Category Archives: War on Terror

Eyes Wide Shut

Trump’s most recent executive order (EO) regarding entry to the US of aliens and refugees from seven Middle Eastern countries has sparked a level of public outrage we have not seen since, well, a week ago during the “Women’s March”. At least this time the protestors have a legitimate reason to complain. This heavy-handed approach to preventing terrorist attacks in the US by barring entry of potential terrorists rests on the ill-advised principle that it is better that a thousand innocents be punished lest one guilty party go free. Some have argued that the choice of countries barred is illogical since there have been no known terrorists attacks in the US from citizens of those countries while citizens of Saudi Arabia who were involved in 9/11 are not on the list. But I would go one further: it doesn’t matter which country you put on the list, this process will be wholly ineffective. Actual terrorists trying to get in would not take the lengthy 2-year route of refugee status or try to travel commercial air where they would be quickly identified. They would find any number of other clandestine means to enter. The radicalized, but as of yet inactive, terrorist will easily pass. Lying is quite effective since we have no way to read minds or predict future events. Indeed, this EO would have not prevented the three most recent terrorist attacks in this country (Boston, Orlando, San Bernardino).

Now for the part people don’t want to hear. This action of Trump is what the state does every day: harms innocent people. For every supposed “beneficial” state action that you can point to as being “good” there are a multitude of unseen victims, sometimes unintended, sometimes intended. In that regard I’m glad Trump implemented this EO. It has finally awakened my friends on the left from their 8-year slumber. They are once again outraged when the state victimizes the individual on the altar of the nation or society. But, this reawakening will only have lasting effects if they can see and admit to themselves that what Trump is doing is a difference in degree, not kind, when compared to the actions of Obama in this arena. The US has always had policies that restricted travel of certain individuals. Sometimes when those policies were enforced innocent people were unfairly barred from entry. And sometimes those policies would arbitrarily change on a dime. Indeed just a week before he left office Obama ended a long-standing policy that would have permitted Cuban refugee (and many more just like him) Alexander Gutierrez Garcia entry into the US. Many were literally mere steps away from crossing the US-Mexico border when the order came down, crushing their dreams of freedom. So you see, a Democrat can also unfairly impose arbitrary rules that harm innocent individuals with hopes of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. To my liberal friends, please try to remember that in 4-8 years when “your guy” (or gal) is back in office. I’ll be waiting.

Never Forget

“We will never forget.” This sentiment is nearly universally applied in remembrance of the September 11 anniversary. But what does it mean? Since most do not personally know someone who perished, it is doubtful it is intended to memorialize a particular individual. Rather, it is intended as a warning to those that attacked us, “I will never forget how you hurt us; you will pay for what you have done.” It is a passive-aggressive remembrance. But when a bee stings someone perhaps it is more fruitful to try understanding why they got stung than to wage war against the hive. Yes, the bee stung me and that rightfully makes me angry, but, perhaps my buddy should not have thrown that rock at the hive five minutes earlier. Maybe, just maybe, that had something to do with it. Sometimes we pay the price for the misdeeds of others. It is not fair. It is not right. We can’t change the past. But we can change the future by learning from the past.

Instead of being led by the nose, we need to start asking the questions we’re not supposed to ask. If the 9-11 assailants did what they did because they hate us for our freedom, then why have there not been attacks on every “free” western democracy for the past two hundred years? For some reason the history books seem to be silent on jihad-style attacks in the 1920’s or 1870’s. I wonder why. It is odd that the “modern” notion of Islamic extremist only developed post 1950’s. Let’s not forget that the US and UK governments played a hand in the 1953 Iranian coup d’état that saw the democratically elected Mosaddegh ousted in favor of a puppet dictator (the Shah). Let’s not forget that the Middle East was arbitrarily carved up by European powers in the wake of World War I and II. Let’s not forget Israel was created in 1948 by the UN by forcible removal of people from their homes. There is no single cause to this mess, but, that is the nature of an abusive relationship. A multitude of transgressions, large and small, will after many years culminate in a response. An abused spouse may long endure abuse until finally one day they strike back, violently. Such events do not occur in a vacuum.

