Thursday, September 30, 2010
A Great Time at Beacon College
It’s been a great week for me! On Tuesday, I traveled to Leesburg, Florida, which is about 1 ½ hours from Orlando to give a lecture on the principles of libertarianism to the student body at Beacon College, which just happens to be one of the most fascinating schools in the country.
The student body consists of 150 students, all of whom are learning-disabled. The school was founded some 20 years ago by a group of parents with learning-disabled children who wanted a school that focused on providing an excellent college education that oriented toward each student’s particular learning disability.
When I arrived, the school treated me to a friendly tour of the campus facilities, including the chance to meet and converse with some of the professors, whose educational skills encompass not only the substantive subjects they teach but also the ability to help the students confront and deal with their specific learning disabilities. The thing that came across was the deep passion and commitment that the teachers and administrators have for what they do in life.
I was then treated to a nice lunch with the president of the college, some of the school administrators, and two of the students, both of whom are ardent and extremely knowledgeable libertarians. In fact, my trip to Beacon was brought about by one of the two students, Shawn Bramley, whose persistence and diligence in organizing the program was recognized by the college president when she welcomed the audience before my talk.
In my talk, I began by explaining the core principle of libertarianism — the non-aggression principle — and then showing how that principle applies to some of the burning issues of our time — the economy, charity, the drug war, education, foreign policy, and immigration.
The aftermath of my talk was any teacher’s dream — lively questions, answers, discussion, debate, and argumentation. It was absolutely awesome. At one point during the discussion period, there were so many side discussions and debates taking place that I just stood back with a smile on face to behold the spectacle. The teachers and administrators who attended the talk had big smiles on their faces too at seeing the intellectual excitement among the students.
In giving such a lecture, I’ve always felt it wasn’t so important to me that people agree with what I have to say as much as it is to get people to think in ways they’ve never thought before, such as by asking such fundamental questions as, “What does it really mean to be free?” and “What should be the role of government in a free society?”
Thanks to all the great people at Beacon College, for what you do, for inviting me to speak at your fine school, and for giving me such a nice, warm, friendly reception. And thank you, Shawn, for making this happen! It was an honor to speak at your school and to exchange ideas on liberty with everyone at Beacon College.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Assassinating Americans, Secretly
The Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the ACLU’s lawsuit in the Anwar al-Awlaki case confirms, once again, that when it comes to civil liberties, the Obama administration is no different from the Bush administration, and in fact is arguably much worse.
The al-Awlaki case involves President Obama’s order authorizing his military and paramilitary forces (i.e., the CIA) to assassinate al-Awlaki, an American citizen. The proposed assassination is being justified under the Bush-Obama “war on terrorism.”
No warrants. No grand jury indictments. No jury trials. No due process of law. Simply, assassination.
The assassination power now being wielded against al-Awlaki isn’t limited to him. The U.S. military and the CIA can now assassinate any American they want. All they need is the president’s authorization; and, according to him, he doesn’t have to answer to anyone, including Congress and the courts.
Moreover, this omnipotent power to take out Americans is not limited to Americans living overseas, as al-Awlaki is doing. Remember the point that Bush made, which Obama has enthusiastically embraced: that the entire world, including the United States, is the battlefield in the perpetual, worldwide “war on terrorism” that the U.S. Empire is waging.
That means that the president now has the power to label any American he wants right here in the United States as a terrorist and issue the order to his forces: “Take him out, now, with bullets, bombs, or drones.”
Does Obama need congressional authority before he assassinates Americans? Nope. The notion is that, like Bush, he’s engaged in a real war, just like World War I or World War II and, therefore, he has the authority to kill Americans who, he claims, are supposedly fighting on the other side.
There’s at least one big problem, however, with the Bush-Obama formulation of their “war on terrorism”: Terrorism is a federal crime. It’s on the books as a federal crime. It’s listed in the U.S. Code as a federal crime.
Thus, it’s not surprising that dozens of terrorism cases have been brought in the federal courts. Why wouldn’t they be? Since the U.S. Code, which defines federal criminal offenses, lists terrorism among the many federal crimes, it stands to reason that suspected terrorists are brought to court to face federal terrorism charges.
As I have long pointed out, however, what the Bush administration did after 9/11 is simply announce that federal officials now had the option of treating terrorism as either a federal crime or as an act of war, whichever way they want to go.
As I have also long pointed out, not only does the Constitution not permit such an option to be exercised, it would be difficult to find a better example of a violation of the rule of law and equal treatment under law than that. Either terrorism is a crime (which it is) or it’s an act of war (which it is not). To permit U.S. officials to choose one way or the other is the epitome of arbitrary, discretionary, ad hoc, totalitarian power.
Does an American have the right to secure judicial review to prevent his assassination? Not according to Barack Obama.
The ACLU sued on behalf of al-Awlaki’s father seeking a federal court injunction against the assassination. Barack Obama ordered his Justice Department to seek an immediate dismissal of the suit.
His justification? The “state secrets doctrine,” a doctrine found nowhere in the Constitution. Obama is arguing that to permit the suit to continue would mean that people would learn the details of his assassination program and the standards by which Americans and others are targeted for assassination. That would jeopardize national security, says Obama.
So there you have it. We now live in a country in which the military and the CIA can now assassinate Americans, on authorization of the president, who doesn’t have to explain to anyone the standards for such assassinations.
That’s what now passes for a “free” country — the omnipotent, non-reviewable power of the ruler and his military and paramilitary forces to assassinate their own people.
Exactly who are the masters and who are the servants in such a society?
Friday, September 24, 2010
But Obama Is a Socialist
Liberals supporters of Barack Obama become really upset when people call him a socialist. They say that such an accusation is so outrageous that it falls within the category of “extreme” or “fringe.”
Consider the following four countries: Cuba, China, North Korea, and Vietnam.
Wouldn’t everyone concede that all four of those countries have socialist systems?
