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Which Comes First: Interventionism or Terrorism?


Following up on my last two blogs regarding the important debate over what has motivated people to commit terrorist acts against the United States, two questions arise:

First, why does the U.S. government persist in his claim that the terrorists are motivated by hatred for American freedom and values when the overwhelming weight of the evidence is virtually conclusive that what has motivated the terrorists to strike against the United States is U.S. foreign policy?

Second, why do many Americans so readily buy into the U.S. government’s “freedom and values” argument, or even worse, resort to a religious-war explanation, rather than simply acknowledge that the U.S. government has done some very bad things to people overseas and that it is logical that the victims are likely to retaliate?

The last thing U.S. officials want is for Americans to be challenging the U.S. government’s expansive overseas empire and policy of interventionism. Through such devices as coups, assassinations, regime change, support of brutal dictatorships, establishment of bases, sanctions, embargoes, invasions, wars of aggression, and occupations, U.S. officials seek to install their people into public office in foreign countries, thereby expanding the dominion, influence, and control of the U.S. Empire.

If Americans were to conclude that all this is about empire, then they might begin questioning whether maintaining an empire is worth all the costs — the hundreds of billions of dollars in expenditures for the military-industrial complex, along with the accompanying debt, taxes, and inflation, the constant deaths and maiming, both physical and mental, of U.S. soldiers, the abandonment of long-established principles of civilization, such as prohibitions on torture, and the ever-growing suspension and infringements on civil liberties, not to mention the constant killing and brutalization of people in other lands.

In other words, if Americans were to conclude that the U.S. government’s pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy is the root of all these problems, they might well begin discussing and debating whether our nation should abandon such a policy.

Thus, given that that’s the last thing that U.S. officials want the American people to be discussing and debating, they simply conjure up the notion that foreigners in the victimized countries hate America for its freedom and values, not because of the bad things the U.S. government has done to them, their families, and their countrymen as part of the Empire’s expansive imperial and interventionist policy.

For their part, many Americans readily embrace the explanation because the last thing they want to admit to themselves is that their government does bad things to people overseas. They conflate the U.S. government and the American people in their own minds and, therefore, cannot imagine that “we” or “America” would ever do anything bad to others. They place the U.S. government in an exalted position and consider criticism of U.S. foreign policy as hatred for America or, even worse, as akin to heresy. They conjure up religious-war explanations for the terrorism even though they can’t explain why the terrorists aren’t striking at such countries as Switzerland and Italy.

Consider Iran. The U.S. government initiates a coup that ousts the democratically elected prime minister and installs a pro-U.S. unelected dictator and then helps him to brutalize and torture the Iranian people for the next 20 years or so. The Iranian people finally revolt, oust the dictator, install an independent extremist Islamic regime, and take several U.S. diplomats hostage.

What is the response of U.S. officials? “These terrorists just hate us for our freedom and values!”

What is the response of the pro-interventionist supporters? “Those Muslim terrorists are just waging jihad against us Christians!

What better way to avoid confronting the wrongfulness of the CIA coup in Iran than that?

And it’s the same with every other country where the U.S. Empire has attempted to expand its reach through such devices as coups, sanctions, embargoes, assassinations, invasions, wars of aggression, and occupations, including Iraq and Afghanistan. The intervention comes first. The anger, hatred, resentment, and retaliation come second, followed by cockamamie explanations from the U.S. Empire and its chorus of interventionist supporters as to what has motivated the terrorists to strike.

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.