Ever since 9/11, U.S. officials have emphasized that their so-called war on terrorism should now be considered a permanent part of American life. They say that the United States will now be under the threat of terrorism for the next several decades. This will necessitate not just the continued existence of the national-security state but also ever-increasing budgets for the military and the CIA. The next few generations of Americans will also experience increasing levels of infringements on civil liberties and privacy, in order to keep them “free” and “safe.”
The implicit suggestion is that terrorism is one of those unfortunate things that periodically afflict people. Sort of like the flu. Alas, the terrorist infection has now hit America, rather than, say, Switzerland and Costa Rica, and we just have to deal with it. We should be able to get rid of the infection, through expanded military and CIA activities, within the next 50 years or so, when life will hopefully be able to return to normal.
There is just one big problem with this reasoning, however: The constant threat of terrorism against the United States, which is the justification for the “war on terrorism,” is not like the flu. It hasn’t struck the United States willy-nilly. Instead, it has an identifiable cause: the U.S. national-security state’s programs and activities in foreign countries, especially in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Those programs and activities include sanctions, embargoes, coups, support of dictatorial regimes, partnerships with brutal dictators, invasions, occupations, foreign aid, torture, kidnappings, rendition, secret prisons, and the like.
Those things have brought massive death and destruction along with oppression, abuse, and humiliation of foreigners. That, in turn, has engendered the deep anger and hatred that people around the world have for the United States, or at least for the U.S. government. That anger and rage then manifests itself in terrorist attacks against the United States.
Why is all this important? If anti-American terrorism doesn’t have to be, that means that the “war on terrorism” is unnecessary. If the “war on terrorism” is unnecessary, then so is the continued existence of the entire Cold-War era national-security state, including the vast standing army, military-industrial complex, and CIA that are bankrupting our country and sending our nation ever deeper into the dark side.
In other words, there is a choice that is being made here. The choice is over whether the U.S. government will continue to intervene in the affairs of other nations or not. It’s that simple.
On the one hand, Americans can choose to continue this foreign policy of empire and interventionism. If they do that, that enables the national-security state’s 1,000 military bases in 130 foreign countries to remain operational. U.S. officials will continue to pour money and weaponry into the coffers of brutal foreign dictators, who use those resources to keep their own people in line. Foreign aid, consisting of weapons and cash, will continue to pour into democratic regimes that are involved in perpetual conflict, like the government of Israel. There will continue to be all sorts of regime-change operations, through such means as coups, invasions, occupations, and assassinations. There will be death and destruction against those who resist the Empire.
But keep in mind an important point here: There will always be people who resist the Empire, oftentimes with force. Thus, as long as the U.S. government is wreaking death and destruction abroad, there will be a constant threat of terrorism. That’s why U.S. officials say that the “war on terrorism” is now permanent—because they view the U.S. government’s overseas interventionism and imperialism as a necessary and permanent part of American life.
If Americans choose to continue going down this road, then everyone needs to be aware that the choice necessarily involves costs. Those costs include not just the financial ones that are driving the U.S. government deeper into debt and toward bankruptcy. They also include the deaths and maiming of people from acts of anti-American terrorism. Boston comes to mind. So does 9/11. And the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. And the attack on the USS Cole. And those on the U.S. embassies in East Africa. And the Detroit bomber. And the Ft. Hood bomber. And the New York subway bomber.
U.S. officials would undoubtedly say that all this death and destruction is worth it—that is, worth the continued existence of the national-security state and its domination and hegemony in foreign affairs.
But is it?
That’s a decision that the American people have to make.
If Americans choose to reject interventionism and imperialism, that would entail the closure of all the overseas bases and bringing all U.S. troops home and discharging them. No more U.S. governmental interference in the affairs of other nations. No more coups, assassinations, regime-change operations, invasions, occupations, foreign aid, entangling alliances, torture, and other dark-side practices.
That would mean no more foreign anger and rage toward the United States. No more anti-America terrorism. No more “war on terrorism.” No more justification for the continued existence of the Cold War era national-security state. Instead, fiscally responsible government along with the restoration of a normally functioning society in which people are living freely, harmoniously, and peacefully.
Americans can choose to accept the national-security state’s embrace of permanent warfare statism for American life. Or they can choose to restore our nation’s founding principles of liberty and republic to American life. It’s not like the flu. It’s a choice.