Let’s list some of the key programs and policies that are common to all four of those socialist countries:
1. Government provided retirement pay to senior citizens (i.e., Social Security).
2. Government provided health care (i.e., Medicare and Medicaid).
3. Government-provided, mandatory education to people’s children (i.e., public schooling).
4. Government-provided unemployment compensation.
5. Government-provided welfare payments.
6. Government central planning of monetary affairs (i.e., a Federal Reserve).
7. Government management of the economy.
8. Government-issued licenses for occupations and professions.
9. Government central planning over immigration affairs.
10. Government control over trade.
11. Government equalization of wealth among the citizenry.
12. Government-mandated wage rates.
13. Government control over prices.
14. Government-provided subsidies.
Now, which of those key programs and policies in those four socialist countries does Barack Obama disagree with?
Answer: None. He supports them all.
If a person embraces the key programs and policies of socialist countries, why doesn’t that make him a socialist?
A question naturally arises: If liberal Barack Obama is a socialist, what does that make conservative George W. Bush?
Isn’t the answer obvious?
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Why Statists Are Attacking the Tea Party
The upside to the Tea Party movement — the one that has the welfare-warfare crowd so consternated — is that its members are not behaving as the good, little citizen-automatons that epitomize the statist crowd. The Tea Partiers are asking questions and they’re challenging the establishment paradigm, a real no-no in the eyes of welfare-warfare statists.
There are two primary issues that are common to Tea Partiers: first, concern over out-of-control federal spending and debt, and, second, the U.S. Constitution.
Those two issues are what have statists, both on the welfare side and the warfare side, extremely concerned, causing them to increasingly go on the attack against the “extremism” of the Tea Partiers.
Why are the statists engaging in such a preemptive attack? After all, it’s not as if these two issues — federal spending and debt and the U.S. Constitution — are really all that controversial in and of themselves.
It’s because the statists know that if an increasing number of Americans are thinking — and especially about these two particular issues — they might well come up with the right answers, and it’s those answers that absolutely scare the statists to death.
That’s precisely why statists love the good, little citizen automatons that the public (i.e., government) schools are committed to churning out — that is, people who might complain about politicians or bureaucratic inefficiencies but who are mentally or psychologically incapable of thinking outside the box and challenging the moral, economic, and constitutional legitimacy of the entire statist paradigm itself.
The downside to the Tea Party movement is that most of them have still not figured out the solution to the mess in which statists have mired our nation: that is, abolish, don’t reform, all the federal programs, departments, and agencies on which all that spending and debt are going for, including the welfare-state programs that the Framers never envisioned would be implemented by the federal government and that only came into existence during the statist regime of Franklin Roosevelt as well as the massive Cold War, national-security-state warfare machine that came into existence at the end of World War II.
I’m referring to such New Deal welfare-state programs as Social Security as well as Medicare, Medicaid, public (i.e., government) schooling, unemployment compensation, and welfare, which have their ideological roots in German socialism, not Americanism. It’s not a coincidence that the Social Security Administration has a bust of the Iron Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, prominently and proudly displayed on its website.
The Tea Party types are still looking through a glass darkly. They oppose out-of-control federal spending and debt and uphold the Constitution, but they’re still committed to maintaining the socialistic welfare state and the imperialist warfare state that American statists have foisted upon our land.
Consider the endless occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan or the entire U.S. overseas military empire, with its more than 700 bases in some 130 countries. How often do you hear Tea Party types calling for the immediate end of those occupations, or for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Korea, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and elsewhere, or the dismantling of the standing army or the military-industrial complex?
Alas, hardly ever.
Yet, where in the Constitution is the federal government given the power to establish a vast overseas military empire, the power to police the world, the power to wage wars of aggression, to power to torture, the power to establish secret prison camps, the power to kidnap, the power to conspire with brutal dictatorial regimes to torture people, the power to assassinate people, or the power to wage presidential wars without a congressional declaration of war?
Consider the drug war, one of the federal government’s most immoral, destructive, expensive, and failed wars in history. Where is the federal power to criminalize drugs delegated in the Constitution?
Yet, how many Tea Partiers openly call for drug legalization? Very few.
All too many Tea Partiers think that the solution to the mess in which America is mired is simply to get “new” people — e.g., Tea Partiers — in public office. They have yet to realize that the crisis facing our nation is not a “right person” problem but rather a systemic problem — that is, the rejection of a paradigm based on individual freedom, economic liberty, private property, and a limited-government republic and the embrace of a paradigm based on socialism, interventionism, imperialism, and statism.
The problem with the Tea Party is that it still hasn’t thought through the logical ramifications of the two issues that unite it. But the reason the statists are so nervous and worried is that when people are thinking and questioning, the possibility exists that they might yet arrive at the right solution.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Blame Statism for the Disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan
As the fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan continue worsening, expect American statists to do what they always do — avoid responsibility for their disasters and look for scapegoats on which to blame them.
Consider Iraq, which has the one of the best models of a dysfunctional government you could ever find. Daily bombings and killings, arbitrary searches and seizures, military enforcement of law and order, arbitrary searches and seizures, indefinite incarcerations, and torture, not to mention a political deadlock preventing the election of a prime minister. After some 8 years of U.S. military occupation, Iraq is not a place you would want to take your family on vacation. It’s not a coincidence that U.S. congressmen don’t include Iraq on their resort-junket list of places to travel.
As the situation in Iraq continues to disintegrate, expect the statists to rail against those dumb, incompetent Iraqis who were unable to put together a functioning government. It’s all their fault, the statists will say.
Or consider Afghanistan, whose government is quite possibly the most crooked and corrupt in the world. As things continue to disintegrate after 9 years of U.S. military occupation and control, the statists are pointing the finger at the crooks and frauds within the Afghan government as the cause of the disaster.
The American people should not let the statists off the hook with such scapegoating. The responsibility for the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan lies squarely and completely with American statists and their philosophy and policy of empire and interventionism. The fact that the victims of the U.S. invasions and occupations of those countries have been unable to cobble together functioning governments and societies only shows that the statists’ use of deadly and destructive force to remake societies is fatally flawed.
After all, no one can deny that the U.S. Empire wielded the omnipotent power to shape things in both countries. This is especially true in Afghanistan, where the president of the country is the hand-picked puppet of the U.S. Empire.
