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Another Terrorist Attack on “Our Values”


When I read New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s statement regarding the latest terrorist attack in New York City, my initial reaction was this: How can this guy be so obtuse? Here is what he said in response to this week’s attack in the Manhattan subway system by a suicide bomber:

This was an attack on our values, an effort to break our spirit, but it failed. New York City is a strong and resilient place.

But then I thought, maybe I should give Blasio the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he jumped to his conclusion before learning what really motivated the attacker to commit his act of terrorism.

But if that was the case, then why didn’t Blasio correct his original statement after the attacker told investigators that he was retaliating against the U.S. government for its war on ISIS in the Middle East?

After the terrorist attack in New York City last October, when an attacker used a rental truck to run down and kill several pedestrians, Blasio used almost the exact same words that he used in response to this week’s terrorist attack:

We understand this was an attack on our values. It was an effort to break our spirit. But as an effort to break our spirit it failed.

The terrorist in the October attack was motivated by the same thing that motivated the terrorist in this week’s attack: The U.S. government’s war on ISIS in the Middle East.

So, my question is: Why can’t Blasio simply tell the truth? Why can’t he just say, “This was an attack on our foreign interventionism” rather than an attack on “our values,” followed by an explanation as to why foreign interventionism is worth the ongoing, never-ending threat of death and destruction that comes with terrorist blowback from U.S. foreign policy?

And then it hit me: Maybe Blasio is being perfectly honest. Maybe in his mind foreign interventionism is an American value, perhaps its most important value.

It would certainly make sense that he would have that mindset. We have all been born and raised under a foreign policy of foreign interventionism. It stands to reason that there would be lots of Americans, especially Millennials (who have grown up in the “war on terrorism” and thus know nothing else), who honestly believe that the U.S. government has the right to invade, bomb, or otherwise intervene in any country anywhere in the world and use its soldiers and CIA agents to kill, injury, kidnap, torture, and incarcerate anyone they want.

Such being the case, it stands to reason why Blasio would consider terrorist retaliation as an attack on our “values,” namely our government’s “right” to kill, injure, torture, and maim people abroad with impunity, that is, without suffering the price of retaliation.

But there is another possible interpretation of Blasio’s statement, one that is less innocent: He’s lying. Like other proponents of foreign interventionism, he simply does not want Americans to focus on the fact that there is a price to pay for the U.S. government’s foreign policy of foreign interventionism. Better to convince Americans that the motivation of the terrorists is instead hatred for American values and that foreign interventionism is designed to kill the haters of our values over there before they come over here to kill us.

We witnessed this phenomenon after the 9/11 attacks. Like Blasio, President George W. Bush, the Pentagon, and the CIA immediately announced that the attacks were motivated by hatred for America’s freedom and values. When some of us libertarians pointed out that the attacks were instead motivated by the death, destruction, and humiliation that the U.S. government had been wreaking in the Middle East, proponents of foreign interventionism went ballistic, accusing us of being terrorist lovers. The last thing they wanted was for Americans to focus on foreign interventionism as the motivating factor for the attacks, especially since they were planning to use the attacks to justify the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other interventions.

It’s been like that ever since. Every time there is a terrorist attack here in the United States or in any country that has participated in the U.S. government’s forever wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, proponents of foreign interventionism come out and say the same thing — that it’s all about hatred for America’s values (or Western values) and that the death, destruction, and mayhem that the U.S. government and its willing partners have wreaked in foreign countries has nothing to do with it.

Take a look at this editorial, entitled “New Yorkers Don’t Scare Easily,” in yesterday’s New York Times about this week’s terrorist attack. It compares New Yorkers to Brits in World War II and exhorts New Yorkers to carry on, calm and unafraid. Yet not one single mention of terrorist blowback from U.S. interventionism abroad and why such interventionism is worth the constant, permanent threat of deadly and destructive terrorist retaliation. Why the silence about foreign interventionism and its inevitable price of terrorist retaliation?

For his part, President Trump wants to clamp down even more on immigration enforcement. No doubt he also wants to strengthen the powers of the NSA to spy on people here in the United States as well as the powers of the Pentagon and the CIA to kill more people abroad to keep us safe here at home. In his mind, indeed in the minds of most proponents of foreign interventionism, nothing — not even American liberty, privacy, and prosperity — can be permitted to interfere with our government’s “freedom and value” to kill people abroad as part of its policy of foreign interventionism.

Consider Switzerland. No retaliatory terrorism there. That’s because Switzerland didn’t wage war on Iraq, ISIS, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, or anyone else. Its foreign policy is similar to that of the founding foreign policy of the United States: non-interventionism. Switzerland, like the United States in the first century of our country’s existence, does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy, including ISIS, which, lest we forget, the U.S. invasion of Iraq brought into existence.

Does Switzerland’s policy of non-interventionism make it “weak”? On the contrary, no one would dare take on the Swiss with an invasion. That’s because the entire country is armed, trained, and ready for defense — genuine defense, not foreign-interventionism “defense.” Invading Switzerland would be like swallowing a porcupine.

Americans have a choice:

Continue a foreign policy of interventionism, with its massive death and destruction abroad, and continue to undergo the constant, never-ending threat of retaliatory terrorism, accompanied by ever-increasing destruction of our freedom, privacy, and economic well-being by the U.S. government in the name of keep us safe from the consequences of foreign interventionism.

Or restore our nation’s foreign policy of non-interventionism and experience a society of freedom, peace, prosperity, morality, and harmony.

It sure seems like a no-brainer to me.

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.