”

Over time, however, the consciences of the American people rose to the surface in opposition to what their federal officials, including the military, had done at Waco. The result has been no more Wacos since then and also no more terrorist attacks in response.

The American people must ultimately judge U.S. foreign policy on its own merits. If what the government is doing is wrong, then the American people bear the responsibility to bring it to a stop. But if it also brings a cessation to terrorist counter-responses, so much the better. The worst course of action would be to persist in engaging in wrongdoing for the purpose of showing the terrorists that federal officials won’t be intimidated into stopping their wrongdoing.

For those who still wonder what the U.S. government has done in the Middle East to make people so angry toward our nation, here are a few starters:

• The U.S. government’s enthusiastic support of Saddam Hussein, even delivering him those infamous WMD so that he could kill the Iranian people with them;

• Winking at Saddam Hussein when he threatened to invade Kuwait for stealing Iraqi oil by slant-drilling, then turning on him and converting him into the “new Hitler” when he proceeded to invade;

•Destroying water and sewage treatment plants in Iraq with the intent to spread infectious diseases among the Iraqi people;

•Stationing of U.S. military troops on Islamic holy lands;

• Imposing possibly the most brutal sanctions regime in history against the Iraqi people and keeping them there despite knowing that they were contributing to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children through infectious disease, malnutrition, etc.;

•The enforcement of the illegal “no-fly zones” that killed even more Iraqis, including children;

• Foreign aid, both monetary and military, to the Israeli government and unconditional support of Israeli government policies, no questions asked.

• The recent invasion of Iraq that has killed tens of thousands of more Iraqis (perhaps as many as 100,000, according to a recent study).

How much of all that death and destruction is part of America’s “freedom and values” that both Bush and Kerry claim is at the root of terrorism against America? Answer: None of it. And we must constantly bear in mind that the 9/11 attacks, which took the lives of some 3,000 innocent people, cannot be used to morally justify the killing and maiming of tens of thousands of innocent people in Iraq, including both Iraqi soldiers and civilians, none of whom had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks.

All of this death and destruction is part and parcel of the U.S. government’s foreign policy in the Middle East. That’s the policy that we the people must force our public officials to abandon, just as we forced them to abandon their policy of Waco-izing the American people. The reason we must force them to change course is because what U.S. officials have been doing — and are doing — is morally wrong and repugnant. So much the better that a change in direction will also restore peace to our lives.

October 29, 2004

Today’s Associated Press is reporting,

“Researchers have estimated that as many as 100,000 more Iraqis — many of them women and children — died since the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq than would have been expected otherwise, based on the death rate before the war.”

The estimates are based on a survey of homes in which family members were asked whether a member of their family had been killed during the U.S. government’s recent military adventure into Iraq. The results were published in the British-based medical journal The Lancet.

To belabor the obvious, the moral implications of this are staggering. As we have been stating here at FFF since even before the invasion, the issue was never whether Saddam Hussein was a bad man. Instead the issue was whether it was morally proper to kill untold numbers of innocent people in an attempt to oust Saddam from power.

Until now, the estimates of Iraqi civilians killed have been in the range of 10,000 to 30,000. The Pentagon’s refusal to keep count of Iraqi dead hasn’t helped matters any.

In many Sunday church services here in America, prayers are sometimes offered for U.S. servicemen serving in Iraq. Moreover, most of the focus on the war, especially among antiwar advocates, has been on the number of U.S. servicemen killed, currently now in excess of 1,000.

But how many of those church services and antiwar statements ever talk about the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis killed and maimed during the military adventure? Don’t they count too? Aren’t they human beings? Are those dead people better off without Saddam Hussein? Are their families better off? What gave the U.S. government the right to kill them in the attempt to oust Saddam from power? What if they had preferred to live, albeit under tyranny, much as Eastern Europeans lived under Soviet tyranny for decades? After all, living under tyranny isn’t enjoyable but in the minds of some people, it’s preferable to dying or having one’s spouse, children, parents, friends, or relatives die.

Moreover, notice how the focus is almost always on Iraqi civilians who are now dead, as if ordinary Iraqi soldiers just don’t matter. But they do matter. They too were human beings, and many of them were just ordinary men who had been conscripted (i.e., forced) to serve their government (much as the U.S. government sometimes does to Americans). Others might have been simply men who believe that they’re serving their country by agreeing to serve in the military of their government. Moreover, keep in mind that Iraqi soldiers were not permitted to leave the military out of conscience any more than American soldiers are permitted to do so.

So, what does this mean? It means that on 9/11 Americans experienced the deaths of some 3,000 innocent Americans. If the new survey is correct, it also means that Iraqis have now experienced the deaths of 100,000 innocent people, at the hands of the U.S. government. Innocent, in the sense that not one of those 100,000 innocent Iraqis had anything to do with 9/11.

And it does no good, from a moral standpoint, to say, “Well, war is hell. Those are just war casualties and collateral damage.” They were instead human beings, each of them, and they were innocent of any role in the 9/11 attacks. Again, the moral issue stands out: Under what moral authority does any government kills foreign people — tens of thousands of innocent people — in the attempt to oust their ruler from power?

According to the Associated Press news story, the researchers wrote, “Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children.”

Keep in mind that the brutal regime of sanctions throughout the 1990s contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent children through infectious diseases, malnutrition, and the like. U.S. officials couldn’t have cared less, as reflected my Madeleine Albright’s statement to “60 Minutes” that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it.” Recall that apologists for the U.S. government have repeatedly said, “Oh, no, the sanctions weren’t brutal at all — they had no effect on the Iraqi people or their economic condition — it was all Saddam Hussein’s fault because he was a cruel dictator who refused to feed his people.” I almost hear it now, “The deaths of 100,000 innocent Iraqis were not the fault of the U.S. government, which killed them with bombs and missiles, but rather the fault of Saddam Hussein for refusing to obey U.S. orders to vacate his office voluntarily.”

October 28, 2004

Many people are agog over the discovery that 380 tons of explosives disappeared from Iraq during the U.S. government’s invasion. The reason that they’re agog is that they still innocently believe the assurances from U.S. officials that the invasion was principally motivated by concern and fear over Saddam’s weapons arsenal, including the WMD that the U.S. had delivered to him during the Reagan administration so that he could kill the Iranian people with them.