Notwithstanding this total power to remake those two societies with the aim of making them fully functioning members of the U.S. Empire, the Empire has nothing but crookedness, fraud, and corruption to show for all the death and destruction it has wrought in both countries.
Accepting responsibility for these disasters is the last thing statists are going to do because they know that Americans might then begin to question and challenge the entire paradigm of statism, including imperialism and interventionism. “We did the right thing,” the official line will be. “We gave them the chance to form free and democratic societies, and it’s all their fault that they couldn’t do it.”
But the responsibility for the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan lies not with the Iraqi or Afghan people. It lies with American statists, and specifically with the imperialism and interventionism that forms the core of U.S. foreign policy.
Americans who are concerned about our nation’s freedom and economic well-being in the future would be wise not to settle for the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. The disasters in those two countries should cause Americans to raise their vision to a higher level, to one that challenges the entire paradigm of statism, especially interventionism and empire.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Statism and the Washington Post
A Washington Post editorial about Cuba yesterday depicts perfectly the mindset of statism that afflicts the mainstream media.
The editorial commented about the horrific economic conditions in Cuba, which has caused Cuban leaders to launch what the Post called “half measures.” Such half measures include the laying off of 500,000 Cuban government workers, in a society in which the government employs about 95 percent of the work force.
The Post defended the Obama administration’s decision to ease some of the travel restrictions to Cuba but also its decision to continue the U.S. government’s decades-old embargo, which has brought untold misery and suffering to the Cuban people.
The Post said that such a half measure is the best response to Cuba’s half measure. “Fundamental” changes by the U.S. government should await fundamental changes by Cuban authorities, the Post said.
The Post stated: “When average Cubans are already allowed the right to free speech and free assembly, along with the right to cut hair and trim palm trees, it will be time for American tourists and business executives to return to the island.”
The operative statist word is “allowed.”
Freedom for statists is when the government allows people to exercise their rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to freely engage in occupations and economic activity.
In fact, notice the significance of what the Post is saying: The U.S. government is correct not to allow Americans to exercise their right to travel and trade and spend their own money the way they want. Allowing them to do such things in the future will depend on whether the Cuban government allows the Cuban people to exercise their rights.
In other words, under statism “freedom” for Americans is dependent on “freedom” in Cuba.
When the Post says that such activities as cutting hair and trimming palm trees should be allowed, it’s referring to occupational licensure, the process by which the state allows people to engage in occupations and professions.
Here in the United States, thanks to the statists, people must secure a license from the government in order to cut people’s hair or to trim their trees. In other words, they may do these things only if the government allows them to do so. See here and here.
This is the statist concept of freedom — when the government allows the citizenry to exercise fundamental rights. Presumably, the Post will be also happy when the Cuban authorities issues licenses to newspapers and groups who wish to peaceably assemble.
Contrast statism with libertarianism. Libertarians, unlike statists, hold that man has been endowed by nature and God with fundamental, inherent rights that exist independently of government. Since such rights do not come from government, people don’t need to get governmental permission to exercise them.
What are such rights? Not only the right to publish or read whatever you want or to peaceably assemble with others, but also the right to sustain your life through labor, to engage in economic activity, to engage in any occupation or trade, to trade with others, to accumulate the fruits of your earnings, to travel wherever you want, and to do what you want with your own money. And all without governmental permission.
The U.S. government’s control over the American people’s ability to freely travel to Cuba and spend money is no different, in principle, from the Cuban government’s control over the economic activities of the Cuban people.
Statists see nothing wrong with that. Libertarians abhor it.
While the Post pooh-poohs the layoff of 5 percent of the Cuban government’s labor force as a “half measure,” who doubts that the newspaper would go ballistic if anyone were to propose the same for the U.S. government or were to propose a dismantling of such socialist and interventionist programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, welfare, or the drug war, all of which are as sacred to Cuban statists as they are to American statists.
Monday, September 20, 2010
How to Quell the Tea Party Rebellion
The Tea Party’s political shake-ups of the Republican establishment are undoubtedly causing no small amount of consternation among big-wigs in the Pentagon, the CIA, State Department, and other agencies and departments within the U.S. government.
As of now, the Tea Party is primarily complaining about out-of-control federal spending, debt, taxation, and the prospect of hyperinflation on the horizon. But there is always the possibility that it might figure out that the only solution to these problems is to dismantle and abolish the things that such money is spent on.
That raises a danger that James Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution, warned about, one that every American would be wise to ponder and be prepared for.
Here is what Madison said: “Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended.”
Madison was referring to the old Roman Empire, whose characteristics were similar in many respects to the U.S. Empire today — out of control spending and debt and monetary debauchery, produced not only by the empire’s welfare state but also by its extensive warfare state and military empire that extended far beyond Rome, just like the U.S. Empire, which maintains some 6,000 bases here at home and more than 700 bases overseas in some 130 countries.
In order to keep the Roman citizenry submissive and pacified, the Empire kept them dependent on welfare and entertainment, much like the U.S. government does with its Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, subsidies, and other welfare. In Rome, they called it “bread and circuses.”
Periodically, however, anger and outrage among the citizenry over the taxes, spending, debt, and inflation needed to support the empire’s welfare-warfare state drove people to the verge of rebellion and revolt.
That’s when government officials would resort to what Madison warned about. They would provoke some sort of war or crisis because they knew that the Roman people would immediately bury their anger, outrage, rebellion, and revolt, and rally to the government out of a sense of patriotism.
Would the U.S. government, including the Pentagon and the CIA, do such a thing? Of course they would. In fact, that’s the point that Madison was making — that that would be one danger of a standing army in the United States, which he and other Founding Fathers ardently opposed.
Think back to the so-called attack at the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. What did the Pentagon announce? “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked!” And it was that “attack” that President Johnson used to secure a congressional resolution that led to the senseless sacrifice of almost 60,000 American men. Of course, we now know that there was no attack, but instead simply an attempt to provoke the North Vietnamese to attack U.S. vessels operating in the Gulf of Tonkin.
