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Freedom in Iraq

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According to the New York Times, “The American Embassy in Baghdad has placed sharp new restrictions on how government workers can travel inside the walled-off International Zone, citing serious threats of kidnapping and terrorist attacks across Iraq and near the embassy’s own doorstep.”

Wait a minute! Isn’t Iraq supposed to be the country that is now a paradise of freedom and tranquility? Haven’t the Pentagon and the CIA had nine years to bring into existence the model society of “freedom, order, and stability” in the world? Haven’t they had free rein to do so, with no interference from the Constitution, Congress, and the federal courts? Haven’t they had maximum latitude to employ their nation-building skills and show the world what they could accomplish with nine years of omnipotent power? Haven’t they had more than enough time to cleanse the country of everyone who resisted their invasion and occupation?

The fact is that Iraq is now the model for a supreme dysfunctional society, one run by a brutal dictatorial regime, albeit democratically elected, that has, with the help of the U.S. government, killed multitudes of its own people, arbitrarily arrests people without formal charges, incarcerates them indefinitely without trial, tortures them, and even executes them.

In other words, in principle there is no difference between the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein and the regime governing Iraq today. All that’s changed is the identity of the dictators and the victims.

Consider Vice-President Biden’s recent surprise one-day trip to Iraq. The operative terms are “surprise” and “one-day.” There is no way that President Obama or Biden would announce trips to Iraq in advance because it would be unsafe for them to do so. By the same token, neither of them would ever consider the possibility of spending even one night in Iraq for the same reason.

Think about that: Nine years of nation-building and the president and vice-president still don’t feel safe about traveling to Iraq. For that matter, neither do any members of Congress, none of whom have chosen Iraq for their vacation junkets. For that matter, I’d be willing to bet that not one single American family has taken its summer vacation in Iraq for the past nine years and that none of them has any plans to do so in the foreseeable future.

Ironically, when Iranian officials travel to Iraq, they announce their plans in advance, travel openly, and are happy to stay in the country several days.

So, why do U.S. officials and the mainstream media consider the invasion and nine-year military occupation of Iraq to be such a big success? Because they perceive that Iraq is now governed by a pro-U.S. regime. That’s how the success of U.S. foreign policy is measured — by the extent to which a foreign regime is pro-U.S.

It doesn’t matter how brutal the regime is to its own people. The only thing that matters is: Is the regime pro-U.S. or not? If it is pro-U.S., then that nation is considered to be free and Americans are expected to embrace it. If it is anti-U.S. or independent, it is considered to be an enemy and Americans are expected to oppose it.

If a regime is pro-U.S., it can be expected to receive largess from the U.S. government in the form of millions of dollars in cash or armaments. If a regime is anti-U.S. or independent, it becomes the potential target for punishment or, in the extreme case, of regime change. That’s where such things as sanctions, embargoes, coups, assassinations, invasions, and occupations come into play.

U.S. officials now consider Iraq to be free society, owing to the U.S. invasion and nine-year occupation of the country and the installation of what is perceived to be a pro-U.S. regime, notwithstanding the fact that the government and U.S. troops wield the omnipotent power to make arbitrary arrests, detain people indefinitely without trial, torture people, and even execute them after some sort of kangaroo judicial proceeding.

Perhaps that’s why the U.S. Congress is now considering permanently granting the same types of powers to the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA as part of their never-ending war on terrorism. The members of Congress apparently want to make the United States as free as the U.S. government has made Iraq.

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Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.