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Leading Humanity Out of the Darkness, Part 3

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The 40-year-old war on drugs has long been a favorite government program of both liberals and conservatives. It is a program by which statists have brought nothing but death and destruction to our nation and to people all over the world. It is impossible to count the number of lives that have been destroyed by this war or to measure the destruction it has wreaked.

What is this war all about? Money and power. There are lots of people making money from this statist program, and they’re not just the drug pushers and the drug lords. There are judges on the take, prosecutors on the take, and law-enforcement officers on the take. There has even been significant evidence of drug-running by agents of the CIA.

There is also the drug-war program known as asset forfeiture, which has succeeded in pouring vast amounts of money into local, state, and federal government coffers without the need to tax people. One small part of this program is that law-enforcement officials have long been stopping travelers — particularly poor ones — on the highways and confiscating cash that they might be carrying. The notion is that if a poor person is driving down the highway with lots of cash, it must be from drugs. The official attitude is: “If you don’t like it and if you’re as innocent as you say you are, then sue us to get your money back. Otherwise, shut your mouth.” What a shameful denigration of the concept of the presumption of innocence that once characterized our nation.

Of course, needless to say, many of the poor people whose cash has been confiscated from them cannot afford the money and time to hire lawyers and litigate the matter, especially if they happen to live far away from the place where they were robbed. And that’s what it is: highway robbery in its purest form, only it’s the law-enforcement officers who are doing the stealing at the behest of their bosses.

Yes, the drug-war is a big moneymaker for government officials, which is precisely why they favor it so much. And it gives them vast power over the lives and fortunes of the citizenry — the power to harass people, especially racial minorities, the power to barge through doors of homes in the dead of night, the power to stop cars and indiscriminately search them.

Money and power. There can be no other rationale for why the war on drugs is the favorite government program for both liberals and conservatives. Some 40 years ago, when Richard Nixon declared war on drugs, the statists could say, “Within five years, we will stamp out drugs and declare the war won.” Today, no government official would dare to make that same proclamation, and if he did every rational person would break out laughing.

Not surprisingly, they just won’t let go, no matter how much failure, death, or destruction their drug war has produced. This past May, at the long-time urging of conservative statists, the Obama administration sent U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Apparently, the idea is to have the U.S. military wage the war on drugs as harshly as the Mexican military has been on the other side of the border, if not more so.

Never mind that the Mexican military has only made things worse in terms of death, destruction, and violations of civil liberties, which is why Mexican citizens along the border have been demanding the withdrawal of Mexican troops. The liberal statists under Obama are convinced that the U.S. military will finally stamp out drugs … and also guns.

Mexican officials are claiming that the violence problem along the border has nothing to do with drug prohibition. It’s all because of the Second Amendment in the United States. If it weren’t for the right to keep and bear arms, the Mexican drug lords couldn’t import guns into Mexico and use them to kill Mexican officials, rival drug gangs, and civilians caught in the drug-war crossfire.

It’s a classic instance of where one government intervention — drug laws — inevitably produces a crisis that is then used to justify another government intervention — gun control. I wonder how many conservative statists thought about that when they not only embraced the drug war but also called on the federal government to send troops into border states to enforce it.

Both liberal and conservative statists justify it all by saying, “A person doesn’t own his own body. The government wields the proper authority to punish him for ingesting the wrong substances — that is, the substances the government has not approved for ingesting.”

So you have the warfare state, the welfare state, and the drug war. At the heart of all of it is the concept of individual responsibility, a concept that statists absolutely hate. Conservatives love to preach this concept. They’ll go back to Ronald Reagan’s speeches for General Electric, saying, “With freedom comes responsibility.” But when you hold up the concept of individual responsibility to conservatives themselves and to liberals with respect to their favorite government programs, it’s like holding up a cross to a vampire. They scream and writhe in pain and agony.

Consider 9/11. Whom do they blame for 9/11? They don’t take individual responsibility for what their pro-empire, pro-interventionist foreign policy produced. In their minds, it’s all freedom’s fault. They blame the attacks on freedom. The terrorists hate us for our freedom, the statists claim, and that’s why they attacked us on 9/11.

Maybe that’s why the statists are so intent on taking away our freedom — so that the terrorists will no longer hate us for our freedom.

The new enemy

Let’s examine what happened. When the Berlin Wall came crashing down and the Soviet empire was dismantled, the U.S. military and military-industrial complex, along with big-government conservatives and big-government liberals, started freaking out. They had lost their official enemy, the one they had used since the end of World War II to justify their perpetually growing, big-government military budgets.

People were asking why America still needed a big-government, Cold War military machine. Why did it still need NATO? Why did it still need all those overseas military bases to protect it from a nonexistent enemy? Maybe it was time to begin dismantling all of it, or at least significantly reducing it.

