Saturday, April 30, 2005
One of the interesting twists of fate in Iraq involves Bush versus Bush with respect to the regime that would rule Iraq.
After U.S. military forces under Bush I ousted Saddams forces from Kuwait in the Persian Gulf intervention, Bush I encouraged the Shiites and the Kurds to revolt. However, U.S. officials ultimately decided to stand aside while Saddam slaughtered the insurgents, filling mass graves with their bodies, because U.S. officials concluded that a Shiite regime would be worse than a Saddam regime given that it would likely align itself with Iran, another enemy of the U.S. government.
When Bush II invaded Iraq many years later, his hope was obviously to simply replace Saddam with a dictator that would align Iraq within the U.S. Empire, permitting the U.S. to move its military bases in Saudi Arabia to Iraq and permitting U.S. oil companies to have the best oil-producing contracts. That was the idea behind installing either Pentagon favorite Ahmad Chalabi or CIA favorite Iyad Allawi into power. It was also the idea behind the infamous caucus democracy that U.S. officials planned to use in Iraq to install their man into power. But things got out of control when Shiite leader Sistani demanded instead a national democratic election, a demand to which Bush II finally acceded.
Thus, ironically, Bush IIs national election in Iraq has now turned over power to the very same group that Bush I opposed for fear that it would align itself with Iran.
Friday, April 29, 2005
Like all the emperors in history who have gone on big government spending sprees and debasing their currency in the process, President Bush is now distracting peoples attention away from the cause of the problem and pointing them toward external forces. Meeting with Saudi Prince Abdullah at his Texas ranch, Bush is suggesting that the reason that oil prices are soaring is that those big bad OPEC oil nations just arent producing enough oil. (Of course, the reason that Iraqs oil production has been less than normal is the brutal 10-year embargo imposed by U.S. officials and the fact that U.S. officials have been running Iraq for the past 2 years.)
I wonder what Bush says about the rising price of diapers, which are increasing by 5 percent. Is that the fault of the Saudis too?
The problem remains a simple one: federal spending is totally out of control, with spending exceeding tax receipts by some $300 billion a yearand there is no end in sight. How can this not have an effect on the value of the dollar? And how else can a depreciating dollar be reflected than by rising prices of everything else.
Everything the feds do is a mess, from Social Security, to Medicare, to the drug war, to the war on poverty, to Iraq, to the war on terrorism, to foreign policy, to the war on immigrants, to federal spending, to civil liberties, to the dollar. Unfortunately for the American people, who continue to put their deep and abiding and unquestioning faith in their federal officials, the socialist and imperial chickens might finally be coming home to roost. If so, be prepared for more federal distractions away from the root of the problem. And be prepared for the federal fox to call for more federal measures to protect the federal chickens.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Not surprisingly, the Army has cleared four of the top five army officers in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib scandal. That includes Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the top army commander in Iraq during the period of time that the torture and sex abuse were taking place. According to the New York Times, While General Sanchez and the other top officers may not have done everything right, the inquiry said, their failures came as they struggled to combat a fast-growing insurgency and a booming prison population, all with an understaffed headquarters.
Such a finding, of course, directly conflicts with the U.S. military judgment ordering the execution of Japanese Gen. Tomuyuki Yamashita after the end of World War II. Yamashita was the commander of Japanese troops in the Pacific in the waning days of the war. A military officer of the highest caliber, he condemned war crimes and had expressly ordered his troops to refrain from engaging in war crimes. So, why was he executed? Because the U.S. government said that as a commander, he was responsible for war crimes committed by his men, whether or not he approved of them or ordered themand despite the fact that he couldnt stop them from being committed because U.S. military forces had destroyed his lines of control and communication.
In the wake of its Abu Ghraib exoneration of Gen. Sanchez and his subordinates, the least the Army could do is publicly acknowledge that the Yamashita execution was carried out by the U.S. military purely out of postwar vengeance and retribution, not out of a sense of justice.
The latest Abu Ghraib whitewash brings to mind the old saying, Military justice is to justice as military music is to music. The only way to ensure that justice is done and that any malefactors, including political higher-ups, are brought to justice in the Abu Ghraib case is through the appointment of an independent prosecutor, as Human Rights Watch is contending.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Not surprisingly, Amtrak is once again having problems, this time with its high-speed Acela trains, which according to the New York Times, were supposed to be Amtraks savior. The Times stated, Today that train is called the Acela, and instead of being Amtrak’s savior, it has become a frustrating burden. On Wednesday, the company announced plans to sideline all 20 Acelas until summer to replace cracked brakes. It was the third major disruption of the high-speed service since it came on line in 2001.
Federal officials are a stubborn bunch of people. No matter the manifest failures of socialism all over the world, they continue to believe that U.S. socialism (i.e., government-owned enterprises) can be made to succeed as long as it is not called socialism and as long as Congress continues to appropriate taxpayer money to the boondoggle. Thats why they remain steadfastly committed to Amtrak and, for that matter, to the U.S. Postal Service.
