Monday, January 31, 2011
U.S.-Supported Tyranny in Egypt
Among the people who might be most disturbed about the popular revolts in the Middle East are public schoolteachers across America. No, not because they necessarily oppose popular uprisings against brutal dictatorships but rather because they’re likely to be hit by an uncomfortable question from their students.
“Ever since the first grade, we’ve been taught that the U.S. government is exceptional because it is a democracy-lover and a democracy-spreader. Now, all we’re seeing on television, the newspaper, and the Internet is that the U.S. government is the world’s most ardent supporter of dictatorships in the Middle East. Who is lying — our teachers or the press?”
The truthful answer would be: It’s the state that’s been lying. The popular revolts in the Middle East are exposing the lies, myths, and delusions that have long characterized U.S. foreign policy.
By now, everyone knows that the Egyptian people have been suffering under a brutal unelected dictatorship for some 30 years.
How has that dictatorship maintained its grip on power? Through its military, one of the largest in the world.
How did it build up its large military? Through U.S. military aid, paid for by money extracted by the IRS from American taxpayers.
If the revolt against the Egyptian dictatorship is violently suppressed by the Egyptian military, the tanks, bullets, tear gas, jet planes, bombs, and military personnel carriers used to do the killing will all have stamped on them “Made in the USA.”
One Egyptian citizen, Gamal Mohamed Manshawi, expressed it succinctly when he showed a Washington Post reporter smashed gas canisters and rubber bullets that had been fired by Egyptian police against the protestors:
“You see,” the 50-year-old lawyer said, displaying the items. On the bottom of each were the words, “Made in the USA.” “They are attacking us with American weapons,” he yelled as men gathered around him.
According to the New York Times, “Since the 1978 Camp David accords, the United States has given Egypt $35 billion in military aid, making it the largest recipient of conventional American military and economic aid after Israel.”
As Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch pointed out, “Egypt has been a police state for 30 years.” As the New York Times stated, “The officer corps of Egypt’s powerful military has been educated at defense colleges in the United States for 30 years. The Egyptian armed forces have about 1,000 American M1A1 Abrams tanks, which the United States allows to be built on Egyptian soil.”
It wasn’t a coincidence that when the protests broke out in Egypt, two dozen senior Egyptian military officials were visiting their counterparts in the Pentagon. The standing armies of the United States and Egypt have been closely working together for decades.
The American people are not only receiving a lesson in the realities of U.S. foreign policy in Egypt, they might also have the chance of seeing why America’s very own Founding Fathers opposed standing armies. The Founding Fathers understood that standing armies are the means by which tyrannical governments maintain ultimate control over the citizenry, especially when the economic situation turns sour owing to governmental policies. (Gun control is another method.) If the citizens protest what the government is doing to them, the government simply has the military kill them until the people quiet down. Just ask the Chinese people or the Iranian people.
In fact, Iranians know about this sort of thing first hand. In 1953, the CIA secretly engineered a coup that ousted their democratically elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, a man who was widely respected in the country and who had been named Time magazine’s Man of the Year. The CIA installed the Shah of Iran into power, who proceeded to rule the country with the same brutality and terror with which the U.S. –supported Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, has been ruling Egypt for the past 30 years. Torture. Indefinite detention. No elections. No dissent. Secret police. Centrally planned and controlled economy. High taxation and regulation. And all fully supported by the U.S. government.
That’s the way the U.S. Empire works and has worked for the past many decades. It supports brutal dictators who agree to do the bidding of the Empire in the international arena. If the United States needs votes in the United Nations, for example as part of a coalition of the willing to attack some Third World country, it knows it can count on the members of the Empire to deliver them. Or if it needs a prisoner to be tortured, it can count on its loyal dictators to do the torturing for it. Or if it needs to establish a secret dungeon to keep or even execute prisoners, it can call on one of its favorite dictatorial regimes. That’s why, in fact, U.S. officials love military dictators. The military types are much less squeamish about doing the nasty things that need to be done, and they’re much more willing to use force to maintain “order and stability” within the country.
Do you recall those CIA agents who were recently convicted in Italy for kidnapping a man in Milan? Guess where they took the kidnap victim to be tortured. You guessed right: Egypt. The CIA knows that Egypt’s police state has some of the best torturers and torture facilities in the world and officials who are eager to perform whatever torture services the Empire requests of them.
What does the dictator get out of this? He gets to stay in power, where he and his compatriots get to live lives of plenty with the plunder and loot that is extracted from the citizenry.
In 1979, after suffering 25 years of dictatorship under the Shah, much to the chagrin and anger of U.S. officials the Iranian people revolted against their U.S.-supported dictator, much as the Egyptians are now revolting against their U.S.-supported dictator.
U.S. officials are saying that the Egyptian people should not resort to violence. Why not? Isn’t that what the Declaration of Independence, which U.S. officials purport to uphold, states — that people have a right to resort to force to overthrow a tyrannical regime and institute new government? Why should the victims of tyranny have to continue having to submit to the torture, rapes, execution, dungeons, unreasonable searches, indefinite detentions, centrally planned economies, and high taxation and regulation that come with a police state? Why shouldn’t they resort to violence to resist tyranny? Isn’t that what British citizens did in 1776?
Friday, January 28, 2011
Speaking Drug-War Truth in the Border Patrol
A former Border Patrol agent, Bryan Gonzalez, has filed suit against his former employer. He’s alleging he was fired for pointing out that legalizing drugs would end drug-war violence in Mexico. The agent’s observation prompted an internal affairs investigation, which determined that Gonzalez held “personal views that were contrary to the core characteristics of Border Patrol agents, which are patriotism, dedication, and esprit de corps.”
Well, yeah! If drugs are legalized, then what does that do for all those Border Patrol agents whose jobs depend on the drug war? What is Gonzalez thinking? How can a Border Patrol agent advocate a policy that is going to hurt his fellow agents? What kind of esprit de corps is that?
And what about patriotism? In the eyes of the Border Patrol, patriotism means a undying fealty to the federal government and its policies, whatever they may be.
What about dedication? That means enforcing whatever laws the government enacts, without ever questioning their rightfulness, morality, or usefulness.
How many times have I pointed out that the two primary groups that support the drug war are the drug sellers and the drug-war enforcers? (Lots of times!) The drug war produces jobs, both for the drug dealers and the drug-war enforcers. Drug legalization would put the drug dealers out of business immediately. And without the drug dealers, why would we need to keep paying the drug-war enforcers for doing nothing?
Thus, the Border Patrol’s position is logical and rational. Its jobs depend on the drug war (and the war on immigrants). In the eyes of the Border Patrol, Gonzalez is a traitor for questioning a policy on which Border Patrol (and DEA, and cops, and sheriffs, and judges, and clerks) jobs depend. Oh, and let’s not forget the drug-war bribes that line the pockets of the drug-war enforcers. They add income too!
Gonzalez is right. The drug-war violence in Mexico — and, for that matter, here in the United States — is owing to the drug war. Legalize drugs and the violence comes to an end. So what if those drug-war-enforcement agents are put out to pasture. Taxpayers would be relieved of having to pay their salaries. And the agents losing their jobs would benefit in the long run because they then would get to spend their lives with peaceful, productive jobs rather than the violent, corrupt, dead-end jobs they currently have.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
How to Help Those Suffering Under Dictatorship
With big anti-dictator demonstrations in Egypt and Yemen in the wake of the Tunisian revolution that ousted the U.S.-supported dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, U.S. officials are in a tight spot. On the one hand, they clearly want to continue supporting the dictatorial regimes in Egypt and Yemen, just as they did in Tunisia. They call it supporting “stability and order” in their “war on terrorism.”
On the other hand, they want the American people to continue perceiving the U.S. Empire as a “democracy-spreader.” After all, don’t forget that one of the alternative rationales that the Empire used to justify its invasion of Iraq was to spread democracy, well, after supporting Saddam Hussein (a dictator) anddelivering to him those infamous WMDs that were also used to justify the invasion.
So, how should U.S. officials walk this fine line? If they continue supporting the dictators, including through the funneling of U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign aid into the coffers of the dictators, then if the citizenry prevail in the revolution, as they have in Tunisia, there’s a good chance that the new regime will resent the U.S. Empire.
On the other hand, if U.S. officials support an anti-dictator revolution, if the revolution fails the dictator won’t forget how the Empire abandoned him in his hour of need.
Oh, the trials and tribulations of the U.S. Empire. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for it.
I’ve got an idea. How about dismantling the Empire and having U.S. officials totally butt out of the internal affairs of other nations? That would mean the closure of all foreign U.S. bases (some 700-1000 in more than 100 countries), the termination of all foreign aid to every country, and the end of U.S. governmental interference with the internal politics of other nations.
What about foreign dictators? Leave them alone. That’s a matter for the people of those countries to deal with. Some will choose revolution, as in Tunisia. Others will choose to wait them out, as the Eastern European countries did during the Cold War. That’s their call, not the call of the U.S. government.
What about human rights in foreign countries? The U.S. government should lead the world by example, not impose its will on others, especially through force of arms. That means the closure of Guantanamo Bay and the end of torture, abuse, indefinite detention, kangaroo tribunals, denial of due process, assassination, executions, kidnapping, the war on terrorism, and the war on drugs.
