Two of the most important debates facing the American people involve two particular issues, one in domestic policy and one in foreign policy. Both debates are critically important because they entail diagnosing two major woes that are facing our country and arriving at correct solutions to resolve the problems.
The domestic debate, which I and many other libertarians have addressed several times in the past, involves the question of what has caused America’s economic woes.
One side — the statist side — claims that the problem lies in freedom and free enterprise.
The other side — the libertarian side — contends that our nation’s economic woes lies in the failure of the welfare-state, regulated-economy way of life that America has embraced since at least the 1930s.
The different diagnoses lead to two completely different solutions.
The statists say that since the problem is rooted in too much economic freedom and not enough regulation, the solution is to establish more government control over economic activity.
The libertarians say that since the problem is rooted in socialism and interventionism, the solution is to dismantle the welfare-state and regulatory programs (and the taxation funding them) and let genuine economic liberty reign.
The foreign policy debate involves the issue of what motivates people of Muslim faith to commit terrorist acts against the United States.
One side — the imperialist side — says that people of Muslim faith are motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values” and by religious principles in the Koran.
The other side — the libertarian side — holds that people of Muslim faith are motivated by anger over bad things that the U.S. government has done to Muslim people over the past several decades.
The imperialists say that since Muslims are set on killing Americans because of religious and cultural reasons, the U.S. government must send its military and paramilitary forces abroad to kill Islamic extremists before they make it to the United States and kill Americans.
The libertarians say that that’s crazy, not only because it is what fuels the anger and hatred in the first place, but also because it’s the sure-fire way to push ordinary Muslims into the arms of the extremists.
Over the weekend, there were two interesting videos posted on the Internet regarding motivation. One showed White House correspondent Helen Thomas asking a question at a White House briefing on the Detroit airline bomb incident. The other video showed the wife of the suicide bomber who killed several CIA agents in Afghanistan.
Thomas created significant discomfort within White House personnel by asking the question that no other White House correspondent dares ask: What is it that motivates the terrorists? When she pressed the question, you could almost sense the feeling of irritability in John Brennan, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, as he delivered the stock answer of the imperialists — that it’s all because the terrorists are motivated by a warped interpretation of Islam and just want to wreak death and destruction on Americans..
In other words, according to Brennan, anger against the United States in the Middle East has nothing to do with all the imperialist and interventionist actions that the U.S. government has been taking in that part of the world, and in Afghanistan, for the past several decades — the coups, assassinations, sanctions, embargoes, torture, support of brutal and corrupt dictatorships, rendition, torture, kidnappings, U.S. troops on Muslim holy lands, military invasions, occupations, no-fly zones, official indifference to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children from the sanctions, unconditional military and financial support of the Israeli government, and so forth. Presumably, Brennan would argue, with a straight face, that all that death, maiming, harm, humiliation, and destruction could not possibly be a factor in how people in that part of the world feel about America.
Yet, the other videotape that surfaced over the weekend — that of the wife of the suicide bomber who killed those CIA agents in Afghanistan — contradicts Brennan’s claim about motive. She says, “He was very disturbed. For example he was outraged over news that our sisters were raped at Abu Ghraib. He was constantly expressing his anger about the invasion of Muslim lands…. I think the war against America must goes on. We must oppose it as he tries to put the entire world under its sovereignty.”
The woman’s sentiments are no different from those expressed by the suicide bomber’s father, who told the New York Times: “Fighting the arrogant, unjust, haughty and tyrant American who kills civilians and innocent people makes the whole Islamic world hate America.”
Indeed, the suicide bomber himself left a video in which he stated that his attack was carried out in revenge for the 2009 [CIA] killing of the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.
While we’re on the subject of motive, perhaps we should ask two questions: (1) What is that motivates U.S. statists to blame America’s economic woes on “freedom and free enterprise” rather than on America’s 70-year experiment with welfare-statism and regulation. And (2) what is it that motivates U.S. imperialists to blame America’s foreign-policy woes on Muslims’ hatred for America’s cultural and religious values rather than on U.S. foreign policy?
It seems to me that the answer to those two questions is the same: If enough Americans figure out that we libertarians are right, the days of socialism, interventionism, and imperialism in America might well be numbered.