One of the downsides to the federal war on terrorism and the invasion and occupation of Iraq is that they have distracted Americans from focusing on getting government totally out of such socialist enterprises as Amtrak and the Postal Service. But if more and more Americans start realizing that the federal government is at the root of Americas woes (both domestic and foreign), America stands to lead the world out of the socialist-interventionist morass and toward freedom, private property, and free markets. A good place to start (among many) would be train travel and mail delivery.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Conservatives love to rail against outsourcing, the process by which American companies are hiring foreigners to do jobs that can be handled overseas. Unable to recognize the benefits of free trade and believing that such activities as outsourcing harms Americans, many conservatives think that government force should be used to stop businesses from doing this.
Unfortunately, however, such a protectionist position cannot be reconciled with the purported devotion that conservatives have to their old mantra of freedom, free enterprise, private property, and limited government.
After all, doesnt freedom entail the right to do whatever you want with your own money, wealth, and property? A persons money, wealth, and property dont belong to society or to the government. They belong to the individual or group of individuals who own it. Why should government have the power to restrict how a person disposes of something that rightfully belongs to him, even if it involves spending or investing it outside the United States?
Moreover, doesnt free enterprise mean free from government interference? If government prohibits an American from engaging in enterprise overseas, how is that consistent with free enterprise? Or are the protectionists saying that freedom and free enterprise are morally right only when they take place within the confines of the United States?
Finally, if using government to stop outsourcing is such a good thing, how come the protectionists never try to apply its principles between the respective states? That is, why not stop California businesses from outsourcing to people in Virginia? Indeed, why not amend the Constitution to enable each state to erect a Berlin Wall around it, both to protect the citizens within the wall from outsourcing but also from all those immigrants from other states. Whoops, I suppose we shouldnt give them any more ideas.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Zacarias Moussaouis guilty plea to terrorism charges in U.S. federal district court does not end the Pentagons threat that hangs over the head of every federal judge who has jurisdiction over an indicted terrorist defendant.
Moussaouis punishment must still be decided, either by a jury or by the judge if both Moussaoui and the government waive a jury. The problem is that the Pentagon and the Justice Department are still claiming the power to remove Moussaoui from the jurisdiction of the federal court and transfer him to the military for punishment, including execution. Dont forget that thats in fact what theyve done to Jose Padilla and Ali al-Marri and that they are fighting for the power to do this to every other American citizen and every foreigner whom they suspect of being a terrorist.
Thus, if it looks like the jury or the judge might be unwilling to impose the death penalty on Moussaoui, the military might simply take the law into its own hands and do the dirty deed itself, transferring Moussaoui to Gitmo and executing him there, independent of any federal judicial interference.
Thats why the Moussaoui case or more accurately, the Pentagons claim of power to punish Americans and others without due process of law still presents the most ominous threat to the freedom of the American people in our lifetime.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Detractors of Pope Benedict XVI are trying to make a big deal about his teenage service in the Hitler Youth and the Germany army during World War II. Whats interesting and somewhat amusing, however, is that very few of them are asking some important questions that would undoubtedly make them the detractors uncomfortable:
(1) Why should any government have the power to force parents to send their children into a government-approved institution for the purpose of receiving government-approved doctrine from government-approved schoolteachers using government-approved textbooks?
(2) Why should any government have the power to conscript (that is, force or draft) people to serve the state in any of its wars or, for that matter, for any other national service?
(3) Why shouldnt every soldier, both voluntary and involuntary, whose government is waging an unjust war desert his military unit, as the Pope did, rather than follow orders to kill “the enemy”? Doesnt the individual owe a higher duty, even in time of war, to his conscience and to God than he does to his government?
Friday, April 22, 2005
When they failed to find Saddams much-vaunted WMD, the Bush people switched their primary justification for invading Iraq to liberating the Iraqi people from tyranny. Notice how different the Bush method of liberating foreigners from tyranny is from the method that guided Americas Founding Fathers.
Our ancestors sent the following message to people suffering under tyranny: The U.S. government will not come to liberate you but if you are able to escape the dungeons and the famines in your country, there is a place that will accept you unconditionally the United States of America. The result was the freest and most prosperous nation in history one that attracted millions of immigrants from all over the world.
The Bush people, on the other hand, say the exact opposite: We dont want you people in our country but our military will come and liberate you from your tyranny by replacing your regime with one that is U.S.-approved. The result in Iraq has been horrific: an estimated 100,000 people dead (the Pentagon refuses to keep count), untold numbers maimed, and the economy in shatters. And all they have to show for it is a brutal U.S.-installed military regime, followed by a national election that isnt very likely to produce a free society. And of course theres the collateral damage of government assaults on liberty at home in the name of protecting national security and fighting the war on terrorism, not to mention the adverse and potentially catastrophic effects that out-of-control federal spending could have on economic conditions.