At the same time, the U.S. government should lift all restrictions on the American people to travel and trade with people abroad. A good place to start would be the complete lifting of the cruel and inhumane embargo on the Cuban people, which also constitutes a grave assault on the economic liberty of the American people. Foreigners love Americans. They hate U.S. government officials. Rein in the government and free up the American people. What better way to spread diplomacy and ideas on democracy and liberty than that?
Is that all that can be done to help people suffering under dictatorship? No. Our American ancestors came up with another way: Open immigration. They let the word go forth to the people of the world: If you are suffering tyranny, oppression, or starvation, our government will not come to save you, especially with bombs, troops, or money. But if you have the desire and ability to escape your plight, know that there will always be at least one nation that will not repatriate you after you arrive: The United States of America. Isn’t that a much better and more moral way to help people than through death and destruction?
Today, the world is crying out for leadership in the area of freedom. Who better to lead the world out of its statist morass than the American people, whose heritage is based on individual liberty, free markets, civil liberties, and a constitutional republic? As people who yearn for freedom around the world begin to stir, let’s hope that the American people do too.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
How to Make America Exceptional Again
In his State of the Union address, President Obama raised the issue of tax cuts for the rich, one of the big battlegrounds between liberals and conservatives.
Conservatives: “Lower taxes for the rich! Make the cuts permanent!”
Liberals: “Raise taxes on the rich! Make the increases permanent!”
Do you see what I mean when I say that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between liberals and conservatives? They both believe that government should have the authority to determine how much money people should be permitted to keep out of their income. And they both believe that it’s the job of government to take care of people.
Or to put it another way, they believe that everyone’s income rightfully belongs to the government and that it is government’s job to determine how much an allowance each person will be permitted to have. The government keeps the rest and takes care of people with it.
It’s the paternalistic state in action. Sometimes our federal daddy needs more money to take care of people — here at home, or in Iraq or Afghanistan, or just some foreign dictator somewhere — and so the allowance he permits us to have is smaller. Sometimes our daddy doesn’t need so much, and our allowance is larger.
Oh, and don’t forget the fights waged between the adult-children over who gets a bigger share of the allowance money. The rich fight for a larger share. So do those in the middle class. The poor usually lack the resources to lobby Washington policymakers for a larger allowance.
It’s all one big, crooked, corrupt, immoral process by which large numbers of people are trying to get into other people’s pocketbooks, while doing their best to protect their own pocketbooks from being plundered.
Here’s the libertarian position: abolish the income tax and leave people free to keep everything they earn. That was the way of life adopted by the Founding Fathers. Americans lived without income taxation for more than 100 years. That way of life brought into existence the massive savings and capital that produced the wealthiest society in history.
Who would fund the welfare-state and regulatory programs without income taxation? There would be no welfare-state and regulatory programs to fund. They would all be abolished. None of this socialist, interventionist junk can be reconciled with the principles of a free society, with the principles of morality, or with the principles of genuine charity. The welfare-state programs are legalized stealing. The regulatory programs impede people’s ability to pursue happiness in their own way.
For more than 100 years, Americans lived under the concept of voluntary charity. People were free to use their own money the way they chose. No one was forced to help the poor. There was no Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, welfare, foreign aid, SBA loans, FDIC, education grants, farms subsidies, or any other such things.
And guess what: When people were free to keep everything they earned, the result was not only the most prosperous nation in history, it was also the most charitable nation in history. That was how America’s churches, museums, and opera houses got built — voluntarily. That’s what genuine charity is all about — voluntary choices, not IRS-coerced ones.
There was no federal drug war, OSHA, SEC, minimum wage laws, price controls, licensing, or other regulatory nonsense. Americans depended on the free market to serve as a natural regulator. When government didn’t serve as people’s daddy, such things as self-reliance, responsibility, and education were nurtured and developed.
There were no foreign military bases. No military-industrial complex. No CIA. No invasions and occupations. No wars of aggression. No standing army. No torture, secret prison camps, and kangaroo tribunals.
Obama wants to restore America’s greatness — to prosperity, creativity, ingenuity, charity. The problem is that he wants the federal government to be in charge of the project. Like so many other statists around the world, Obama fails to realize that his philosophy — statism — precludes the achievement of his goal.
The only way to restore America’s greatness is to restore economic liberty to our land, which means reining in the government and liberating the people. That necessarily entails taking the tax-cut, spending-cut debate to a higher level — to the repeal of the income tax and a dismantling of the welfare-warfare state way of life. Returning to America’s founding principles is the way to make America exceptional once again.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Eisenhower and the Danger of a Military Coup
People are commemorating the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address in which he warned Americans about the dangers posed by the military-industrial complex. However, while the commentators are focusing on the obvious impact that the military-industrial complex has on American life — i.e., the out-of-control federal spending, the widespread dependency of the private sector on military spending, the dependency of U.S. cities on military bases, and ever-present crises and threats that are used to expand the power and influence of the military — most everyone seems to be studiously avoiding another danger that Eisenhower may have had in mind: the threat of a military coup here inside the United States.
Look at the words that Eisenhower used:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
If Eisenhower had meant to say “endanger our economic system or monetary system,” it seems to me that he would have said that. He didn’t. He instead said, “endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”
What more direct danger of a threat to our liberties or democratic processes than a military coup?
For that matter, who better than Ike to know about the danger of a military coup by the military-industrial complex and the CIA? Near the beginning of his term, he authorized the CIA to instigate a coup in Iran in 1953, one that succeeded in ousting the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, and replacing him with the unelected dictator the Shah of Iran, who proceeded to brutally rule the country until he was ousted from power in the Iranian revolution in 1979.
One year after that successful coup, Eisenhower authorized the CIA to engage in another one, this time in Guatemala, where the CIA succeeded in ousting that country’s democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, and replacing him with a brutal unelected military general. That coup succeeded in throwing the country into a civil war that ended up killing hundreds of thousands of people.
Just prior to his Farewell Address, Ike authorized the CIA and the Pentagon to plan a regime-change operation for Cuba, one that would oust Cuba’s new president, Fidel Castro, from power and replace him with a U.S.-approved ruler. It was Ike who initially approved the planning of what later became the Bay of Pigs disaster under Kennedy.
Was Ike contemplating the danger of a military or CIA coup when he referred to the danger that the military-industrial complex posed to our liberties and democratic processes?
Well, one thing is for sure: Ike’s successor sure contemplated it. After reading the novel Seven Days in May, which posited a coup attempt by the U.S. military to oust the president from office on the ground of national security, Kennedy recommended that the novel be made into a movie to warn Americans that such a possibility was a very real danger here in the United States. Here is aninteresting, short video featuring American historian Arthur Schlesinger detailing why JFK wanted the novel to be made into a movie. Or click here for a Google list of articles under a combined search for “Seven Days in May” and “Kennedy.”
Is there any danger of a military coup today? Of course not. The mindset of every single president since Kennedy — LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama — has mirrored that of the military and the CIA: that the national security of the United States depends on an expansive and ever-growing military establishment and CIA, under the rubric of “defense” of course. Thus, there would be no reason for the military and the CIA to oust a president whose policies posed no danger to the military and the CIA or to national security.
But what would happen, say, if a president came into power with the aim of not only reducing military spending but actually dismantling the hundreds of overseas military bases, bringing all the troops home and discharging them, closing the thousands of domestic military bases, repealing the National Security Act of 1947, abolishing the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and ending the standing army.
Then, it seems to me that all bets would be off and that Eisenhower’s and Kennedy’s concerns could become a reality.
After all, what would happen today if President Obama were to recommend, say, a 30 percent cut in military and CIA spending to avoid the danger of national bankruptcy? Wouldn’t both the military and the CIA immediately claim that this would be a serious threat to national security, given the perpetual war on terrorism and, recently, the resurgence of the communist threat from North Korea and China? And don’t forget Iran or, for that matter, Cuba itself, which is still ruled by that old Cold War nemesis Fidel Castro.
If military and CIA officials would consider a cut in military spending to be a threat to national security, think how they would react to a complete paradigm shift in which the military-industrial complex and the CIA would be completely demolished. There can be no doubt that they would consider such actions to be akin to surrendering America to the terrorists and to the communists.
Keep in mind that these people consider themselves to be the ultimate guardians of America’s national security. Presidents come and go. They only have 4-year terms. But the Pentagon and the CIA, the ultimate guardians of America’s national security, are permanent.
So, what would happen if the Pentagon and the CIA were faced with a situation in which the American people had made a mistake by electing the wrong person to office, a person whose naivety was leading America down the road to disarmament and surrender to either the terrorists or the communists — a person whose policies would almost certainly lead a communist or terrorist takeover of America.
Would the military and the CIA, the ultimate guardians of national security, simply stand aside and let it happen? How often have we heard the dictum, “The Constitution is not a suicide pact”? What they mean by that dictum is that if it’s necessary to violate the Constitution to save the nation, then so be it.
Even today, we hear statists justifying the U.S.-supported coups in Guatemala and Chile (1973) by saying that the coups were necessary and beneficial because they saved both countries from a communist takeover. If the military and the CIA were convinced that a president’s policies were taking the United States to the same result, would they stand aside and simply let it happen or would they do what they did in Iran and Guatemala and tried to do in Cuba to protect our nation’s existence and national security?