But as I have repeatedly stated, both before and after the invasion, the war had nothing to do with U.S. government concern over Saddam’s weapons arsenal. That was simply the cover justification — the one that was most likely to generate quick positive response from the American people. The principal motivation for the war was “regime change” — the ouster of Saddam Hussein from power and the substitution of a U.S.-friendly regime, i.e., the unelected CIA appointee Iyad Allawi, a suspected terrorist or the unelected Pentagon favorite, Ahmad Chalabi, a convicted bank fraud. (The U.S. government’s close relationship with Allawi and Chalabi, and Saddam before them, brings to mind the old saying: Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.)

Why did U.S. officials select the WMD threat rather than “regime change” as their principal justification before the invasion? Because the WMD justification, unlike the “regime change” justification, was much more likely to get the American people horribly and deeply frightened and scared, especially in the wake of 9/11, inducing them to blindly support the invasion, no questions asked.

Of course, the selection of the WMD threat as the primary justification was based on the “certainty” within U.S. officials that Saddam had not destroyed all the WMD that the U.S. had delivered to him during the 1980s; that’s why the CIA’s George Tenet called the WMD argument a “slam dunk.” In fact, recall that the CIA even refused to disclose its intelligence about where the WMD were to those hapless UN inspectors before the invasion and that the CIA even refused to accept Saddam’s invitation to come to Iraq and point out where the WMC were. The reason: U.S. officials wanted to ensure that U.S. troops would “discover” a few caches of WMD, whereupon U.S. officials would then claim that they had saved America (and the world) from an imminent WMD attack from Iraq.

Another U.S.-friendly regime would be established in Iraq, one that would do the bidding of U.S. officials. (“another,” in the sense that Saddam’s regime was a U.S.-friendly regime during the 1980s.) No one would be the wiser and everyone would be grateful. But who would have ever thought that Saddam would have actually destroyed those WMD that the U.S. had delivered to him?

Given that regime change was the principal motivation for the war, U.S. officials didn’t gave a hoot about conventional weapons caches in Iraq because they knew that such weapons would never pose a threat to the United States. (Of course, this was when U.S. officials still believed that the Iraqi people would greet them with rose petals and never engage in a violent insurgency.) That’s also why they just now, a few days before the election, are launching an official investigation into what happened to the lost weapons.

As we here at FFF repeatedly said before the invasion and have steadfastly maintained since then — Given that Iraq had not attacked the United States, the invasion of Iraq constituted a war of aggression against a sovereign and independent country, a type of action that was punished at Nuremberg and which in fact has killed and maimed tens of thousands of innocent people, including U.S. servicemen as well as Iraqi servicemen and civilians, none of whom had anything to do with 9/11. Moreover, Iraqi never even posed a threat to the security of the United States, and U.S. officials knew it, which is why they didn’t give a hoot about those weapons caches … well until just before the election.

October 27, 2004

The “we invaded Iraq to spread freedom and democracy” has got to be the most nonsensical of all the many justifications for invading Iraq, and it is a testament to public (i.e., government) schooling that so many people actually buy into it. After all, if making Iraq a democratic stronghold was the reason for killing and maiming tens of thousands of Iraqi people, including ordinary Iraqi soldiers, then why not simply ask one of the U.S. government’s close allies — Pakistan, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordon, Saudi Arabia etc. — to convert to democracy peacefully? Wouldn’t that have been better than killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent people — people who had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks?

Moreover, doesn’t “freedom and democracy” connote a concern for the well-being of people? Since when has the U.S. government shown a concern for the well-being of the Iraqi people? When it was firing missiles at them? Dropping cluster bombs? At Abu Ghraib? During the decade of sanctions, when they knew that Iraqi children were dying by the tens of thousands each year? When they intentionally destroyed water and sewer treatment facilities during the Persian Gulf War with the intent to spread infectious diseases among the populace? When they were befriending Saddam Hussein, an unelected brutal dictator during the 1980s? When they were delivering WMD to Saddam Hussein, knowing that he could use them to kill not only the Iranian people but also Iraqis who were resisting his regime? When they assist the unelected Allawi to kill Iraqis who are resisting his regime?

But if you want even more recent evidence that bursts the U.S. lie of “we’re from the U.S. government and we’re here in Iraq to help you,” take a look at this story:

It details how the U.S. government is attacking and punishing private Americans for delivering humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people. How does one reconcile such abuse of power with purported love for the Iraqi people? One cannot.

The truth is that the U.S. Empire is based on one principal tenet: install U.S.-friendly regimes all over the world, regardless of the ruler is democratically elected or not. That’s why the U.S. has supported or does support Saddam, the Shah of Iran, Batista (Cuba), Pinochet (Chile), Musharraf (Pakistan), and a host of other brutal dictators. It’s also why U.S. officials have done their best to get rid of foreign leaders, both elected and non-elected, who refuse to take their orders from Washington, i.e., Castro (Cuba), Allende (Chile), Mossadegh (Iran), and Chavez (Venezuela).

It’s all just part and parcel of a hypocritical and fraudulent foreign policy, one which all too many Americans unfortunately still buy into.

October 26, 2004

Someone sent me an email which made a good point with respect to the invasion of Iraq and terrorism against Americans: When U.S. military forces kill one or both parents, the children will very likely grow up with deep hatred and an unquenchable thirst for revenge against Americans. And I doubt whether explanations of “regime change” or “war casualty” or “collateral damage” or “we only meant to kill the terrorists” are going to have much deterrence effect. Moreover, even when U.S. forces kill both the parents and the children, as they did recently in raids on Fallujah, there are always the cousins that Americans will have to contend with down the line.

The point is this: In attempting to establish another U.S-friendly regime in Iraq, U.S. forces will inevitably kill people because there will always be people who hate an occupier and therefore resist it. Despite the propaganda nonsense about the United States being a “liberator,” it is actually an occupying power, as President Bush has correctly observed.

Rather than bringing suspected violent resisters to the occupation to justice, as the police in the United States are required to do, the military mindset is simply to drop bombs and fire missiles in the vicinity where the “terrorists” have been seen. Unfortunately, that sometimes includes homes where innocent children and their parents are living. As one U.S. army officer put it on a television interview the other day, if they kill 10 “terrorists,” they consider the mission to be a success even if they kill a few innocent people in the process. That’s a perfect reflection of the military mindset; it is also the complete opposite of the mindset that guides the U.S. judicial system — a presumption of innocence combined with the dictum that it’s better that 10 guilty people to free than one innocent man punished.

Thus, I restate what we have stated long before the invasion of Iraq: the 9/11 attacks cannot be used to morally justify the invasion of Iraq and the tens of thousands of innocent people, including both Iraqi troops and civilians, who have been killed and maimed by this invasion. (See, for example, a Catholic Bishop’s letter to his parishioners and also the Vatican’s comments yesterday condemning wars of aggression.) Since Iraq had not attacked the United States, the invasion was a war of aggression, a type of offensive war that was punished at Nuremberg as a war crime and banned by the UN Charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory.

