Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

ISIS and the National Security Scam


U.S. national-security officials are scratching their heads over the decision by young people from around the world to join ISIS. Totally befuddled, U.S. officials just don’t understand why anyone would do such a thing.

At the same time, of course, hardly any American is traveling to Iraq to fight on the other side — the anti-ISIS side — by joining up with the Iraqi army, notwithstanding the fact that U.S. officials continue to loudly proclaim that ISIS poses a grave threat to “national security.”

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are putting out new scare alerts about how ISIS terrorists are planning to attack shopping malls in the United States.

Let’s put this all together.

The reason that young people are joining up with ISIS is that they are sick and tired of the death and destruction that the U.S. Empire has wrought on people in the Middle East, most of whom are Muslims. They’ve seen the bombings, the shootings, the night raids, the round-ups, the detentions, the torture, the brutality, the destruction of homes and businesses, and the massive number of deaths, injuries, and maiming at the hands of the Empire.

In sum, they want to rid the Middle East of the U.S. Empire. They want the Empire to exit the Middle East and return to the United States.

That’s why they are joining up with ISIS — to help send the U.S. Empire back home.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. national-security state — i.e., the military establishment and the CIA — will not permit such a thing to happen. In their minds, they have brought freedom, order, and stability to Iraq. After all, the invasion and occupation of Iraq was called Operation Iraqi Freedom, right? Well, if that’s what it’s called, then that’s what it must be, right? And after all, that’s what the Empire is all about — freedom, right?

Since the invasion and occupation of Iraq were about bringing freedom to Iraq, U.S. officials maintain, the Iraqi people had no right to resist the Empire. Every Iraqi should have immediately succumbed to the invasion, deferred to the authority of the Empire, and knelt down in praise and gratitude for the sacrifices that U.S. troops were making for Iraq. As far as the Empire is concerned, the U.S. government could have chosen any number of other countries for a freedom regime change — e.g., North Korea, Burma, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and more. Therefore, Iraq should have been honored to have been chosen to be the recipient of U.S. imperial goodness.

But that’s just not the way the world works sometimes. There are people in the world who hate empires and will do everything they can to rid their countries of foreign imperial occupation.

Indeed, think of the British colonists living in America in 1776. They didn’t think too much of empires either, including the British Empire, which they were living under as British citizens when they decided to rid the New World of that empire. Not surprisingly, their government considered them to be terrorists because they were killing British troops with the aim of ousting the British Empire from America.

So, that’s what the fight with ISIS is all about: It’s not over whether Muslims or the Koran are good or bad, but rather over the authority of the U.S. Empire to bring death and destruction to Middle Eastern countries in the name of bringing them “freedom.” Those on the other side are saying: Stop your death and destruction and get out of our part of the world and go home.

What about those terrorist threats to American shopping malls? Anyone who has been reading our perspectives here at FFF knows that such a threat should come as no surprise. We have long been telling Americans to get prepared for retaliation for what the Empire is doing in the Middle East. What surprises me is that so many Americans are surprised that victims of U.S. imperialism over there might not limit their retaliation to U.S. troops over there and instead choose to retaliate over here.

After all, let’s not forget that the 9/11 attacks were done in retaliation for what the Empire had been doing before that, including the deadly sanctions that destroyed Iraq’s economy and, more important, contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of (innocent) Iraqi children. Recall also the statement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions was “worth it.” There were also the blowback from U.S. foreign policy that came in the form of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, and the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in East Africa. And there are all the terrorists and would-be terrorists who have been prosecuted since 9/11, all of whom have cited the death, destruction, and mayhem that the Empire has brought to the Middle East as their motivation for retaliation.

As I have long written, if you’re going to have an Empire that is engaged in killing, torturing, and maiming people in the name of bringing them “freedom,” just be prepared for retaliation. It’s a cost of doing empire.

Moreover, the notion that the troops were over there killing everyone before they could come over here and retaliate was foolish from the beginning. Imperial troops are not a magnet and people seeking revenge for imperial wrongdoing are not iron filings. People seeking revenge can choose to inflict that revenge in any way they choose, including on U.S. shopping malls, which the troops are obviously unable to defend. Don’t be surprised if it happens, just like it did on 9/11. Again, just consider retaliation a cost of living under a national-security state empire.

Finally, there is the interesting question as to why American citizens are not traveling to Iraq to join the Iraqi army to fight ISIS. After all, U.S. national-security state officials are very clear: ISIS poses a grave threat to U.S. “national security.” And since they are obviously lots of people traveling over there to join ISIS, why are there hardly any Americans traveling over there to fight ISIS? Don’t Americans care about national security? Don’t they love their country? Why are they sitting here at home?

I suppose part of the reason is that Americans look at the Empire as their daddy or, even worse, their god. They say, “Let the troops protect national security. I have better things to do.”

But I’d like to think there is another reason — that Americans are finally figuring out, even if on a subconscious level, what a racket the entire national-security state is.

After all, consider all the NSA records that Edward Snowden released detailing the NSA’s secret surveillance scheme on the American people. U.S. officials steadfastly maintained that the release of all those records threatened “national security.”

Really? How? The records were released and the United States is still standing. Nothing happened. And the same is true on every single national-security state secret that has ever been disclosed.

Maybe people are finally figuring out that the entire concept of “national security” is all just a crock, a way to keep what the Empire is doing secret from the American people in order to keep the racket going, a racket that necessarily depends on continuous, perpetual warfare in order to keep the national-security state and its vast army of “defense” contractors busy producing new war plans and new bombs, missiles, bullets, tanks, planes, etc. After all, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, if all that armament isn’t used up on a constant, ongoing basis, it will be difficult to keep all those “defense” contractors as well as their employees and sub-contractors busy.

If a sufficient number of Americans finally realize what a racket all this is, the days of the Cold War-era national-security establishment might well be numbered. Just think how everyone except the national-security establishment will be so much better off without a U.S. national-security state apparatus.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.