Interestingly, a month after Kennedy was assassinated, former President Harry Truman wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post stating that when he brought the CIA into existence with the National Security Act of 1947, he had assumed that the CIA would simply be an intelligence-gathering agency. Instead, it had grown into a “symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue — and a subject of cold war enemy propaganda.” Truman stated, “We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”
Of course, by that time Truman had long been out of office and, thus, presented no threat to the military-industrial complex and CIA. In fact, at the time Truman wrote his op-ed — December 1963 — America’s new president, Lyndon Johnson, was already working closely with the Pentagon and the CIA to get America actively involved in the Vietnam War, a war that would ultimately take the lives of some 58,000 American men, justified under the rationale of protecting the national security of the United States from a communist takeover.
Perhaps what Ike, Kennedy, and Truman were saying was that the military-industrial complex and the CIA had now become permanent features of American life and that the American people had simply better get used to it. Given the conviction of military and CIA officials that America’s national security depends on the existence of the military-industrial complex and CIA, any president who would threaten national security by attempting to dismantle the military-industrial complex and CIA would face the danger to our liberties and democratic processes to which Eisenhower referred in this Farewell Address.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Trade Deficit Blues
Ever since the Christmas holidays, I have been unable to sleep. Every night I pace the floors in anxiety. The cause of my concerns? My purchase of a Christmas present for myself — an easy chair. No, it’s not guilt over my new comfort that is causing my distress. Rather it’s the fact that there is now an imbalance of trade between me and the company from which I purchased the chair.
You see, all my life I’ve been taught that an imbalance of trade is something really bad, something to be dreaded. So, here I went and spent hundreds of dollars on an easy chair from a retail company here in Virginia. Yet, at no time since then has that company purchased anything from me. We now have a serious imbalance of trade and there doesn’t seem to be any possibility that such imbalance is going to be rectified anytime soon.
In fact, if truth be told, that’s not the only reason I am now so nervous. While obsessing over the trade deficit between me and that chair company, I concluded that there must be an imbalance of trade between Virginia and Florida. Now, mind you, I don’t know which state is on the favorable end of the trade imbalance and which is on the unfavorable end. I just am certain that there has as to be an imbalance of trade between the two states.
My hunch is that given the popularity of Disney World, it is Florida that is winning out. But since I am an American, I’m concerned for whichever state happens to be on the losing end of the trade deficit, even if it’s Florida. Something has to be done to rectify the trade imbalance between our respective states. Isn’t it possible that the state on the losing end could be drained of all its wealth if the trade imbalance between the two states is allowed to worsen?
In fact, I’m shocked that the mainstream media doesn’t even report on the trade imbalance between Virginia and Florida on the front page of the newspaper. They seem to recognize how serious and how dangerous an international trade imbalance can be. After all, they never cease reminding us of the horrible dangers to America arising from the trade deficit with China.
I do find it interesting that the mainstream media never seems to be too concerned about those countries with which the United States has a favorable balance of trade. You’d think the media would be concerned about the people in those countries. But I suppose that since the mainstream media is composed of Americans, they’re only concerned with countries that are beating us, not the countries that we are defeating, in the never-ending trade war between nations.
Needless to say, all of above is written in the spirit of ridicule. The so-called trade imbalance is one of the most ridiculous notions that have ever been conceived. I don’t really pace the floors over the fact that the chair store and I have a trade imbalance, and I couldn’t care less about the trade imbalance between Virginia and Florida. For that matter, I couldn’t care less about the trade imbalance between China and the United States, or the trade imbalance between the United States and any other country, favorable or unfavorable. I just don’t care about trade imbalances.
Suppose the federal agency that reports trade data were to be abolished and that Americans were no longer kept apprised of the trade statistics between China and the United States. It would be the best thing that could ever happen. No longer would statist economists, public officials, and the mainstream media lose sleep over the trade deficit between the two countries. No longer would they be pacing the floors, night after night, worrying about what to do about the trade deficit.
Without all that trade data, the attitude toward trade between nations would be the same as it is between me and the chair company or between Virginia and Florida. No one would care. People would simply live their lives as they ordinarily do, making their purchases and conducting their businesses. Neither China nor the United States would fall into economic collapse over a trade deficit any more than Virginia or Florida (or any other states) fall into economic collapse owing to their trade deficit.
What really matters is the concept of economic liberty. Americans (and everyone else) should be free to buy whatever they want from whomever they want and spend or invest their money anywhere they want. It’s their money, after all. It doesn’t belong to the state or to society.
Forget the trade deficit between me and that chair company, between Virginia and Florida and between every other state, and between the United States and every other country. Forget international trade negotiations and treaties. Instead, just unilaterally repeal and dismantle every restriction on the freedom of the American people to dispose of their own money the way they wish. It doesn’t matter whether trade between individuals, states, or nations balances or not. All that matters is the fundamental, natural, God-given right of people to freely trade with others anywhere in the world.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Bringing Up Hitler
Yes, I know that American statists hate it when someone brings up Hitler in the context of U.S. government policies. But it seems to be that bringing up Hitler can sometimes be instructive, especially given his historical role as a benchmark for evil.
That’s not to suggest that every single thing that Hitler ever did was evil, but it seems to me that if the U.S. government is doing something that Hitler did, that ought to at least raise some red flags in the minds of the American people.
For example, consider such things as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, economic regulations, government-business partnerships, welfare, and a big military-industrial complex. Hitler loved those things, and they were core elements of his National Socialist program.
That shouldn’t surprise anyone, at least with respect to the welfare state. As most Germans undoubtedly know, welfare-state programs originated among German socialists in the late 1800s, and they were incorporated into Germany’s political system by Otto von Bismarck, who was known as the Iron Chancellor of Germany. The welfare-state ideas were later imported into the United States and became core elements of America’s political system during the Franklin Roosevelt administration.
Perhaps that’s why American statists hate it when someone brings up Hitler in the context of U.S. government policies. They fear that Americans, upon learning that Hitler embraced welfare-state programs and regulatory programs, might begin questioning the moral legitimacy of such programs. At the very least, Americans might begin realizing what Hitler and the German people realized: that welfare-state programs are socialist in nature and origin, not free-enterprise.
Another thing about Hitler was his appreciation for how crises could be used to centralize and expand the power of the state. The best example of that was the terrorist attack that became known as the Reichstag Fire, when terrorists fire-bombed the German parliament building. For the Germans, the Reichstag Fire was considered as big an event as the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Hitler didn’t skip a beat. His people charged and prosecuted several people who they believed had conspired to commit the attack. To their surprise, the courts acquitted some of the defendants, which motivated Hitler to organize a special court known as the People’s Court to try people accused of terrorism in the future, to ensure that suspected terrorists would never again be acquitted by the regular German courts.
Hitler also seized on the terrorist crisis to seek a temporary suspension of civil liberties from the Reichstag. After all, he argued, adherence to the protection of civil liberties might enable the terrorists to win their war on Germany. By suspending civil liberties, he argued, Germany could win the war on terrorism, after which civil liberties could be restored.
In the process, Hitler had an advantage. He was actually able to present two official enemies to achieve his goal — terrorism and communism. Not only was one of the Reichstag terrorists a communist, every German knew of the threat to Germany posed by the Soviet Union.
The Reichstag granted Hitler’s request for a temporary suspension of civil liberties. Equally important, Hitler was able to use the twin crises of communism and terrorism to support ever-growing expenditures on the German military and German military-industrial complex.
Ironically, after opposing Hitler in World War II, the U.S. government adopted one of Hitler’s twin threats — the Soviet Union — to justify an enormous and ever-growing peacetime military establishment and a military-industrial complex in the United States. Equally ironic was the fact that the Soviet Union had served as a partner of the U.S. government in its battle against the Nazis in World War II.
In fact, to this day many American interventionists still celebrate the fact that World War II was a great victory because “we” won control over Eastern Europe from the Nazis, with the “we” meaning “our” ally, the Soviet Union. Also ironic is the fact that the U.S. government enlisted Nazis to help it fight its new cold war against Hitler’s old enemy and the U.S. government’s old ally, the Soviet Union.
When the Soviet communist threat came to an end many decades later, interventionist policies of the U.S. government in the Middle East produced, ironically, the other threat that Hitler had relied upon to centralize and expand the powers of the state, build up the military, and suspend civil liberties: terrorism. With the 9/11 attacks the U.S. government declared war on the same enemy that Hitler had declared war on after the Reichstag fire — a war on terrorism.
Ironically, however, unlike Hitler President Bush didn’t even bother going to the Congress to seek permission to suspend civil liberties. He and the Pentagon simply held that since we are now at war against illegal enemy combatants known as terrorists, they didn’t need legislative approval to suspend civil liberties, establish overseas prison camps, suspend habeas corpus, torture people, and deny people fundamental rights and guarantees.
In the process, the irony was that U.S. officials did the same thing Hitler did — use the terrorist threat to justify ever-increasing expenditures for the military and the military-industrial complex.
They also used the war on terrorism to wage an undeclared war of aggression on Iraq, a country that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. Ironically, a war of aggression had been declared a war crime at Nuremberg.
They also established a special Pentagon judicial system for trying accused terrorists that, ironically, bears a remarkable similarity to Hitler’s special court for trying accused terrorists that he established after some of the Reichstag Fire defendants had been acquitted in the regular German courts.
Recently, the Pentagon and U.S. interventionists have been forewarning us about the growing threat from the Chinese communists and the North Korean communists, which, not surprisingly, they are using to justify ever-increasing spending on the military and the military-industrial complex.