Thus, the American people are faced with a conflict of visions: The vision of freedom, free markets, open borders, peace, and republic that guided our ancestors versus the vision of restriction, empire, foreign wars, and isolationism that guides the Bush people.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
After years of legal wrangling, accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui plans to plead guilty to a federal indictment alleging that he conspired to participate in the 9/11 attacks. The presiding judge, Leonie Brinkema, intends to accept the plea and then likely set a date to empanel a jury to decide whether Moussaoui should be given the death penalty.
This is way the system is supposed to work. As we here at FFF have consistently maintained ever since 9/11, terrorism is a crime, not an act of war. If a person is accused of having committed a terrorist act, the proper procedure under the Constitution and our system of law is to arrest him, indict him, try him, and if convicted, punish him. Within that process, he must be accorded due process of law, right to counsel, and other procedural rights and guarantees. As our ancestors, who fought so hard for the enactment of the Bill of Rights, understood, if you permit government officials to deny such rights to the despicable and unpopular defendants, then ultimately no one is safe from the tyrants.
Thus, those who argued in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 that those attacks were acts of war rather than criminal acts were wrong, just as any people who argued that the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and Timothy McVeighs attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City were acts of war were wrong. Federal officials did the right thing in indicting and prosecuting the 1993 WTC defendants, McVeigh, and Moussaoui in federal district court. And they did the right thing in refusing to follow the advice of those Americans who requested that federal officials simply transfer Moussaoui to the Pentagons clutches for quick execution. As imperfect as it is, Americas criminal justice system is something that Americans should take pride in.
In contrast, of course, is the Pentagons shameful attempt to circumvent and sabotage our criminal justice system, both with respect to its Guantanamo gulag and its bald-faced claim of power to arrest and punish any American and any foreigner suspected of terrorism without federal court interference and without due process of law. The Pentagon set up its Guantanamo gulag for the precise purpose of avoiding the U.S. Constitution and the jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court. And its indefinite incarceration and denial of due process of accused terrorists Jose Padilla, Yaser Hamdi, and Ali al-Marri, along with countless foreigners, continues to be a Soviet-like stain on our heritage of liberty, law, and due process.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Army intelligence officials in Iraq developed and circulated wish lists of harsh interrogation techniques they hoped to use on detainees in August 2003, including tactics such as low-voltage electrocution, blows with phone books and using dogs and snakes — suggestions that some soldiers believed spawned abuse and illegal interrogations.
One important thing to keep in mind is that these military people wished to employ these techniques against people who were entirely innocent. The Iraqi people were innocent in the sense that none of them had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks against the American people. They were also innocent in the sense that their government had not attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. The very worst thing that the Iraqi people could be accused of having done was resist an illegal invasion and war of aggression against their nation by the U.S. government and, moreover, many of the detainees swept up in the mass arrests were innocent of even that conduct.
Some questions arise here:
(1) What was it that so easily motivated U.S. military personnel to hate the Iraqi people to such a large extent that they wished to do these types of things to them?
(2) Why is there so little remorse or regret for the mistreatment, including killings, maiming, torture, and sex abuse of the Iraqi people, especially given the post-invasion discovery that their government had no WMD that was threatening the United States, as falsely alleged by U.S. officials prior to the invasion?
(3) Are U.S. military personnel capable of instantly hating and mistreating any people anywhere in the world upon orders to do so?
(4) How can the hatred and mistreatment of the Iraqi people be reconciled with a purported wish to liberate and democratize them?
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Last week we received a taste of what is in store if an economic and monetary collapse occurs. When asked about the rising price of gasoline, President Bush blamed it on Chinas growing appetite for crude oil. In other words, rising commodity prices have absolutely nothing to do with a plunging dollar which arises from out-of-control federal spending (and borrowing) to pay for massive welfare-warfare-state projects, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, drug war, war on terrorism, and the military adventure in Iraq to search for WMD and spread democracy. Its all the fault of those big, bad Chinese communists, not the good, innocent federal bureaucrats in Washington who love to spend other peoples hard-earned money. Oh well, at least Bush didnt blame rising commodity prices on the failure of free enterprise. No doubt hes saving that one for a real monetary or economic crisis. By the way, have you noticed how Bush and other conservatives are no longer crowing about how they supposedly brought down the Soviet Empire by causing it spend itself into national bankruptcy?
Monday, April 18, 2005
Until people took to the streets, U.S. officials were undoubtedly ecstatic over the situation in Ecuador.
A former military man who is now Ecuadors president, Lucio Gutierrez, had declared a state of emergency, which would be a dream-come-true for U.S. officials here in the United States as part of their war on terrorism. Gutierrez used his state of emergency to suspend civil liberties temporarily, of course including banning public demonstrations protesting his state of emergency decree.