To be clear, this is not “blaming America,” unless you subscribe to the fallacy that America is its government. Consider: my neighbor repeatedly tosses his dog’s poop over his fence into another neighborhood despite their protestations to cease such behavior. Then one day those neighbors toss a grenade back which also results in my house being damaged. I’m going to darn well blame them both! My neighbor’s actions precipitated this response. Stating that my neighbor played a hand in those events does not mean I’m disloyal to my neighborhood and blaming my neighborhood. A member of the group is not the group itself. Repeat after me: blaming our government is not blaming America. That is the lesson we should never forget: the actions of those we elect have consequences.

Fighting against 1984

The State is getting nervous. Technology has a way of disrupting institutional power. The Guttenberg printing press liberated the flow of knowledge from the former stranglehold of the Church and its scribes. Today the digital realm of the Internet is effecting a similar change with self-publishing upon the old-world monopoly of the print-publishing house. Travel agents are virtually a thing of the past. Bitcoin is beginning to threaten the monopoly the banks and the government have over the flow of money. Encryption of our digital lives (personal electronic devices) is now threatening the power and relevance of the State. Encryption means we can manage our own security; we don’t need some nebulous State apparatus to keep us safe and secure. Nearly everything that is important to us (photos, messages, financials, medical info, etc.) is locked away securely in our digital treasure chest.

But the State will have none of that. They demand the key to that treasure chest. Both New York and California legislatures have introduced bills banning the sale of smartphones that do not offer some sort of encryption “back door”. How dare these companies make a product that is impervious to the prying eyes of the State! This is a direct threat to their unlimited power to intrude into our lives.

Not to be outdone, the Federal government is getting in on the back-door game. A federal judge recently ordered Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple is openly defying this order. The primary problem is that were Apple to comply with the order there is nothing to prevent the technique used from falling into the hands of truly “bad guys” who could then threaten the privacy and security of every iPhone user. It’s like the government asking scientists to build the atomic bomb “just this once, to stop the bad guys”. Once knowledge is out there it cannot be contained.

But even worse, the government’s use of an act from 1789 (the All Writ Act) to compel Apple to help them sets a dangerous precedent. It is not the case that Apple has in its possession information that it is being asked to hand over (which it has always done in the past when presented with a warrant). Instead Apple is being forced to help the FBI, drafted as it were, unlock this device. Insert picture of government agent holding loaded gun to Tim Cook’s head and saying “help us, please” and you’ll get the picture.

Yes, but you say the FBI is trying to stop future terror events, so anything to prevent a loss of life is worth it. Ok, well that cuts both ways. If Apple helps the FBI on what grounds could it refuse to help the government of China, Russia or perhaps even a threatening mob boss? After all, they know that since Apple helped the FBI then it is indeed possible to unlock these things. Is the standard of behavior to be: Apple helps any “legitimate” state actor, except when they are bad, because of course everyone knows who the goods guys and bad guys are.

To be clear, this is not Apple’s property. They are a third party being asked to do the government’s bidding. If they complied it would set the awful precedent that the companies we do business with can be secretly dragooned into the employ of the State in order to spy on and monitor us without our knowledge. Don’t think that can happen? Well, the government already has a terrible track record of abusing its surveillance power. It took Edward Snowden blowing the whistle to show us how the NSA was spying on everyone in contravention of the Patriot Act. In fact Samsung just recently warned its customers that its voice recognition could be used by third party vendors to listen to conversations so they advised caution about what you say in front of it. Now imagine Samsung receives a request from the FBI to “help” them monitor everyone so they can ensure “our safety”. Nah… I’m sure that would never happen. Thank you Apple for fighting for us. Your actions today may well ensure that our future “won’t be like 1984.”

No-Rights List

“There are several steps that Congress should take right away. To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.”– President Barack Obama

 

If I may Mr. President, Mr. Constitutional Scholar, I’ll take that one. The answer is “Due Process” as in the Fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution which states, in part, “[N]or shall any person . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”. In other words, the use of this list to deprive the individual of his or her rights is a blatant 100% violation of the constitution, no ifs, ands, or buts – but hey, go right on believing that a piece of paper can protect us from the machinations of the state. This list has put the lie to that fantasy. Those in power can do whatever they wish as long as they have mastered the art of fear manipulation.