The only reason that both Bush and Kerry conflate their “war on terror” with the invasion of Iraq is that both of them know that the deaths, maiming, and destruction arising from this war of aggression will produce more anger and hatred, leading to more terrorism against Americans. Thus it was logical for President Bush to claim that the “war on terrorism” would be endless because he envisions that U.S. forces will be occupying Iraq for a long time, that there will be constant resistance the occupation, necessitating more U.S. killings of “terrorists” and others, including children, which then will engender more anger and hatred against America, which then leads to more terrorism, which then leads to more “war on terrorism,” which then means perpetually increasing budgets (they’ve just asked for $70 billion more, bringing the total to $225 billion) and ever-increasing infringements on the freedoms of the American people.

Is there a way out? Of course. When U.S. forces exited Vietnam, the North Vietnamese stopped killing Americans, even though U.S. forces had killed and maimed millions of Vietnamese and destroyed their homes and villages. In fact, I don’t think there is one recorded instance of where a North Vietnamese committed an act of terrorism against Americans after the exiting from Vietnam despite the fact that those people truly hated our freedom and values and had every motivation for revenge.

Thus, there is one — and only one — way to stop (Middle East) terrorism against Americans: Require the U.S. government to get out of the Middle East, and especially to finally leave the Iraqi people alone, including stopping supporting whichever dictator wins out (as the U.S. did with Saddam), no more embargoes (which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children), no more “no-fly zones” (which killed more Iraqis), and no more invasions and occupations. (The way to stop inevitable terrorism against Americans in other parts of the world, especially Latin America, is to get the federal government out of those parts of the world too, before it’s too late, including ending its decades-long failed and destructive war on drugs.)

For those who say, “But the U.S. has the right to kill people to establish U.S.-friendly regimes,” then they should at least accept moral responsibility for the consequences of their actions and beliefs rather than dole out such nonsense as “They hate us for our freedom and values.”

October 25, 2004

At last Friday’s Cato conference on the Iraq War, someone in the audience pointed out that Osama bin Laden cited two reasons for his fatwa against the United States: his hatred for Western values and his hatred for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. How could I be so certain, the person asked, that the 9/11 attacks were motivated by hatred for U.S. foreign policy rather than hatred for America’s freedom and values?

The advocates of U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, continue to cite “hatred for America’s freedom and values” as the principal rationale for continuing a foreign policy based on empire, intervention, and the “war on terrorism” and they simply assume that the killing of innocent people in the Middle East doesn’t really engender any anger or hatred among foreigners.

But as I pointed out to the questioner, many people have a set of values, principles, and philosophy but this doesn’t lead them to commit suicide and murder. But the killing of loves ones, from a logical standpoint, does arouse tremendous anger that induces a thirst for violent vengeance.

For example, most Americans are strongly committed to Christian principles and would never consider converting to Islam. But prior to 9/11, not very many of them would have been willing to go to the Middle East and kill Muslims because of their deep-seated Christian convictions.

But then 9/11 hit, and everything changed. Placing blind faith in their president’s assurances that Saddam’s forces were about to attack the United States with the WMD that the U.S. had delivered to him during the 1980s, most Americans eagerly approved of sending U.S. military forces to Iraq to oust Saddam, even though they knew that thousands of innocent Iraqis would die in the process. Later, when it turned out that Saddam didn’t have those dreaded WMD and that he never had any intention of attacking the United States, many people who had supported the invasion of out fear of a WMD attack quickly converted their justification for killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent people with support of “regime change”—that is, the ouster of Saddam and his replacement with a U.S.-friendly regime.

Yet, before 9/11, if you had asked the ordinary Christian American: Would you support a military invasion of Iraq for the purpose of changing regimes to a U.S.-friendly regime despite the fact that tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people will be killed or maimed, I’d bet that he would say, “No, as a Christian I couldn’t support that even if most of the people who are killed are Muslims.”

That’s what the killing of innocent people on 9/11 did to Americans.

Why wouldn’t the killing and maiming of innocent Iraqis have the same effect on families and other in the Middle East? Why would such killings and maiming produce the same level of anger that the killing and maiming of innocent Americans produced among Americans (and others around the world)?

That’s why the invasion of Iraq, in the name of fighting terrorism, will only produce more terrorism. The invasion has killed tens of thousands of more innocent Iraqis, on top of the hundreds of thousands killed by the Persian Gulf War and then the sanctions and then the no-fly zones. Every one of those deaths have increased the anger and the hatred.

If the terrorists were principally motivated by hatred for America’s freedom and values, then why haven’t they targeted Switzerland and the Swiss people? Don’t they maintain much of the same values as modern-day Americans, especially with respect to a socialistic welfare state? Could it be just a coincidence that, unlike the U.S. government, the Swiss government does not maintain troops in more than 100 countries (or anywhere except Switzerland) and is not out invading, bombing, and killing foreigners?

The bottom line of the “They hate us for our freedom and values” crowd is that even if we reined in the federal government and restricted it from killing any more innocent people in the Middle East, the terrorists would still come to kill us because of their hatred for our freedom and values. But didn’t the North Vietnamese also hate our freedom and values as well as for all the people the U.S. government killed over there? Yet, when U.S. intervention came to an end, didn’t the North Vietnamese pretty much leave Americans alone despite the fact that they continued to hate our freedom and values?

October 23, 2004

One of fascinating aspects of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been the ability of so many people to see things for what they wish they were rather than what they actually are, especially with respect to their federal government. I suspect that this inability to deal with reality is deeply rooted in two things: one, the successful indoctrination that takes place in 12 years of public (i.e. government) schools, in which people have drilled into their brains the notion that their federal government is a good, caring, and compassionate entity that, while sometimes making innocent mistakes, is committed to spreading freedom and democracy around the globe. Two, the fact that so many people see the federal government as a parent, taking care of their retirement, healthcare, education, unemployment, drug addictions, etc.

So, when faced with facts that are inconsistent with such a deeply rooted mindset, there is a serious disconnect. People will simply ignore the contrary fact, change the subject, explain it away as an aberration, and do whatever they can to block it out of their minds as they say, “It’s time to move on.”

Here are a few examples of things that people just don’t want to deal with:

1. Ardent and enthusiastic U.S. government support of Saddam Hussein during the 1980s and the fact that U.S. officials thought he was a great man because he was killing Iranians. People can’t deal with this because their minds have had drilled into them that federal officials love democracy and freedom and yet their conscious mind knows that Saddam is brutal and unelected, which is why he became public enemy number 1 after the Soviet communist threat evaporated. A disconnect.

