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War for Peace in the Middle East


American politicians and bureaucrats have provided four reasons for the road the war on which they have embarked in the Middle East. Let us closely examine each of these reasons.

We are first told that military intervention in the Middle East is necessary to ensure that the Emir of Kuwait (and his family) is restored to power and that the King of Saudi Arabia (and his family) is retained in power. In other words, we are told that American servicemen must die to preserve royal families of the Middle East.

Now, the politicians and bureaucrats call these royals and highnesses “our friends.” They tell us that sometimes it is necessary for American servicemen to die for “our friends.”

Overlooked in all of this, however, is that “our friends” — Kuwait and Saudi Arabia — for whom American servicemen must now die, were and are members of OPEC. Was it not just a short time ago that our government was accusing the members of OPEC of trying to “gouge” Americans and hold Americans “hostage” with their oil-producing policies? Were they not “our enemies” as recently as a few months ago? How is it possible that “our enemies” have so quickly become “our friends” and to such a large extent that American servicemen are now called upon to die for them?

The Emir of Kuwait (and his family) and the King of Saudi Arabia (and his family) are royal thugs and nothing but royal thugs. They have no conception of human rights, fundamental liberties, private property, religious liberty, intellectual freedom, or any other aspects of freedom or limited government. They rule over their societies with iron despotism. They destroy any citizen of their nation who gets in their way. Their political rule is akin to the feudal warlords of ancient times. They are royal thugs who have been, and will continue to be, all too ready, whenever they have the chance, to “put it to” the “decadent, freedom-loving” Americans. It is for the sake of these royal thugs that American servicemen must now die.

A little over two hundred years ago, our American ancestors fought and died in order to dissolve the political bands with the monarchial form of government. We are now told that American servicemen must die not to stop communism, not for freedom, not for democracy, not for a drug-free world, but to ensure that the royal thugs of OPEC are retained in power. To say that this is the height of insanity and moral degeneracy would be an understatement. The second reason we are told that American servicemen must die is to stop “a budding new Hitler.” But were Americans not told the same thing twenty-five years ago with respect to Ho Chi Minh? Were our parents not told that if they did not deliver 50,000 of their sons to death in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, “the budding Hitler” of the 1960’s, would take over Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, Hawaii, and ultimately California?

Unfortunately for the Pentagon planners of that time, however, the worst-case scenario happened: fifty thousand American lives were wasted and all for a terrible lie. Because after twenty-five years, the North Vietnamese navy has yet to invade Thailand, the Philippines, or Australia, much less Hawaii or California. And yet, after wasting 50,000 individuals of my generation, we are told by the new Pentagon planners that if American servicemen don’t stop Saddam Hussein now, he will ultimately conquer the world. Unfortunately for these new Pentagon planners, however, the false nature of this new assertion is patently obvious: for if Iraq could not conquer a third-rate power such as Iran after eight years of warfare, it is impossible to comprehend how Iraq would have the capability of conquering the world.

The third reason for American deaths in the Middle East involves economics. We are told that in the absence of American military intervention, Iraq would capture a large portion of the world’s oil market and, therefore, control the price of oil.

However, as free-market economists have shown for years, a small group of individuals cannot control the price of anything. The individuals who try to do the controlling always and inevitably begin to cheat on one another. The best proof of this is the reason for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait: Kuwait, as a member of OPEC, was cheating on its oil production quotas.

Would Iraq have withheld its supply of oil from the world market to “strangle” the West? Of course not. Iraq is as dependent on food from the West as the West is dependent on Iraq for oil. It is not oil which makes OPEC nations wealthy; it is oil which make OPEC nations wealthy. But even if Iraq had withheld its oil from the market, the other thirteen or fourteen OPEC members, as well as the non-OPEC-oil-producing nations, would inevitably have cheated or picked up the slack.

In other words, the United States government is sending American men and women to their deaths as a result of faulty economic reasoning.

But even more repugnant is the willingness of the American people to permit their government to send servicemen to their deaths just because the price of gasoline might increase, at least over the short term. But so what if the price of gasoline increases, let us say, to two dollars a gallon as a result of the Iraqian invasion? Yes, life might become a little more difficult for Americans. But is this any reason to sacrifice the lives of our spouses or children or the spouses or children of our friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens? Are their lives worth so little that we cannot afford instead to band together and tighten our belts somewhat — perhaps by even taking one less vacation? To choose the death of our fellow citizens over a relatively small economic discomfort is an abomination.

The final reason given for the necessity of American deaths in the Middle East is that it is necessary to make the world safe. This is absolutely unbelievable! Not even to make the world safe for democracy like in World War I. This time, just to make the world safe! According to American politicians and bureaucrats, American servicemen have to die to make the world safe! Unfortunately, the American people have never been taught in their public schools the true history surrounding World War I. Perhaps it is time that they begin learning the truth that their government officials would prefer they not know. Before World War I, the American people had been told by their politicians and bureaucrats that, “This war is necessary to make the world safe for democracy. By defeating Imperial Germany, this will be the war to end all wars. If you will just deliver your sons to us to fight and die in Europe, we promise you that future generations of Americans will never again die in a foreign war.”

The American people of that time trusted their politicians and bureaucrats and lost thousands upon thousands of their fellow Americans. But the result of World War I, of course, was the rise of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy. What the Americans of today also do not know, because they have never been taught it in their public schools, is that until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the overwhelming majority of the American people, despite the evil actions of Adolf Hitler, said “Never Again!” to American involvement in a European war.

