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

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With the welfare state cracking apart and with rising concerns among the citizenry about federal spending and debt, count on federal officials to provoke more overseas crises as a way to frighten people into rallying toward the government. It is an old tried-and-true trick that government officials use to distract people’s attention away from the problems government is causing and toward supporting the government’s efforts to keep people “safe.”

U.S. officials are not the only ones who have used this trick effectively. James Madison pointed out that officials in the Roman Empire did it too: “Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”

In the war on terrorism, fear is the coin of the realm. “Be afraid, be very afraid” has become the standard catcall of the statists.

One option, of course, is for the citizenry to resist the fearmongering and steadfastly oppose all governmental efforts to infringe liberty and privacy in the name of keeping people safe. The problem with that approach, however, is that it can be endless since the government can use its forces to provoke new overseas threats whenever it wants. It can do things constantly to keep the people afraid.

Therefore, the only real long-term solution is to dismantle America’s disastrous experiment with empire, interventionism, and a warfare state. That would entail an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing all the troops home from everywhere around the world and discharging them, closing most of the military bases here in the United States, ending all foreign aid, and ridding our nation of a standing army.

That was the type of nation — a constitutional republic — our American ancestors intended for America to be. By embracing empire and foreign interventionism (and a welfare state), America has deviated from the vision that the Founding Fathers had for our nation, and the results have been disastrous.

Think of the advantages that would accrue from the U.S. government’s exiting Afghanistan, Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East and the world, and from dismantling the entire U.S. military empire:

1. The biggest benefit would be that the threat of terrorism against the United States would evaporate. That’s where motive is so important. From the get-go, U.S. officials wanted Americans to believe that the 9/11 terrorists attacked America because they hated our freedom and values. Nonsense. The attacks were “blowback” or retaliation for the bad things the U.S. government was doing in the Middle East.

The empire-intervention crowd claims that the Empire must remain occupying Afghanistan indefinitely to ensure that the Taliban doesn’t regain power. They say that the Taliban might make Afghanistan into a haven for more 9/11-type terrorists.

But that’s just nonsense. For one thing, the U.S. didn’t attack Afghanistan because the Taliban were complicit in the 9/11 attacks. It attacked because the Taliban refused to unconditionally comply with President Bush’s demand to deliver bin Laden to the CIA.

Thus, the fear that drives statists to call for a permanent occupation of Afghanistan is that the Taliban must now be so angry over what the U.S. Empire did to them that they might want to retaliate by offering a base from which terrorists can initiate strikes against the United States.

But that’s just speculation and empire talk. There is no reason to believe that the Taliban will engage in such actions after the U.S. Empire exits the country. After all, do we see any terrorist strikes against Russia despite the fact that the Soviet Union wreaked untold death and destruction during its occupation of Afghanistan? Do we see any terrorist strikes against the United States by North Vietnamese people who lost friends and relatives from U.S. bombs and bullets during the Vietnam War?

Moreover, since terrorism against the United States is rooted in what the U.S. government is doing over there, once the U.S. government is no longer over there, there won’t be any more terrorist threat against the United States. In other words, what difference would it make if the Taliban were to announce Afghanistan as a haven for terrorists if nobody cared anymore about planning terrorist strikes against the United States?

Anyway, as we’ve seen time and time again, people who are determined to do harm to the United States can plan terrorist strikes from a hotel or house anywhere in the world. They don’t need an entire country to serve as a safe haven for them.

2. With the anger and hatred that gives rise to terrorism having dissipated, the entire war-on-terrorism edifice could be dismantled, beginning with the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security. Life could return to normal, without all the perpetual crises and fear-mongering.

3. An enormous amount of taxpayer money could be saved, perhaps as much as 1/3 of the federal budget.

When a person is stricken by cancer, it’s important to attack the source of the cancer cells. The same principle applies to when the body politic is attacked by cancer. The source of America’s cancer is the U.S. Empire. It’s time to attack the cancer at its source by bringing all the troops and contractors home now, dismantling Americas’ military empire, and ending its foreign policy of meddling and interference. That would go a long way toward restoring health to our nation, along with peace, prosperity, harmony, and normality.

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.