Best of all, from a U.S. government standpoint, has been the presidents attack on the independence of the judiciary. Gutierrez fired all 31 justices on the Supreme Court when they issued some rulings against him, and replaced them with his cronies. Of course, if he had been smart he would have done what the U.S. president and the Pentagon did just establish torture centers offshore to avoid the law and the Supreme Court, like at Gitmo.
Echoing a favorite cry of U.S. officials, Gutierrez said it was now time for the nation to move on. Best of all was his statement, Beloved people of Ecuador, let’s now leave everything in God’s hands, which undoubtedly brought tears to the eyes of U.S. officials.
Pentagon officials undoubtedly burst with pride when Vice Adm. Victor Hugo Rosero, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, observed, “The state of emergency decree is not an attack on any citizen. It does not seek to pit brother against brother. Its only purpose is to recover the order and peace lost in these last days.”
The good news is that refusing to behave like the sheep Gutierrez thought they were, thousands of Ecuadorians took to the streets in violation of the presidents decree in order to protest against the decree. Although U.S. officials would undoubtedly consider the protestors to be terrorists and traitors for daring to oppose their government in a time of crisis and emergency, the courage of the people motivated Gutierrez to lift his state of emergency decree that he had imposed the day before.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
The Washington Post today has an article entitled Congresss Willingness to Tackle Deficit in Doubt.
Well, duh! Talk about stating the obvious!
But as we have long maintained here at FFF, the deficit is not the problem. The problem is federal spending. It is out of control and it is soaring to the sky. And the reason is that so much money is being spent on both the welfare state and the warfare state.
Congressmen know that all too many Americans simply refuse to consider abolishing their beloved welfare opiates, which include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, and corporate subsidies. Thats, in fact, why so many people unfortunately prefer to talk about reforming government programs rather than repealing them. It makes them feel good and makes them feel like theyre doing something about their problem. But even though it might make them feel good, the truth is that theyre not doing much good when they propose reforms of the welfare state. Reformed welfare-state programs will continue to entail out-of-control government spending.
Its no different with the warfare state. Congressmen are scared to death to take on the Pentagon, especially because of the ever-present threat to close down military bases in their district. The bases themselves provide a welfare narcotic that makes people in that community think that they could not survive without it.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Empire continues to expand its bases around the world and continues to engage in its military adventures, most notably in Iraq, which is sucking billions upon billions of dollars down countless military-industrial complex rat holes. But the Congress just keeps appropriating ever-increasing amounts of money, without a care in the world. The way they figure it is that its not their money anyway and that as long as it makes people feel good about such things as a U.S.-approved regime now running the Iraq, thats all that matters.
Meanwhile, U.S. debt continues to pile up higher and higher, with much of it being held in foreign hands. The dollar continues its slow decline in international markets. Few people save, not only because of taxes but also because of rising prices (which reflect the debasement of the dollar due to out of control federal spending) and also because U.S. officials have long taught the American people, especially in public schools, that spending, not saving, is the key to prosperity.
The question is not whether the welfare-warfare states chickens will come home to roost. The question is when they will do so. When that day comes, rest assured that the Washington Post and other mainstream publications will be carrying articles with the title, Free Enterprise Fails Again.
Friday, April 15, 2005
According to Knight Ridder, U.S. officials are refusing to permit certain Iraqis from coming to the United States. The Iraqis are those whose lives are now in danger as a result of having helped U.S. officials maintain their occupation of their country.
How can this be? I thought the (post-WMD) reason that the U.S. invaded Iraq was because of the love and concern that U.S. officials have for the Iraqi people rather than a desire to establish a U.S.-friendly regime in Iraq.
In other words, We love you but dont even think about coming to live in the United States because we dont love you that much. You stay there and well manifest our love for you by liberating your country with our bombs and missiles and bringing you a national election.
But actually, U.S. officials are saying that theyre actually doing it for the new Iraq so that the country doesnt lose the talent of all these fine people whose lives are now in danger. Arent U.S. officials so kind, benevolent, and selfless? Theyre thinking only of the well-being of the new Iraq, even to the point of being willing to risk the lives of the Iraqis who have faithfully served the occupation.
Meanwhile, accused Cuban terrorist Jose Posada Carriles, who is an old CIA anti-Castro favorite, and who is alleged to have brought down a Cuban airliner, killing all passengers on board, and who is suspected of involvement in a string of hotel bombings in Cuba that killed and injured several others, and who is wanted in Venezuela for the airline downing, recently entered the United States and is seeking political asylum. It will be interesting to see how the war on terrorism crowd treats Posada, given that the alleged acts of terrorism were committed against people from countries whose regimes are not team players in the U.S. Empires war on terrorism.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
The State of Connecticut is suing the federal government for requiring the state to spend millions of dollars in state taxpayer money in order to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind law. Connecticuts attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, says that the federal action is illegal and unconstitutional.