There is nothing wrong with compiling such a list (e.g. passive monitoring until suspicion is either allayed or heightened), but it is its preemptive deployment that is problematic. Depriving one of their rights is the equivalent to an arrest insofar as arrestees too lose a number of rights. Therefore, a “listee” and an “arrestee” are legally equivalent and so both must be afforded the same opportunity to respond to their accusers. In other words, if there is to be such a list, its content must be subject to due process, that is, a trial. Even though this should be obvious it bears repeating: due process is not some artificial speed-bump on the road to getting the “bad guys” – it ensures that the innocent, you and me, are not erroneously treated as criminals. To believe such a process is not necessary is to believe in the infallibility of man (a most hubristic and dubious proposition). Government is merely a collection of imperfect, fallible human beings. Due process protects us from those failings.

As it stands today, if you are on this list (often people merely with names similar to those of suspected terrorist sympathizers, including small children, active military personnel and even Senator Ted Kennedy!) there is no procedure whatsoever to challenge the inclusion in order to have your name removed. The rationale for inclusion is not divulged due to reasons of “national security”, attempts to demonstrate ones innocence are not allowed due to reasons of “national security”. Do you see a dark pattern here? The government may target anyone for any reason at any time citing the circular tautology of “national security” as justification.

With Obama’s attempt to re-purposes this list into the “one list to rule them all” of unlimited state power a most sinister precedent is being set. One right, two rights, three rights – oh my, soon we are no longer free! There is nothing to stop them from adding a whole litany of rights that one could plausibly argue help terrorists achieve their goals: obtain credit, hold a job, own a business, rent a home, buy or rent a car, open a bank account and so on. Now imagine you have been erroneously placed on this list (like thousands of others) and the nightmare your life instantly transforms into as all your rights are instantly stripped away because of either a clerical error or someone’s hunch. But of course you don’t know it is a clerical error or someone’s hunch, because no one will even tell you why you are on the list..

Once the precedent of rights denial for the “listed” is in place, then the really dangerous component can be activated: arbitrary inclusion. Superficially only “terrorists” are to be included, but here’s the rub: what is the definition of “terrorist”? Most assume it means ISIS types, but as far as the state is concerned it encompasses anyone that it deems a potential challenge to its authority. In other words, whoever is in power will deem whomever is out of power as a threat. This is not hyperbole, it has already happened. Various federal and state agencies have issued reports where they expressed the opinion that anyone expressing “right wing” views such as support for the constitution, opposing the federal reserve or taxation, or showing support for Ron Paul could be potential terrorists. Masterful! Political challengers getting you down? Why simply classify them as “terrorists” and wipe away all their rights – that will shut them up pretty quick!

If private airlines want to compile their own list and bar entry aboard their planes, that is perfectly within their rights to do so. It is their property and they may do with it as they see fit. You are free to fly another airline. In a private system the number of false positives would be nearly non-existent (e.g. no kids would be on the list) since the airlines have an incentive to sell tickets and not bar perfectly safe passengers from handing them money. Various other free-market based systems that can’t legally exist in the current public system would ensure even those few false positives were rectified. The compilers of a public list bear no consequences to any mistakes they make, the compilers of a private list do and thus act accordingly. The lack of accountability in a public system necessitates due process, i.e. a method by which accountability can occur. Interaction with private entities is voluntary whereas interaction with public entities is not. This more than anything necessitates a different set of rules for public entities to ensure that absolute power is not abused.

Entangling Alliances

The recent downing of a Russian military jet by Turkey should serve as a reminder of the sage advice of Thomas Jefferson during his inaugural address, “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.” It is that last bit – “entangling alliances with none” that is most apropos. Turkey is a member of NATO, as is the US and virtually all other Western European countries. For anyone mindful of the deadly domino effect that plunged Europe into World War I (the assassination of a single man), this recent series of events should be a wake up call to de-escalate this situation as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, so far it seems Russia has shown an incredible level of restraint; one can only imagine the outpouring of jingoistic bellicosity had a US jet be downed by a close Russian ally. This may be simply that Russia is formulating a strategically crippling blow to Turkey or that it plans to milk this event diplomatically for all it is worth considering that Russian presently occupies the catbird seat of moral authority. The Russian jet was shot down and its pilots assassinated mid-air after entering Turkish airspace for a mere 17 seconds. Although Turkey insists the plane was warned for approximately 10 minutes to veer away lest it enter Turkish airspace, the standard course of action is to fire warning shots or to “escort” the plane back to the border. Yes, if Russia violated the airspace Turkey had a right to respond – proportionately. Mere flight is not in and of itself provocative enough to warrant instantaneous death, particularly when geographically it is the equivalent of flying over Key West and claiming a gross violation of the airspace of the US mainland. What Turkey did is akin to shooting the neighbor’s dog because it urinated on the edge of your lawn.