> Herman Goering elaborated on the point that Madison made: “Naturally the common people do not want war…. the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
Don’t forget that the Nazis justified their attack on Poland by falsely claiming, “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked!”
Also, don’t forget how Adolf Hitler secured the suspension of civil liberties with the Enabling Act — by claiming, “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked!” after the terrorist attack on the Reichstag.
If the Tea Party begins calling on the U.S. government to end the Pentagon’s occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and to dismantle the Pentagon’s overseas military empire and the military industrial complex here at home, what would be a likely way to provoke a war or another serious crisis to quell Tea Party rebellion?
The most obvious choice is, of course, Iran. Throughout the 1990s, the focus of the Empire was almost exclusively on Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Once the Empire ousted Saddam from power, its focus turned to Iran, the Empire’s newest official nation-state enemy, along with terrorism, after U.S. foreign policy generated the 9/11 attacks.
But another option is Mexican drug lords. If the U.S. government begins to squeeze them, it is entirely possible that the drug lords will retaliate with bombs in U.S. federal buildings along the border or assassination of state or local law-enforcement agents, DEA officials, or federal judges.
In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might already be preparing the American people for such a contingency by referring to the Mexican drug lords as “insurgents.”
In the event of such a terrorist attack, you can already hear Clinton, President Obama, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other U.S. officials exclaiming, “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked! We’re innocent! We’ve done nothing to provoke this! Rally to your government in its wars on terrorism and drugs!”
Let’s hope that the Tea Party and other Americans finally realize that the only solution to America’s financial and economic woes lies in dismantling, not reforming, the U.S. welfare-warfare empire. But let’s also be prepared for how empires quell such rebellions.
Friday, September 17, 2010
The Best Open-Immigration Lecture Ever
Last Monday, an audience of around 90, mostly students from George Mason University, was treated to the best lecture on open immigration I have ever seen. The talk was delivered by GMU economics professor Bryan Caplan as part of FFF’s Economic Liberty Lecture Series, which we hold in conjunction with the GMU Econ Society, a student group at GMU composed mostly of libertarians and people interested in Austrian economics.
In a lecture that combined analysis and humor, Caplan brilliantly made the case for open immigration. He carefully demolished the standard statist canards for immigration controls — e.g., immigrants take jobs away from Americans, they ruin our culture, they’re coming here to get on welfare, etc. and then, alternatively, offered less restrictive ways to deal with problems raised by those opposed to immigrants or open borders.
We’ve just posted the video of Bryan’s talk. Again, it is absolutely great! You’re in for a real treat.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Will Cuban Socialists Lead America to Freedom?
I’d like to follow up on my blog post of yesterday about the Cuban government’s decision to lay off 500,000 government employees, given that Cuba’s socialist system has engendered a state of near-starvation poverty in the country.
Undoubtedly, there is consternation among those who are being laid off. For their entire lives, they have worked for the state — a guaranteed job, no risk of ever being fired, free health care, free education for their children, subsidized food and housing, and free retirement pay. No matter how old they might be, the state has truly been their parent since birth.
Now, all of a sudden half-a-million adult children of the state are being fired and thrown out into the private sector.
Self-doubt and fear will undoubtedly afflict many of them.
Would it be any different here in the United States if the U.S. government were to begin dismantling its welfare-warfare empire?
Of course not. In fact, the feeling of doubt and fear might be much greater than it is for those 500,000 Cubans who are now entering the private sector.
Consider Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. What is the standard response of the ordinary American when a libertarian calls for immediately repealing, not reforming, these socialist programs?
An extreme case of self-doubt and fear.
“If we repealed these programs, people would be dying in the streets from starvation and illness.”
“How could I survive without my dole? I’m too dependent on it.”
Is it any different with education?
Nope. Same thing. When a libertarian proposes an immediate end to all state involvement in education, including a dismantling of public (i.e., government) schooling, what is the response of the average American?
“Oh my gosh! If people weren’t forced to subject their children to a government-approved education, everyone would be dumber.”
Not surprisingly, free public schooling and free health care, along with social security, have also long been the pride and joy of socialist icon Fidel Castro.
Lots of Americans would even doubt the economic benefits of a huge layoff of federal employees. Suppose, for example, that the U.S. Empire immediately withdrew all troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Korea, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the rest of the world.
Libertarians would say, “Discharge them! Put them all into the private sector.”
Statists, who generally have a woeful lack of understanding when it comes to economics, would say, “Oh, no! The private sector cannot handle an influx of hundreds of thousands of federal employees. There will be mass unemployment. We must keep them on the federal payroll for the indefinite future, even if they’re just sitting around.”
Nonsense. Laying off hundreds of thousands of welfare-state workers and warfare-state workers would produce an economic bonanza. That’s, in fact, what the Cuban authorities are banking on — that those 500,000 Cubans will begin producing wealth so that those still working in the parasitic sector can seize part of it to fund their operations.
Laying off all those bureaucrats would have a doubly positive effect. First, the newly privatized federal employees would now begin producing wealth instead of parasitically seizing wealth. Second, the private sector would no longer have the heavy tax burden of supporting the newly privatized workers. More savings, lower taxes, and more production mean more wealth and higher standards of living.
During America’s era of slavery, it was undoubtedly claimed by some that slavery should be gradually phased out rather than ended all at once. The slaves, it would have been argued, lacked the necessary skills to survive in the private sector. It would be cruel and inhumane to simply throw them off the plantation and into the free market. And think of the unemployment that would be produced with millions of newly freed slaves entering the free market all at once.
Yet, ironically, for the slave the best thing that could ever happen to him would be to be freed — that is, “fired” from the plantation life that guaranteed him a job and free health care and education and cast out into the free market where there were no guarantees at all.