But having been taught in their public schools for the past fifty years that patriotism means never questioning the decisions of the Pentagon, the American people now blindly follow their politicians and bureaucrats into any foreign war, no matter how absurd or false the justification, just like lemmings being led over the cliff.

One interesting question is: Why did the American government intervene so soon in Saudi Arabia with American ground troops? The answer lies with the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — Colin L. Powell. Powell is not a graduate of West Point, the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy, VMI, The Citadel, or Texas A & M. He received his commission through ROTC from City College of New York, where his grades were mostly C’s and D’s, and where it took him 4 1/2 years to graduate. It was Powell’s advice that American troops be sent to the Middle East immediately.

Why? What was the great urgency? After all, the Iraqian troops would still be there for an attack at a later date and, in all likelihood, physically weaker due to a scarcity of supplies. And even if Iraq had invaded Saudi Arabia, which is doubtful since it was Kuwait which was cheating on the oilproduction quotas, an American invasion could still have taken place through another part of the Middle East. So, why did Powell feel impelled to send ground troops to Saudi Arabia immediately?

The answer lies in the fact that Colin Powell has a disturbingly inadequate understanding or regard for the importance of civilian control over the military. It was reported that Powell acted quickly in case “a paralysis of civilian will follows.” In other words, Colin Powell — not the American people — knows what is best for the American people. So, his rationale in sending in so many ground troops so quickly was to “box in” the American people so that they would have to support the war to which he had chosen to commit them. And all because he knows that war in the Middle East would be in the best interests of the American people. Not only does this attitude reflect a woeful disregard for the Constitutional order of the United States, it also has resulted in tragic consequences for thousands of American citizens. If Colin Powell had not been so ready to “box in” the American people for their “own good,” the sending in of ground forces to Saudi Arabia could have been delayed until American citizens were gradually evacuated from Iraq and Kuwait. It is incredible and unbelievable that Colin Powell would permit his distrust of the “civilian will” to jeopardize the lives of those Americans in Iraq and Kuwait whom he had to know would undoubtedly be held hostage by Saddam Hussein. Now, as a direct consequence of Colin Powell’s precipitous action, and his unwillingness to trust the intelligence and judgment of the American people, the lives of these new American hostages — men, women, and, this time, even children — will, as a virtual certainty, end in premature death.

The lack of Colin Powell’s military prowess is matched only by its inhumaneness. At his behest, a military blockade has been implemented to bring Iraq’s ruler “to his knees.” Not only does this ignore the fact that Saddam Hussein will be the last person in Iraq or Kuwait to starve to death, it also ignores the tremendous cost to innocent people. After all, so much concern has been shown for the Emir of Kuwait (and his family), but what about the Kuwaiti people? What have they done to the United States and Colin Powell? Are they not simply victims of invasion? Why must they be starved and denied medical supplies? The answer of Colin Powell obviously is that while the Emir (and his family) is vitally important, the lives of the Kuwaiti people are not so important; the people of Kuwait must be starved (to death, if necessary) in order to return the Emir (and his family) to his royal throne.

It is not objectionable that military men such as Colin Powell are accorded the honor of high military positions during peacetime. But once war breaks out, or is imminent, then it is incumbent upon the Commander-in-Chief to replace these types of incompetents with competent officers, and preferably those who have been professionally trained at America’s military academies. America’s fighting men deserve only the best at the top.

What should the American government have done about Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait? The answer is the unpopular one to the 20th century interventionist mind: absolutely nothing. This was nothing but a falling out among thugs and thieves. After agreeing to its “appropriate” and agreed-upon production quota as a member of OPEC — a quota which was designed to extract as much money from the West as possible — the Emir of Kuwait cheated and was caught red-handed. So, Iraq “enforced the contract” by invading the land of the cheater. A pox on both their houses! And when thugs and thieves fight it out with each other, there is no reason that American lives must be lost trying to separate them.

What would have happened to the people of Kuwait? They might have continued to live their lives as they always have — only under a puppet despot rather than a self-anointed royal one. Could not the same be said of peoples in other parts of the world in which new rulers have been put into power by invading forces? And perhaps — just perhaps — the people of Kuwait would have preferred to live under a puppet despot (and possibly resist him) rather than be starved to death in a blockade or massacred in an ensuing war.

Much has been said between Saddam Hussein and George Bush about each other being a liar. The regrettable truth is that most politicians — foreign and domestic — do not tell the truth. Three decades ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson knowingly and willfully lied to the American people about an attack at the Gulf of Tonkin. And all of us, or least the members of my generation, know the terrible results of that falsehood.

The President and the Pentagon are telling us that our forces are in the Middle East for purely defensive purposes. Only the most gullible Americans believe that they are not, once again, being lied to. Contrary to the express representations of the American government, American troops are undoubtedly being sent to the Middle East for offensive operations which will inevitably plunge this nation into one of the major wars of its history (and all of this happening without a Constitutionally-required Congressional declaration of war).

Are not the American people entitled to the whole truth so that they, not the military planners, can decide whether this is the route they wish to take? Not according to the Pentagon planners who know better what is in the interests of the American people than the American people themselves do. The lives of the American people are merely “cogs in the Pentagon wheel” which sometimes must be sacrificed for the greater good,as the Pentagon planners define the greater good.

Unfortunately, Colin Powell has done his job well. War is suddenly imminent; and the American people have indeed been “boxed in” to supporting, out of their sense of patriotism, the American soldier.

But there is always hope that disaster can be averted or its terrible consequences minimized. That hope lies not with the American politicians and bureaucrats. It lies with the American people and their power of public opinion. I pray to God that the people of this nation put the brakes on this madness before it is too late.

August 23, 1990

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    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.