The magnitude of the overreaction by Turkey suggests something more is going on here. As it turns out this trivial border violation was but a pretext for Turkey to do what it has long wanted to do: directly provide military support for the Turkmen rebels in northern Syria who are fighting against Assad. The “airspace” violation merely provided cover to tactically engage with Russia without fully committing itself to an all out war with Russia over Syria. In other words, this was a sucker punch against a stronger opponent. Sometimes that tactic makes your opponent angry, but sometimes it stuns them into retreat. The outcome remains to be seen here.

So why attack that particular plane? It was on a well-known route that would end in it bombing regions of Syria where Turkmen reside. Russia has been bombing not only ISIS forces but also all those that oppose Assad, and this includes the Turkmen rebels fighting with the Free Syrian Army in the north. Sure enough, after the plane was shot down those Turkmen rebels shot and killed both airmen and destroyed a Russian rescue helicopter – with U.S.-made and supplied TOW rockets no less. The Turkmen (as one could have guessed) are ethnically Turkish but who happen to live on the wrong side of the arbitrarily drawn borders following the western led partitioning of the former Ottoman empire after World War I. Those arbitrary borders resulted in the Turkmen being inside what is today known as Syria. Turkey has long had an interest in aiding their ethnic siblings. Assad is no saint and has long suppressed the Turkmen minority (through attempts to Arabicize them, land seizures, and the banning of Turkish language). So to be sure there is plenty of blame to go around; there are no “good guys” in this Syrian conflict – not even the US, who in an attempt to undermine Assad (in furtherance of aiding our ally Turkey) gave arms to “Syrian rebels” who eventually morphed into ISIS and now threaten the stability of the entire region.

So in other words, our “entangling alliance” with Turkey, a moderate Islamic ally no doubt, resulted in the US directly playing a role in the creation of the most radical Islamic regime this world has even seen: ISIS. If the US is not careful, our entangling alliance with NATO and the requirement we come to the aid of NATO members who come under attack (i.e. Russian attacking Turkey in retaliation) may very well plunge us into World War III with a nuclear capable rival. Be afraid, be very afraid.

The Rise of Radicalism

In my prior article I made the argument that the real reason the terrorists target the US and other Western countries is not because they “hate us for our freedom” but rather that they hate us for interfering in their lives. The US and other Western nations (such as France) have a long and sordid history of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, be it either operative-fomented coup d’états or outright military actions. There is a willfully selective blindness in the west that allows us to only see where we are but not how we arrived. But, my point is not to rehash my prior thesis but to respond to one of the stronger objections to it. It has been pointed out that this sort of argument ignores the fact that radical Islam truly wants all non-believers to die, that it is akin to Nazism and must be wiped out – those making that argument are correct, but not in the way they presume. Yes, indeed there are some adherents of Islam that believe these sorts of things. They are called radicals. Within any group of humans that subscribes to some ideological concept there are those who lie on the fringe and have their own unique interpretation of the group’s ideas. These ideas, by virtue of being “fringe,” are in the minority; the rest of the group quietly ignores such types lest mere acknowledgement of their ideas imply tacit acceptance.