I wonder what planet Blumenthal has been living on. How can he not know that he who pays the piper calls the tune? As the Supreme Court put it in the famous case of Wickard v. Filburn, decided in 1942, It is hardly lack of due process for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes.
For decades, public-school officials all over the nation have lived in ecstasy over free money from the federal government. But they learned a long time ago what all federal welfare recipients, including regimes receiving U.S. foreign aid, have learned that federal money isnt free after all. It comes with one a tiny string attached with a note stating: You will do as we say.
Responding to the lawsuit with that special tone of arrogance that is common to federal bureaucrats, D.J. Nordquist, a federal Department of Education spokesman, said, It is very disappointing that officials in Connecticut are spending their time hiring lawyers while Connecticut’s students are suffering from one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation.”
Of course, its amusing to see state and federal bureaucrats battling each other. Whats even more amusing is that state and local bureaucrats, failing to realize that the reason education is in crisis is because state and local governments are in charge of it, continue to believe that federal bureaucrats, who make a mess out of every enterprise they run, are really going to help them solve their education woes.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
In a surprise visit to Iraq, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a point to lecture the new Iraqi officials on how to run a government. Warning the officials against incompetence and corruption, he said that he hoped that the government would include highly competent people who are not going to politicize security forces.
Reflecting the obeisant attitude that U.S. officials have come to expect from team players in the U.S. Empire or perhaps simply reflecting symptoms of the Stockholm Syndrome, Iraqi officials greeted Rumsfelds comments warmly, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Too bad. Wouldnt it have been nice if those Iraqi officials had instead replied to Rumsfelds lecture as follows:
Rummy, we Iraqis dont need lectures about competence and corruption from you or any other U.S. government official. You people in the U.S. government corruptly manipulated intelligence to justify invading our country for the sake of substituting a new regime here in Iraq one that would be obeisant and obedient to you so that you could keep permanent bases here in our country and permit your favorite companies to extract our countrys oil. Your invasion has produced the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people, many more innocent people killed in the U.S. on September 11. Yet, you and other U.S. government officials have been rewarded, praised, and promoted for your corrupt achievements. By the way, are your members of Congress, whom President Bush controls more completely than Saddam controlled his, still having their family members pockets lined with moolah? And would you please ask your competent and honest public officials what they did with the billions of dollars in Iraqi money that they put into their dirty little hands on that is now mysteriously unaccounted for? Please come back and see us in a few years.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
The biggest cost of President Bushs war on Iraq has, of course, been paid by those people who are now dead. The federal response is: Well, yeah, theyre dead but at least theres been a national election in Iraq.
Several years ago, I traveled to Cuba, a nation in which people have suffered under horrific tyranny, both political and economic (i.e., socialism). Suppose someone had brought me a 10-year-old child and handed me a gun and said, If you will kill this child, Fidel Castro will have a fair and honest national election in Cuba, monitored and enforced by U.S. troops.
I confess that I could not have killed that child even if I were 100 percent certain that it would have produced a fair and honest election in Cuba. Heck, I couldnt even do it if it were a 90-year-old man with terminal cancer.
Yet, isnt that what has happened in Iraq, given that the recent national election has now became the justification de jour for President Bushs invasion? But instead of killing only one child in return for the national election, there have been numerous children killed along with tens of thousands of innocent adults, all for the sake of a national election. Do you ever wonder what all those dead people would have said if they had been asked in advance whether theyd be willing to trade their lives for a national election in Iraq?
Americans might soon be witnessing another price for President Bushs war the financial cost. Proudly proclaiming that he hasnt raised taxes, what he and his Congress have done is remove all limits on federal spending. That means a debasement of the dollar, which were already seeing in terms of sky-high commodity prices, such as gasoline. By reducing the real purchasing power of peoples income through monetary debasement, the effect is exactly the same as a tax increase, only fraudulent. Moreover, if there is a run on the dollar by foreigners, especially those that the Bush administration is bashing, Americans are likely to witness a very interesting financial crisis. Of course, given that all-too-many Americans received their economics education from government-approved schoolteachers, all too many of them will immediately and blindly believe official explanations blaming the crisis on external forces (such as Big Oil), blocking out of their minds the adventure in Iraq, including its out of control federal spending, has played in the crisis.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Do you remember when conservatives used to say during the 1990s that the massive deaths of Iraqi children were due to the indifference of Saddam Hussein and not the Pentagons intentional destruction of water and sewage facilities followed by the brutal sanctions that prevented such facilities from being repaired? I wonder how they explain this excerpt from an article in yesterdays L.A. Times about the dilapidated condition of Iraqs water and sewage facilities under U.S. rule for the past two years:
Schoolchildren have to step over rancid brown puddles on their way to classrooms. Families swim in, fish and get their drinking water from the polluted Tigris and Euphrates rivers, leading to high rates of child mortality and water-borne illnesses.
