Even though the Iraqi people and their ruler, Saddam Hussein, had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, President Bush was correct in once again linking 9/11 to his invasion and occupation of Iraq in his speech to the nation last night. Why? Because the motivation behind the 9/11 attacks was the same as the motivation behind the insurgency in Iraq: U.S. foreign policy.
Contrary to what Bush has long maintained, the 9/11 terrorists, like their predecessors who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, were motivated not by hatred for America’s “freedom and values” but instead by anger arising from the bad things that the U.S. government has done to people overseas, especially in the Middle East, including:
(1) The cruel and brutal sanctions imposed against Iraq for more than a decade, which contributed to the deaths and misery of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, along with the callous indifference of U.S. officials to their horrific consequences. The goal of the sanctions — and therefore the rationale for all the deaths and misery they produced — was nothing more than “regime change” — that is, the ouster of Saddam Hussein from power and his replacement by a U.S.-approved regime, which continued to be the goal as President Bush’s forces invaded Iraq, as the recently disclosed Downing Street Memo implies;
(2) The arrogant stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands in Saudi Arabia, troops that Bush hoped could simply be transferred to permanent bases in Iraq after “regime change” in Iraq was accomplished;
(3) The unconditional U.S.-taxpayer subsidization, both financial and military, of the Israeli government, regardless of its policies.
President Bush’s attack on Iraq was nothing more than part and parcel of the pro-empire, pro-interventionist, pro-militarist foreign policy that has long generated deep anger and hatred among people of the Middle East against the United States. Thus, why should it surprise anyone that an invasion and occupation that have produced not only the deaths of countless more innocent people but also additional misery and devastation for the Iraqi people would generate the deep anger and resistance that similar-type U.S. policies have produced in the past?
For decades, the U.S. government’s pro-empire position has been that it has the right to “maintain a presence” and impose its will in the Middle East, by force if necessary. Those foreigners who resist its presence and its policies are then extinguished by imperial troops for being “bad guys” or “terrorists.”
In Bush’s mind, this is the “freedom” for which sacrifices must continue to be made in Iraq — the “freedom” of the U.S. empire to continue imposing its will on the people of the world, especially those in the Middle East. Make no mistake about it: those sacrifices — both in terms of lives and treasure, not to mention moral principles — are for nothing more than international power politics and not for “democracy and freedom,” as the U.S. government’s ardent support of such cruel and brutal dictators as Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan (and, previously, Saddam Hussein) reflects.
While it is certainly possible that President Bush will yet pull the rabbit out of the hat in Iraq, it increasingly appears that his war will prove to be one of the biggest debacles in U.S. history. If so, both Republicans and Democrats will undoubtedly be encouraging Americans to “stay the course” by simply being more selective with respect to future wars that their Cold War military empire elects to wage.
It is up to us libertarians to continue raising the vision of the American people to a higher level — encouraging them to reject the entire pro-empire, pro-interventionist, pro-militarist, pro-big-government paradigm by which conservatives, neoconservatives, and leftists have guided our nation for the past several decades.
It is up to us libertarians to encourage our fellow Americans to lead the world to a freer, more peaceful and harmonious place through the restoration of the philosophy of individual liberty, free markets, limited government, noninterventionism, nonmilitarism, and republic that guided our forefathers.
What better way to ensure that all the innocent people, both Iraqi and American, who have lost their lives or limbs in Iraq for more than a decade will not have died or been maimed in vain? What greater gift for the American people to give to their children and to the world.