For example, there are fringe groups who use the Bible as justification for their belief that the earth is flat, that “kinds” should be separated and thus racism is a “Godly” viewpoint, or that firebombing abortion clinics and murdering the abortionists is legitimate. Now of course all of us in the majority disagree with these viewpoints and claim their interpretation is obviously faulty, but nevertheless they still make the claim. So maybe, just maybe, radical Islamists fall into the same category of distorted interpretation. I imagine for every cherry picked outrageous phrase from the Koran one can find an equally outrageous cherry picked line from the Bible. Are we to honestly believe that ALL of Islam 100% agrees on the violent and hateful interpretations of such cherry picked lines? Christianity alone is proof of man’s inability to agree on anything. For something that is supposed to be the absolute word of God (the Bible) there sure are an awful lot of denominations with differing viewpoints on various aspects of scripture. Yet somehow we are supposed to believe that there is absolute solidarity among Muslims with regards to their scriptural interpretation.

The truth of the matter is that yes there are indeed radical Islamists that do believe we should all die, but it is the ignorant and ham-fisted actions of the west in the Middle East (primarily since the end of World War II) that have given their crazy viewpoint more credence and expanded their sphere of influence among fellow Muslims. When the radicals preach that the non-believers are devils who will come to kill them and destroy their way of life and then an endless onslaught of non-believers comes in and does exactly as they predicted year after year that tends to strengthen, not weaken, the position of those making the prediction. So the more any country occupies, bombs, and overthrows ruling regimes in Muslim countries the more they play right into the narrative the radicals are selling. This bolsters their authority and makes it that much easier for them to win more recruits and adherents. More bombs feed the flame of radicalism, they do not extinguish it.

Think of it like this: the majority of people view white supremacists as radicals, but now imagine what would happen if there were a massive and organized movement wherein all non-whites started killing white people en masse. Do you not believe this would have more and more people listening to what these white supremacists had to say? The longer such attacks continued the more and more people would turn to their ideas and do whatever they said in order to protect themselves. Then, one day they would no longer be a “radical” group but instead would represent the mainstream. This is what nearly 70 years of open and clandestine interference in the Middle east has wrought: turning the followers of a small and obscure sect of Islam into a growing force that will someday soon become the dominant authority. Apropos the Hitler reference: the only reason we had to fight Hitler is because the American government (by virtue of Wilson’s desire to plunge us into WWI) had a hand in creating the onerous Treaty of Versailles that primed Germans to welcome his radical rhetoric and ensured his rise to mainstream power.

If a drug company invented both a disease and the drug to cure it there would be outrage, yet when the state creates our enemies that only it can now slay we welcome it with open arms and applause.

Games without Frontiers

As the horrific events unfolded last Friday in Paris before a world stage, we, the audience, sat in stunned silence as waves of helplessness washed over us. If only we could protect those in harms way and end the madness. This sense of helpless resignation caused me to reflect on a line from Peter Gabriel’s song “Games with Frontiers” – ‘In games without frontiers, war without tears.’ Indeed this would seem contradictory, as this was a time for tears; however, for those in control of the game, there are no tears. This ‘war on terror’ is a boundless chess match in which the ‘leaders’ on all sides are utterly lacking in remorse when a few of us pawns get knocked over. They may wear their heart on their sleeve when addressing the masses, but when the cameras are off the mask of empathy is stripped away. Were this not true they would endeavor to engage in peaceful dialogues or simply withdraw rather than doubling down on the violence (which as I write this France has already done). As each side lobs their bombs at each other, we pawns become haplessly caught in the crossfire (the 9/11 attacks, Malaysia Air 17, Pan Am 103, Iran Air 655, Bali bombings, Russian Metrojet 9268, London bombings, countless others, and now, Paris). When will it end? If our ‘leaders’ have their way, never. All leaders have an agenda. Agendas require power to execute. Leaders derive their power from others willingly giving it to them. So like the con artist, they use deception to trick their target into willingly giving them what they want. When we feel unsafe we turn to those who claim they will restore what we desire. Problem is, those who promise that are the ones who precipitated the events that we now fear. But like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, we fall for it every time.