Thats the way it was under more than a decade of those brutal sanctions, not surprisingly producing the infectious diseases that the Pentagon predicted would result when they intentionally bombed the water and sewage facilities during the Persian Gulf War, which ended up killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.
They sure cant blame the current high rates of child mortality and water-borne illnesses on Saddam Hussein, unless of course they point to their U.S.-installed Saddam look-alike, Ayad Allawi, who has been ruling Iraq with the same iron fist that Saddam ruled it, even killing mass numbers of insurgents resisting his regime.
For more on the sanctions and the many deaths of Iraqi children they caused and the bureaucratic games that U.S. bureaucrats intentionally played to prevent the Iraqis from repairing their facilities during the years that the children were dying, see the articles posted in the February 9, 2004 issue of FFF Email Update.
And dont forget that the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center were motivated in part by the sanctions and the deaths of the Iraqi children, not hatred for Americas freedom and values as U.S. officials maintain.
Saturday, April 9, 2005
Yesterday, I wrote in my article Regime Change Was an Immoral Excuse for War that U.S. foreign policy has always been based on whether a foreign ruler, whether democratically elected or not, is a team player within the vast expanse of the U.S. Empire. If the ruler plays ball with the U.S., then he receives U.S. government support. If he doesnt, then he needs to be ousted, in which case the excuse they come up with for ouster is WMD, drug dealing, liberation, democracy-spreading, etc. Examples of brutal dictators who have been team players are the shah of Iran, Musharraf of Pakistan, and Pinochet of Chile, all of whom are considered to have ruled over free societies because of their alliance with U.S. officials.
Another good example, of course, was Saddam Hussein. As long as he was a team player in the 1980s, he received financial and military support from the Empire and no U.S. official gave a hoot to how he treated the Iraqi people. Once he refused to play ball, his people needed to be liberated and have democracy imposed upon them.
Another good example is the U.S.-installed Allawi regime in Iraq. As the Washington Post points out today, it is engaging in the same brutal, deadly, tortuous treatment of the Iraqi people that Saddam engaged in. In other words, same treatment, but different dictator this time another U.S.-approved one.
And the U.S. governments response? It says it cant get involved in the matter because the Iraqi regime that it installed is now sovereign and supreme. So, the poor helpless U.S. occupation forces cant do anything to stop the Saddam-like treatment that the U.S.-installed dictatorship is engaged in but, at same time, steadfastly insists that it will stay in Iraq no matter what any Iraqi sovereign and supreme regime says to the contrary.
And when there is terrorist blowback for U.S. support of another in a long line of brutal dictators as part of U.S. foreign policy, we can hear the standard line from U.S. officials: They hate us for our freedom and values.
Friday, April 8, 2005
The most recent report about the CIAs bungling of the WMD information about Iraq is all bunk anyway. The point is not whether President Bush was innocently misled by erroneous intelligence about WMD, leading him to wage against Iraq. The point was that the real reason for invading Iraq was to secure the ouster of Saddam Hussein from power and replace him with a ruler who was more palatable to U.S. officials.
Bush obviously knew that the regime-change justification would not garner the quick support that he needed. So, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, he used the WMD justification to garner quick support from Americans, knowing that peoples fear would cause them to put their total faith in everything the president said. Bush undoubtedly expected to find and hoped to find at least some stashes of WMD that the U.S. had previously furnished Saddam. At that point, U.S. officials would have loudly and proudly proclaimed how they had saved America and the world from an imminent WMD attack from Saddam, even as they quickly installed a new U.S.-approved regime to rule Iraq.
By destroying all his WMD, Saddam foiled Bushs plan, resulting in a shift of justification to democracy spreading, which has now produced a regime that might prove to be less of a team player than Saddam was.
Thursday, April 7, 2005
Everybody is agog and aghast over the disclosure that Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLays wife and daughter received more than $500,000 of political donors money during the past few years.
What they fail to recognize is that this sort of thing is an inherent part of a political system that is based on the power to confiscate and redistribute wealth and regulate peoples activities. Despite all the campaign-finance reform or ethics legislation that is enacted, potential victims and beneficiaries of the socialistic welfare state and regulated society will always find it in their interest to figure out some way to benefit a member of Congress in the hope that it will pay off for them down the line.
Its what Donald Rumsfeld, who says that U.S. troops are killing and dying to bring democracy to Iraq, would call the messy or untidy aspects of democracy. Unfortunately, its more like the messy and untidy aspects of the socialistic welfare state and regulated society way of life.
By the way, the person who crafted the memo citing how intervention in the Schiavo case could bring political advantage to Republicans has been outed and has now resigned his position. Perhaps thats why Republicans have been silent and supine over the Pentagons and CIAs torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandalno political advantage there!
Wednesday, April 6, 2005
U.S. conservatives are remaining somewhat silent in the face of the widespread media analyses attributing the major role that John Paul II played in the demise of the Soviet Union. No, its not that conservatives dont still feel that Ronald Reagan also played a major role in bringing down the Soviet Union, its just that talking about how Reagan supposedly did it now produces severe discomfort for conservatives.