2. The U.S. government’s ardent and enthusiastic support of an unelected, brutal, military dictator in Pakistan. How can that be? The federals are committed to freedom and democracy, right? Ignore it. Block it out of your mind. Don’t bring it up. Disconnect.

3. The U.S. government authorized the delivery to Saddam of the WMD that were later used to frighten the American people into supporting the invasion and war of aggression against Iraq. Recall how “certain” people were that Saddam had WMD. Why were they so “certain”? Because their federal officials were “certain.” But why were federal officials so certain that Saddam had WMD. Because the U.S. had given them to him, but people block that inconvenient and discomforting fact from their minds. Their federal government—the government they learned about in the public schools and which serves many of their parental needs—would never deliver WMD to a brutal, unelected dictator. Disconnect.

4. The brutal embargo against Iraq which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children. The public-schooled mind cannot accept that, especially given that the federal government loves children, especially given its parental role over Americans. So, it’s much easier to blame Saddam for misappropriating limited resources to the benefit of government officials. But there’s one big problem. Federal officials knew that Saddam was a brutal dictator before the embargo was imposed and as it continued, year after year. Why didn’t the federal government lift it once it realized that a brutal dictator doesn’t turn into a saint under external pressure? Because the loss of the Iraqi children were worth regime change, as Madeleine Albright, a high U.S. official, told “60 Minutes.” But public-schooled Americans can’t face that their federal government would be that callous. Disconnect.

5. Many Americans are now increasingly obsessed with the corruption in the oil-for-food program, which they still think manifested the federal government’s concern for the welfare of the Iraqi children that the federal embargo was helping to kill. But when you remind them that “waste, fraud, and abuse” are inherent parts of any federal program, as Reagan often observed, they refuse to believe it because the federals love the Iraqi people—that’s why they invaded, despite the fact that tens of thousands have had to die as part of their “liberation.” When you remind them that the U.S. is unable to account for hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Iraq, they refuse to believe it. The thought that their federal officials would engage in bribes and payoffs was never discussed in their high-school civics classes. Disconnect.

6. Many Americans fail to recognize that their government is now effectively serving as an agent for a brutal unelected man who now serves as ruler of Iraq. No, not Saddam but Allawi. And he’s using U.S. soldiers to kill resisters to his regime. But hey, that’s what Saddam was doing—killing people who resisted his regime. So, the invasion has resulted in the substitution of one brutal regime killing resisters to its power for another brutal regime that is killing resisters to its power. But Americans look at such killings as simply “pacifying Iraq” when Allawi is doing it and “utter brutality” when Saddam is doing it. Disconnect.

7. When Saddam’s people were torturing, raping, sexually abusing and killing prisoners, many Americans saw that as horrible tyranny. But when Bush’s people were doing it, people considered it was simply the acts of a few army privates, with absolutely no condoning from above. Disconnect.

And the list could go on and on. When anyone suggests that public schooling is not a success, it depends on what they mean by “success.” When you have a nation of millions of people who consciously or unconsciously divorce themselves from reality, much as a child does with abusive parents, that’s proof positive that the government has done an excellent job teaching the children. Unfortunately, such success ultimately does a tremendous harm to the individual, given his insistence of living a life disconnected from reality, and to the country, which has a much more difficult time getting back on the right course.

October 22, 2004

Two federal customs officials have been charged with conspiring to smuggle millions of dollars in illicit drugs into the United States. So much for the common belief that only Mexican government officials engage in corruption. The fact is that bribes, payoffs, and profit-sharing plans with government officials have to be one of the major reasons that drugs have continued to find their way into the United States despite decades of drug-war efforts. After all, how do drugs get into prisons, if not by bribing the guards? Thus, the more the feds clamp down, the higher the price goes up, the more drug sellers rush into the market, and the greater incentive for government officials to go on the take. It’s just one of the many reasons that the war on drugs has been and will continue to be such a major failure and fiasco.

October 21, 2004

There are interesting developments on the law front today.

First, a federal district court has ordered the Pentagon to honor the right to counsel provision in the U.S. Constitution with respect to detainees at its Cuban military base. You’ll recall that the precise reason that the Pentagon set up its base in Cuba in the first place was to avoid the constraints of the U.S. Constitution and interference with its operations by U.S. federal judges. Well, the Supreme Court in the Rasul case put the quietus on that little military plan, ordering that the military in this country is still subject both to the Constitution and the federal courts. Yesterday, over the fierce opposition of the Pentagon, a federal district court ordered that Guantanamo detainees must be accorded the right to consult with their attorneys, as required by the Sixth Amendment, free and clear of Pentagon monitors.

Second, attorneys for Jose Padilla have filed pleadings in South Carolina seeking his immediate release. You’ll recall that the U.S. Supreme Court recently held that Padilla had filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus in the wrong jurisdiction and therefore that the Court lacked jurisdiction to consider his plea. Padilla is an American who has been held in a military brig for some 3 years, being denied right to counsel, habeas corpus, trial by jury, and due process of law. Again, the Pentagon’s position was that no federal court had the power to interfere with its incarceration operations but, again, the Supreme Court put the quietus on the Pentagon’s plans. Now, it seems that the Pentagon must decide soon how to respond to Padilla’s pleadings: Will it release Padilla, after telling the world that he is one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world, as it recently did with Yaser Hamdi, or will they charge him with the terrorism they claim he was planning, or will they simply refuse to comply with federal court orders? We should soon find out because the government has until the end of November to respond to Padilla’s pleadings.

October 20, 2004

One of the manifestations of the American socialistic welfare state is rearing its tragic head in the last days of the presidential campaign. While having the most powerful government in history — one which serves as their paternalistic daddy who takes care of them and makes them good —Americans are also among the most frightened people in the world. Recognizing that psychological phenomenon, the presidential and vice-presidential candidates are now doing their best to capitalize on it in the waning days of the campaign.

“The terrorists are coming to get you!” cries George W. Bush.

“Your Social Security is going to be taken away!” cries John Kerry.

“Nuclear bombs will explode in cities across the nation!” cries Dick Cheney.

“You’re going to catch the flu and die” cries John Edwards.

And all too many people quiver and quake, basing their vote on which set of candidates is more likely to pacify their fears.