Isn’t that ironic? We’re now at a point where the U.S. government is supposedly faced with the twin threats that Hitler was faced with — terrorism and communism. Equally ironic, those twin threats are being used to justify the same three things that Hitler achieved: a suspension of civil liberties, an ever-growing military and military-industrial complex, and a specially created judicial system that will guarantee convictions for accused terrorists.
Would it be inappropriate to bring up Santayana while bringing up Hitler? “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I had a great time on Judge Napolitano’s Freedom Watch last night. It’s refreshing to see a libertarian talk show host, especially on a conservative television network, who recognizes the realities of U.S. foreign policy and the benefits of transparency in government. We talked about the revolution in Tunisia, the U.S. government’s support of the Tunisian dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and the role that the WikiLeaks leaks played in triggering the revolution.
The entire episode is fascinating because it truly encapsulates the reality of U.S. foreign policy, especially its brutality and hypocrisy.
Until a few days ago, Tunisia was ruled by a brutal dictator who had been in power for 23 years. His police and military forces terrorized and brutalized the Tunisian people, especially during the past 10 years under the guise of waging the “war on terrorism” in partnership with the U.S. Empire.
Yes, the U.S. government considered this brutal dictator to be one of its loyal partners in its global “war on terrorism.” Why is that? By oppressing his own people, Ben Ali was bringing what the U.S. government considers to be “stability and order” to Tunisia. Those Tunisians who resisted the oppression were considered “terrorists” and were treated like terrorists. The U.S. government was pleased with how the Tunisian dictator handled things within his country because the U.S. government doesn’t like terrorists.
The problem was that the Tunisian people didn’t like this U.S.-supported dictatorship. And they didn’t consider themselves terrorists simply because they opposed the brutality of their country’s dictatorship. Reading about Ben Ali’s corruption in the WikiLeaks leaks triggered the revolution that ended up bringing an end to Ben Ali’s dictatorship.
There are at least two amusing aspects to the revolution. One is that U.S. officials have now been put in the position of ostensibly standing with the revolutionaries and against their long-time friend, partner, and ally, the dictator Ben Ali. Of course, it’s all a charade because the last thing U.S. officials desired was the ouster of a dictator whom they had come to rely on and trust as a friend and as a partner in their war on terrorism.
The other amusing thing is that some neocons are actually now saying that President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq is what has triggered the Tunisian revolution. How do they explain the U.S. Empire’s support of Ben Ali as a loyal partner in the war on terrorism? They don’t. They just block that out of their minds, much as they block out of their minds the U.S. Empire’s support of Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and a host of current dictators in the Middle East.
The neocons are also blocking out of their minds that the Tunisian revolution shows that people in the Middle East are fully capable of ousting dictators without military intervention by the U.S. Empire. In fact, even though some lives have been lost in the Tunisian revolution, the number pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of people killed, maimed, and tortured by the U.S. government in its invasion and occupation of Iraq, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children that the U.S. government killed with its sanctions in the decade prior to its invasion..
As I have long pointed out, the ouster of its former partner and ally Saddam Hussein was no more the business of the U.S. government than was the ouster of its partner and ally Ben Ali in Tunisia. The ouster of Saddam Hussein was the business of the Iraqi people just as the ouster of Ben Ali was the business of the Tunisian people.
The Tunisian affair brings to mind what the U.S. government did to the people of Iran. You’ll recall that in 1953 the CIA ousted the democratically elected prime minister of Iran from power in a secret coup, replacing him with the Shah of Iran, who became a loyal and trusted partner of the U.S. government, just like the dictator of Tunisia. And just Tunisia’s Ben Ali, the Shah of Iran ran his country with a brutal hand, terrorizing and tyrannizing his people, with the full support of the U.S. government.
In 1979 — after some 25 years of U.S.-supported tyranny in Iran — the Iranian people revolted against the U.S.-supported dictatorship that the CIA had installed, just as the Tunisian people finally revolted against their 23-year U.S.-supported dictatorship. When the Iranian revolutionaries took U.S. diplomats hostage in anger over what the U.S. government had done, the reaction of U.S. officials was predictable: “We’re innocent! We’re innocent! These are terrorists who hate us for our freedom and values.” That was nonsense. They were no more innocent that the dictator they had installed and supported for so long.
This time, in Tunisia, U.S. officials are singing a different tune. Quickly abandoning their loyalty to their longtime war-on-terrorism partner and ally, U.S. officials are now proclaiming that they’re on the side of the Tunisian revolutionaries. Never mind that U.S. officials are still going after Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and WikiLeaks with a vengeance notwithstanding that it was the WikiLeaks leaks that triggered the revolutionary that U.S. officials are now ostensibly celebrating.
U.S. officials are no doubt hoping that the Tunisian people forget the U.S. Empire’s longtime support of their dictator. One thing’s for sure: If some Tunisian retaliates against the United States for the 23 years of U.S.-supported dictatorship in Tunisia, U.S. officials will immediately respond with, “We’re innocent! We’re innocent! The terrorists hate us for our freedom and values.”
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The Big Kingdom
If you want to get a sense of why foreigners hate the U.S. Empire for its arrogance, elitism, and pomposity, just take a look at the following two editorials by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Yes, I know that these two newspapers are not owned and operated by the U.S. government but the mindset expressed by the editorial writers easily mirrors that of Empire officials. The two editorials address China and, specifically, the upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., by China’s president, Hu Jintao.
According to the Times, one of the reasons that Hu is coming to the United States is to seek respect. The Times says that “what will earn China respect as a major power is if it behaves responsibly.” The thought is also expressed by theJournal: “A China that understands that to be treated as an equal it must behave like one is a country whose progress will not be obstructed.”
This is the idea: The world is ruled and presided over by a grand, glorious, and exceptional Big Kingdom, one that is committed to spreading freedom and democracy around the world, through force of arms if necessary — e.g., coups, assassinations, kidnapping, torture, invasions, embargoes, sanctions, foreign aid, and occupations.
All other kingdoms are small kingdoms that are subordinate to the Big Kingdom. When the kings who rule over the small kingdoms begin rising in prosperity and power, it is incumbent on them to travel to the Big Kingdom seeking respect and requesting permission to continue rising in stature and influence. The respect and permission will be granted only if the small kingdom acknowledges its subservience and obedience to the Big Kingdom.
Needless to say, the Big Kingdom can do no wrong. It’s only the small kingdoms that can do wrong, especially by operating independently of the Big Kingdom. That sort of conduct subjects the small kingdom to harsh treatment. If the small kingdom has a weak military, it will be disciplined with such things as coups, assassinations, sanctions, embargoes, invasions, occupations, kidnapping, and torture. If, on the other hand, the small kingdom has a strong military, the penalty will be the denial of respect to the small kingdom.
The Times says that President Obama needs to raise the issue of human rights with China. No doubt that China’s communist regime is one of the most tyrannical regimes on the planet. But what would the Times say if Hu were to ask Obama about the kidnapping, torture, indefinite detentions, denial of due process, denial of trial by jury, and denial of speedy trial for prisoners at Gitmo, Bagram, and secret U.S. prisons around the world, including in former Soviet-bloc countries? What if he were to ask Obama about the U.S. military’s treatment of Afghans and Iraqis during the past 10 years of brutal military occupation? What if he were to ask why Obama refuses to extradite convicted CIA felons to Italy, where they have been convicted of kidnaping and conspiracy to torture? What if Hu were to ask Obama why he refuses to extradite CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela to face charges relating to the terrorist bombing of a Cuban airliner?
I’ll tell you how the Times and Journal would respond. They’d both go ballistic, screaming that no small kingdom within the realm has the right to speak to the Big Kingdom in such a manner. They both would say, “Punish China for such disrespectful and insubordinate conduct. Deny China the respect it seeks.”
According the Times, “Mr. Obama has made clear that he won’t stand by while China tries to bully its neighbors.”
While on the subject of bullying neighbors, did the Times mention the 50-year-old U.S. embargo against Cuba? Well, of course not. You see, that’s not bullying. That’s punishing the people of a small kingdom whose ruler does not show sufficient deference to the Big Kingdom. Thus, when Fidel Castro refused to kneel before the officials of the Big Kingdom and kiss their rings, he was denied respect and his country was placed under a cruel and brutal embargo — unlike, say, communist Vietnam or communist China, which are not suffering embargoes and whose rulers apparently have shown the necessary deference to the Big Kingdom.
Or consider what happened to the small kingdom of Yemen, when it went independent on the eve of the Iraq War by declining to vote to authorize President Bush’s war on the small kingdom of Iraq arising from the insubordinate actions of Saddam Hussein, who previously had been in the good graces of the Big Kingdom. As a result of its insubordination, Yemen lost $70 million in foreign aid from the Big Kingdom. As the U.S. ambassador to Yemen told Yemeni officials at the time, “That will be the most expensive vote you would ever cast.”
Hey, that’s not bullying! That’s simply disciplining small kingdoms who fail to do what they’re told.
The Times also takes China to task for “its recent challenge to American naval supremacy in the western Pacific.” Did you catch that? Not “in the Gulf of Mexico” and not “in waters near the U.S. coastlines.” Since the job of the Big Kingdom is to monitor, supervise, and police the world, all of the small kingdoms are expected to maintain a limited and deferential military buildup in their respective areas. If the subordinate kingdoms begin building up their militaries without permission of the Big Kingdom, that is a sure sign that they are getting uppity, assertive, and aggressive and, therefore, need to be put in their place, perhaps even by denying them respect.