Why? The answer turns on the fact that the Pope inspired the Polish people to oppose Soviet domination on moral and spiritual grounds while Reagan, according to conservatives, caused Soviet officials to spend their nation into bankruptcy.
So, why would that make conservatives uncomfortable? Because they know that they are now pursuing the exact same out-of-control government spending policies that they say brought down the Soviet Union. Thus, to boast about how Reagan supposedly brought down the Soviet Union places conservatives in the uncomfortable position of having to explain why their big-government spending policies wont have the exact same result here in the United States.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005
Pentagon officials are undoubtedly smiling and cheering the attacks on the independence of the judicial branch of government, especially at the federal level. After all, dont forget what the Pentagon is fighting for in the Padilla and al-Marri and Guantanamo cases the power to arrest any American and any foreigner and punish him without federal court interference (even if such punishment consists of torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder).
Dont forget also that the only thing repeat: only thing standing in their way is the federal judiciary, especially given the silent and supine acquiescence of Congress to the Pentagons wrongful actions. So far the federal judiciary has said No to the Pentagon, declaring such actions in violation of the U.S. Constitution. But given that the Supreme Court buckled under pressure in 1937, overturning decisions holding Franklin Roosevelts socialist and fascist New Deal programs unconstitutional, Pentagon officials know full well that it could happen again. Thus even though some people might disagree with the Schiavo decision, they might come to rue the day they permitted opportunistic and power-lusting politicians and bureaucrats, especially military ones, to use the Schiavo decision as an excuse to weaken the independence of the judicial branch of government.
P.S. Regarding my recent blog exchange on the Schiavo case with a blogger named Eshaya Youkhana, who posts his blogs at PhilosophyNotes.com: Youkhana has posted a new blog acknowledging that my blog of yesterday cleared up a misunderstanding that he had about the libertarian nonaggression principle that is, that freedom entails the right to make any choices and engage in any activities, so long as the conduct is peaceful that is, in the sense that it they dont involve the initiation of force or fraud against other people and, of course, without their consent.
Although he now seems to understand the principle, Youkhanas newest blog nevertheless reflects that he still is having trouble applying it. He suggests that instead of specifically discussing unjustified homicide and mercy killing, suicide, and abortion, I addressed other issues, such as bungee jumping, mountain climbing, and smoking as well as welfare-state programs.
By explaining the nonaggression principle and then using various examples, I figured that it would be fairly easily to apply the principle to other examples. But Youkhama still doesnt understand how the libertarian nonaggression principle applies to unjustified homicide, mercy killing, suicide, and abortion.
Consider Youkhanas general category of unjustified homicide. The libertarian nonaggression principle prohibits the initiation of force or fraud against another human being. Unjustified homicide involves the initiation of force against another human being. Therefore, freedom does not entail the right to commit an unjustified homicide under libertarian principles.
On the other hand, since attempted suicide is destructive action taken against ones own self (as is smoking, drinking, drug abuse, etc.), people should be free to commit it without state punishment because it does not involve the initiation of force against another human being, just as the example I cited yesterday involving flogging ones own back. Again, thats not to say that at least some libertarians would not condemn the act as immoral.
What about mercy killing? If the intended victim hasnt consented to being killed, then it is an unjustified homicide under libertarian principles because it involves the initiation of force against another human being. On the other hand, if the victim requests to be killed, it falls into the category of voluntary action taken against ones self (i.e., attempted suicide) and, although considered immoral by at least some libertarians, falls into the category of freedom.
The issue of abortion has long split libertarians. Those libertarians who believe that life begins at conception (or before birth) believe that abortion is unjustified homicide (i.e., murder) because it involves the initiation of force against another human being. Libertarians who believe that life begins after birth believe otherwise because they feel that force is not being initiated against another human being.
Monday, April 4, 2005
I have recently had a blog exchange on the Schiavo case with a blogger, Eshaya Youkhana, whose blogs appear on an interesting Catholic website named PhilosophyNotes.com. In his most recent blog, Youkhana criticizes the following statement I made:
Ultimately, the true test of a free society is not whether people are free to make the popular or responsible choice with respect to peaceful choices. The test of a free society is whether people are free to make the unpopular or irresponsible choices, so long as their conduct is peaceful.
Youkhana incorrectly interprets my term peaceful to mean acts that disturb the public peace. Actually what I mean by the term is the non-initiation of force or fraud against another human being. Thus, the state should criminalize all actions that involve the initiation of force or fraud against others but not criminalize peaceful choices, even ones that adverse social consequences, including attempted suicide.
