ISIS madness is what I call it. ISIS has become the newest fear that has taken over the lives of the American people. People are convinced that ISIS proses a grave threat to “national security.” Unless it is stopped, the American people might have to start learning how to speak Arabic or terrorist.
The phenomenon is really no different from Saddam madness. People tend to forget that this same sort of thing occurred for 12 long years — from 1991 to 2003, during the time that Saddam Hussein was the ruler of Iraq.
During those years, everyone (except for libertarians) was obsessing over the threat to “national security” posed by Saddam. Every day for more than a decade, people were mumbling “Saddam, Saddam, Saddam.” Everyone was convinced that Saddam was coming to get them, employ the WMDs that the U.S. had given to him (when they were partners in the 1980s), and cart Americans away, just like ISIS.
The phenomenon was just as pronounced during the Cold War or the “war on communism.” Americans were terrified over the communist outpost in Cuba 90 miles from U.S. shores. They were convinced that the Soviets and Cubans were infiltrating Latin America and subverting pro-U.S. dictatorial regimes. That was what the CIA’s regime change operations were all about in such countries as Guatemala, Brazil, and Chile — to destroy the democratic systems in such countries and install brutal pro-U.S. military dictatorships in order to protect the United States from the communist infection that was threatening to turn Latin America and then the United States Red.
And let’s not forget all the other fears that have gripped the minds of the American people since the end of the Cold War — the fear of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, terrorism, Islam, Muslims, illegal aliens, drug dealers, and North Korea.
The newest fear — the ISIS fear — is as irrational as all the other fears. Even if ISIS were to gain control over Iraq or any other country, it would have absolutely no adverse effect on the freedom and well-being of the American people. The United States would go on, just as it goes on notwithstanding all the regimes in the world that hate it. The ISIS madness is just one more irrational fear that has gripped the minds of the American people.
After all, didn’t we hear this type of thing throughout the Cold War — that if communists-socialists were to take control over regimes in Latin America, it would be just a matter of time that the American people would fall to communism?
Well, lots of Latin American countries have fallen to communists-socialists. In addition to Cuba, there are Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. They are the hard-core ones. But then there are the many socialist or leftist regimes throughout Latin America.
Sure, that’s not a good thing for the people in those countries but it means absolutely nothing insofar as the freedom and security of the American people are concerned. That is, there are no communist armies moving northward to conquer the United States, are there? It is confirmation that the entire Cold War fear that communist-socialist regimes in Latin America somehow threatened the freedom and well-being of the American people.
What if such regimes had been Soviet puppet regimes? Again, not a good thing for the people in those countries but how would that have threatened the freedom and well-being of the American people? Would it have meant that the Soviet Union would have getting ready to ship its armies to, say, Bolivia, with the aim of marching them through Central America and Mexico with the aim of invading, conquering, and occupying the United States? Ridiculous!
Of course, the same argument was made for the U.S. invasion of Vietnam and the long war that the U.S. waged in that country. The argument was that if the U.S. didn’t invade Vietnam, the dominoes — i.e., other countries — would start falling to the communists, with the last domino to fall being the United States.
That fear proved to be irrational when North Vietnam defeated the United States in the war and took control over South Vietnam. Despite the fact that U.S. officials had scared everyone to death over what would happen if that were to happen, Americans aren’t speaking communist today. It’s true that they’re speaking welfare-state socialism but that’s because of FDR, not Ho Chi Minh.
There is one good aspect to all this. Notice that few, if any, Americans have travelled to Iraq to join up with the Iraqi forces battling ISIS.
Why is that a good sign?
Now, think about that for a moment. When the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbor and Nazi Germany declared war on the United States, millions of American men and women volunteered to fight. Even before December 1941, many Americans had actually travelled to England to join up with British forces.
Yet here, despite the fact that everyone is convinced that ISIS poses a grave threat to “national security” and that, unless stopped, will take ultimately come and get us, only a handful of Americans at most — and certainly not one of those brave and bellicose congressmen — have traveled to Iraq to fight alongside Iraqi forces in order to protect the “national security” of the United States from ISIS.
Instead, people want to send the troops to do the job. At the same time, they attack opponents of such action by calling them cowards, not seeing the irony in the situation.
But I don’t think the reason that Americans are demonstrating courage vicariously by showing a willingness to send the troops, even while they remain steadfast in their determination to stay right here at home in the face of a grave threat to “national security,” reflects cowardice or even hypocrisy. I think it’s because deep down in their subconscious they know that this is all a crock and that their fears of ISIS are totally irrational.
So, where do these fears come from? They are a direct consequence of the Cold War-era governmental apparatus that statists grafted onto our constitutional republic after World War II that is known as the national-security state. In order to maintain this alien, totalitarian-like apparatus in existence, fear had to become the coin of the realm. Fear of the Soviets, the Cubans, the Chinese, Mossadegh, Arbenz, Allende, Ortega, and so many other communists and socialists, including lots of communists and socialists here within the United States. That’s what the anti-communist crusade was all about.
When the national-security establishment suddenly and unexpectedly lost those official enemies, they turned to Saddam.
With the attacks on the World Trade Center, USS Cole, the U.S. Embassies in East Africa, and 9/11, all of which were in retaliation for what the national-security state was doing to people in the Middle East after the Cold War was over, we got the fear of terrorism, Islam, Muslims, and the Koran. Of course, no one bothered to notice that the troops were installing official Islamic regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and then killing and dying to preserve them.
And now we have ISIS. Oh, did I forget to mention Boko Horam, al-Assad (who actually started out as a torture-rendition partner of the U.S.), Noriega, Chavez, Maduro, Al-Shabaab, Al-Nusra Front, Gaddafi, and Morsi?
This is what the national-security state has done to the American people — made them into an overly frightened people who easily succumb to irrational fears, fears that incite them to send the troops into battle all over the world to keep Americans safe from an ever-growing array of threats to “national security,” even as Americans stay here at home, safely ensconced in their homes and bravely and courageously “supporting the troops.”
The Swiss and our American ancestors had it right: No national security state, no foreign interventionism, and no irrational fears and anxieties over the latest official enemy coming to get them.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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