It seems to me that the most ardent proponents of such things as assassination, indefinite detention, torture, and assassination would concede that all these things reflect a dark side to which our nation has been led since 9/11. They would tell us, however, that such things are just necessary to protect our nation in the “war on terrorism” and to defend “our rights and freedoms” from those who would take them away.
Unfortunately, all too many Americans have bought into this notion. Their feeling is that while they might be discomforted by the dark things that the national-security state is doing to people, they can be excused because they are being done in the defense of our nation and of “our rights and freedoms.”
But the truth is that none of this is necessary at all. It is instead a direct consequence of having grafted the national-security state — i.e., the vast military and intelligence establishment — onto our constitutional order and of having failed to dismantle it a long time ago.
For the past 12 years, the warfare statists have told us that our nation is gravely threated by al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Yet, where are the invading forces? Where are the ships transporting armies of terrorists across the oceans to attack and occupy the United States? Where are the long supply lines for the occupying terrorists? Indeed, where is the money to finance such an enormous endeavor, one that would far exceed Nazi Germany’s unsuccessful attempt to cross the English Channel and successfully conquer Great Britain?
The threat is non-existent. The anti-American terrorists not only lack the means to invade, conquer, and occupy the United States, they also lack the interest. Their goal is singular in nature: to kick the U.S. national-security state out of their countries and out of their part of the world.
That’s what all the fighting, assassination, invasions, occupations, rendition, torture, indefinite detentions, sanctions, military tribunals, and denial of due process are all about.
On the one side is the U.S. national-security state proclaiming its “right” to maintain military bases and troops in foreign countries and to dominate, influence, and interfere with the affairs of such countries.
On the other side are the people within those countries, who are saying, “Butt out of our affairs and return home to your own country.”
Even the 9/11 attacks were not the first stage of an overall terrorist invasion and occupation of the United States. Instead, they were retaliation for the things the U.S. national-security state had been doing in the Middle East prior to that time, including support of brutal dictatorships, unconditional aid to the Israeli government, the brutal sanctions against Iraq that were killing untold numbers of Iraqi children, the declaration by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright that the deaths of half-a-million children from the sanctions were “worth it,” the Persian Gulf intervention, and the illegal no-fly zones over Iraq.
It was those things that engendered the anger and hatred that brought people in that part of the world to finally strike against the United States with acts of terrorism. It had nothing to do with a desire to invade, conquer, and occupy the United States and deprive Americans of their “rights and freedoms.” That’s what motivated not just the 9/11 attacks but also all the other anti-American terrorist strikes, including the terrorist strike on the USS Cole, the U.S. embassies in East Africa, and the World Trade Center in 1993.
The thing to keep in mind is that the post-9/11 invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the post-9/11 kidnappings, torture, renditions, indefinite incarcerations, support of dictatorships, bombings, and assassinations are just more of the same sorts of things that were making people angry before 9/11. The more the national-security state does these types of things to people, the more incentive people have to retaliate.
That’s what all too many Americans have to confront but yet find it so difficult to confront — that the very threat that has caused America to move to the dark side with measures that genuinely threaten our freedom and well-being at the hands of our own government — has been produced by the U.S. national-security state itself.
To put it another way, if the U.S. national-security state wasn’t butting into the affairs of other countries, there would be no anti-American terrorist threat, the threat that U.S. officials use as the excuse for adopting all those dark-side policies, policies that are characteristic of dictatorial regimes, some of which the national-security state has installed, supported, and trained in the name of “national security.”
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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