What the paternalistic welfare state has done to Americans is perhaps best expressed by the words of the 19th-century writer Alexis de Tocqueville:

“The will of men is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided. Men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence. It does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, until each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

Contrast the American people of yesteryear, who rejected such paternalistic schemes as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, income taxation, subsidies, and welfare. Looking to themselves for sustenance and security, they refused to permit government official to assume the role of their daddy. The result, not surprisingly, was that our American ancestors were known for their hearty self-reliance, self-confidence, and individual courage.

It’s just something else to think about in determining which vision is the better one for the future direction of our country — economic liberty or the paternalistic welfare state.

October 19, 2004

Yesterday, I commented on the danger that unrestrained federal spending and the deficit pose to the American people. Unfortunately, all too many Americans continue to place their blind faith in their rulers’ ability and good faith to continue granting them “goodies” in the form of foreign wars and domestic welfare, even while “reducing” their taxes.

As most everyone knows (or should know), however, the feds have long been dependent on Asian banks to invest in their bonds, enabling U.S. officials to use the cash to continue providing Americans with their “bread and circuses,” just as Roman rulers did during the days of the Roman Empire.

The big problem, of course, is that one of these days the Asians might decide to no longer buy the bonds and might also begin dumping the bonds they own on the market, starting an Asian panic run for the bond-market exit.

Well, an article in today’s New York Times provides a hint of what lies in store for Americans if U.S. officials continue down this ominous and dangerous road. The article describes how bond traders were recently stunned to discover a lack of private interest among foreigners in purchasing U.S. government bonds. The article states:

“Private investment from abroad fell by nearly half — to $37.4 billion in August from $72.9 billion the month before. Investors appear to be concerned over cooling growth and a rising American trade deficit. The only reason that the contraction was not more pronounced was that official financing, mainly from Asian central banks, jumped to nearly $23 billion in August from just over $6 billion in July.”

As Ashraf Laidi, chief currency analyst at MG Financial Group puts it, “The stability of the bond market is at the mercy of Asian purchases of U.S. Treasuries.”

What happens if interest for U.S. debt cools among the Asian central banks? Here’s what Stephen S. Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley says, “If all we have funding our current account imbalance is the good graces of foreign central banks, we are on increasingly thin ice.”

Unfortunately, no U.S. official will ever be punished or disciplined for placing the economic security of the American people in the hands of foreign central banks because, unfortunately, most Americans have absolutely no idea of how their government goodies are being paid for — and they don’t want to know, as long as the feds continue to provide them their goodies. When the crisis hits, people will be as eager to accept official explanations for that crisis as they were to accept official explanations for the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq.

It’s only when people begin to understand that the greatest threat to their liberty and well-being lies with their own government that things will finally turn for the better in America.

October 18, 2004

One important aspect of U.S. foreign policy that advocates of empire and intervention either intentionally or subconsciously ignore is the threat that unrestrained government spending poses to the economic well-being of the American people.

Do you remember when conservatives used to crow about how Reagan brought down the Soviet Union? They proud proclaim, “Reagan maneuvered the Soviets into a government spending battle, causing the Soviet empire to spend itself into national bankruptcy.”

When asked why such policies would not have the same effect on the United States, they brusquely brush aside such concerns or respond with “Unrestrained government spending is beneficial in America because it creates jobs for Americans.”

Ultimately, however, the chickens will come home to roost, most likely in the form of a collision between the deficit and the U.S. dollar. And the dollar is certain to come out on the losing end of such a collision. When it happens, be forewarned: We will inevitably be treated to the standard bromides — “The value of the dollar is plunging because of speculators, profiteers, Big Business, and Big Oil.” There will also be the standard calls for blue-ribbon committees and official investigations.

But make no mistake about it: the root of a rapidly depreciating currency, reflected by rising prices in society, lies in the Santa Claus belief that empire and intervention overseas and socialism and intervention at home have no cost. The advocates of such policies are leading America in a very bad and very destructive direction.

October 16, 2004

In a desperate campaign rush, congressional Republicans hustled up a pre-election vote on the draft in order to show young Americans that the members of Congress do not intend to enact the draft after the election.

What nonsense! Most everyone knows that before an election, politicians do whatever they must to cater to the citizenry, including promising them everything but the kitchen sink.

The day after the election, the tables are turned and everyone knows it. The federal official’s role as master is then reassumed. After the election, if the Pentagon needs manpower to feed its war machine — and every indication is that it does — young Americans will be drafted — that’s all there is to it. Only the most independent-minded and courageous members of Congress (and there are only a few of them) will have the intestinal fortitude to buck the Pentagon and its calls for “patriotic” service on the part of young Americans.

The most important point to remember here is the inversion of the traditional role of master and servant. If the master — the president (whoever is elected) and the Pentagon — tell the Congress that they need cannon fodder, the Congress will rubberstamp the request. Then the servant — the young citizen — will give up his hopes and dreams for a few years and perhaps even his life to fulfill the Pentagon’s needs. It’s all what’s called “freedom,” in Orwellian terms of course.

October 15, 2004

The occupation of Iraq provides a perfect example of why U.S. foreign intervention is doomed to produce anger and hatred toward the American people, no matter how well-intentioned (or ill-intentioned) U.S. officials might be. Under U.S. military rule, the establishment of “order” and “security” inevitably entails killing, maiming and abusing people who choose to resist the foreign occupation of their country, which is certain to breed anger and resentment among the victims and their friends and relatives against the United States and the American people.

Of course, someone might argue, “Well, people don’t have to resist a conquest and occupation of their country — they can meekly submit to the new authority.” But that’s not the way life works. As President Bush himself has pointed out, no one likes an occupier.

Moreover, isn’t that what Saddam Hussein would have said about the Iraqis he was killing — that they shouldn’t be resisting his rule? In fact, while there might be a difference in the numbers killed, don’t the Allawi and the Saddam regimes share at least one common element — they both kill and maim those who resist their rule?

If the United States were invaded, conquered, and occupied, while many Americans would undoubtedly cooperate with the new authorities, wouldn’t there be a certain percentage of Americans resisting the occupation with violence, especially if the occupying soldiers were torturing, raping, sexually abusing, killing, and maiming their friends, relatives, and loved ones?

Some might argue that the military doesn’t have to kill and maim people who are resisting the occupation authorities — they can instead arrest them and bring them to justice. Again, however, that’s not the way life works. We’re talking about military rule, which inevitably entails brutal and deadly force against those who disobey, not due-process-of-law legal procedures for bringing malefactors to justice.

Given that invasions, occupations, and nation-building are doomed to engender an ever-growing anger and hatred, that’s just one more reason that our nation should return to the road set by our Founding Fathers — Don’t go abroad in search of monsters to destroy and instead devote ourselves to creating a model of freedom for the world right here in America.