To extricate themselves from the socialist morass and the mindset of self-doubt, fear, and dependency that it has been inculcated in so many Americans, it is necessary for the American people to recapture a belief in themselves, in others, in freedom, and free markets. Americans also need to abandon their long-held faith in the federal government to get them through the vicissitudes and hardships of life and replace it with a deep and abiding faith in God.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if Cuban socialists, through their firing of those 500,000 government employees, helped pointed the way to economic liberty and free markets for Americans to follow?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Fidel Castro and American Statism
Cuba’s president Fidel Castro is surely making American liberals extremely nervous. Mugged by reality, Castro is moving his country in a direction away from socialism, at the very same time that American liberals are trying their best to move the United States further in the direction of socialism.
Castro has a much firmer grip on reality than American liberals. Castro fully understands that Cuba has a socialist economic system, and he is starting to understand that it is that socialist system that is the principal cause of Cuba’s economic woes. American statists, on the other hand, think that the United States has a free-enterprise system and that that system is the cause of America’s economic woes. Thus, it makes sense that while Castro is moving away from socialism, American statists are moving toward it.
Consider the following statement of fact about the situation in Cuba from an article in the New York Times, among the paragons of liberal media in America: “Cubans have access to free health care, education and subsidized food and housing.” The article should have also mentioned that Cubans have long had a comprehensive system of social security.
Now, everyone acknowledges that Cuba has a socialist economic system, right? No one disputes that.
But I’ll bet that when some Americans read that statement from the New York Times, their immediate reaction is, “Why, I’ll be darned. Cuba has a free-enterprise economic system, not a socialist one.”
Why do I say that?
Because those programs are ones that are inherent to America’s economic system, one that every school kid in America is taught is a free-enterprise system. Thus, given that such things as free health care (i.e., Medicare and Medicaid), education (i.e., public schooling), subsidized food and housing (i.e., agricultural subsidies and food stamps; FHA), and Social Security are core elements of America’s “free-enterprise” system, the fact that they are also core elements of Cuba’s economic system must mean, in the minds of some Americans, that Cuba’s economic system must be “free-enterprise” also.
Not so, as we libertarians have been pointing out for decades. These are all socialist programs. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they have been the pride and joy of Fidel Castro and other Cuban statists. The programs also show how far Americans have traveled down the road to socialism and away from a genuine free-market system.
In Cuba almost everyone works for the government. Why? Because this gives people a sense of security. The government is providing for them, taking care of them, ensuring that they don’t face the risk of being laid off. There’s no risk of capitalist exploitation.
Isn’t that how American statists view the federal government — as their provider and protector — as their daddy or their mommy? Don’t they look to the federal government to take care of them and protect them from the vicissitudes and hardships of life? Don’t American statists believe in the equalization of wealth, taking from the rich to give to the poor? Cuba simply carried these principles to their logical conclusion, taking everything from the rich and letting most everyone work for the state.
There’s one big problem, however, with socialism — massive poverty. The state doesn’t produce wealth. Instead, it survives by extracting wealth from the private sector, much as a parasite does to a host. The reason there is mass poverty in Cuba is because the percentage of people permitted to be in the private sector is extremely small — only 5 percent of the population. That small private sector of 5 percent is insufficient to sustain the 95 percent parasitic sector.
Isn’t that the problem facing the United States today? Doesn’t the parasitic sector, including both the welfare state and the warfare state, continue growing bigger and bigger, while the private sector teeters under the weight of it all?
Castro has finally realized the nature of the problem. So, he just announced a layoff of half-a-million public-sector employees, with the aim of providing a bigger private-sector base to sustain the parasitic sector.
Isn’t this in principle what American statists hope to do with their stimulus plans — get more people hired in the private sector to prevent layoffs in the public sector?
Not surprisingly, Castro is keeping a tight leash on these newly discharged workers. He’s making them get government licenses as a condition to run private-sector businesses.
In other words, like American statists Castro views economic activity as a privilege bestowed by the state, one that the state can license, control, and regulate. Like American statists, he does not view economic liberty as a fundamental, natural, God-given right with which no government can legitimately interfere.
What is happening in Cuba provides valuable lessons for Americans. First, it causes them to confront the real nature of such socialist programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, subsidies, welfare, and occupational licensure, thereby providing them with a clue as to why the United States is mired in economic difficulty.
Second, and more important, it helps them to understand and appreciate the wise words of the great German thinker Johann von Goethe: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Dismantle America’s Military Behemoth
An article in last Sunday’s New York Times provided an interesting analysis of the Egyptian military, one that holds some important lessons for America.
The article described the military in Egypt as “the single most powerful institution in an autocratic state facing its toughest test in decades, an imminent presidential succession.” The military, which has been the recipient of almost $40 billion in U.S. foreign aid for the past 30 years, has made it clear that it will not permit anyone to assume the presidency “without ironclad guarantees that it would retain its pre-eminent position in the nation’s affairs.”
The paper pointed out the big role that the military and military-industrial complex have come to play in Egyptian life: “The Egyptian military has turned into a behemoth that controls not only security and a burgeoning defense industry, but has also branched into civilian businesses like road and housing construction, consumer goods and resort management.”
When he was leaving office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had been an army general in World War II, issued a fascinating warning to the American people:
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
In other words, Big Government was a necessary evil but because of the Cold War. Once the communist threat was vanquished, Big Government proponents argued, we could dismantle the standing army and the military-industrial complex.
Alas, however, it was not to be. When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, along with the Berlin Wall, the time had finally come to dismantle the huge military behemoth that had been constructed over the almost 5 decades of the Cold War. There was no foreign regime that had the military means or even the desire to invade and occupy the United States. The time had arrived to relieve the American people of the tremendous (and always growing) tax burden needed to fund the enormous military machine along with the grave danger it posed to the American people, as per Eisenhower’s warning.
But the military and the military-industrial complex would hear nothing of it. Notwithstanding the demise of the Soviet threat and the end of the Cold War, they were as determined as the Egyptian military behemoth to preserve their pre-eminent position in American society.
Now, it’s true that the military behemoth in the United States doesn’t use its vast resources to engage in commerce and industry, as the one in Egypt does. But it spends its money in a way that the Egyptian military cannot — by maintaining an enormous string of expensive overseas military bases in more than a hundred countries, as part of the biggest overseas military empire in history.
