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A New (but Old) Official Enemy


With the Russian invasion of Georgia, Americans are able to capture a glimpse of another U.S. foreign-policy “success” story.

The most shocking event in the history of the U.S. military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower said was a grave threat to our democratic processes, occurred in 1989. That was the year that the Soviet Empire disintegrated, the Berlin Wall fell, East and West Germany combined into one Germany, Soviet troops vacated Eastern Europe, and many Soviet republics gained their independence.

The Pentagon and the U.S. military industrial complex were panic-stricken. What if Americans decided they could now dismantle America’s standing army given that there was no longer any threat of an invasion of America? Imagine: No more defense contractors. No more military lobbyists. No more retired military officials making a bundle of money as consultants. No more troops or bases overseas. No more bases across America. No more exorbitant taxes to pay for the Cold War warfare state.

The aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Empire was a time in which Pentagon officials were practically pleading with Congress to keep the military-industrial complex in existence. New rationales were proposed. We’ll fight the drug war, the Pentagon said. We’ll advance free enterprise by helping American corporations in overseas matters, it said. Perhaps the most desperate rationale was that an enormous standing army was necessary to protect Americans from an unsafe world.

Among the unstated rationales were the threat of communism and the threat of Islam, given that both threats were nonexistent. But that would change over the course of the next decade of U.S. foreign interventions.

U.S. officials embarked on a series of interventions in the Middle East whose consequence would be anger and rage that would ultimately result in terrorist counterstrikes. The interventions included the Persian Gulf War against former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein, the intentional destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment facilities, the brutal sanctions that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright’s statement that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it,” the stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands, the illegal and deadly “no-fly zones” over Iraq, and the continuous, unconditional aid to the Israeli government.

When all these interventions produced the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001 (along with the attack on the Pentagon), U.S. officials played the innocent. It was all about hatred for America’s freedom and values, they said. It had nothing to do with U.S. government policies that had been igniting and engendering anger and rage against America.

Unfortunately, their interventions weren’t limited to the Middle East. Even while supposedly celebrating the end of the Cold War, U.S. officials embarked on a course of conduct that over time could have but one result — anger and rage engendered within Russian officials (and the Russian people) against the United States.

Every American needs to ask himself an important question: Why didn’t they disband NATO at the end of the Cold War? Wasn’t the purpose of NATO to protect against a Soviet attack on Europe? Well, when the Soviet Union disintegrated, wouldn’t it have been logical to disintegrate NATO as well?

Instead, year after year U.S. officials have used NATO to provoke and antagonize their old Cold War Official Enemy. For example, while U.S. officials are today claiming outrage over South Ossetia’s attempt to secede from Georgia, NATO forces were used to separate Kosovo from Serbia knowing the humiliation that this would produce for Serbia’s longtime ally Russia.

More important, former Soviet-dominated countries, such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland were made members of NATO, and U.S. officials have been trying desperately to extend NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine. On top of that, U.S. officials have been establishing close ties with officials in former Soviet republics, even establishing bases there, such as in Uzbekistan. In the past few days, U.S. and Polish officials have even agreed to the installation of missile batteries in Poland.

The average American neo-con would say, “Well, what’s wrong with all that?” Well, let’s suppose that in 1990 NATO had been dismantled and that Russian officials all of sudden announced that the Warsaw Pact was being kept in existence and re-modified. New members were to include Cuba, Grenada, Panama, Mexico, and Haiti. Suppose that over the next 18 years, Russian advisors were training troops in those countries and that Warsaw Pact missile batteries were installed there.

Would U.S. neocons be going ballistic? Of course they would. They would be calling for the U.S. government to invade those countries in order to effect regime change.

So, where are we today? We’ve come full circle. The U.S. is now facing a scaled-down version of its old Official Enemy, Russia. We’re again hearing talk of the communist threat and references to America’s old Cold War enemy (and World War II partner) the Soviet Union. No doubt we’ll soon be hearing about how the demise of the Soviet Union was an elaborate communist deception designed to lull the West into false sense of security.

And of course, we’ll hear about how necessary the military industrial complex is to the “freedom” and “security” of the American people, given the twin threats of communism and terrorism now facing us. More “defense” weapons. More “defense” contractors. More “defense” profits. More war for “defense.” More spending for “defense.” More taxes for “defense.”

And if U.S. interventions in Latin America since 1989 pay off with drug-war attacks on U.S. officials similar to those taking place against Mexican officials, they’ll soon have more Official Enemies to justify the existence and expansion of the Pentagon and the military industrial complex.

Whatever else might be said about U.S. officials, they certainly are not dumb. By the skillful use of foreign policy, they’ve not only managed to revive their old Cold War Enemy, they’ve also succeeded in adding new Official Enemies to the batch. Hopefully, Americans are paying attention not only to what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America but especially to foreign policy that has been emanating from Washington for the past 18 years.

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.