Of course, all this insubordination on the part of China means that that the budget for the Pentagon and the CIA must continue to soar forever. What better excuse for ever-increasing military budgets than insubordination by the small kingdoms within the realm?
No wonder foreigners despise the U.S. Empire. No wonder our American ancestors despised the British Empire and instituted a republic rather than an empire. As people in different parts of the world begin challenging the authoritarian regimes under which they have been born and raised, it’s time for modern-day Americans to begin challenging the paradigm of empire and militarism under we have been born and raised in favor of restoring a limited-government, constitutional republic to our land.
Monday, January 17, 2011
WikiLeaks and the U.S.-Supported Dictatorship in Tunisia
What has happened in Tunisia provides a perfect encapsulation of U.S. foreign policy and why U.S. officials are so angry over the WikiLeaks leaks.
According to the New York Times, some of the WikiLeaks cables “make it clear just how much United States officials, preoccupied with the threat of terrorism in many other Muslim countries, valued Mr. Ben Ali’s cooperation and ability to maintain order.”
And who was Mr. Ben Ali? He was the dictator who the people of Tunisia have just ousted from power in a revolution. Yes, a dictator, one who had been in power for 23 years.
“Impossible!” American statists say. “It’s just not possible that the U.S. government would ever be supporting a dictator! In my public schools, we were taught — it was ingrained in us — that the U.S. government is exceptional. It only favors democracy. In fact, didn’t the U.S. government invade Iraq to spread democracy, well, at least after those infamous WMDs failed to materialize?”
That’s the myth, one that we here at The Future of Freedom Foundation have been piercing for 21 years. It’s one of the myths that is inculcated in American schoolchildren from the time they’re six years and continuing regularly thereafter.
The truth is that the U.S. government loves dictatorships, especially military ones, at least when the dictator is considered a loyal member of the U.S. Empire. Whenever a dictator goes independent, he immediately becomes a target for regime change, one in which the recalcitrant dictator is replaced with a compliant dictator, one that maintains “order and stability” within his country, even if that means employing terror and torture to accomplish it.
Look at Saddam Hussein. He was a dictator. The U.S. government loved him and partnered with him to kill Iranians. But when Saddam went independent, he became the target of regime change.
Look at the Iranian prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. He was democratically elected and was independent of U.S. control. The CIA targeted him for regime change, and the operation was successful. He was replaced with the unelected dictator the Shah of Iran, who maintained “order and stability” with terror and torture against his own people. He was loved by the U.S. government because he was a loyal member of the U.S. Empire. That was when Iran was considered “our friend.”
Look at Jacobo Arbenz. He was the democratically elected president of Guatemala. Even though he was adopting the socialist policies of Franklin Roosevelt, he was independent of U.S. government control. The CIA targeted him for regime change. He was ousted and replaced by a string of military generals whom the U.S. Empire loved because they provided “order and stability.” Never mind that Guatemala was thrown into a civil war that ended up killing hundreds of thousands of people.
Look at Chilean military strongman Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The U.S. Empire loved him and embraced his military coup against the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, and supported Pinochet’s campaign of terror and torture against his own people. In fact, the CIA even participated in the murder of a young American journalist during the coup.
Look at Pervez Musharraf, the unelected military dictator of Pakistan. The U.S. Empire loved him because, again, he provided “order and stability.” Never mind that he also terrorized and tyrannized his own people, until they ousted him from power.
So, what does WikiLeaks have to do with what’s happening in Tunisia? Well, it turns out that the WikiLeaks leaks disclosed secret cables by U.S. officials detailing the massive corruption of the Tunisian regime that the U.S. Empire was partnering with as part of its grandiose war on terrorism. According to the cables, the corruption included a “‘lavish’ dinner of the American ambassador, Robert F. Godec, with Mr. Ben Ali’s son-in-law, Mohamed Sakher el-Materi, in his beachfront home in Hamamet. There was ‘staff everywhere’ and ‘ancient artifacts everywhere: Roman columns, frescoes and even a lion’s head from which water pours into the pool.’”
Apparently the information provided in the WikiLeaks leaks was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Upon reading the Wikileaks cables, the people of Tunisia revolted against the U.S.-supported dictatorship, and Mr. Ben Ali fled the country.
What does the U.S. government say about the ouster of its war-on-terrorism friend and ally, the 23-year dictator Mr. Ben Ali? Oh, it’s playing the game. Empire officials are celebrating his ouster, changing their chameleon colors to “pro-democracy,” thereby maintaining the myth that is inculcated in the American people from the time they’re six years old. Ostensibly supporting the pro-democracy crowd that succeeded in ousting his buddy from power, President Obama said, “I applaud the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people.”
One thing’s for sure though: Obama isn’t praising the courage and dignity of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and WikiLeaks, whose leaks triggered the ouster of the U.S.-supported Tunisian dictator Mr. Ben Ali. Obama is still going after them with the same vengeance that his friend and ally Mr. Ben Ali employed against the Tunisian people during 23 years of brutal dictatorship.
Friday, January 14, 2011
The Evils of the Drug War
I’ll be addressing the evils of the drug war tomorrow night, Saturday, at 7-8 pm on my Internet show. Click here if you want to listen live.
Most everyone is familiar with the disastrous consequences of the war on drugs: drug gangs, drug lords, drug suppliers, gang wars, muggings, robberies, thefts, corruption of judges, prosecutors, and law-enforcement officials, murders, assassinations, overcrowded jails, asset forfeiture, and on and on. The fact is that nothing good is produced by the war on drugs. All the results are bad. If you have any doubts, just ask the people of Mexico, who have experienced the unbelievable number of 30,000 drug war deaths in the last 3 years alone.
Making drugs illegal causes the price to increase, which motivates suppliers to enter the black market to make money. The state gets angry over this economic phenomenon, imposing harsher penalties and more brutally enforcing the laws. That causes prices to go up even more, which motivates more people to enter into the market as suppliers. Ultimately, the black market price gets so high that ordinary citizens are lured into the market in the hopes of scoring big financially.
All the bad consequences of the drug war, however, are not the primary reason for why we should legalize drugs. Freedom is the primary reason to legalize drugs. When the state has the power to put people into jail for ingesting a non-approved substance, there is no way that people in that society can be considered free.
A person is sitting in the privacy of his own living room. He decides to smoke marijuana, snort cocaine, or inject himself with heroin. The state — e.g., the members of Congress, the president, the DEA, the Justice Department — claim the authority to punish the person for doing that.
But it’s that person’s mouth, it’s his body, it’s his health.
Alas, not under terms of the drug war. The state says: We own you, we control you, we regulate you. You do as we say with respect to what you put into your mouth, or else.
How can that possibly be reconciled with fundamental principles of freedom? A society in which freedom is genuine is one in which people are free to engage in any activity, so long as it is peaceful and non-fraudulent. That includes, at a minimum, conduct that could be considered self-destructive.
You want to smoke? That’s your decision. You want to drink? That’s your decision. You want to ingest other drugs, no matter how harmful? That’s your decision. That’s what freedom is all about — the right to live your life the way you want, so long as you don’t initiate force or fraud against others.
Unfortunately, statists take an opposite approach. They say that every person ultimately belongs to society and, therefore, can be controlled and regulated by the state for the benefit of society. Since a person taking drugs is harming society, the collectivist argument goes, the state can send him to his room when he is caught violating drug laws, as much as a parent can do so to a child who violates rules on what he should and shouldn’t put into his mouth.
Most everyone now realizes that government officials benefit tremendously from the drug war, just as drug lords and drug gangs do. There is the ever-burgeoning business of asset forfeiture, including against innocent people, which is a way that the state helps fills its coffers without going through the legislative process of raising taxes. There are the bribes of public officials. And there are simply the jobs that the drug war produces — drug war agents, prosecutors, judges, clerks, and so forth. Thus, it isn’t surprising that among the people who still favor the drug war, government officials and drug lords are at the top of the list. Both groups would be put out of work immediately with drug legalization.
We live in a universe in which bad means beget bad ends. It is not surprising that the drug war produces nothing but bad consequences. Violating a fundamental principle of freedom — what a person chooses to ingest — brings about death, destruction, crisis, chaos, violence, corruption, and other bad consequences. Legalizing drugs would be a major step toward restoring the freedoms of the American people, while also bringing an immediate end to the bad consequences that the drug war produces.
To hear more, tune in to my Internet show tomorrow, Saturday, at 7 – 8 p.m. EST by going to this website: www.ustream.tv/channel/the-future-of-freedom-foundation.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Unlimited Government Overseas
Americans who travel overseas do so at their own risk. That principle used to apply only to foreign governments but now it also applies to the U.S. government, which is exercising unlimited powers against Americans and others while operating within foreign countries.
We already know about the omnipotent power of the U.S. military and the CIA to deprive Americans of due process of law and trial by jury and to torture and assassinate Americans who are suspected of being terrorists. So far, the military has wielded the denial-of-due process power and the denial-of-trial-by-jury power as well as the torture power on an American here at home (i.e., Jose Padilla) and has wielded the assassination power, so far unsuccessfully, on an American overseas (i.e., Anwar al-Awlaki).