What happens if U.S. troops are forced to suddenly exit Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby diminishing the threat of terrorist blowback against the United States? No problem — U.S. officials are already preparing for that contingency, by falling back on the drug war as a way to preserve the existence of America’s military behemoth.
Last week Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that drug cartels in Mexico are looking more like “insurgencies” and pointed to the growing threat they are posing. She said that the situation is “looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago.”
In other words, if the “war on terrorism” starts to lose steam, there’s always the possibility of stationing U.S. troops in Mexico to fight the drug war, thereby provoking them into retaliating with some sort of attack on U.S. troops or even on federal officials or federal buildings in the United States.
Then, we’ve got a new excuse to keep the military behemoth in existence, along with a new round of illegal enemy combatants, indefinite detention, torture, kangaroo tribunals, denial of federal court trials, threats to national security, suspension of habeas corpus, illegal wiretapping, kidnapping, rendition, assassinations, etc., etc., etc.
The American people would be wise to heed the warning of President Eisenhower. There is no better time than now to dismantle America’s military behemoth (as well as to legalize drugs). It’s a necessary prerequisite to restoring a free and prosperous society and a limited-government republic to our land.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Obama and Bush: Mismanagers of the Economy
With the approaching elections, we are being treated to the expected political attack by Republican candidates — that President Obama has mismanaged the economy. In fact, within one day of Obama’s taking control over the presidency, Republicans were already railing against his socialism and his out-of-control federal spending, debt, and taxes, and the dismal state of the economy.
Never mind, of course, that this was the standard political ploy of the Democrats during the entire 8 years of the Bush administration. Bush and his Republican cohorts, they steadfastly maintained, were mismanaging the economy. Government spending and federal debt under Bush soared, and it was during his administration that the housing and mortgage crisis hit.
In fact, I remember seeing polls during the Bush years in which people were saying that they trusted the Democrats more than the Republicans with respect to managing the economy. But today things are different. People are expecting a Republican resurgence in November owing to Obama’s mismanagement of the economy.
It’s really just one great big game. The party that isn’t in office exclaims against the party that is in power, saying that it’s mismanaging the economy and asking that voters return it to power. Then, when that party gets back into power, the tables become turned. The ousted party immediately goes on the attack, claiming that the party in power is mismanaging the economy and asking voters to return it to power.
What’s the real solution to America’s economic woes?
It lies in asking ourselves a fundamental question: Should the role of government in a free society be to manage an economy?
The answer is: No, absolutely not. The government has no more business managing an economy than it does managing people’s religious activities.
After all, what is an economy? It’s really just people sustaining and improving their lives and interacting with others in economic matters. It’s an intricate and complex process that involves countless people producing goods and services and exchanging them with others.
So, when the president purports to manage the economy, what he’s really doing is attempting to manage, control, direct, or influence the economic decisions of hundreds of millions of people, each of whom is trying to plan and direct his own affairs. In other words, one man — or group of people in the federal government — purports to plan, in a top-down, command-and-control manner, the economic decisions of countless people, a phenomenon that the Nobel Prize winning libertarian economist Friedrich Hayek called a “fatal conceit.“ It cannot be done, and in fact all that it produces is crisis and chaos.
The problem Americans face is not that President Obama is mismanaging the economy. The problem is a systemic one, one that delegates to the president the authority to manage the economy.
The solution to America’s economic woes lies not in getting better people in public office who can better manage the economy. The solution lies in prohibiting government officials from managing the economy. Managing the economy is not a legitimate function of government in a free society, and in fact is the root cause of a nation’s economic woes.
The French have a term for this: “Laissez faire, laissez passer.“ Let it be, let it pass. Leave people free to manage their own economic affairs. Separate economy and the state in the same way that our American ancestors separated church and state.
Friday, September 10, 2010
The Problem is Empire, not Islam
I suspect that the reason that so many Americans have gone off on the anti-Islamic kick is their steadfast refusal to confront the fact that the 9/11 attacks were the direct consequence of the bad things their federal government had been doing to Muslims in the Middle East prior to 9/11. It’s as if people perceive the federal government to be a sacred god, one that is all-knowing and all-good.
Woe to the blasphemer and the heretic who dare to point out that the 9/11 attacks were nothing more than retaliation for the horrific things that the U.S. Empire was doing to Muslims prior to 9/11. One is simply not supposed to say such things. If you do, you’re labeled an America-hater, as if the federal government and our country were one and same thing.
No, you’re supposed to just continue to blindly repeat the mantra: Islam is bad and the Muslims are coming here to America to establish Sharia law. Our government must continue to protect us from the coming invasion. That’s why the Empire has been occupying Iraq and Afghanistan for longer than World War II — to protect us from Muslims … well, except for the fact that the regimes that the U.S Empire is protecting in Iraq and Afghanistan happen to be Muslim regimes.
Prior to 9/11, we here at The Future of Freedom Foundation predicted the 9/11 attacks. That doesn’t make us brilliant soothsayers. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to make such a prediction. We knew what the U.S. Empire was doing in the Middle East, we knew the tremendous anger it was generating, and we knew that ultimately there would be people who would retaliate.
Since the U.S. Empire was doing the bad things to countries that were predominantly Muslim, it also didn’t take a rocket scientist to predict that the people who would inevitably retaliate would be Muslims. Duh!
In other to avoid having to confront these unpleasant facts, all too many Americans, however, have gone off on this anti-Islamic kick, claiming that the 9/11 attacks had nothing to do with retaliation but instead everything to do with some sort of worldwide Muslim campaign to conquer the world.
Take a look at these two articles that FFF published in 1999 and 2000 — that is, prior to the 9/11 attacks:
Terrorism, War, and Crises by Jacob G. Hornberger
Breeding Terrorism by Sheldon Richman
Here is what I wrote in part in January 2000 — 18 months prior to the 9/11/2001 attacks:
Throughout all the hype and hysteria, U.S. government officials behaved as if they were innocent babes threatened by people who simply have an overwhelming desire to kill Americans for no good reason at all.
