Let’s consider what James Madison and Herman Goering, two historical figures on opposite sides of the ideological scale, had to say about ISIS:
Let’s start with Madison and break down what he says in this quote:
A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.
What Madison is saying is that the American people will not long be free with a powerful president that has a standing army of loyal troops at his disposal. He’s referring to such things as the power to kidnap, detain, torture, execute, and assassinate people, including Americans, without trial or due process of law, not to mention the unilateral power to bomb, invade, conquer, and occupy foreign nations, thereby inviting retaliation from those who are victimized by such actions.
Of course, the president doesn’t do those things personally. He does them through his military and his CIA, whose members faithfully obey whatever orders the president issues. It’s the troops and the CIA agents who actually do the kidnapping, detaining, torturing, executing, assassinating, invading, conquering, and occupying. They faithfully and loyally do those things on orders of the president, believing that in so doing they are “supporting and defending the Constitution.”
That’s why Madison combines a “standing military force” and a powerful president into a grave threat against the freedom of the American people. What’s he saying is that the troops will obey whatever orders the president issues to them, including orders to employ those powers against Americans.
That’s why Madison, along with the other Framers, opposed both standing armies and a powerful executive branch.
By pointing to what Roman officials did to maintain their omnipotent power over the Roman people, Madison also explains what American officials do. Whenever Americans begin expressing dissatisfaction with ever-growing federal spending, borrowing, debt, inflation, or taxes, the first thing U.S. officials do is stir up some foreign crisis or war.
That enables U.S. officials to get people to set aside their complaints about the NSA, the DEA, federal spending, debt, and taxes, and foreign policy and instead rally to the flag and to the support of the troops. The idea is that once the crisis is over, people can then begin debating the various problems associated with federal programs.
Thus, it’s no surprise that President Obama has just announced that his war against ISIS will take three years. During those three years, people are expected to come together to help the government keep us safe from the terrorists. After all, don’t forget: During those three years “national security” will be at stake because ISIS is coming to get us.
Madison concludes by pointing out that the troops, which are purportedly in the army to keep us safe, actually end up enslaving the citizenry. The way that works is that when the citizenry come to the realization that all this is just a sham and begin to protest, the military and the CIA, ever faithful to the president, are ready, eager, and available to follow orders to suppress the protests and do what is necessary to the protesters. That’s, of course, what is happening in Egypt, where the national-security establishment in that country continues to receive the support of the national-security establishment in our country. It’s also what happened in Chile under Pinochet, in full partnership with the U.S. national-security establishment.
What did Goering, who was a leading figure in the Nazi Party, say about ISIS? Consider his words, which he issued at his trial at Nuremberg:
Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Isn’t that what the latest scare, this one relating to ISIS, is all about? Oh sure, ISIS hasn’t actually attacked the United States but it did behead two Americans in retaliation for U.S. bombing raids against ISIS in Iraq, and that has been more than sufficient to get the American people are stirred up.
Look at how many Americans are going bananas, just as Goering suggested they would. As he pointed out, it’s just not hard for government officials to bring people around to the support of the government. Right now, many people’s knees are knocking and many of them are quivering in their boots. ISIS is the scariest thing they have ever faced—scarier even then Hitler, Stalin, the Soviet Union, communists, North Korea, North Vietnam, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Iran, drug dealers, illegal aliens, and all the other things that have scared the heck out of the American people ever since U.S. officials grafted the national-security state apparatus onto our governmental structure. They are all convinced that ISIS is coming to get them, kidnap them, cart them back to Arabia, waterboard, and behead them.
And if anyone questions any of this, he is derided for failing to appreciate the grave danger America is in, or for not being brave, or for not being a patriot, or for not being willing to come to support of the nation, or for not supporting the troops.
The entire situation is about as ridiculous as could be. ISIS is not coming to invade, conquer, and occupy the United States. It does not have hundreds of thousands of transport ships and planes. It does not have millions of troops. It does not have billions of dollars.
Oh sure, they might take over Iraq, just as Saddam Hussein did or just as the military dictatorship in Egypt has. There are brutal dictatorships all over the world, some of which the U.S. government even partners with. That doesn’t mean an invasion, conquest, or occupation of the United States.
Or some of them might commit a terrorist attack on a building or a mall here in the United States. But that’s not exactly an invasion, conquest, and occupation of the nation. That’s the murder of a limited number of people.
Is that bad? Of course it is. But that’s the price of empire and intervention. Such attacks, if they come, will be in retaliation for the U.S. government’s bombing raids in Iraq. When you have a governmental apparatus that consists of a standing army and an all-powerful president, you have to accept that terrorist retaliation is one of the prices that must be paid for maintaining that type of governmental apparatus. If you don’t want terrorist strikes against Americans, then there is a simple solution, the one that Madison and the other Founding Fathers favored: Dismantle the standing army, the CIA, and America’s foreign empire of military bases, and end America’s foreign policy of interventionism and support of dictatorships. Absent that, just prepare yourself for the inevitable cost.
The irony is that so many of these frightened Americans are calling on the president to use his military and CIA to do the same things that generated ISIS in the first place—that is, more bombs and more killing of people in Iraq. This time, such Americans are apparently expecting different results. When ISIS lies destroyed three years from now, only to be replaced with ISISGodzilla, Americans will once again be confronted with the definition of insanity, the same definition, by the way, they are confronted with each time the feds destroy some drug lord or drug cartel.
Unfortunately, rationality is in short supply in a nation of frightened, terrified people. It’s the ultimate disaster story of the welfare-warfare state—a nation with the most powerful government in history presiding over the most frightened people in the world. Neither Madison nor Goering would have been surprised. They would have been the first ones to say that big, powerful government results in a weak citizenry, a citizenry that gets its courage vicariously through the troops and falls for anything, a citizenry that eagerly surrenders its freedom to their own government in the quest to be kept safe from the dangers that such government engenders.