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Fear Is the Name of the Game

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President Obama announced, “We do not succumb to fear.” What did he mean with his use of the pronoun “we”?

He’s got to be talking about the military and the CIA — i.e., the national-security establishment — which undoubtedly will not be afraid to drop more bombs in the Middle East and kill more people in that part of the world.

He certainly can’t be talking about the American people. They are among the most frightened people in the world! They succumbed to fear a long time ago, on a permanent, ongoing basis.

Think back to the 9/11 attacks, when most every American was terrified that the al-Qaeda terrorists were coming to get them. That’s how Americans ended up living under a government with emergency totalitarian powers, including the power of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA to arrest Americans, put them into military dungeons and concentration camps, secretly spy on them, and even assassinate them, all without trial by jury or due process of law.

Fear did that. Americans were so terrified that Osama bin Laden and his million-man army of Muslim terrorists were coming to get them that they eagerly traded away their freedom to live under a regime with totalitarian powers — a regime that promised to keep them “safe.”

Fourteen years later, has their fear dissipated? Are you kidding? It’s bigger than ever! “ISIS! ISIS! ISIS! They’re coming to get us! Renew the PATRIOT Act! Give even more power to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA! Do whatever is necessary to keep us safe!”

Look at how Americans are reacting to the possibility that Middle East refugees might be admitted into the United States. “Oh, my gosh, they’re going to come and get me and behead me, or make me read the Koran, or force me into a mosque! Don’t even think of letting those horrible people into my country,” the fearful beseech the president.

The dark irony of the refugee crisis, of course, is that it’s the U.S. government that is the major cause of the chaos, violence, and war that has caused people to flee their homelands in a desperate attempt to save their lives and the lives of their spouses and children.

Even more darkly, the Americans who have lived their lives in fear ever since 9/11 and who now fear the refugees have been major supporters of the interventionism that has caused the refugee crisis.

Remember Iraq? When the U.S. government invaded that country, it was the fearful who blindly supported the aggression. Neither the Iraqi government nor the Iraqi people ever attacked the United States. But U.S. officials preyed on the post-9/11 fear that held so many Americans in its grip. “Oh, my gosh, Saddam Hussein is coming to get us! WMDs! Mushroom clouds! Yellowcake uranium! Operation Iraqi freedom! Support the troops! ”

And now we see many of the same fearful ones railing against letting any of the refugees from Iraq come into the country because they’re afraid that some of them might be angry over what the U.S. government did to them, their families, and their country.

Even more darkly, these same fearful ones are scared to publicly condemn the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the lies and deception that went with it. They’re scared the U.S. government might get angry at them for that, maybe even cut off their Social Security, Medicare, or education grants.

Young people missed all the fear that took place in the 1990s. The entire decade was a daily litany against Saddam Hussein, who was called the “new Hitler.” Just think about how fearful people are about ISIS today and transfer that to Saddam. Day after day, Americans were treated to diatribes of fear against Saddam, just as they are today with ISIS (and, until recently, al-Qaeda). I recall a conservative friend of mine finally getting so frustrated and exasperated over “Saddam! Saddam! Saddam” on television every day that he said to me, “We just need to send the troops in there and take him out!” Never mind the large number of innocent people that would have to be killed in the process of taking him out. That didn’t matter.

Of course, my friend genuinely believed that if the troops or the CIA were to take out Saddam, he would finally be fear-free and live a life of inner peace. What a joke that was. I am sure the guy is more fearful than ever before and is exclaiming, “Oh, my gosh, ISIS, ISIS, ISIS!”

Consider Syria and the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. The fearful are certain that if they’re admitted to the United States, a few of them will be terrorists. But why would Syrian refugees want to do anything bad to Americans? Well, the reason is because the U.S. government has been doing some very bad things to Syrians. It’s been killing them for the past several years.

Why has the U.S. government been killing Syrians? Because U.S. officials don’t like Syria’s president and want to replace him with another dictator. Like Iraq, Syria has never attacked the United States. The U.S. government is the aggressor there too. That’s why some Syrians — the ones who have lost brothers, sisters, parents, relatives, or friends because of U.S. interventionism — might be angry.

What has been the attitude of the fearful during the U.S. government’s regime-change operation in Syria? Either full-throated support or muted support. Remember: this is the national-security state we’re talking about. It’s the idol of the fearful. Through all the death and destruction that the U.S. national security state has wreaked in Syria and the rest of the Middle East for the past several decades, the fearful have just loyally and blindly repeated their favorite mantras: “Support the troops!” and “Thank you for your service.”

Actually, though I should say that U.S. officials don’t like Syria’s president anymore. The word “anymore” needs to be added because they used to love him. During the time they loved him, they struck a secret deal with him to torture a Canadian citizen on behalf of the U.S. national-security establishment. For that matter, they also used to love Saddam Hussein, which is why they furnished him with those infamous WMDs — so that he could use them to kill Iranians with.

What was the attitude of the fearful during those sordid love affairs between the U.S. national-security state and foreign dictators? Blind allegiance, rooted in fear. That’s how they have been able to excuse or support the U.S. renditions, torture, and assassinations, actions that are traditionally carried out by totalitarian dictators.

Of course, the fear goes back further, before 9/11. Don’t forget the Cold War, when Americans were absolutely terrified that the communists were coming to get them and turn American Red. That’s what the anti-communist crusade was all about, when the FBI was spying on innocent Americans — that is, Americans who were suspected of being communist moles — and when the civil rights movement was considered a communist front for turning America Red. Just ask the family of Martin Luther King.

An interesting part of the Cold War was that no one was afraid of Islam, the Muslims, or the terrorists. The fear of communists and communism was everything.

When President Truman was considering altering America’s original governmental system with the adoption of national-security state — a type of governmental apparatus inherent to totalitarian regimes — he was told that in order to secure the support of the American people to this radical and fundamental change to the U.S. government, he would have to scare the hell out of them.

Truman succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Despite their having the most powerful military and intelligence force in the history of the world, Americans are among the most fearful people in the world.

Or should I say that it’s because they have the most powerful military and intelligence force in history, Americans are among the most fearful people in the world?

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.


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