I just returned from Texas where I had the good fortune of participating in one of the most awesome conferences I’ve ever participated in. As I told the audience at the beginning of my talk, when I initially received the invitation to speak, I almost said no because I knew nothing about the group that was inviting me—the Texas Millennial Institute. But when I went to their website, I saw that the organization has just recently been organized by a group of college libertarians, and so I said yes. I sure am glad I did.
Even though it is a brand new organization and the conference was run on a shoestring budget, the conference was run in a first class manner. For example, they had two students in the front of the building at TCU in Ft. Worth to direct people into the building, then another student at the elevator, and then another one on the 3rd floor directing people to the registration desk, where there were 3 or 4 students handling that. Everyone was a volunteer. Then, everything was run in accordance with the schedule. Around 100 people attended, most of whom were students but there were a number of adults in attendance, including a few FFF supporters.
The conference was about U.S. foreign policy, especially the impact that empire and interventionism have had on the Middle East and Afghanistan.
The conference speakers were a Syrian woman named Ghada Mukdad, who detailed the horrors of what is happening to her country. The other speakers were libertarians Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute, Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio, and Angela Keeton of Antiwar.com. All the talks were absolutely great. If they post them online, I’ll let you know in a future blog post.
Among the most interesting aspects of the conference for me were the parts that involved members from the Texas Millennial Institute. One was a panel consisting of two members of TMI and two liberal students. The insights on U.S. foreign policy shared by these students were knowledgeable, insightful, and fascinating. Then, later in the conference they had a “Socratic session” where everyone at each table was asked to read a short article at the table they were seated at. Then after 40 minutes or so, a student at the various tables were invited to stand up and give a short summary of what was discussed.
My talk oriented around the history of the U.S. national-security state, how it is destroying our country, and why it is totally unnecessary to our security and safety.
I pointed out that the national security state, which consists primarily of the military establishment, the CIA, and the NSA, fundamentally altered America’s original governmental structure, for the worse, and that it was done without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment.
The justification was the Cold War, which U.S. officials said was necessary to wage against America’s World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union. U.S. officials maintained that there could never be peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union and communism and that ultimately one side would have to defeat the other side, most likely in a real war.
That was palpable nonsense, of course. Today, the United States peacefully coexists with China, Vietnam, and Cuba. In fact, the Pentagon is even trying to expand its overseas empire of military bases to Vietnam. There is no reason why that couldn’t be done after WW II.
U.S. officials maintained that the Soviet Union’s refusal to permit independent regimes in Eastern Europe proved that it was out to conquer the United States and the world. Of course, it was the U.S. government, during the war, that delivered Eastern Europe and East Germany into Soviet control, knowing full well that it was dealing with a communist regime. How could it be surprised when the Soviet Union used Eastern Europe as a buffer against another future German invasion? Don’t forget, after all, that the United States was scared of communist regime 90 miles away from American shores.
When the Constitution called the federal government into existence, it was a government without a standing army — that is, without an enormous, permanent military establishment. That’s because the Framers and our American ancestors had a deep antipathy toward standing armies. They knew that standing armies were always the means by which tyrannical governments imposed “order and stability” on their citizenry.
Thus, after every U.S. war, the standing army would be dismantled, until World War II came along. That’s when everything changed.
Senator Arthur Vandenberg told President Truman that to make sure that Americans went along with this fundamental change, the president would have to scare the hell out of the American people. That’s what Truman and the founders of the U.S. national-security state did — they scared the American people into believing that the communists were coming to get them, much as U.S. officials have scared them today into believing that the terrorists and the Muslims are coming to get them.
Some 15 years later, in 1961, President Eisenhower delivered his Farewell Address in which he observed that the military industrial complex was entirely new to America’s governmental structure and that it posed a grave danger to our freedom and well-being.
Ike’s successor, John F. Kennedy, came into office as pretty much a standard Cold Warrior but gradually began achieving a breakthrough in which he recognized what a crock the entire Cold War was. By the time he was assassinated, Kennedy had vowed to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and he had absolutely no trust in the military establishment. In fact, at the time he was assassinated, Kennedy had circumvented the Pentagon and the CIA in secret negotiations with the Soviets and the Cubans to end the Cold War.
Thirty days after Kennedy was assassinated, former President Truman wrote an op-ed published in the Washington Post, stating what a sinister force the CIA had become in American life.
Among the important things to realize about the national-security state is that it is a governmental apparatus that is inherent to totalitarian dictatorships. Just think about the Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, China, North Korea, or Cuba. National-security establishments were essential parts of those governmental structures.
So it’s not surprising that the Gestapo and the KGB closely monitored the activities of their citizens, in order to ferret out those anti-Nazis or anti-communists inside the country. So it was that the NSA was doing the same thing to anti-communists during the Cold War.
There is a common denominator to all the crises in the Middle East. It is the U.S. government and specifically the U.S. national security state. This is not a coincidence. It is causation. The U.S. national security state is either the root cause of the crises or the major party fueling the fire once it gets going. It couldn’t care less how many people it kills or destroys in its effort to install pro-U.S. dictatorships into power.
In the process, the U.S. national security state has become the biggest terrorist-producing machine in history. With each person it kills in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Libya, or wherever, ten people pop up ready to seek revenge against the United States. That’s how we got the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in East Africa, and the 9/11 attacks.
Each new terrorist threat is used to as the excuse for ever-growing infringements on the rights and liberties of the American people. It’s no surprise that we now live under a regime that wields the power to arrest, incarcerate, execute, torture, monitor, and assassinate its own people without trial or due process of law. That type of omnipotent power has always been inherent to totalitarian regimes. Why should it surprise anyone when the U.S. government, having grafted onto its structure a totalitarian apparatus, would end up wielding the types of omnipotent powers wielded by totalitarian dictatorships?
And then there is the out-of-control federal spending and debt, which is threatening to bankrupt America. The national-security state (and the welfare state) are the principal causes.
The solution? Some say reform is the solution. But when a body had cancer, the ideal is to eradicate the cancer, not modify it. Our American ancestors were right in bringing into existence a federal government with no national-security state. It should never have been adopted but at the very least it should have been dismantled at the end of the Cold War. The reason that America is now embroiled in endless war, crisis, and chaos in the Middle East is the decision to continue the national-security state in existence after the Cold War was over. There is but one solution: dismantle it and restore a limited-government constitutional republic to our land.