This pattern of misdirection to reinforce one’s power position is not unique to the West. All conflict involves two parties fighting over some real or imagined initial injury. But human pride is such that neither side will ever back down. You attack me, I attack you, ad infinitum. At some point all conflicts distill down to the point that no one even remembers what started the conflict, only that they must strike back to get back for the prior strike upon them. This is where we are today. Feuds going back dozens, hundreds, or thousands of years drive just about every conflict in the world today. The leaders justify continued attacks by dehumanizing the opponent and his motivations into an absurd caricature that allows us all to feel justified in mass murder. Both sides do it, but the irony is we laugh at the ludicrousness of others being angry at the US because they think we are the “devil” but take with deadly seriousness being told we are attacked because we are free. To see the lie in that statement all we need to do is witness the words and deeds of these so called haters of freedom. Osama bin Laden put that one to rest over 10 years ago when he stated “If Bush says we hate freedom, let him tell us why we didn’t attack Sweden”. Then even more usefully he tells us how we can end their motivation to attack us, “the best way to avoid another Manhattan is to not threaten the security of Muslim nations, such as Palestine and Lebanon”.

If we truly wish to “do something” to prevent future attacks then please channel some of the energy you used in changing your Facebook profile to demonstrate solidarity with France into the more useful endeavor of supporting leaders that promise to withdraw our military and political presence from foreign soils where we have no business. If we withdraw from and ignore those who hate us we defuse the ability of their leaders to demonstrate how “bad” we are to their would be fighters. Few want to fight an enemy that has done nothing to them in ten years. Let’s start that clock now.

Consider how angry and upset we are over these attacks in Paris and then reflect on the fact that similar attacks occur on an almost monthly basis by drone and yet we hear nothing about it. Innocents murdered in cold blood and yet from the media all we hear are crickets. Those affected are just as upset as we are now and such actions only serve to keep the feud alive.

If a drone destroyed your child’s school or a mall where your loved ones were shopping (or even a hospital) would you not feel a sense of overwhelming rage and a desire to “get back” at whoever sent that drone? I am not suggesting such actions motivated by revenge are justified, but rather simply pointing out that this desire for revenge is a natural, primal human response. So given this knowledge, why do we keep throwing rocks at the hornet’s nest if we know the hornets will without fail sting us?

Imagine

This one still gives me chills. It touches on a visceral emotion that all humans share, namely the instinct to defend oneself and ones loved ones from actual (not hypothetical) aggression. We know how we (Americans) would react… why is it so hard to understand that others respond the same way?

 

Ron Paul, March 11, 2009

“Imagine for a moment that somewhere in the middle of Texas there was a large foreign military base, say Chinese or Russian. Imagine that thousands of armed foreign troops were constantly patrolling American streets in military vehicles. Imagine they were here under the auspices of “keeping us safe” or “promoting democracy” or “protecting their strategic interests.”

Imagine that they operated outside of US law, and that the Constitution did not apply to them. Imagine that every now and then they made mistakes or acted on bad information and accidentally killed or terrorized innocent Americans, including women and children, most of the time with little to no repercussions or consequences. Imagine that they set up checkpoints on our soil and routinely searched and ransacked entire neighborhoods of homes. Imagine if Americans were fearful of these foreign troops, and overwhelmingly thought America would be better off without their presence.

Imagine if some Americans were so angry about them being in Texas that they actually joined together to fight them off, in defense of our soil and sovereignty, because leadership in government refused or were unable to do so. Imagine that those Americans were labeled terrorists or insurgents for their defensive actions, and routinely killed, or captured and tortured by the foreign troops on our land. Imagine that the occupiers’ attitude was that if they just killed enough Americans, the resistance would stop, but instead, for every American killed, ten more would take up arms against them, resulting in perpetual bloodshed. Imagine if most of the citizens of the foreign land also wanted these troops to return home. Imagine if they elected a leader who promised to bring them home and put an end to this horror.

Imagine if that leader changed his mind once he took office.

The reality is that our military presence on foreign soil is as offensive to the people that live there as armed Chinese troops would be if they were stationed in Texas. We would not stand for it here, but we have had a globe-straddling empire and a very intrusive foreign policy for decades that incites a lot of hatred and resentment towards us.

According to our own CIA, our meddling in the Middle East was the prime motivation for the horrific attacks on 9/11. But instead of re-evaluating our foreign policy, we have simply escalated it. We had a right to go after those responsible for 9/11, to be sure, but why do so many Americans feel as if we have a right to a military presence in some 160 countries when we wouldn’t stand for even one foreign base on our soil, for any reason? These are not embassies, mind you, these are military installations. The new administration is not materially changing anything about this. Shuffling troops around and playing with semantics does not accomplish the goals of the American people, who simply want our men and women to come home. 50,000 troops left behind in Iraq is not conducive to peace any more than 50,000 Russian soldiers would be in the United States.

