After five years of sacrificing thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people in a war of aggression and military occupation of a country that never attacked the United States, Pentagon officials are chagrined that the military junta of Burma won’t permit Pentagon officials to show how good and caring they are through the delivery of relief supplies to cyclone victims in Burma.
Make no mistake about it: The Pentagon’s offer of relief supplies to the cyclone victims does not reflect how good and caring the Pentagon has suddenly become. The money that was used to purchase the supplies came out of the pockets of U.S. citizens, compliments of the force used by the IRS to ensure that Americans fork over the money.
Moreover, the offer of aid by the U.S. military to Burma cyclone victims does not reflect how good and caring the American people are. It’s not as if Americans voluntarily chose to part with a portion of their money to help the cyclone victims, which is what voluntary charity is all about. The aid that the Pentagon is offering the Burma victims is part of a corrupt system involving welfare and warfare in which the IRS plunders and loots people, on threat of fine and imprisonment, so that the money can be used for the political and bureaucratic interests of those in power.
One of the common mantras heard regularly all across the land, including in churches, is that U.S. soldiers are dying in Iraq for freedom. The U.S. government’s regime change operations are always about freedom. How else could they get Americans to support wars of aggression, occupations, and interventions? If they told them that it’s all about money, power, empire, and regime change, would Americans be extolling the loss of their servicemen, the killing of Iraqis, and the total destruction of Iraq? By believing the nonsense about freedom, Americans can make themselves feel good about whatever their government is doing.
While the lies emanate from Washington, the ultimate moral responsibility rests with the American people — the people who willingly permit themselves to fall for the lies. Why bother with the possibility that one has been lied to when it’s so much easier to simply pin a flag pin on one’s lapel and exclaim that it’s all about freedom?
Last week the New York Times revealed that a Pentagon audit reflected that $8.2 billion in American taxpayer money had been spent in Iraq with virtually no documentation as to how the money had been spent. The same was true for $1.8 billion in Iraqi assets that U.S. military officials stole (what other word can be used to describe it?) from the Iraqi government after the invasion. Let’s not forget that early in the occupation the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (what a title) found that $8.8 in Iraqi oil money and other assets could not be accounted for.
That’s a lot of money. Billions of dollars. Where did it all go? The president doesn’t know. The Pentagon doesn’t know. There are no receipts or accounts of disbursement for billions of dollars.
Maybe all that money went for goodness and freedom. But I’ve got a different hunch: I suspect it went into misappropriation and bribery, which have lined the pockets and foreign bank accounts of lots of government officials and their privileged cronies, both American and Iraqi.
The plight of the American people can be summed up by that old tale about the Emperor’s new clothes. Unfortunately, however, whenever Americans are confronted with the consequences of naked power that comes with U.S. empire and intervention, they will not permit their minds to stray from the officially approved mindset that the U.S. welfare-warfare state is clothed with nothing but goodness and freedom.
Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.