But the truth is that there are plenty of people in the world who have very good reason to hate the U.S. government. If we ignore this, we do so at our peril.
For example, look at what our government has done to the people of Iraq. Ever since the supposed end of the Persian Gulf War, we have maintained a vicious, brutal embargo against the Iraqi people….
The embargo against Iraq has caused extreme suffering, in terms of malnutrition and health conditions, not for Iraq’s ruling elite but rather for the Iraqi people, and especially for their children. How many Iraqi babies have died because of the U.S. embargo? How many women have died during childbirth because of the embargo? How many fathers have seen their children’s growth stunted?….
If there had been a terrorist attack, you can be 100 percent certain that the U.S. government would have used the crisis as an opportunity to march America farther down the road to total destruction of our civil liberties….
There is one and only one solution to the problem of terrorism by foreigners against Americans: for the American people to put a permanent end to state-sponsored terrorism by their own government.
Here is what Sheldon wrote in December 1999—20 months prior to the 9/11 attacks:
If 2000 comes in with a terrorist’s bang, the blame must be squarely placed at the feet of our foreign-policy makers. Of course, the perpetrator is directly responsible for the deaths and injuries of innocent civilians, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the foreign-policy establishment, from President Clinton on down, are accessories. They created the indispensable conditions.
Too extreme a statement? Ponder this: someone recently asked when the last act of foreign terrorism was committed against Switzerland. Isn’t it interesting that countries that mind their own business aren’t targets of violence committed by citizens of other nations? Maybe there’s a lesson there somewhere….
Apologists for activist government never tire of telling us that the benevolent state is our protector and that without it we’d be at the mercy of monsters. It is about time that we understood that the U.S. government does more to endanger the American people than any imagined monsters around the world….
There is a way to make the United States terrorist-proof: pursue a foreign policy proper to a constitutional republic, the same policy proposed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In a word: nonintervention. Let countries and populations work out their own disputes. Meddling simply widens and intensifies conflicts.
Was the U.S. Empire waging a religious crusade against Islam when it was doing bad things to Muslims in the Middle East prior to 9/11? Of course not. The Empire was simply pursuing its primary foreign-policy objective — regime change — ousting recalcitrant rulers in foreign countries and replacing them with pro-U.S. rulers who would do the bidding of the Empire. That’s how the Empire works — it engages in coups, assassinations, invasions, foreign aid, occupations, kidnappings, executions, and the like to effect regime change abroad and to exterminate those who resist.
In order to arrive at a correct solution to a problem, it is necessary to arrive at a correct diagnosis. The problems facing our country are not rooted in the Islamic religion or with Muslims. The problems are rooted in U.S. foreign policy.
Thus, the solution is obvious: Stop the Muslim-bashing and simply dismantle the U.S. government’s overseas military empire, bring all the troops home and discharge them, terminate all governmental interventions in the affairs of other countries, and restore a limited-government constitutional republic to our land.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Barack Obama: Torturer-and-Assassin-in-Chief
The Ninth Circuit’s ruling yesterday in the case of Binyam Mohamed vs. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. confirms two things: the U.S. government wields the omnipotent, unreviewable power to torture people and, two, that Barack Obama, despite his much ballyhooed pre-election campaign hype about “change,” is actually just serving George W. Bush’s third term in office.
The plaintiffs’ claims against Jeppesen arose out of the CIA’s infamous kidnapping and rendition program, in which the CIA kidnaps people and then transports them to brutal foreign regimes for the purpose of torture. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, which the Court was required to accept as true for purposes of ruling on the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the victims were subjected to horrible medieval-like torture techniques, such as breaking of bones, cutting into sexual organs, and pouring of painful liquids into open wounds.
The U.S. government intervened in the case, claiming that the suit should be dismissed based on the “state-secrets doctrine,” a pernicious doctrine that is found nowhere in the Constitution but which, the Court held, trumps the due process provisions of the Bill of Rights.
The government claimed that to allow the suit to go forward would entail the disclosure of government secrets, which would supposedly threaten national security.
The government’s position, however, which the court unfortunately bought into, is sheer nonsense. The state-secrets doctrine does nothing more than protect government officials from having their wrongdoing disclosed to the American people. That’s its purpose. That’s its effect.
Contrary to the government’s plea and the Court’s holding, the government’s secrets regarding its torture and rendition program have nothing to do with so-called national security. National security is invoked in order to protect federal officials from criminal and civil liability for their commission of serious crimes.
What should the Court have done? It should not only have let the case go forward, it should have expressly ordered that the plaintiffs were fully entitled, through pre-trial discovery, to delve into every nook and cranny of this dark, nefarious program and to disclose everything about it to the American people and the people of the world. At the end of this road, the nation would continue to stand, in fact on a much more solid moral foundation.
No doubt there would be some insecurity suffered by CIA agents and their enablers, similar to the insecurity that CIA officials undoubtedly felt after being convicted of serious crimes regarding kidnapping, rendition, and torture in Italy. But the security of federal officials who have engaged in wrongdoing is not the same as the security of the nation.
After the John Kennedy assassination, the U.S. government ordered all documents in the case to be kept secret from the American people for 50 years, based on the ludicrous notion that national security was at stake. The claim was ridiculous. The documents were kept secret for one purpose only: to hide from the American people the overwhelming evidence that contradicted the official findings of the Warren Commission. When much of the hidden evidence was finally released in the 1990s, in the wake of the storm produced by Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, the nation remained standing. National security was never at stake. What was at stake was government credibility, which, deservedly, received serious blows from the disclosure of what the government had claimed were national-security secrets some 30 years before.
The Ninth Circuit’s ruling confirms that we now live in a country in which the president and his military and paramilitary forces can torture anyone they want with impunity. Add to that the president’s claim of power to assassinate anyone he wants. How is all this different from any ordinary totalitarian dictatorship? Sure, the torturer-and-assassin-in-chief is democratically elected, but so what? What difference does that make to the victims?