The case of an American teenager, 19-year-old Gulet Mohamed of Alexandria, Virginia, is demonstrating that federal officials are exercising other dictatorial powers on Americans who travel overseas. Mohamed was recently detained in Kuwait, where he says that FBI agents subjected him to several hours of increasingly hostile interrogation. Even after Mohamed asked for the services of an attorney, the agents continued interrogating him. The interrogation, Mohamed says, culminated in his being severely beaten and deprived of sleep. Mohamed said that Kuwaiti officials finally intervened and ended the U.S. interrogation.
So, does Mohamed now plan on returning home? Well, he’d like to, but he is having a hard time doing so. Even though he is an American citizen, he can’t take a flight home. Why? Because the feds have placed him on their “no-fly” list, which prohibits him from flying home, no matter how many body scanners and pat-downs he’s willing to undergo.
When the Constitution was proposed, many Americans opposed it. They were concerned that the federal government that the Constitution was calling into existence would end up exercising the types of dictatorial powers that the British government had exercised on the British people, especially those living in the British colonies in America.
Proponents of the Constitution responded that people didn’t need to be concerned because the Constitution expressly set forth the limited powers that federal officials would be permitted to exercise. Since such enumerated powers didn’t include the types of dictatorial powers that the British government had exercised, federal officials would never be able to exercise them.
Americans were still not convinced. As a condition for approving the Constitution, they demanded passage of the Bill of Rights, which expressly set forth specific rights and guarantees that the federals would not be permitted to infringe upon. Such rights had become recognized over centuries of resistance by British citizens against the tyranny of their own government. The Fifth Amendment prohibits the feds from depriving a person of life, liberty, and property without due process of law. The Ninth Amendment pointed out that the rights and guarantees named in the Bill of Rights were not all-inclusive; freedom of travel, a long-recognized natural, God-given right, is a good example.
Some people today might argue that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are antiquated and outmoded. We can trust federal officials to do the right thing, statists say. Yet, when we see how U.S. officials operate overseas without constitutional restraints, we have to thank our lucky stars for the wisdom of our American ancestors. As bad as things are here at home with respect to liberty, imagine how much worse they would be if U.S. officials were able to exercise the same unlimited, dictatorial powers at home that they are wielding on Americans and others overseas.
Despite his detention, harsh interrogation, and infringement on his freedom to travel at the hands of his own government operating without constitutional restraint overseas, perhaps American Gulet Mohamed should count himself fortunate. At least they haven’t assassinated him.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The Chinese Communists: The New Official Enemy?
A good example of the military mindset that has predominated in American society since at least World War II is found in an op-ed in the Washington Timestoday. Its title is “China’s Imperialism on Full Display” and is written by Retired Navy Admiral James A. Lyons, who served as commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.
The introductory sentence sets the tone of the op-ed: “To foster its imperialistic goals, China for the past two decades has funded an unprecedented military expansion program.”
Now, that’s an interesting sentence. Is Lyons saying that any country that funds an unprecedented military expansion is automatically doing so to foster imperialistic goals rather than preparing for self-defense?
If so, where does that leave the United States? After all, surely Lyons is aware that the U.S. government has also funded an unprecedented military expansion program, not only for the past two decades but ever since World War II.
And while we’re on the subject of imperialism, Lyons would certainly agree that it’s the U.S. government, not the Chinese government, that has some 700-1000 military bases in more than 130 countries around the globe.
Also, we shouldn’t forget that it’s the United States, not China, that has invaded and occupied two separate, independent countries in the last ten years — Iraq and Afghanistan.
In fact, let’s assume that the Chinese communist regime suddenly did the following things: began spending as much money on military armaments as the U.S. government; began invading and occupying countries for the purpose of installing pro-Chinese regimes; began instituting an international assassination program; began supporting military coups in countries with the aim of installing pro-Chinese dictators into office; began imposing deadly sanctions and embargoes on other countries for the purpose of bringing them into line with Chinese policy; began sending troops and intelligence agents into countries around the world, including the United States, to kidnap terrorists and enemy combatants and then rendition them to North Korea for purposes of torture; began building a series of secret prisons around the world for the purpose of holding prisoners indefinitely without trial; began building Chinese military bases in more than 100 countries, including Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, and Nicaragua; and began sending Chinese and North Korean naval fleets into the Gulf of Mexico for military exercises.
Question for Admiral Lyons: What would be your reaction to those things?
I’ll tell you. Lyons would exclaim, “Why, those no good communist thugs! They’re trying to conquer the world. We’ve got to be prepared to defend ourselves. We’ve got to start spending more money than ever on the military and the military-industrial complex. We don’t have a choice. If we don’t, the dominoes will fall and America will succumb to the communists. Why, maybe we should even think about going back into Vietnam and stop the commies there!”
But what does the good admiral say when confronted with the fact that the U.S. government is engaged in all these actions?
Oh, then things are different. No doubt, Lyons would exclaim, “All this is necessary so that the U.S. military and the CIA can continue defending the freedoms of the American people.”
While people such as Lyons can easily recognize statism when it’s committed by Chinese or Soviet communists, alas they have a blind spot when it comes to American statism.
At the end of World War II, U.S. statists convinced the American people that a perpetual military machine was necessary to combat America’s World War II ally, the Soviet Union. Thus, America’s military expenditures grew exponentially, decade after decade, as U.S. military officials continually scared Americans into believing that the dominoes were going to fall and America was going to fall to the Soviet communists.
In 1989, the unexpected happened. That official threat came to an end with the fall of the Soviet Union. For several years, the statists argued that it was all a Soviet conspiracy to lull Americans into complacency and, therefore, that America’s military machine should continue to expand exponentially.
But the supposed conspiracy never materialized, the Soviet Union remained dismantled, and the Berlin Wall wasn’t reconstructed. No problem. The U.S. government went into the Middle East, stirred up some hornet’s nests, and came up with a new official enemy, one that was even better than the Soviet communists — the terrorists. After the 9/11 blowback attacks, U.S. officials said that it was now more necessary than ever that we expand America’s military and military-industrial complex.
But proponents of American imperialism and militarism know that if they’re forced to exit Afghanistan and Iraq, the terrorist threat will dissipate. Thus, it’s never too soon to begin preparing plans for a new official enemy, one that can be used to justify the continued, ever-growing expansion of America’s warfare state. The Chinese communists can fit the bill. Just ask Admiral Lyons.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Republicans, Obamacare, and the Debt Ceiling
House Republicans are making a big deal about voting for a repeal of Obamacare. Unfortunately, it is nothing more than standard political posturing. The following is what they will say when the Democrat-controlled Senate votes it down or when Obama threatens to veto the repeal: “If only voters will give Republicans control of the Senate and also give us the presidency, we’ll be able to repeal Obamacare.”
After all, isn’t that what they did in the 1990s, after their infamous “Contract with America.” Didn’t they say, “The only reason we can’t slash federal spending and abolish federal agencies and departments is that we don’t have control over Congress and the presidency.” But after voters delivered Congress and the presidency to the Republicans, they laughed all the way to the bank, feeding at the federal trough, handing out money to their buddies, and having a grand old party.
Voters were not amused, which is why they turned against the Republicans and ousted them from power. But Republicans know that in politics, memories are short. If the political posturing worked in the 1990s, it can work again. Anyway, lots of people get a kick out of being fooled by politicians.
How could Republicans show good faith in their supposed determination to rein in federal spending? They’re going to have an excellent opportunity in about 2 or 3 months. That’s when the federal government bumps up against the $14.3 billion debt ceiling. That’s when conservative rubber will meet the road.
What is the debt ceiling? It’s a pledge — a promise — a commitment by Congress that the federal government’s debt will not exceed the prescribed limit. It’s Congress’ way of saying: “The amount of debt incurred by the federal government is excessive. We will not exceed that limit.”
But we’ve been here before. Each time the ceiling has been reached, statists, especially those in the mainstream media, go ballistic about complying with the limit. “We can’t live with this particular debt ceiling!” they cry. “We need to keep spending and borrowing. We’re in a recession. We’ve got to raise the debt ceiling one last time. That will give us some breathing room to get things in order. We can comply with the ceiling the next time.” It’s enough to remind one of the alcoholic who declares, “Just one more drink. I promise it will be the last.”
The result is that the debt ceiling has become a fraud on the American people. Since Congress raises the ceiling every time it’s reached, as a practical matter the ceiling doesn’t exist at all. So, why even have it? Why not just say that there is now no limit on big spending and big borrowing?
Again, the answer is political posturing. By raising the ceiling, the politicians can make it look to the American people, especially with great indignation over having to do it again, like they’re terribly concerned about the amount of the federal debt and that they’re imposing a limit on it. But they always know that when the limit is reached in a year or so, they’ll just do the same thing again, which makes the entire process a fraud. Obviously, the honest route would be simply to abolish the debt ceiling and proclaim, “We are going to continue spending and borrowing to our heart’s content and we’re charging it to you and your children, and there’s not a thing you can do about it.”
Will Republicans cave when the debt ceiling vote is reached? My prediction: You bet your debased dollar they’ll cave. But while they’re caving, they’ll also be posturing by crying, “Obamacare! Obamacare! We tried to repeal Obamacare!”
Monday, January 10, 2011
Va. Gov. Bill McDonnell: A Conservative Big Spender
For those who still claim that conservatives are different from liberals, they might want to take a close look at Virginia Governor Bill McDonnell, a conservative darling who has just exposed himself as another big spender and big borrower. According to an article in Sunday’s Washington Post, McDonnell “plans a massive spending campaign that he said would unclog state roads, award thousands more college degrees and spur job creation, part of an aggressive legislative agenda he is expected to roll out this week.”
