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Who Were the Patriots Now?

by

Prior to the U.S. government’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, longtime supporters of The Future of Freedom Foundation will recall that we stood squarely against the operation.

We emphasized that the excuse given for the operation — that Saddam Hussein was supposedly about to unleash nuclear weapons and other WMDs against the United States — was entirely bogus and was simply a clever device to garner support from the American people.

We pointed out that the U.S. government had no constitutional authority to invade Iraq because there was no congressional declaration of war, as the Constitution requires. If President Bush had tried to secure a congressional declaration of war, the likelihood is that some members of Congress would have exposed the WMD scare as bogus.

We emphasized that the operation was entirely based on Bush’s wish — and the wish of other interventionists —to get rid of Saddam, who was a former partner of the U.S. government during the 1980s when he was killing Iranians, and replace him with a pro-U.S. dictator. We pointed out that even if Congress had declared war on Iraq, the operation would still have been in violation of the principles of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal and the charter of the United Nations, which prohibit nation-states from initiating wars against other nation states, including those ruled by dictatorships.

We also pointed out that this intervention would ultimately turn out to be like all other U.S. interventions — an absolute and total debacle.

During that period of time, we were inundated with hate mail. I’ve never seen so much hate mail in all my life. The principal accusation was that we weren’t “patriots.” We were told that once the “national debate” over whether the United States should go to war with Iraq was over and the president had made the decision to invade, it was the “patriotic” duty of the citizen to rally to the president and support the operation and the troops.

One of the most popular bromides we were hit with was: “The president, the Pentagon, and the CIA have access to secret information that we don’t have, information that they can’t share with us based on ‘national security.’ We need to place our trust in them. They would never lie to us on something this important.”

What a crock, we stated. Of course they will lie. They lied about the so-called attack at the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam, didn’t they?

We stood fast. Our position on patriotism was totally different from that of the statists. The genuine patriot, we held, is the citizen who hews to principle. When his government violates those principles, it is the duty of the citizen, we said, to take a firm stand his own government, with the aim of getting the government back on the right track.

After all, that’s what the American Revolution was all about. Those colonists who signed the Declaration of Independence weren’t Americans. They were English citizens, ones who had the courage to stand up against the wrongdoing of their own government. For us at FFF, they were the genuine patriots, not the people who were steadfastly supporting the British troops, who were the means by which the British government was enforcing its wrongdoing.

And let’s face the uncomfortable truth: the statist version of patriotism is obviously the same one held by the German government during World War II. Once the war broke out, the German regime expected German citizens to set aside whatever differences they had with their government and to rally to the support of the government and the German troops. Ironically, even while having that same mindset with respect to “patriotism,” many American statists still criticize German citizens who unconditionally came to the support of their government during World War II.

How were we so certain that the Iraq intervention was going to be a disaster?

Two reasons.

One, all other U.S. interventions had turned into disasters.

And two, evil means beget evil results.

In the short term, U.S. interventions often appear to be big successes. Consider the Iran intervention in 1953. The U.S. government, operating through its secretive agency the CIA, knowingly destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy by ousting Mohammad Mosaddegh as prime minister and replacing him with the brutal, unelected dictator, the Shah of Iran.

It was an illegal operation under the U.S. Constitution given the fact that the Constitution doesn’t authorize that sort of operation. But in the short term, the CIA celebrated. How fantastic, the CIA held, that the CIA could alter the governmental system of another country and install an unelected, loyal, pro-U.S. dictator into power, one who would remain in power for the next 25 years.

In 1979, however, the chickens came home to roost. After 25 years of suffering under one of the most brutal tyrannies in history, one fully supported by the U.S. government, the Iranian people revolted against their own government — the government that the CIA had installed, supported, trained, and sustained.

During the Iranian Revolution, U.S. officials, not surprisingly, played the innocent, acting as though the Iranian people had no reason to be angry at the United States. U.S. officials told the American people that the Iranian revolutionaries just hated America for its freedom and values — the same bromide they would use many years later after the 9/11 attacks.

Today, relations between Iran and the United States are horrendous, with many officials in the U.S. national security state champing at the bit for the chance to bomb Iran and install another pro-U.S. dictatorship into power.

In other words, the Iranian intervention turned out to be a debacle for the American people. It’s the same with every other U.S. intervention.

After the Iraq invasion, the popular mantra was “Mission Accomplished.” The U.S. government, which wielded the most powerful military in history, had defeated a Third-World nation in a war. Saddam Hussein was captured and executed. It all looked like a glorious success for American interventionists.

We libertarians knew differently. We knew that it was just a matter of time that the operation would reveal itself as one more interventionist debacle.

And what a spectacular debacle it has turned out to be.

The U.S.-installed government in Iraq is just as tyrannical and oppressive as the Saddam Hussein regime. Incarcerations, killings, torture chambers, suppression of speech and press, warrantless raids, massive standing army, government surveillance schemes. In other words, everything Saddam Hussein was doing.

Oh, did I mention that the Maliki regime has closer relations to Iran than it does to the United States?

And now we have the country thrown into civil war. Not exactly the paradise of freedom, prosperity, and harmony that interventionists were saying would come into existence with “mission accomplished.”

Let’s not forget the constant threat of anti-American terrorism generated by the invasion of Iraq. Why would that be surprising? When U.S. forces are killing people in a war of aggression, why wouldn’t the surviving family members be angry about that?

Let’s also not forget that that threat of anti-American terrorism, generated by U.S. foreign policy, is the excuse the NSA provides for its massive surveillance schemes to keep us “safe” from the threats that the invasion of Iraq and other interventions have produced.

And we now have the spectacle of watching the interventionists come up with all sorts of excuses as to why their Iraq intervention has turned into a debacle. Among the most popular bromides are “If they had followed my plan, everything would have been perfect” or “We made such enormous sacrifices for the Iraqi people and they just lacked the competence to convert themselves into a model of freedom, prosperity, and harmony.”

The last thing that interventionists are going to do is take personal responsibility for the debacle, even though they employ the “personal responsibility” bromide on their websites, in the speeches, and in their articles and books.

Even worse, interventionists are saying, “Let’s do it again. Let’s bomb, bomb, bomb again. Let’s kill even more people so that we can finally convert Iraq into a paradise of freedom, prosperity, and harmony. This time our bombing and killing campaign will really work!”

Enough is enough. Haven’t the interventionists killed, maimed, tortured, and destroyed enough people in Iraq?

I say: No more. No more interventions. No more overseas military empire. No more wars of aggression. Support the troops by bringing them home and discharging them.

Let’s face reality: We can now see clearly that the U.S. troops who died in Iraq died for nothing. They didn’t die protecting our freedom because our freedom was never threatened by the Iraqi people or their government. They didn’t die to bring a paradise to Iraq because they produced a hell-hole instead. Their deaths are as meaningless as the 58,000 plus deaths in Vietnam.

And they killed for nothing too. They killed all those Iraqis for nothing. They killed people who they had no moral or legal right to kill. Remember: the war on Iraq was an unconstitutional, illegal, immoral war of aggression, one in which the United States was the aggressor nation, the nation that initiated the war.

Who were the patriots back in 2003, the libertarians or the interventionists?

The answer sure seems clear today.

This post was written by:

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