Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

A Constantly Shifting Array of Official Enemies

by

After George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq ended up producing ISIS, which was quickly made into a new official enemy of the United States, I am sure that there were lots of Americans saying to themselves, “Oh my gosh, another official enemy. But once we vanquish this one, it will finally be over. We will finally have peace, tranquility, and prosperity.”

Those people were living a pipe dream. Now that ISIS has been vanquished, is the Pentagon bringing the troops home? Is there going to be a ticker-tape military parade in New York City? Is George W. Bush going to do a painting entitled “Mission Accomplished”?

Of course not. Everyone needs to resign himself to the discomforting reality of living under a national-security state and an overseas empire: There is always going to be an official enemy or official enemies. It never ends. The process is perpetual.

How else could the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA justify their ever-increasing budgets, influence, and power? Official enemies are the coin of the realm. They never run out of official enemies.

That’s what all the anti-Russia brouhaha is all about. It’s really just an outgrowth of the Cold War obsession with the Soviet Union, a big official enemy — along with communism — that the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA never thought would go away. Communism and the Soviet Union provided the national-security establishment with a gravy train that was supposed to go on forever.

The dismantling of the Soviet Union caught them by surprise. Convinced that the Cold War would go on forever, they didn’t have a new official enemy in ready reserve.

But it didn’t take them long to find one. Enter Saddam Hussein, who became the new official enemy during the entire 1990s. Recall the national obsession during that decade: “Saddam! Saddam! We have to get Saddam! He has WMDs! He’s coming to get us!”

Saddam proved to be a lucrative official enemy. He kept the U.S. military-intelligence-industrial complex in high cotton for more than 10 years.

Other official enemies? The list is endless. The Taliban. Qaddafi. Assad. Terrorism. Al Qaeda. Drug lords.

It’s possible to go from being an official friend of the Empire to an official enemy. And heaven help any American who doesn’t flow with the tide and adopt the new official enemy as his own.

For example, in World War II the communist-controlled Soviet Union was declared to be an official friend. The Reds were made into partners and allies in the war effort.

Immediately after the war, however, the Soviet Union was converted into an official enemy. Even though they had just defeated Hitler — who U.S. officials said was going to come and get us — Americans were told that they now faced an even bigger threat — the Soviet Union, their wartime partner and ally. And Nazi officials were converted into official friends and secretly brought into the U.S. government.

Those weren’t the only instances of conversion from official friend to official enemy. Saddam Hussein himself fell into that category. In the 1980s, he was an official friend of the Pentagon and the CIA. They were even helping him to kill Iranians during that decade. In fact, he was such a good official friend that the United States even furnished him with the weapons of mass destruction that they later cited as the justification for invading Iraq and ousting their official friend Saddam (who by that time had become an official enemy) from power. Once they unexpectedly lost the Soviet Union as their Cold War official enemy, they simply converted Saddam into a new official enemy. And every American was expected to get on board.

Consider Iran. It’s on the current Top Ten list of official enemies. It wasn’t always that way. From 1953-1979, Iran was considered an official friend of the Pentagon and the CIA. But then in 1979, the Iranian people revolted against the regime-change operation that the CIA had initiated in Iran in 1953 and the subsequent U.S.-supported and U.S.-trained tyranny of the Shah.

The successful Iranian revolt against the tyranny of the Shah immediately converted Iran into a new official enemy. After being exhorted to love Iran for some 20 years, Americans were expected to quickly begin hating Iran and making it a new official enemy, a sentiment that Americans are expected to continue today.

It’s not always clear how they arrive at official friends and official enemies. Today, communist Cuba and communist North Korea remain official enemies despite the end of the Cold War in 1989. At the same time, communist Vietnam and communist China are considered official friends.

Egypt’s unelected military dictatorship? An official friend, just like Pinochet’s unelected military dictatorship in Chile in the 1970s was. On the other hand, the democratic regimes of Salvador Allende in Chile, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran, and Mohamed Morsi in Eygpt? All official enemies.

Consider Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Today he is an official enemy, a dictator so bad that U.S. officials are even risking war with Russia (which is currently the top official enemy) in the attempt to achieve regime change in Syria.

It wasn’t always that way. In 2002 Canadian citizen Mahar Arar was kidnapped by U.S. officials in Virginia as he waited to change planes on his way back to Canada. Striking a deal with the Assad regime, CIA officials transported Arar to Syria for the purpose of being tortured. He spent a year there being tortured before finally being declare innocent.

How did the CIA strike that deal with the Assad regime? What were the terms of the deal? Who were the Syrian officials they struck the deal with? Did President Bush know about and sign off on the deal?

We don’t know because we are not permitted to know. And the mainstream press has never pressed the CIA for the details on how the deal got done. All we know is that Assad was a good enough official friend to torture someone on the request of CIA officials.

Today? As we all know, America’s torture partner Assad has been converted into an official enemy.

Notice something important about Switzerland: The Swiss don’t have official friends and official enemies. They don’t obsess over Saddam, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Assad, the Taliban, or any other official enemies. They simply mind their own business and limit their government to the defense of Switzerland. Most every Swiss citizen is armed and ready to defend his country. Notice something else important about Switzerland: No one jacks with the Swiss.

That’s how the United States once operated, before the federal government was converted into a national-security state and a foreign empire. Americans would be wise to look to the Swiss and to America’s founding principles if they wish to restore a society of peace, prosperity, harmony, and freedom.

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.