As the continuing debate about the NSA’s massive surveillance scheme continues, let’s not forget the justification that the NSA relies on to justify its scheme. The NSA says that its scheme is necessary to protect the United States from “terrorists.”
Why is it important that we keep that in mind?
Because it’s the U.S. government that is the cause of the anti-American terrorism that the NSA uses to justify its surveillance scheme.
The heart of the issue is the question that has been staring us in the face ever since 9/11: Why do they hate us? That is, why do people in foreign lands hate Americans so much that they’re willing to initiate violent acts against them?
Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials provided their answer to that question: They said that foreigners hate Americans for our “freedom and values.”
That’s ridiculous. Actually, foreigners have long admired Americans for their freedom and values. What they hate is what the U.S. government has been doing to people in foreign lands for decades.
This is where the concepts of the national-security state, empire, and intervention come into play.
The national-security state consists of the enormous standing army and the CIA, two apparatuses that became a permanent part of America’s governmental structure after World War II. Those two apparatuses fundamentally altered the nature of American life, moving the United States toward a militarist society, one that was totally obsessed with “the communist threat,” much as it is now obsessed with “the terrorist threat.”
The imperial mindset has manifested itself through an extensive chain of hundreds of U.S. military installations in some 130 countries as well as CIA agents secretly operating in foreign countries all over the world.
Interventionism comes about through foreign aid to pro-U.S. dictatorships, meddling in the politics of other countries, regime-change operations, assassinations, kidnappings, torture, invasions, occupations, and other similar practices.
Those three things — the national-security state, empire, and intervention — have produced an unbelievably deep antipathy among foreigners toward the United States. That’s because they inevitably inflict deep pain and suffering among the victims of the policies. Those victims — or their survivors — then end up with the anger and rage that drives them to strike against the United States with acts of terrorism.
Consider invasions and occupations, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Inevitably there are going to be people killed and maimed. Or consider support of some dictatorship, such as the military dictatorship in Egypt, which is killing, incarcerating, and torturing innocent people with weaponry and equipment provided by the U.S. government. Or consider the CIA’s meddling in elections by supporting one foreign candidate or another.
Those types of things make people angry. The anger drives people to retaliate. That’s what anti-American terrorism is all about — not hatred for America’s freedom and values but instead hatred against the policies and practices of the Pentagon and the CIA.
When the retaliation comes, take a wild guess how the U.S. government responds. It responds in the same way that produced the anger and rage in the first place. It kills, kidnaps, tortures, invades, occupies, bombs, shoots, or effects regime change in foreign lands.
What does that accomplish?
It produces more anger and rage, which ends up in a perpetual cycle of violence. At that point, you’ve got the Pentagon and CIA exclaiming: “Despite the end of the Cold War, which brought us into existence, you still need us (to protect you from the terrorism that our policies produce).” Meanwhile, the NSA institutes a massive surveillance scheme to keep us safe from the terrorist dangers produced by the Pentagon and the CIA.
So, the real question is not whether the NSA or CIA should be reined in, or whether the troops should be sent back to Iraq, or whether the Pentagon and CIA should continue occupying Afghanistan.
Instead, the real questions are: Do we need a national-security state apparatus — i.e., an enormous standing army, military-industrial complex, and CIA? Or would we be better off dismantling them? Would we be better off closing the overseas empire of bases and restoring America’s governmental system to one of a constitutional republic? Would we be better off if the U.S. government wasn’t intervening in the affairs of other countries, including invasions, occupations, foreign aid, support of dictatorships, and the like?
I submit that the answer to all those questions is obvious. We dismantle the national-security state apparatus, which, by the way, was originally justified by a fear of communism, not terrorism. That would bring to a close all the horrible things that the U.S. government does to people overseas that produce the anti-American anger and rage, which leads to anti-American terrorism. That, in turn, means that we no longer need a NSA because the justification for its horrible surveillance schemes will have disintegrated.
The embrace of a national-security state, empire, and interventionism has been an absolute disaster for our country. Not only did such things bring us out-of-control spending and debt, they have also meant the loss of our liberty and privacy. With the debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan upon us, there would be no better time than now to restore freedom, peace, and prosperity to our land.