Of course, libertarians would argue that that would permit the taxes that financed it all to be abolished, thereby enabling people to keep a larger portion of their hard-earned money for themselves.

Those who were dependent on the military largess went apoplectic. After decades, they had come to believe that they were entitled to continue receiving military largess forever. In their minds, it was their right. They said that the military could be used to fight the drug war, and they sent troops and the CIA into places such as Colombia to show American taxpayers how necessary they still were to America’s national security.

They also said that they would be the world’s global cop. And the first thing they did was to turn on their old friend, their partner, Saddam Hussein. That point always shocks Americans. They simply cannot believe that the U.S. government actually was partners with Saddam Hussein. After all, U.S. officials later called Saddam a new Hitler. Is it really possible that the U.S. government had actually partnered with someone they later called a Hitler?

Well, yes. Let’s go back to the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. What were U.S. officials saying to justify the coming invasion?

WMDs! WMDs! They were scaring the American people to death with the notion that Saddam was about to fire WMDs at the United States. People’s legs were quaking, certain that Saddam’s WMDs would be fired at them at any moment.

UN inspectors kept telling everyone that there were no WMDs, that Saddam had destroyed any and all stockpiles of WMDs.

But U.S. officials would have none of that. Do you remember when they were poking fun at hapless UN inspectors, whom they likened to Inspector Clouseau? Only U.S. troops and the CIA had the expertise to ferret out and discover where Saddam Hussein was hiding his infamous WMDs. Even when Saddam offered to let in the CIA to search wherever it wanted, U.S. officials responded that only U.S. troops had the expertise to uncover his secret WMD hideaways.

We all now know that there were no WMDs — that Saddam was telling the truth, that the UN inspectors were right, and that U.S. officials were wrong.

But the question arises: Why were U.S. officials so certain that they would find some stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq?

The answer is: Because they had the receipts! They were the ones who, along with other Western powers, had delivered the WMDs, including poisonous gas, to Saddam. So they naturally figured that some of those WMDs would still be lying around to be “found,” which would have enabled them to justify their invasion of Iraq under the guise of having saved the United States and the world from an imminent WMD attack.

Iraq and Iran

Why had they delivered WMDs to Saddam in the first place? Why had they partnered with this brutal dictator?

They were helping Saddam to kill Iranians in the war between Iraq and Iran.

Why did they want Saddam to kill Iranians? Because the Iranian people had had the audacity to oust from power the brutal dictator who had tortured and oppressed them for some 25 years, the shah of Iran.

Why would the ouster of the shah of Iran anger U.S. officials? Because he was their dictator! They had installed him into power in 1953, as part of a CIA coup that replaced the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, a man named Mohammad Mossadegh, a Time magazine “Man of the Year,” with the shah of Iran. Moreover, the CIA had helped the shah establish his secret police force, which tortured and oppressed his own people for the next 25 years.

When the Iranian people finally ousted the shah in 1979 and replaced him with a radical Islamic anti-U.S. regime, that didn’t sit well with U.S. officials. Thus, they delivered WMDs to Saddam with the hope that he would use them against the Iranian people during his war with them during the 1980s.

The American people didn’t know about the 1953 coup and the U.S. support of the shah’s brutal regime, but the Iranian people certainly knew about it. That’s why they took U.S. embassy employees captive during the 1979 revolution. They were angry, not only about the CIA coup that had ousted their democratically elected prime minister but also about the CIA’s support for SAVAK, the shah’s secret CIA-like domestic police force.

Twelve years later, when Saddam invaded Kuwait, U.S. officials turned on him in the Persian Gulf War, killing countless Iraqis in the process. It was then that they began to call him a new Hitler.

Some people were asking what business the U.S. government had serving as self-appointed global cop in the Middle East. After all, the U.S. government had done its share of invading other countries in its part of the world. Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Granada, Mexico. The list goes on and on. One could be excused for wondering whether there wasn’t a bit of hypocrisy involved on the part of the global cop.

In any event, in the middle of the Gulf War the Pentagon conducted a secret study that established that if the U.S. military were to destroy Iraq’s water and sewage facilities, people would die from infectious illnesses.

So the Pentagon issued the order: Destroy Iraq’s water and sewage facilities. And to ensure that the facilities could not be repaired, U.S. officials imposed one of the cruelest and most brutal systems of economic sanctions in history on the Iraqi people. It was essentially a complete embargo.

Sure enough, the Pentagon’s study proved to be accurate. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, particularly children, died as a result of illnesses that could be traced to sanctions that lasted for 11 years. Year after year, tens of thousands of Iraqi children were dying, and there was nothing the Iraqi people could do about it.

Two high UN officials, Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday, resigned in protest of what they termed “sanctions genocide.”

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

This article originally appeared in the August 2010 edition of Freedom Daily.

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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.