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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Bush’s Invasions Made Us Less Safe

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According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, the political fight between Donald Trump and the Bush family is becoming “one of the most vivid and powerful confrontations in the presidential campaign so far.”

Jeb Bush says that his brother “kept us safe.” Trump, on the other hand, points out the obvious: that the 9/11 attacks, which occurred when George W. was president, was not exactly “keeping us safe.”

But what Jeb is obviously referring to is 7-year aftermath of the 9/11 attacks while his brother was president. Since there were no further 9/11s, Jeb is suggesting, that shows that his brother W. “kept us safe.”

What Trump has failed to point out and what Jeb fails to recognize, however, is that Bush’s decisions to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, along with his much-vaunted “war on terrorism,” actually made America much less safe, owing to the never-ending threat of terrorist retaliation arising from the anger and rage those invasions produced, along with their subsequent long-term occupations.

Additionally, the prisoner camp, torture center, and “judicial” system at Guantanamo Bay that the Pentagon established to coincide with its invasion of Afghanistan and the launching of its “war on terrorism” continue to generate tremendous anger and rage against the United States.

As I have written so many times, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the other violent U.S. interventions in the Middle East are the greatest terrorist-producing machine in history. By killing, maiming, injuring, torturing, and humiliating people on a constant basis, the U.S. national-security establishment has guaranteed a permanent flow of very angry people, a percentage of whom inevitably decide to devote their lives to killing U.S. soldiers and American civilians in retaliation and revenge.

That’s where the terrorism comes in. Not only do the victims of U.S. interventionism attack U.S. military personnel, they also target American citizens in acts of terrorism.

Notwithstanding the fact that most U.S. troops are out of Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. government nonetheless continues killing, bombing, assassinating, and destroying in the Middle East and Afghanistan, thereby assuring that the anti-American anger and rage will continue.

All this has, in turn, produced 15 years of constant, ongoing fear, anxiety, and consternation among the American people. It’s ironic that U.S. government is the powerful government in history and yet rules the most frightened people in the world. Bush’s invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the “war on terrorism,” are big factors in this phenomenon.

Meanwhile, not surprisingly, during all this time, the U.S. national-security establishment — or what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex — has continue to do very well in terms of military largess. While national-security state officials were concerned about the possibility of significant reductions in military and intelligence spending when the Cold War ended, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the resulting constant threat of terrorist retaliation, have given renewed life to the Cold War-era national-security state.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the massive loss of liberty of the American people at the hands of the emergency state that 9/11 and the war on terrorism have produced. We now live in a nation that has many of the characteristics of a totalitarian police state, where the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA wield the authority to assassinate American citizens or just round them up and put them into concentration camps and torture them, and where the NSA conducts massive secret surveillance of the citizenry — all to “keep us safe” from the terrorist threats produced by Bush’s invasions and other U.S. interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere.

It was all so unnecessary. There was clearly no need to invade Iraq. As I pointed out in my blog post yesterday, George W. Bush felt that he had to redeem his father’s reputation by using U.S. troops to effect regime change in Iraq, an operation that would oust Saddam Hussein from power and install a pro-U.S. dictatorship in his stead, similar to, say, the pro-U.S. military dictatorship in Egypt today. As I pointed out yesterday, and as Trump has pointed out, the entire WMD scare was just a fraudulent way to garner support from the American people for the invasion of Iraq.

Whenever you think about all the death and destruction wrought by George W. Bush’s army on the people of Iraq for some 11 years, keep in mind one important fact: Neither the Iraqi people nor their government ever attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. That includes all of the dead, maimed, tortured, and abused and the ones who had their homes or businesses destroyed at the hands of U.S. troops.

If there had been no invasion of Iraq, the number of people, including Muslims, who hate the United States and the American people today would be considerably reduced.

It’s no different with Afghanistan. I’d estimate that 99 percent of the people that U.S. forces have killed, injured, or maimed in Afghanistan, or who have had their homes or businesses destroyed,  or had their wedding parties bombed, had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

Many Americans have convinced themselves that the Taliban government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks and that that’s the reason that George W. Bush ordered his army to invade.

That is completely false. If that had been the case, Bush would never have gone to the United Nations and sought international approval for his invasion. He would have instead gone to Congress, presented his evidence of complicity, and secured the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war.

Bush went to war against Afghanistan because the Taliban refused to comply with his demand to extradite Osama bin Laden to the United States, notwithstanding the fact that there was no extradition treaty between the two countries.

The Taliban did express a willingness to extradite bin Laden to an independent country where he would receive a fair trial if the U.S. provided the type of proof that would ordinarily be used in an extradition proceeding. Bush refused and demanded that bin Laden be delivered to U.S. officials without any conditions and without any proof of wrongdoing. When the Taliban regime refused Bush’s unconditional extradition demand, he ordered his army to invade Afghanistan.

Imagine the reduced level of anger and hatred for the United States today had Bush never invaded Afghanistan. It’s easy to forget that in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, there was worldwide sympathy for the United States, including in the Middle East. That sympathy dissipated and turned to anger and rage when Bush’s army invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq.

Here at The Future of Freedom Foundation, we were advocating a different course of action against bin Laden, one that would isolate him with the offer of a tremendous bounty for anyone bringing him to justice. If that course had been followed, there would not be the tremendous anti-American anger and rage that exists today.

We also, needless to say, called on the American people to end the disastrous foreign policy of interventionism and empire, which, as we pointed out, were the direct causes of the 9/11 attacks as well as such previous terrorist attacks as the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the USS Cole, and the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

To get a good picture of what we were advocating after the 9/11 attacks, take a look at this interview of Richard Ebeling, who at that time was serving as vice president of academic affairs for FFF,  in the Christian Science Monitor one month after the 9/11 attacks.

Also, take a look at this article that I wrote two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, entitled, “Is This the Wrong Time to Question Foreign Policy?” 

We didn’t let up, and I don’t think it would surprise anyone that we were absolutely inundated with hate mail from people who were convinced that Bush and his team were leading America to glory, peace, prosperity, security, and harmony. I can’t help but wonder what those people are thinking 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.