Suppose someones religion calls for him to flog himself until his back bleeds. This action would obviously involve force but since it is voluntarily imposed by a person on his own body, the state should not criminalize it. Moreover, such peaceful actions as smoking, drinking, and drug usage can have adverse effects on others, especially family members, but should not be criminalized because these types of choices go to the very essence of what freedom and free will are. The same holds true for such high-risk activity as bunjee-jumping and mountain climbing. If people in a society are not free to engage in peaceful choices, no matter how self-destructive and dangerous and no matter how adverse to others, people in that society cannot truly be considered free.
Youkhana suggests that the criminalization of bad peaceful acts will lead to a higher level of morality. On the contrary, the exact opposite happens. When the state prohibits people from making such choices, the conscience tends to atrophy. The way to achieve a higher sense of conscience in society is to free people to struggle with the peaceful choices that confront them as they travel from birth to death.
As an aside, this principle of freedom applies also to those areas where the state, through it welfare system, forces people to make the right decision with respect to helping others (i.e., Social Security, Medicare, foreign aid, etc.). Just as freedom and free will entail the right to make irresponsible or unpopular choices with respect to choices that do not involve the initiation of force against others, freedom and free will also entail the right with respect to do what one wants with their own money. Thats undoubtedly why Jesus did not summon Caesars agents when the young rich man made the wrong choice by declining Jesuss suggestion to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor.
Saturday, April 2, 2005
Army Captain Rogelio Maynulet, who was facing a 10-year sentence for assault with intent to commit manslaughter, walked out of court a free man free even from any further military service. According to local Iraqis, the man he killed was a garbage collector, who had been wounded by U.S. troops who had fired upon his car. To take him out of his misery, Maynulet just shot and killed him.
One interesting aspect of the case is why U.S. officials decided to charge the man simply with assault and not murder or manslaughter. Charging a person with assault with intent to commit a crime involves a significantly lighter punishment than charging him with actual murder or manslaughter.
Another interesting aspect is that there has been no outcry (so far) among the cowardly clowns in Congress against the verdict and judgment of the military tribunal. I suppose, however, that thats not too surprising, given the fact that Congress has lain silent and supine during the Pentagons torture, rape, sex abuse, and murder scandal. Anyway, how many American votes are likely to be garnered by coming to defense of an involuntarily terminated Iraqi man? And I suppose we also shouldnt forget that unlike the civil judiciary, the military can always retaliate by closing a base in a congressmans district.
Friday, April 1, 2005
President Bushs commission on WMD in Iraq has concluded that there were no WMD in Iraq and makes the same standard conservative conclusion: The system needs reform.
As we pointed out prior to the war, Bush and Cheney had already decided to invade Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein and replace him with a regime that would be more palatable to U.S. officials. Thats what U.S. foreign policy is all about. What they needed was a justification, in order to avoid being condemned for waging a war of aggression, a type of war punished by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.
They finally settled on WMD, figuring that this would be the fastest and easiest way to frighten the American people into supporting the invasion, no questions asked. It worked. While its easy to forget it now, during all the Saddam and his terrorists are coming to get us with a mushroom cloud talk, there is no doubt that millions of Americans were quivering and quaking and not daring to question anything these people were saying. Even Catholics, who had been repeatedly warned by the Pope that this war would constitute an unjust war under Catholic doctrine, took the position that they could safely disregard what the Pope said, set aside their consciences, and blindly put their faith in the pronouncements of Bush and Cheney.
The plan, of course, was to invade Iraq, find some WMD, and then have Bush and Cheney proclaim themselves heroes for saving America and the world, and then prepare for the next invasion for regime changeIran. After all, they knew that the U.S. was among the Western countries that had delivered the WMD to Saddam in the first place and so they figured that this justification, among all the possible ones for invading, would be a slam dunk, as CIA Director George Tenet put it.
What Bush and Cheney didnt count on, however, was that their pre-selected excuse for invading would disintegrate when it turned out that Saddam was telling the truth the entire time about the WMD and that it had been U.S. officials who had been lying.
That was when the primary justification for invading turned to spreading democracy, even though the American people had supported the invasion because of their fears of an imminent WMD attack. For Catholics, that made supporting the war even more problematic because spreading democracy would also have never have met the Catholic Churchs criteria for a just war.
The spreading democracy rationale was, of course, another lie especially given the U.S. governments ardent support of the military dictator of Pakistan who scoffs at and scorns democracy and for the U.S. governments callous disregard for the well-being of the Iraqi people, especially during the 1990s when the U.S. governments sanctions were contributing to the deaths of countless Iraqi children, to the callous indifference of U.S. officials.
The invasion and war of aggression against Iraq took the lives of countless innocent people. (The Iraqi dead were innocent in the sense that the Iraqis had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks and their government that had not attacked the United States). The mission, from the very beginning, was regime change dumping Saddam, a former friend and ally, and replacing him with a U.S. stooge regime. WMD and spreading democracy were the code words to garner support from the American people for an action that was punished at Nuremberg. Thats what U.S. foreign policy has been all about for decades. That is what it is still all about.