October 14, 2004

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher defended the U.S. government’s decision to bar 67 Cuban academics from entering the United States on grounds that all they would do is “spout the party line.”

And what “party line” is that, Mr. Boucher? Answer:

Free public (i.e., government) schooling;
Free public health care;
Gun control;
Social Security;
Economic regulations;
Equality of wealth;
Foreign wars and interventions;
Drug laws;
Indefinite detentions;
Military tribunals for accused terrorists;
No due process, jury trials, habeas corpus, and right to counsel;
Immigration controls;
Travel restrictions;
Trade controls.

How about it, Mr. Boucher? Isn’t the only reason you people in the federal government don’t want those Cuban academics coming over here to “spout the party line” is because of the discomfort it will produce for you people in the federal government given that your “party line” is the same as theirs? (Which of those core principles of the Cuban Revolution do you disagree with, Mr. Boucher. And please be honest!)

Yep, better to be safe by keeping all those dangerous Cuban academics out of the United States, right, Mr. Boucher? After all, truth itself is dangerous. We wouldn’t want all those public-schooled Americans to begin discovering the Orwellian nature of U.S. “freedom,” now would we? Better that they continue believing that all that socialist junk is socialism in Cuba and free enterprise in America. Better that they continue believing that “freedom of association” means U.S. government control over the people with whom they are permitted to associate.

October 13, 2004

The American Taliban known as the Federal Communications Commission is at it again. After driving Howard Stern into (unregulated) subscriber radio after leveling heavy fines on him for years for saying indecent things on the regulated airwaves, the FCC is now preparing to level a million dollar fine against FOX for violating indecency regulations in one episode of its “Married by America” reality show. According to Reuters, “Sources said the content in question involved lascivious banter among ‘Married’ contestants and a segment that involved contestants licking whipped cream off each other’s bodies.”

Question: Why don’t they simply change the name of the FCC to “The Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue,” which is the name of the same type of government agency run by the Taliban? Wouldn’t that be the more honest approach? After all, isn’t the FCC doing exactly what the Taliban did — preventing vice and promoting virtue? Don’t the Taliban and the FCC both share a common belief that this is an important role for government in a free society?

Better yet, why not consolidate the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FCC and then call the new agency by its Taliban name, given that the DEA is committed to preventing vice and promoting virtue through its punishment of drug addicts and its commitment to convert America into a mandatory “drug-free zone”?

Best of all, why not use the FBI, ATF, Immigration, Customs, and the Pentagon to serve as the law-enforcement vehicle for our newly named vice-prevention and virtue-promoting government agency? After all, isn’t that what freedom and morality are all about? Just ask the Taliban.

October 12, 2004

During the wars on terrorism in Argentina and Chile, military officials often “disappeared” those they considered “terrorists.” Such disappearances took place in secret, without trials, hearings, due process, etc. Military officials repeatedly cited “national security” as the justification for such disappearances along with the need to trust their judgment. Such military mindset was often supported by U.S. officials.

Most Americans often thought that that could never happen in America and continued to permit their congressmen to constantly build up the power of the military-industrial complex in America. In the name of “national security” and facing the “communist threat,” people ignored the warnings of their ancestors against standing armies and the warning of President Dwight Eisenhower regarding the rise of the military-industrial complex in America. Quietly building up their power, including the establishment and maintenance of hundreds of bases all over the United States and the world, the Pentagon repeatedly assured people that they had nothing to worry about.

Now, Human Rights Watch has released a report stating that at least 11 suspected members of al-Qaeda have disappeared while in the custody of U.S. military officials. No trial. No hearing. No due process. Nothing. Just like in Argentina and Chile.

Even worse, the report indicates that U.S. military officials might well have been torturing these disappeared people. Just like in Argentina and Chile.

Americans might be tempted to say, oh well, these are foreigners — no big deal. But it is a big deal, because that’s not what this country is supposed to be all about. Moreover, don’t forget that the Pentagon’s official attitude is that the president has the unfettered right to arrest any American labeled a “terrorist” and punish him, just as they have done to American citizens Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi. No trial. No right to counsel. No due process. No habeas corpus.

Just when the people of Argentina and Chile are shedding light on the darkness of their military’s war on terrorism, even threatening to bring their rulers and military commanders to justice, should we really permit the Pentagon to continue moving in the dark direction that those two nations took?

October 11, 2004

The final presidential debate should highlight one of the most excellent examples of the modern-day welfare state — and the damage and destruction it has wrought — Medicare and Medicaid. I predict that both presidential candidates will rip into each other as to whose healthcare plan is better for the American people.

Make no mistake about it, however: Both candidates fail to have a grip on reality as to the root cause of America’s healthcare crisis and both candidates’ plans are just more of the same reform nonsense that we see in Social Security and public schooling—the nonsense that pretends that socialism can finally be made to succeed if only the right reform plan is discovered.

There is one — and only one — reason for the crisis in healthcare in America — the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s and the enactment of occupational licensure laws. To put the matter succinctly: government involvement in healthcare. That’s it! That’s the cause of America’s healthcare crisis. Here, in heathcare (as in retirement and education) the government is the problem, not the solution.

Thus, all the socialist reform plans in the world will never cure the problem because they are part and parcel of the original problem. Socialist reform plans are simply ways to try to make socialism succeed. Thus, they are doomed to fail, no matter which presidential candidate proposes them.

But as with other socialist plans throughout the world during the 20th century, hope springs eternal. People simply refuse to believe that socialism has failed. They would prefer to believe that it’s really “free enterprise” that has failed and that it’s socialism that will save us. “If only my (socialist) plan is adopted, everything will be fine!” is the common refrain of both Democratic and Republican candidates.

What is the cure for America’s healthcare woes? There is only one cure: the free market, the heritage of economic liberty that once produced the finest healthcare system in the world. That means ridding the body politic of government intervention — a repeal, not a reform, of Medicare, Medicaid, occupational licensure, and all other socialist and interventionist devices. By restoring a free market to heathcare, we move our nation in a freer, more prosperous, and healthier direction.

October 9, 2004

Longtime readers of my blog might recall that in July 2003, I wrote an article entitled “ Crossing the Rubicon” in which I explained the ominous danger facing the American people over the Pentagon’s assumption of power to declare Americans and others “unlawful combatants” in the “war on terror” and detain and punish them without due process of law, right to counsel, and habeas corpus.

In that article, I mentioned the acquittal of certain defendants in a terrorism case that the feds had brought in Detroit to show that not all people accused of terrorism by the feds were in fact guilty of terrorism.

