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Players and Pawns: The Persian Gulf War

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For the greater part of this century, the United States government has plundered, looted, and terrorized the American people through the Internal Revenue Service. It has surreptitiously stolen people’s income and savings through the Federal Reserve System. It has brutally enforced — through fines and imprisonment — rules and regulations governing people’s peaceful economic activities. In a very real sense, ours is a government which has been — and is — waging a terribly immoral and destructive war against its own people.

Yet, Americans continue to delude themselves. Harkening back to their high-school civics classes, they continue to believe that America is the land of the free — that the welfare-state, planned-economy way of life was formed in 1787 — and that their government is founded on moral and benevolent principles. Like the cancer patient who undergoes a denial stage upon being told of his disease, Americans refuse to face the truth: that they are not free — that they have abandoned the principles of limited government private property, and unhampered markets on which this nation was founded — and that our government is now based on evil and immoral principles.

But many Americans who know the truth have concluded that our kakistocracy, through its liberation of Kuwait, miraculously reformed itself into a good and honorable government. Let us review the record.

Among the panoply of reasons given by the U.S. government to justify its intervention in the Middle East was its professed concern for the Kuwaiti people. But the evidence establishes that out government has even less concern for the well-being of foreign citizens than it has for its own citizens.

For many decades, our government has used money which has been plundered from the American people to give foreign aid to brutal tyrants — knowing that such money would be used to tyrannize the people who lived under such tyrants. Ours is a government which delivered millions of dollars to the Shah of Iran — despite its knowledge that the money was being used to torture and kill the Iranian people … which actively supported Saddam Hussein — despite its knowledge of his aggressive acts against Iranians and his murderous conduct against his own people … which embraces Mikhail Gorbachev — despite its knowledge of his aggressive acts against Lithuanians and the murderous acts of this barbaric communist against his own people … which willingly shakes one of the bloodiest hands in the Middle East — that of Hafez Assad of Syria — despite its knowledge of his aggression against the Lebanese and the brutal killing of thousands of his own people … and which feels right at home with the savage, communist tyrants of China — despite their long-time aggression against the Tibetans and their murderous conduct against their own citizenry.

And Americans have yet to confront another uncomfortable reality: that the same evil, immoral, and tyrannical government which reigns supreme in our domestic affairs also has omnipotent power over our lives and fortunes in foreign affairs. Remember — the President sent hundreds of thousands of American troops into war without seeking congressional approval. (Many Americans do not realize that a military blockade is an act of war.) By the time congressional approval was sought the President had already — by placing American troops in harm’s way — effectively cornered the Congress and the American people into supporting his unilateral decision. The subsequent debate concerned only the method by which the war was to be waged — not whether or not the war would be waged.

Moreover, the President made it abundantly clear that the congressional vote was, in any event, only window dressing — that he would order an attack on Iraq regardless of the outcome of the vote.

Why is all of this important? Because the American people must be made to realize what they have wrought for their children, and their children’s children, who will probably have to pay the price: a nation whose ruler has many of the same omnipotent powers over the lives and fortunes of the citizenry as those exercised by the most powerful dictators in history.

During the Persian Gulf crisis, the U.S. government preached the importance of the rule of law. But our government itself violated the rule of law by ignoring the U.S. Constitution, not only with respect to waging war without a congressional declaration of war, but also by exercising a power — policing the world — that the Constitution does not authorize.

And our government also failed to explain how the rule of law is supposed to be followed in international affairs. Was the U.S. government following the rule of law when it mined Nicaraguan harbors? If so, why did the World Court enter a monetary judgment against our government for what it adjudged to be an illegal act? And why has our government refused to comply with the World Court’s judgment?

The simple truth is that there is no mechanism by which international disputes among non-consenting, independent sovereign nations can be adjudicated. (And the United Nations is not a judicial body designed to resolve such disputes; the Persian Gulf crisis showed that its votes are delivered in the same way as those in the U.S. Congress — to the highest bidder for cash or other consideration.) Does the lack of such a mechanism justify aggression against another nation-state — whether it be our government’s invasion of Panama or Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait? No. But it does show two things: that for the foreseeable future, nation-states (including the U.S.) will continue to resolve their disputes through military force, and, second, that the U.S. government’s moralizing on the importance of following the rule of law in international affairs only evidences its own hypocrisy.

The opportunity to serve as the world’s policeman is a dream come true for the military-industrial complex — that is, those who are dependent on military welfare. With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the military welfare-recipients were in a state of panic. How could they now justify the tremendous tax burden associated with a huge, standing military force?

But to be able to serve as the world’s policeman — especially in the Middle East — now guarantees total political and bureaucratic control over the lives and fortunes of the American people for the indefinite future. Why? Because war and the threat of war always and inevitably entail omnipotent power over the citizenry. Moreover, brutal foreign tyrants against whom such wars can be waged are never in short supply — and especially not in the Middle East! And what better place (from the stand-point of the military-industrial complex) to have the mission of establishing peace and stability than in a part of the world which has never known peace and stability?

By becoming the world’s policeman whose primary beat is the Middle East, those who are on the military dole have ensured themselves perpetual existence — the perpetual control over the lives and property of the American people.

And, of course, it is the American people who are the pawns in all of this. Innocently believing that their government miraculously has become good and moral overnight, they ardently support its omnipotent power over their own lives and fortunes — the same way they have done in their government’s futile and destructive wars on poverty, illiteracy, and drugs. But Americans ignore two important things: first their role as pawns and, second, that pawns can and will be sacrificed whenever the political and bureaucratic chess players in Washington deem it necessary for the “international good.”

Is there an answer to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait based on principles of individual freedom and limited government? Yes. And it is an answer which is also based on the principle of individual responsibility.

The power of our government to intervene in both domestic and foreign affairs should be strictly constrained through express constitutional limitations. In domestic affairs, this means the end of the welfare-state, planned-economy way of life. In foreign affairs, this means the end of foreign aid, the end of our government’s ability to wage trade wars, and the end of its role as the world’s international policeman. The power of our government should be constitutionally limited to three primary functions: protecting the American people from domestic aggressors, defending the United States from foreign attack, and resolving disputes which arise in this nation.

And the American people? They should be free to travel and trade all over the world without the permission and interference of their own governmental officials… and to donate their own lives and fortunes to oppose tyranny and oppression anywhere in the world. Does this mean that the American people would have to take responsibility for their beliefs and convictions? Of course — but isn’t that the kind of society which we desire?

Freedom for Americans is possible in our lifetime. But it will only come when they finally realize that people are not free — and can never be free — under either a welfare state or a warfare state. And when the American people finally make their own freedom their highest political end, they will discover what only a select few in history have discovered: that true personal pride and self-esteem come from the achievement of one’s own freedom — not vicariously through the military conquests of one’s government. 0

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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.