According to the article, conservative McDonnell plans to borrow $3 billion for his transportation projects and spend an additional $500 million on roads, colleges and universities, and job-creating projects. His big-spending spree also involves giving state employees a 3 percent bonus.
How is McDonnell pulling this off in these times of austerity, when other states are having to slash spending? It turns out that Virginia has a “$403 million budget surplus, $337 million in higher than expected tax revenue, and $192 million generated through cuts and savings.”
Why is Virginia doing so well compared to other states? That’s difficult to say, but one cannot help but wonder whether it has something to do with the massive amount of taxpayer welfare-warfare largess that is flooding into the heart of the Empire in Washington, D.C. It was recently reported that Virginia home values have recently gone up, while those in the rest of the nation have gone down.
So, why not simply cut (or abolish) taxes for Virginians? Are you kidding? We’re talking about a conservative here! What conservative is going to pass up the opportunity to go on a big-spending spree when he finds himself in control of a big pile of taxpayer money? Certainly not McDonnell! And certainly not any other conservative or liberal.
McDonnell ran for governor employing such standard conservative mantras as. “I will help our small business owners by keeping taxes low … and I will champion policies that unleash the creative spirit and productive power of the people of Virginia.”
What he didn’t say was that he intended to accomplish those things not by lowering taxes on small businesses and others but instead by going on a big-spending spree that would make any big-spending liberal proud.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Surprise! Republicans Are Caving Already
Within two days of being sworn into office, congressional Republicans are already breaking their promises with respect to out-of-control federal spending and borrowing. In their much-ballyhooed “Pledge to America” they promised to cut $100 billion out of non-defense discretionary spending during their first year in office. House Republican leaders, having now taken control of the House, have just announced that that isn’t going to happen after all.
Did I not tell you this, long before the election? As I have long emphasized, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between a Democrat and a Republican (or, if you will, a liberal and a conservative). Sure, Republicans use libertarian mantras (i.e., “free enterprise, private property, and limited government”) and rail against excessive federal spending and borrowing, but it’s all fake and false — just a way to get hold of the reins of power, so that they can start enriching themselves at the trough. Isn’t that what they did after they made similar promises with their much ballyhooed “Contract with America” in 1994?
Look at all the brouhaha over Obamacare. House Republicans are making a big deal out of plans to repeal Obamacare. Big deal. What difference would it make? Republicans know that the Senate won’t go along and even if it did, everyone knows that Obama will simply veto it and that the veto won’t be overridden by Congress. It’s all about just making a show — “Look at what we’re doing about excessive spending and borrowing and federal regulation by voting to repeal Obamacare.”
More important, even if Obamacare were to be repealed, the country would still be left with the health-care crisis that is rooted in Medicare and Medicaid. That crisis wouldn’t disappear with the repeal of Obamacare. The mainstream press would be (and already is) screaming to Republicans, “Where is your plan to fix and improve our health care system?” And since Republicans believe in Medicare and Medicaid, they would be left with coming up with some sort of interventionist fix-it reform that would simply be a variation of Obamacare and that would make the situation worse than ever.
The fundamental problem is that Republicans (conservatives), like Democrats (liberals), honestly believe that the legitimate role of the federal government is to take care of people through a welfare state. That’s what Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, education grants, foreign aid, FDIC, bank bailouts, and other welfare-state programs are all about — taking care of people. Republicans are not about to challenge the moral legitimacy of that paradigm or its programs.
Yet, it is these programs — that is, it’s the welfare state itself (and the warfare state) — that is at the root of America’s economic woes. Thus, the only solution is to rid our nation of the welfare-state paradigm itself (and the warfare-state paradigm).
That’s what makes us libertarians so different from conservatives and liberals and other statists. We want to ditch the welfare-warfare paradigm in favor of one based on individual liberty, free markets, and a constitutional republic. That necessarily means repeal and dismantling, not reform and improvement.
Consider the title of this editorial from Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times: “Their Job is to Create Jobs.” That’s the mainstream mindset. It’s the mindset of conservatives, liberals, and other statists. These types of people honestly believe that it’s the job of the federal government to manage the economy, create jobs, and take care of people. That’s the problem.
Do you see how different we libertarians are from statists? We don’t believe that government has any more business managing the economy and creating jobs than it does managing religion and stimulating interest in God. The root of America’s economic woes lies in the fact that the federal government is charged with the power to do such things as manage the economy, create jobs, fight poverty, take care of people, and dominate and control the world.
The solution to America’s economic woes lies in removing the power of the government to manage the economy, create jobs, fight poverty, and police the world. Prosperity lies in the freedom of people to engage in enterprise freely with people all over the world (i.e., without government interference), accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth (i.e., no more federal income tax and IRS), and decide for themselves what to do with their own money (i.e., no more Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, etcetera). The solution to America’s woes lies with libertarian principles. Too bad House Republicans (with the exception of Ron Paul) are still so committed to statism.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
The Statism of School Vouchers
For years, some conservatives have claimed that school vouchers are a gradual method to end state involvement in education. For the life of me, I just cannot understand the logic of their argument. It seems clear to me that school vouchers are just another welfare-state program that would make state involvement in education even more entrenched than it already is.
Let’s assume that thousands of families are provided educational vouchers. Doesn’t there have to be an enormous government bureaucracy to administer the program? Who else is going to distribute the vouchers? Who else is going to keep track of who is getting the vouchers? Who else is going to monitor the use of the vouchers?
Once that bureaucracy, which is likely to be quite large, comes into existence, what are the chances that the bureaucrats are going to favor their department’s going out of business? Wouldn’t they be expected to fight tooth and nail for the continuation and expansion of their budgets?
What about all the schools that would be receiving the vouchers? Wouldn’t they have to expand operations to handle the huge influx of new students? More teachers. More administrators. More buildings. More textbooks. More classes. What are the chances that a couple of years down the line, a school whose revenues depend largely on the vouchers is going to say, “It’s time to dismantle the voucher system since it was always intended to be a gradual method of ending state involvement in education anyway”?
Answer: Virtually no chance at all. Once people go on the dole, especially in a big way, the possibility that they will call for an end to their dole is almost nil. That’s one of the most insidious aspects of welfare-state programs — they create a mindset of hopeless dependency that suppresses such qualities as self-confidence, self-reliance, and independence. Just look at recipients of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, and military contracts. When was the last time you saw any of them calling for an end to their dole?
Conservatives claim that school vouchers are a “free-market” approach to education because they give people “choice.” But that’s ridiculous. Food stamps give people “choice.” Does that make food stamps a “free-market” approach to food? Indeed, any welfare check gives people choices they didn’t have before. For that matter, doesn’t robbery give a robber choices that he didn’t have before?
Contrary to what conservatives claim, school vouchers are not free-market or free enterprise. They are nothing more than a welfare-state program that uses the force of the state to take money from people in order to subsidize the schooling of those who have children. The program would be no different than one that taxed everyone to subsidize the clothing of people’s children.
What is a genuine free market in education? A total separation of school and state, just as our ancestors separated church and state. That means no morecompulsory-attendance laws, no more school taxes, no more public school buildings, no more public schoolteachers, and no more public school classes. In other words, no more state involvement in education.
A total free market in education would place educational decisions entirely in the hands of families, just as the free market in religion does. People would be free to choose the education vehicle that they deemed best suited for each of their children. Entrepreneurs would be flooding the market with a diverse range of educational options, competing with each other to satisfy consumers.
Why don’t conservatives advocate a total separation of school and state rather than school vouchers? My hunch is that it’s because they want to be considered “respectable” or “credible” among the mainstream press and others by embracing statist ideas while, at the same time, appearing to support “free enterprise” by claiming, falsely, that vouchers are “free market” in nature.
Moreover, obviously the case for educational freedom is much more difficult to make than the case for vouchers. Advocates of educational freedom must make the moral and utilitarian case for getting the state entirely out of the education business. Advocates of vouchers don’t have to reach that point and hardly ever do. They simply argue that vouchers will be an improvement of the status quo. In fact, some conservatives now make their case for vouchers by actually claiming that vouchers will improve public schooling!
Let’s leave vouchers and other statist devices to the conservatives. We libertarians should continue raising people’s vision to the genuine principles of a free society, including the principles of educational liberty.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Bert Sacks: Another Hero in Our Time
Those who still doubt that President Obama is a clone of his predecessor should talk to Bert Sacks, a 68-year-old American from Seattle. The long, sordid saga of Bert Sacks not only shows that Obama is nothing more than Bush’s third term, it also shows the utter despicability and hypocrisy that pervades the U.S. Empire.
The saga of Bert Sacks goes back to the 11 years of cruel and brutal sanctions that the U.S. Empire enforced against the Iraqi people for some 11 years. Longtime supporters of The Future of Freedom Foundation know that we have written countless articles on the immorality of the sanctions and their horrific consequences. For a good overview of the sanctions, click on this compilation of articles.