Well, guess what. Amidst increasing scrutiny and pressure, U.S. officials have now repudiated their own prosecution and resulting convictions in the balance of that Detroit “terrorism” case. The reason? Federal misconduct, committed in the zeal to show Americans how their federal officials were protecting them from “the terrorists.”

Shades of Ruby Ridge, where U.S. officials perjured themselves and obstructed justice to get accused terrorist Randy Weaver, whom a federal jury ultimately acquitted. Also of Waco, where federal officials lied about the flammable gas they injected into the building that ultimately went up in flames, killing most of the Branch Davidian inhabitants, including several children.

Or shades of Captain James Yee, whom federal officials wrongfully accused of terrorism. Or Portland attorney Branden Mayfield, who suffered the same fate.

The next time someone tells you that our American ancestors were wrong to straight-jacket federal officials with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and that federal officials today need to have the unfettered power to “fight terrorism,” tell them that our ancestors knew exactly what they were doing. Remind them that purpose of the constitutional straitjacket was to protect the innocent from overly zealous and sometimes overly paranoid government officials.

October 8, 2004

Michigan Republicans are trying to get Michael Moore indicted for bribery because he is offering clean underwear to college students in exchange for their agreeing to vote. Give me a break. Both Republicans and Democrats are notorious for their political bribery schemes.

After all, in every election season which incumbent doesn’t come into the communities in his district bearing government grants, subsidies, and other such inducements with the expectation of receiving votes from that area in return? Everyone knows that the purpose of those “gifts” is to line the pockets of those who are receiving, administering, and receiving the grants, and they, in turn, are expected to get out the vote to express appreciation. Which community hasn’t been treated to such silly political bromides as “Jobs for your community!” or “We’ve saved your skins by saving your military base.”

What’s sad about all this, of course, is not only the corruption that exists among incumbents, especially members of Congress, but even worse that the American people have permitted themselves to become part and parcel of such corruption. Dependency on government largess is now part of the American psyche, creating a deep-seated fear over the possibility that they will lose “federal monies” and over the possibility that other citizens will receive the loot instead.

Perhaps worst of all is that all too many Americans, honestly believing that the federal government has a magical fountain that produces all this bounty, block out of their minds that they’re being bribed with either their own money or the money that has been taken from their friends and countrymen, compliments of the IRS. The result, of course, is a sordid and corrupt way of life where everyone is trying to get into everyone else’s pocketbook through the bribery provided by their congressman, while at the same time doing his best to prevent the IRS from plundering and looting him.

October 7, 2004

After years of having to put up with the dictatorial and censorial antics of the federal morality police, Howard Stern is moving from broadcast radio to Sirius Satellite Radio. By giving up his high perch in talk radio for a much smaller audience in subscriber radio, Stern is hoping to avoid the grasps and grips of the Federal Communications Commission, the federal agency that punishes people for saying the wrong things on radio and television, much as the Taliban did when they ruled Afghanistan.

Stern, however, might be in for a surprise, for how long will it be before the morality police go crazy knowing that there are segments of society (i.e., cable television and subscriber radio) beyond their reach?

The only solution to this perversion of freedom and the market process is to disband the federal Taliban, sending these bureaucrats into honest work in the private sector, and to privatize ownership of bandwidths — and then let the marketplace (i.e., consumer sovereignty) decide what is ultimately broadcast by radio and television, just as it does with newspapers, books, cable television, and subscriber radio.

October 6, 2004

President Bush continues to claim that despite the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, the invasion of that country can nevertheless be justified as part of the federal “war on terrorism.” Bush is now pointing to a new terrorist enemy in Iraq — Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — as evidence to support yet another justification for invading Iraq. Vice President Cheney himself has long had the obsessive conviction that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks.

Unfortunately for the president and the vice president, however, there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein or the Iraqi government conspired to commit the 9/11 attacks, and as many people know none of the 9/11 hijackers were from Iraq. More unfortunately, an official CIA report now confirms that Saddam Hussein did not knowingly harbor al-Zarqawi in Iraq, thereby eliminating the President’s hoped-for newest justification for invading Iraq, an invasion that has killed or maimed tens of thousands of Iraqi people who were totally innocent of the 9/11 attacks.

One interesting aspect to this is how the “war on terrorism” continues to generate an endless supply of “new official enemies” on which the government can focus the attention and fears of the American people, thereby continuing to justify ever-increasing military budgets and federal power over the American people. Since the surprise fall of the Berlin Wall (which had been used to justify massive U.S. military budgets for decades), the official enemies of the United States have included: an unsafe world, international drug dealers, Saddam Hussein (the new Hitler who supposedly had the military might to conquer the world), Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein (again), Moqtada Sadr, Iraqi insurgents, Iran, North Korea, and now Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. (Potential new enemies on the list are China and Russia.)

Another interesting aspect to all this is how U.S. officials steadfastly decline to recognize that the very imperial things they are doing in the name of waging their “war on terrorism” are nothing more than what stimulated the anger and hatred among the Arab community in the first place, which then led to terrorist counter-responses, including the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the WTC. So, by continuing the same policies that engender terrorism, U.S. officials guarantee that terrorism (and fears of terrorism) will continue indefinitely, which means that military budgets are less likely to be reduced and that assaults on civil liberties (i.e., the PATRIOT Act) are less likely to be repealed.

We should also keep in mind that it’s not just people in the Middle East who are angry toward the United States for what the U.S. government has done to them. There is also the longtime U.S. support of brutal dictatorial regimes in Latin America that has engendered potential terrorism from that part of the world. The most recent example is the surprise release of official transcripts showing that former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger threatened to punish subordinates who criticized Argentina and Chile for human rights abuses (i.e., torture, murder, and permanent disappearances) during the wars on terrorism in those countries during the 1970s. (See the Oct. 1 New York Times article.)

Only when Americans begin to confront the foreign-policy abuses committed by their government for the past several decades will they begin to understand the roots of anger, hatred, and terrorism against America. That understanding is a necessary prerequisite to getting our nation back on track toward freedom, prosperity, peace, and harmony among the peoples of the world.

October 5, 2004

Every four years, Christmas comes twice a year — in December and in November. The latter, of course, is the time when Republican and Democratic presidential candidates play Santa Claus with the American voters, who don’t want to know— and certainly don’t ask — how Santa is paying for all the gifts that the presidential candidates are promising to deliver to the American people.

For example, while they might disagree on who gets the tax cuts, both Bush and Kerry say that they’re in favor of tax cuts. Equally important, they also favor increasing government “benefits” to the people, whether in the form of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, corporate subsidies, farm assistance, foreign aid, foreign invasions, city grants, and all the rest.

