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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Revisiting Freedom in Iraq


How often have we heard proponents of the unlawful war of aggression against Iraq say that the real purpose of their invasion (after U.S. troops and the CIA failed to find those infamous and scary WMDs that were about to fired at the United States) was to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq? How many times have they attempted to justify the deaths of almost 4,400 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on that basis? How often have they reminded us that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who tortured, killed, and jailed his own people?

Lets examine those justifications for attacking a country that never attacked or even threatened to attack the United States.

First of all, Saddam Hussein. No question that he was a brutal dictator. He did kill multitudes of Iraqi people. He did torture his own citizenry. He did incarcerate people without trial.

But that raises a side issue: Why then did the U.S. government support him and partner with him during the 1980s? After all, lets not forget why it was that U.S. officials were so certain that those U.S. troops and CIA agents would find those infamous and scary WMDs that were about to be fired at the United States they had the receipts for them!

Second, lets keep in mind that Saddam Hussein, like most other dictators, wasnt torturing, jailing, and killing Iraqis indiscriminately. He was doing these things to people who were resisting his regime or were trying to overthrow it.

Now, lets examine the freedom and democracy that the U.S. government has brought to Iraq.

According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch the Iraqi regime that the U.S. invasion and occupation succeeded in installing has been running a torture facility that might make Saddams torture facility (the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, which, as we all know, also served as the U.S. governments torture center) look like childs play. See here and here.

In the new free and democratic Iraq, detainees in the secret facility were hung upside-down, deprived of air, kicked, whipped, given electric shocks, and sodomized. During interrogations, victims were called surprise, surprise terrorists, the same justification that U.S. officials have used for torture and abuse ever since 9/11.

Security officials whipped detainees with heavy cables, pulled out fingernails and toenails, burned them with acid and cigarettes, and smashed their teeth. If detainees still refused to confess, interrogators would threaten to rape their wives, mothers, sisters, or daughters.

So, remind me again: What it is that U.S. soldiers have killed and died for in Iraq?

But Saddam wasnt just torturing his own people, he was also killing them.

Again, however, Saddam was not just killing people willy-nilly; he was killing people who were resisting or opposing his regime. Yet, isnt that what the U.S. government and the new free and democratic Iraqi regime have been doing ever since the invasion killing people who have been resisting or opposing their occupation and regime (along with lots of collateral damage in the process)? Reliable estimates put the number of dead Iraqis in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than a million. No one knows the exact number of deaths but one thing is certain: No number of Iraqi deaths has ever been considered too high to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq.

What about indefinite incarcerations? Saddam certainly was doing that. But so have the U.S. government and the free and democratic Iraqi regime that the U.S. invasion succeeded in installing. In fact, in 2007 some four years after the invasion, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. government had 18,000 Iraqi detainees in its custody.

What about democracy?

Democracy isnt freedom and, in fact, oftentimes poses the greatest threat to freedom. Consider Article 2 of the Iraqi constitution: Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation. No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established. That one always shocks those Americans who call on the U.S. government to wage war on Islam. Even more shocking to them is when they learn that the radical Islamic regime in Iraq has closely aligned itself with the radical Islamic regime in Iran. Such Americans cant decide whether to call on the U.S. government to start bombing Baghdad again.

So there you have it; torture, indefinite incarcerations, and countless killings, both under Saddam and under the radical Islamic regime that replaced him. Thats the harsh, cold truth: the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq succeeding in doing nothing more than replacing one brutal dictatorship with another. Thats what U.S. soldiers have killed and died for. Thats what the U.S. government has bankrupted us for.

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.