Shutting down military bases and ceasing to deal with other nations with threats and violence is not isolationism. It is the opposite. Opening ourselves up to friendship, honest trade and diplomacy is the foreign policy of peace and prosperity. It is the only foreign policy that will not bankrupt us in short order, as our current actions most definitely will. I share the disappointment of the American people in the foreign policy rhetoric coming from the administration. The sad thing is, our foreign policy WILL change eventually, as Rome’s did, when all budgetary and monetary tricks to fund it are exhausted.”
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Imagine!: speech written & given by Ron Paul

CREDITS:
Ron Paul for the speech
Voice & Music: Jeremy Hoop
Video animation: Nicholas Bozman & MysteryBox. http://mysterybox.us

Tiger by the Tail

With the ongoing debate about the “Iran Deal” and whether or not it is “good” or “bad” no one has thought to ask why should there be a “deal” at all. Think about it – wherefrom does the United States, or any other country, assert the right to dictate to other nations what they may or may not do within their own borders? Do you think our government or citizenry would stand for one second if say France, Brazil, and Argentina got together and told the US government it must immediately cease all production of nuclear weapons and dispose of those that it had? The idea is laughable and yet that is exactly what our government, in league with other countries, is dictating to the Iranian government. Now make no mistake, I’m no apologist for the Iranian government. All governments are so bad the only way to rank them is from least bad to worst. But, if we are to accept the narrative of the statists, namely that the people’s of each country have the right to elect their own government (and yes, Iran is a republic with elections) and be ruled by them without external influence, then certainly the hubris of demanding that the people of Iran beg for permission to behave as other countries is evidence of rank hypocrisy.

Nobody asks why are trying to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. To answer that we must ask why do we think they would behave any differently than other bomb-holding nations. The simplistic answer is, “they hate us” or “they hate Israel”. But why? People don’t just start hating other people for no reason whatsoever. Some might say it is their religion that drives them to hate us. But if so, then it seems quite odd none of these feeling manifested themselves prior to 1953. What’s so special about that year? Well it is the year the UK and US governments orchestrated a coup of the democratically elected Prime Minster of Iran, Mosaddegh, and the installation of our puppet dictator the Shah. Perhaps living 25 years under the Shahs’ brutal regime tended to foster a bit of resentment among the populace. Perhaps US aid to our good friend Saddam Hussein and Iraq in its war against Iran in the 1980’s made them somewhat skeptical of the neutrality of the US. That’s not to say that if Iran did acquire a bomb and used it that it would be justified, but it would at least be understandable in the same sense we can understand why a battered wife, after enduring years of abuse, would buy a gun and kill her husband. As our fictional friend Commander William Adama once said, “Sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.”

Like a parent who abused their children when they were young and helpless, there comes a day when those children grow up ready to strike back. This deal is an attempt to forestall that inevitable day of reckoning a bit longer. We have been propagandized to fear that day will be marked with a mushroom cloud. But the ruling class knows that won’t happen, they are far more concerned that if Iran acquires nuclear capability then their power and influence will be reduced and they will have no choice but to treat Iran as an equal (or at least no longer meddle with them). North Korea has a far more evil government than Iran and yet we hear nothing in regards to “regime change”. It couldn’t be because North Korea has a nuclear weapon could it? Just as a gun on the hip commanded respect in the old west, so today does a nuke in ones arsenal grant one the right to be left alone. The idea that Iran would nuke Israel is laughable. Israel has its own nukes and would instantly respond in kind. But even more so, the geography of it makes no sense. It would be like New Jersey nuking Long Island and expecting Delaware, Rhode Island and Connecticut to not get upset by having a nuke dropped in their backyard.