But how do they do that, especially given that government spending already far exceeds taxes? That’s what no one wants to ask. After all, what kid ever asks how Santa Claus is able to pull off delivering presents to every kid in the world?

But one could be forgiven for wondering how long all this government spending and tax reduction can go on. After all, don’t forget what conservatives love to remind us — that unrestrained government spending is what brought down the Soviet Union. Too bad they can’t explain why it isn’t likely to have some very serious adverse effects on the United States as well.

October 4, 2004

The recent attack in Baghdad which killed 35 children is just one more example of how the U.S. occupation of Iraq is doomed. At the time of the attack, the children were conglomerating around a group of U.S. soldiers who were distributing candy to them, converting the dead into what the U.S. government often describe as “collateral damage.”

In the wake of such a devastating attack, what does the Pentagon do now? Does it order U.S. soldiers to continue attracting children with gifts of candy with the purported aim of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Iraqi people? Or does it order them to refrain from doing so, knowing that the children are likely to die as insurgents continue to attack U.S. occupation troops?

Unfortunately, bringing to mind the 1990s, when ousting Saddam from power was given a higher priority than the lives of Iraqi children, U.S. officials intend to continue placing a higher value on their new mission of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Iraqi people than on the lives of Iraqi children. According to the Los Angeles Times, Rear Adm. Greg Slavonic said, “I know of no effort on the part of coalition forces to limit interaction between soldiers and the Iraqi people, including children, because of this incident.”

Iraqi parents, not surprisingly, are taking a different view of the matter. Abdulsalam Ahmed Azawi, who lost two nieces in the attack, said, “We’ve advised our children to stay away from the Americans.” Ali Hussein, who also refuses to let his children get near the soldiers said, “The Americans were giving the children candy just for propaganda, so people would say they are good. They are making the children into human shields.”

In the wake of (1) the delivery of WMD to Saddam during the 1980s; and (2) the brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people during the 1990s that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children; (3) the invasion of Iraq, which has killed tens of thousands of innocent people; and (4) the torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal at Abu Ghraib prison; (5) the foreign occupation of Iraq that is following in the footsteps of the same brutal suppression of insurgents employed by Saddam Hussein; and (6) the deaths of 35 innocent Iraqi children, what is amazing is that there are still U.S. officials who apparently still retain the hope and dream that the U.S. government will yet win the trust, love, and respect of the Iraqi people.

October 2, 2004

A New York Times story out of Canada shows the power of government regulation of the airwaves — and the power of the people to make government bureaucrats bend to their will.

Canada’s counterpart to the Federal Communications Commission yanked a radio license because of remarks by a disc jockey that the bureaucrats found offensive. That’s what’s called censorship, folks — and socialism too, given that the government claims ownership of the airwaves, letting people broadcast on such airwaves as long as they behave. Imagine what they’d be doing if newspapers were licensed.

But the bureaucrats faced the wrath of the Canadian people, who happen to believe that freedom of expression is an essential aspect of their freedom. Some 200,000 people signed a petition complaining about what the government had done. Then, 50,000 protesters marched in Quebec City and 7,000 traveled on the bus for 5 hours to protest in a rain shower in Ottawa.

Deciding that discretion, not principles, was the better part of valor, the courageous bureaucrats backed down and agreed to defer enforcement of their ruling until the courts had issued a judgment in the matter.

It’s only a temporary solution, of course, and the courts could ultimately rule in favor of the bureaucrats. The only real solution is the free-market, private-property one — by granting private property rights in the airwaves and throwing all these government bureaucrats and regulators out of the radio (and television) regulation and censorship business.

October 1, 2004

Did you notice that there was something noticeably lacking from the 90-minute debate between Bush and Kerry last night — any mention whatsoever of the U.S. Constitution, including any question along those lines by noted commentator Jim Lehrer? For those who might have forgotten, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and it restricts the powers of the president to those powers enumerated in the document.

We were instead treated to 90 minutes of the same type of “leadership” claptrap that was heard by citizens who suffered under totalitarian regimes throughout the 20th century: “The country needs a strong leader. I will be a stronger leader than my opponent. Follow me.”

What both Bush and Kerry meant, of course, was that the president should have the unrestricted, dictatorial power to wage the so-called war on terror — unrestrained especially by the supreme law of the land, the Constitution.

And where will such strong “man on the white horse” leadership lead? It will lead into the abyss into which “strong leaders” of all empires in history have led their citizenry.

Notice that both Bush and Kerry claim that the president has the omnipotent, dictatorial power to lead the entire nation into war against any other nation in the world, no matter what the justification or the circumstances, without any congressional declaration of war, despite the fact that the Constitution requires it. Kerry might disagree with how Bush has waged the war on Iraq, but notice that he doesn’t claim that Bush didn’t have the power to attack, wage a war of aggression against, and occupy a sovereign and independent country that had not attacked the United States. In fact, that’s why Kerry voted for that resolution — to provide Bush the power to declare war on Iraq, the power that under the Constitution rightfully belonged to Congress and that Kerry and his cohorts wrongfully and illegally delegated to Bush.

Neither Bush nor Kerry dared to condemn the omnipotent, dictatorial, and ominous power claimed and exercised by the Pentagon since 9/11, including the power to seize people, both American and foreign, and punish them without a jury trial, right to counsel, and other due process guarantees in the Constitution.

Neither one of them condemned the out-of-control federal spending that brought down not only the Soviet Empire but also the Roman, British, and other empires in history.

Both of them are dead-set on using military force — i.e., killing and maiming even more Iraqis — to establish a stable puppet regime for Iraq, ignoring the inconvenient fact that the Iraqi people will never — repeat never — have any respect for a regime whose military force tortured, raped, sexually abused, and murdered innocent Iraqi detainees, especially after contributing to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis through the most brutal and callous sanctions system in history.

The last thing the American people need is a “strong leader” as president. What we instead need is courage and intestinal fortitude to confront our federal politicians and bureaucrats and demand a reduction in the power of their federal government, especially the presidency. In foreign affairs, that means abandoning the U.S. government’s role as international policeman, interloper, and invader. In domestic affairs, it means abandoning the federal government’s role as people’s paternalistic daddy. By once again using the Constitution to tightly restrict the power of the feds, as our ancestors had the wisdom and courage to do, the American people would finally be free to live our lives in the manner we choose … and, in the process, lead the world to the freest, most prosperous, peaceful, and harmonious society in history.

This post was written by:

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.