by Jacob G. Hornberger
Talk of war with Iran is back in the air. Conservatives and liberals alike are doing exactly what they did when the U.S. Empire was ramping up the crisis environment in the build-up to the Empire’s undeclared war on Iraq. Interestingly, the same rationale is being cited by the statists: WMDs. “The Iranians are acquiring WMDs!” the warfare statists are crying. “If the Empire doesn’t bomb Iran now, mushroom clouds will soon be appearing over American cities. We have to trust our government officials. They have access to information that we don’t have.”
It was no different with the U.S. war on Iraq — a war and resulting 9-year occupation that have killed and maimed thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, not one single one of whom had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks.
The new crisis environment over Iran should not surprise us. James Madison, the father of the Constitution, explained why:
A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending have enslaved the people. (Emphasis added.)
While there are no violent revolts taking place in the United States, there certainly is a lot of restlessness with the domestic situation, as reflected in the Tea Party and Occupy movements. An increasing number of people are protesting the dismal economic conditions in which the United States is now mired — out of control spending and debt, inflation, unemployment, negative savings rate — a nation increasingly headed into bankruptcy, just like Greece and Italy are.
On top of all the economic misery are the ever-increasing infringements on civil liberties, through such things as the PATRIOT Act, indefinite detention, airport body groping, assassinations, torture, cover-ups, immunity for criminal acts, Internet monitoring, highway VIPR checkpoints, and on and on.
To explain why things are so bad, government officials spout their standard nonsensical bromides about “It’s because of the failures of free enterprise” or “The terrorists hate us for our freedom and values” or “We’re infringing on your civil liberty only temporarily to keep you safe.”
Or they look for scapegoats on which to blame the problems, such as immigrants, or at least illegal immigrants, or the debt crisis in Europe.
Or they resort to the time-honored strategy that the Roman officials employed — stir up crises and wars overseas, as they are now doing with Iran. If not Iran, they always have North Korea, Cuba, China, Venezuela, Nicaragua, or some other such regime to stir up trouble with.
The problem facing our country is not Iran or any other nation. The problem facing our country is the U.S. government — yes, our very own government.
Specifically, the root cause of America’s economic woes lies in the U.S. welfare state — a socialistic system that has now held our nation in its grip for some 80 years. It has brought out-of-control spending, debt, inflation, monetary debasement, poverty, and a mindset of dependency to our nation. It has turned America into a political warzone in which large segments of the populace fight hard to plunder and loot the income and savings of other people. The welfare state is threatening to take our country down — into bankruptcy — just like it is doing to Greece and Italy.
The root cause of America’s terrorism woes lies in our nation’s warfare-state empire, which has now held our nation in their grip for more than 60 years. It too has brought out-of-control spending, debt, inflation, monetary debasement, and a mindset of dependency among the vast number of contractors, companies, and cities that receive military largess. The warfare state empire has brought the constant threat of terrorist retaliation to our land with its sanctions, embargoes, invasions, occupations, torture, meddling, and support of brutal dictatorships.
Moreover, the U.S. government has used the threat of terrorism that it itself has produced to infringe to an ever-growing degree on the civil liberties of the people. That’s what such things as the Patriot Act, the airport body groping, indefinite detention, torture, spying, Internet monitoring, GPS and cell phone tracking, VIPR highway checkpoints, and assassination are all about.
So, what better time than now to ramp up a crisis or a war, when people are getting restless under the burden of the big government that the welfare-warfare state has brought into existence?
Madison was a wise man. His insights about empires and standing armies apply as much today as they did back when he expressed them.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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