Iran is like a mistreated tiger that we have firmly grasped by the tail. We know if we let go we may very well get bit, or worse. But that cannot go on forever. Someday we must let go. Perhaps if we do so voluntarily by lifting all sanctions and extending a hand of respect and friendship we can show we are serious about making amends for the past misdeeds of our government. That will not only pave the path toward real peace but will disarm the arguments of those in the Iranian government who, like our own chicken hawk Neocons, are saber rattling, using our bellicose behavior as proof of their need to strike against us. Remember, the Japanese didn’t just wake up one day and decide to bomb Pearl Harbor; the US had a years long Naval blockade – economic sanctions – on Japan. Actions have consequences. Some say to have peace you must prepare for war, but sometimes preparing for war sends the signal that there can be no peace.

Restore Our Freedom

This Memorial Day weekend we are once again drowning in a sea of reminders of what this holiday is truly about; honoring those servicemen and women who have sacrificed their lives in pursuit of protecting our “freedom”. Memorial Day has become the secular state’s equivalent of Easter in the de facto state religion: the Church of the State. In this new religion we worship icons (the flag), we beatify the saints (former presidents) but above all we worship those in the military who involuntarily (the draft) or voluntarily sacrificed their lives upon the altar of the state. They, like Jesus through his death, gave us a gift – in this case it is the gift of “freedom” rather than salvation. Unfortunately the myth of that gift is a lie. This lie allows the political class to maintain their hold on power by simultaneously convincing the noble to serve and the gullible to vote.

Now don’t get me wrong, those who have given their lives are indeed worthy of remembrance and respect. It is the rare individual who will sacrifice not for just his own kin, but for strangers he has never met. Such men and women are true heroes. What I am addressing is the monstrous lie our own government deploys every time they send these brave souls into harms way. To those in government, the citizenry is but mere fodder, to be disposed of with as much regard as one has for Kleenex when blowing one’s nose. Ever since the draft ended (and we stopped forcing young men to kill others at gunpoint) a false narrative has been spun in order to convince those of noble hearts that they are participating in something grand, something larger than themselves, that they are securing “freedom” for their fellow man.

Although superficially plausible (the military protects our freedom) ask yourself, when is the last time this country engaged militarily with anybody that was actually threatening to encroach upon our “freedom” as it were? Was North Vietnam preparing to invade Florida? Was Saddam Hussein ready to roll into Delaware? Yes, I see you there in the back of the class with your hand up going “ooh, ooh, ooh” just busting to remind us all of Hitler or Pearl Harbor. Surely those are example wherein our military protected our “freedom”. Pearl Harbor falls into the same category as 9/11; situations where the passive-aggressive interference of the US (e.g. economic sanctions against Japan, US troops in the middle east) were the direct and proximate cause of these supposed “first strikes” that were in fact counterattacks. That is not “blaming America” to recognize this fact – but it is indeed blaming our politicians who provoked these events. Their recklessness resulted in events that caused us to sacrifice so many needlessly. But seriously, does anyone think Germany or Japan could have invaded and taken over the entire continental United States? Please.

Every military situation this country has been involved in owes its genesis to some initial act by our own government. Even the rise of Hitler is directly traceable to US involvement in World War I (thank you Woodrow Wilson!) insofar as our strong hand during armistice negotiations table made the onerous treaty of Versailles possible. This lopsided treaty punished Germany so harshly it set the stage for Hitler’s rise; absent that treaty Hitler would have remained a bitter nobody.

If we truly wish to honor those troops that have given their lives, we too must fight. We must fight to elect those that promise to pull our military back to our shores and end our ceaseless meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. The biggest threat to our freedom is not from some foreign invader but rather from our own government. We are fast on our way to becoming a 100% permission based society. Consider what freedoms we have already lost and then consider the irony of thanking veterans for protecting these dwindling “freedom”: we must ask for permission from government to get a job, take a drug, start a business, pay an employee, sell alcohol, cut hair, sell any product, teach our children, by a gun, carry a gun, buy health insurance, board a plane, leave the country, enter the country, get married, or leave belongings to loved ones when we die. Likewise no permission is needed from us if the state wishes to enter our homes, cars or persons, guns drawn, looking for “something”. “Papers please!” cannot be too far behind.

So I say to the troops, if you really want to protect my freedom, don’t do it rolling around in a Humvee in some dessert somewhere. Do it by getting yourself elected and being part of the turning of the tide on government trespasses against our freedoms.