The Constitution called into existence a federal government with limited, enumerated powers. If a power wasn’t enumerated, it couldn’t be exercised. Where are the powers to torture and assassinate people? One searches the Constitution in vain for them. Moreover, how can a ludicrous “state-secrets doctrine,” which appears nowhere in the Constitution, trump the express restrictions on power that the American people imposed on federal officials with the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment?
Ultimately, the root of this evil weed lies in U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. Empire goes abroad and stirs up hornets’ nests. That produces rage among the victims, which then manifests itself in terrorist retaliation. The terrorist retaliation is then used as the excuse by federal officials to ignore the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by claiming omnipotent powers to wage “war on terrorism,” including the power to torture people and the power to assassinate people.
Americans would be wise to pull the evil weed out by its root, which means dismantling America’s overseas military empire, bringing all the troops home from everywhere and discharging them, abandoning all overseas bases and relinquishing any ownership or leasehold rights to such properties, dismantling the standing army and military-industrial complex, and restoring America’s founding principles of anti-militarism, anti-imperialism, anti-interventionism, and a limited, government constitutional republic to our land.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The anti-Muslim opponents of that Islamic community center/mosque in New York City are suffering a severe case of anti-Islamic schizophrenia.
On the one hand, they’ve gone ballistic over the possibility that an Islamic community center/mosque might be built a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center site.
Yet, on the other hand, many of them are among the most ardent supporters and defenders of the U.S. Empire’s invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Why is that anti-Islamic schizophrenia?
Consider the following provisions in the constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan:
Iraq: “First: Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation: A. No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.”
Afghanistan: “The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam.”
Are you getting my drift?
That’s right: The U.S. government, operating through its military and paramilitary forces, has been killing countless people in both Iraq and Afghanistan in order to support and defend Islamic regimes in those two countries.
So, how can the anti-Muslim crowd in the United States get so hot and bothered about a community center/mosque in New York City while openly and proudly supporting the U.S. government’s defense of Islamic regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Why aren’t they out protesting against the use of U.S. troops to defend Islam as ardently as they’re protesting the construction of a community center/mosque in New York City?
Why aren’t they leveling the same anti-Islamic invectives against the troops who are defending Islamic regimes as they’re leveling against people who are proposing to build an Islamic community center/mosque in the United States?
Indeed, if Islam, the Koran, and Muslims are the big enemy that the anti-Muslim crowd says they are, then why in the world are they not calling on the U.S. government to start bombing the Islamic regimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and elsewhere? Why, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a word of protest against U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign aid going to such Islamic regimes as Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Come to think of it, I don’t recall the anti-Muslim crowd’s objecting to the Persian Gulf intervention in 1991, when the U.S. Empire came to the defense of the Islamic regime in Kuwait.
Like I say, a severe case of anti-Islamic schizophrenia.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
How Much Is an Iraqi Life Worth?
One of the most morally obscene aspects of the Iraq War has been the cost-benefit analysis in which war proponents claim that the war has been worth the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people killed in the operation. Since the U.S. government has brought democracy to Iraq, the argument goes, the deaths of countless Iraqi people, while regrettable, has been worth it.
I imagine that there are more repugnant positions, morally speaking, but for the life of me, I can’t think of any. In fact, ever since the invasion of Iraq I have found it absolutely astounding that Christian ministers all across the land have exhorted their congregations to pray for the troops in Iraq, knowing that such troops were killing Iraqi people. Would they have done that if the troops were committing abortions in Iraq?
Take a look at this photograph of Ali Ismail Abbas, a small boy who lost both his parents, including his pregnant mother, and both his arms when two American missiles slammed into their home during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Iraq War proponents say that Ali’s loss of both arms and both parents have been worth it — that is, worth the effort to bring democracy to Iraq.
Can you think of anything more morally repugnant than that?
The lives of the Iraqi people didn’t belong to the U.S. government and, therefore, the U.S. government had no right to sacrifice them in the process of attempting to bring democracy to Iraq.
No one can place a value on the life of another person. Yet, that’s precisely what U.S. officials have done and continue to do. They’re saying that the lives of countless Iraqis were worth less than the value of achieving democracy in Iraq.
How do they arrive at that cavalier calculation? I don’t know. But it has to be among the most morally repugnant calculations ever made.
In fact, I find it fascinating that so many Christians who eagerly condemn Muslims, Islam, and the Koran, claim that there is nothing wrong with sacrificing the lives of other people — countless other people — for the sake of a political goal such as democracy.
How do they reconcile such a position with Christian principles?
In the eyes of God, every single person’s life is sacred, whether he is Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, or agnostic. God does not permit one human being to kill another human being for the sake of achieving democracy in other country.
It is this fundamental wrong that all too many Americans have yet to confront — that their government, operating through its military and paramilitary forces, has broken God’s sacred commandment against killing with its invasion of Iraq.
I would be remiss if I failed to point out that democracy is actually just a ruse anyway, one that U.S. officials use to justify their killing (and maiming) of countless Iraqis. (They’re countless because the U.S. government steadfastly refused to keep track of the Iraqi dead, even while claiming that the invasion was being done for them.)
The war was always about regime change, pure and simple — one intended to oust Saddam Hussein from power and install a U.S.-approved ruler in his stead. After all, if the invasion was really about democracy-spreading, would the U.S. government have supported such non-elected rulers as Saddam Hussein himself (during the 1980s), the Shah of Iran (until he was ousted by the Iranian people in 1979), Pervez Musharraf (the unelected military dictator of Pakistan until the Pakistani people ousted him in 2008), and many other non-democratically elected rulers around the world?
The U.S. government attacked and invaded Iraq, not the other way around. That makes the U.S. government the aggressor power in the conflict and Iraq the defending nation. The U.S. war on Iraq was a war of aggression against the Iraqi people, a type of war that was condemned as a war crime at Nuremberg. The situation is aggravated by the fact that it was waged without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, making the war illegal under our form of government.
Most important, the U.S. government had no legitimate authority to sacrifice even one Iraqi life — not one single Iraqi life — for the sake of democracy in Iraq. The U.S. government’s sacrifice of the Iraqi people at the altar of democracy violates the principles of every major religion, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.