For a more in depth study of the Iraq sanctions, purchase and read Joy Gordon’s insightful book Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions. But be prepared for a real-life horror story, one in which the U.S. Empire knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately sacrificed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children in the attempt to effect regime change in Iraq. Even though the effort was unsuccessful (until the Bush administration used the 9/11 attacks to invade Iraq and achieve the regime change), the sacrifice of the Iraqi children was still considered worth the effort. The official federal position was expressed in U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright’s infamous statement to “Sixty Minutes,” when she stated that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children had indeed been “worth it,” a position that not surprisingly contributed to the boiling cauldron of anger and hatred against the United States among people in the Middle East prior to the 9/11 attacks.
The mindset behind the sanctions exposes the lie that ultimately went into the alternative, secondary rationale for invading and occupying Iraq. After the Bush administration failed to find the infamous WMDs that it had used to scare the American people into supporting its invasion of Iraq, you’ll recall that U.S. officials took the position that they had also invaded Iraq out of love and concern for the Iraqi people, by bringing them freedom and democracy.
But that alternative, secondary rationale for the invasion and subsequent long-term occupation could never be reconciled with the 11 years of callous indifference to the killing of the Iraqi children. The truth is that the alternative, secondary rationale was as big a lie as the WMD rationale. The U.S. Empire has never, ever given a hoot for the Iraqi people. It’s always been about regime change, and no price has ever been too high to pay in terms of death, destruction, and suffering among the Iraqi people to achieve that goal.
Enter Bert Sacks. He’s an American who was genuinely concerned about the plight of the Iraqi people. He decided to violate the sanctions by taking medicines to Iraqi hospitals.
Did U.S. officials praise Sacks for his compassion for the Iraqi people? Not exactly. Instead, they fined him $10,000 for spending money in Iraq, for such things as a hotel room, or a taxi, or a meal in a restaurant. That’s how U.S. embargoes, including the five-decade-long embargo against Cuba, operate. They don’t prohibit Americans from traveling to a certain country. Instead, they simply punish Americans for spending their money in non-approved countries. (It’s called infringing on the freedom of the American people to spread freedom abroad.)
To his everlasting credit, Sacks has fought the feds every step of the way, to the everlasting enmity of Empire officials. By his real-life actions, Sacks is essentially doing what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are doing — revealing the lies, hypocrisy, and wrongful actions of the Empire. In the eyes of Empire officials, that is a super no-no, one that necessitates punishment. After all, if they don’t punish Sachs, there is a possibility that other American citizens will do the same thing that he did.
In the eyes of the Empire, Sacks should have been the good little citizen, the one that public schools attempt to produce. He should have deferred to authority. He should have rallied to the support of his government. He should have trusted that his government was doing the right thing. If Iraqi children had to be sacrificed, then so be it. That’s a decision for the Empire, not the citizenry. The job of the citizenry is to simply continue producing the wealth that sustains the Empire and to defer to the expertise and judgment of the Empire in foreign affairs.
Clinton and Bush were unable to collect their $10,000 fine from Sacks before they left office. No problem. Their clone — the man who still proudly stands for “hope and change” as the 2012 presidential elections get going — has taken up their cudgel. According to this article in yesterday’s Seattle Times, the Obama administration is suing to collect the ten grand from Sacks plus late-payment penalties.
Like Julian Assange, Bert Sacks is a hero for our time. Placing conscience and independent thinking above blind loyalty to the Empire and having the courage to take on the Empire, Sacks has demonstrated what being a citizen is supposed to be all about.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
The Debt Ceiling Vote Will Reveal the Congressional Frauds
A congressional vote next spring will flush out the frauds currently serving in Congress — the ones who rail against federal spending and borrowing while supporting the programs and policies that are funded by the spending and borrowing. The vote will be over whether the so-called federal debt ceiling should be raised. It will be the frauds who vote “yes” on the bill.
After all, what is a debt “ceiling” or a debt “limit”? It’s a term by which Congress promises the American people that the federal government’s total indebtedness will not exceed a particular amount.
The debt limit was set last February in the amount of $14.3 trillion. Today, federal debt stands at $14 trillion. This spring, as federal debt continues to rise Congress will vote on whether to maintain the limit or to raise it.
What’s going to happen when the debt ceiling is reached in the next few months?
Here’s what should happen: The government should simply stop adding to the amount of the federal debt. That’s what a ceiling is all about. That’s what a limit means.
That obviously means slashing federal spending. If that means bringing the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, so be it. If that means abolishing Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, Social Security, foreign aid, education grants, or any other welfare program, so be it. If that means ending the drug war, so be it. If that means abolishing departments and agencies and laying off thousands of federal employees, so be it.
Whatever needs to be done to ensure that the debt ceiling is not exceeded is what needs to be done. That’s what a limit means — that it cannot be exceeded. Otherwise, if the government continually raises the ceiling, thereby exceeding it, then it really isn’t a ceiling or a limit. Instead, the imposition of a ceiling, with full knowledge that it will be exceeded when the debt reaches that point, is nothing more than a fraud on the American people.
Yet, my prediction is that most members of Congress will do what they’ve been doing for years whenever the debt ceiling is reached. They’ll simply “raise” the ceiling to a higher level, thereby enabling the federal government to continue adding to its debt levels.
By raising the debt ceiling, this longtime congressional fraud on the American people will be perpetuated. The fraud will come in the form of another representation by Congress that there is now a new debt ceiling or limit on the federal government. But everyone knows that the representation will be false. Everyone knows that when the total debt bumps up against the new ceiling a year or so from now, the fraudulent process will play out again.
In fact, if Congress once again votes to raise the debt ceiling, then it ought to at least play straight with the American people and simply abolish the entire concept of a debt ceiling or limit. At least then, Congress would be telling the truth — that there is no limit on the amount of debt that the federal government will incur as part of its welfare-warfare state and there never has been a limit.
Throughout the recent congressional campaigns, Republicans and Tea Party types, and even a few Democrats, railed against out-of-control federal spending and borrowing. Now, they have a real opportunity to do something about it. They can vote against the bill to raise the debt ceiling by declaring, “A ceiling is a ceiling. A ceiling cannot be raised or exceeded without effectively nullifying the concept of a ceiling. The total amount of debt permitted to be incurred by the federal government has now been reached. It’s time now to slash spending to avoid any further borrowing.”
The upcoming vote on the debt ceiling will soon flush out the frauds currently serving in Congress.
Monday, January 3, 2011
The Drug War Leads Us into Temptation
Every Sunday at church, Christians pray the Lord’s Prayer, which includes the following exhortation: “Lead us not into temptation.”
During the other six days of the week, many Christians continue to support the war on drugs, a federal program that continues to lead untold numbers of people, especially young people, into temptation and down the road to destruction.
Over the weekend, I happened to catch a segment of a television series entitled “Locked Up Abroad,” which detailed the story of an 18-year-old American girl whose life was partially destroyed by the financial temptation offered by the drug war.
The girl hoped to go to college but was unable to do so because of the high expense, which totaled around $8,000 per year. Her roommate was offered the opportunity to transport a load of drugs from a foreign country and came back with a wad of cash for successfully delivering the load.
The roommate introduced the girl to the guy who set up the deal, who offered the girl the same sort of arrangement. All the girl had to do was fly into Bangladesh and smuggle a few packs of heroin to Switzerland.
The amount to be paid to the girl? $20,000, enough to cover some 2 1/2 years of college.
Now, we can all sit here and say that it would be stupid for anyone to take that deal. But we all know that many young people do stupid things and that they think they’re never going to get caught. And even if they’re caught, they don’t think that anything really bad is going to happen to them.
Where else but the drug war can a young person make a big financial killing so quickly and easily? Imagine: $20,000 for doing a few hours worth of work. And it’s just a one-time deal.
Well, the girl took the deal. She flew into Bangladesh and met up with her contact, who proceeded to strap the packages of heroin around her thighs. At the airport, however, government officials were conducting complete body searches, which enabled them to easily find the drugs.
The complete ramifications still didn’t hit the 18-year-old girl. She explained to the government agent that she needed to go out and catch her flight because her visa was expiring on that day. The agent explained to the girl that she didn’t need a visa for where she was going, which was to jail.
The full impact of she had done hit the girl when she was informed that she was facing the death penalty. When she was awaiting trial, another woman in jail was executed.
At her trial, the girl was spared the death penalty but given life in prison. After 4 ½ years in a Bangladesh prison, Sen. Bill Richardson persuaded the president of Bangladesh to pardon her, and she was released to return to the United States.
Did the girl’s imprisonment help bring about the end of the drug war? After all, clearly this was another in the endless string of drug-war victories that have been claimed for the past several decades.
Of course not. As everyone knows by now, the drug war is endless. No matter how many busts are made, year after years, decade after decade, the drug war just keeps going and going and going.
What good has it all done? No good at all, except for drug dealers, drug agents, and government officials, the three groups who benefit from the never-ending war on drugs. The drug dealers make money off the sales, the drug agents have jobs, and government officials receive payoffs.
In meantime, think about all the people whose lives have been damaged or destroyed by the drug war, such as that 18-year-old girl, who was led into temptation by the exorbitant black-market price of drugs. The more they bust people, the higher the price goes up, owing to a decrease in supply. The higher prices mean bigger potential payoffs, which causes more temptation for people, especially the young.
That 18-year-old girl was lucky. Think about all the young people who are tempted to go into the drug business who end up dead. Indeed, think about the 30,000 Mexican people who have been killed by the drug war in the last three years alone.
The next time you hear a Christian expressing support for the drug war, ask him why he would support any program that leads people into temptation and destroys their lives, without any positive benefit to anyone but drug dealers, drug agents, and public officials.