Imagine that after the Cold War ended, the U.S. national-security state invaded Mexico with the aim of ending the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. “Our invasion of Mexico is going to enable us to finally win the war on drugs,” the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the director of the CIA, and the head of the DEA exclaim at a press conference.
For the next 25 years, U.S. troops, in combination with the FBI and the CIA, sweep across Mexico, killing suspected drug dealers, or busting down doors, arresting and incarcerating people, and torturing them to give up names of other drug dealers. Month after month, year after year, U.S. planes bomb suspected drug factories and distribution centers, killing and maiming countless people in the process.
Hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens are killed, incarcerated, tortured, abused, or maimed in this quest to finally win, once and for all, the war on drugs. When critics point out that many of the victims have been people not engaged in drug dealing, U.S. officials respond by declaring that such collateral damage is “worth it” because for every 10 innocent people killed, one drug dealer is also killed.
Through it all, the American people declare, “We are now at war! We need to support the troops!” At big sporting events, they respond eagerly to the announcers’ plea to stand and sing paeans to the troops. Every Sunday, church ministers exhort the members of their congregations to pray for the troops, who, they say, are serving our nation and defending our rights and freedoms.
After 25 years of death and destruction in Mexico and with no end in sight, some Mexicans decide that they have had enough. They illegally enter the United States and start blowing up federal buildings, killing hundreds of federal officials.
At the same time, a number of young Mexican-Americans, angry over what the U.S. government has done and continues to do to Mexico and Mexican citizens, initiate terrorist strikes on DEA buildings, U.S. military installations, and American shopping malls.
It is not difficult to imagine what the reaction to these events would be among the mainstream media and U.S. presidential candidates.
The mainstream media would be spending countless hours analyzing the situation and trying to figure out what exactly has radicalized Mexican-American youth. Editorials and op-eds would be calling on Congress to appoint a committee to study the matter in the hopes of figuring out this mysterious phenomenon.
It goes without saying that U.S. presidential candidates would be going ballistic. They would be screaming about how that the terrorism was rooted in 150-year-old grievances over the Alamo, Goliad, and the U.S. stealing of the northern half of Mexico at the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.
The Mexican border would be completely sealed, thereby prohibiting any Mexicans from traveling to the United States until the war was over. There would be a police dragnet across America, with expanded highway checkpoints all over the United States in the search for illegal Mexican immigrants, drug dealers, terrorists, and terrorist sympathizers. There would be warrantless searches of U.S. businesses, with FBI, DEA agents, immigration officials, deputy sheriffs, and the police searching desperately for illegal immigrants. Those found would be arrested and prosecuted, or deported to Mexico, or shipped to the U.S. prison camp for terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.
The NSA would initiate massive secret surveillance schemes targeting telephone calls, emails, and Internet activities of Mexican citizens and Mexican-Americans. The FBI would secretly open files on Mexican-Americans, infiltrate meetings of Mexican-American organizations, and monitor their activities.
Federal authorities would keep lists of Mexican-American rights-activists, especially those who oppose the war on drugs. Mexican-Americans generally would fall under suspicion, for being potential terrorists and drug dealers. Anglo-Americans would be exhorted to report any suspicious activity among Mexican-Americans to the authorities. Undoubtedly, there would be some people who would be calling for the deportation to Mexico of all Americans of Mexican descent or at least their shipment to U.S. concentration camps until the war on drugs was over.
One day, a group of libertarians publish an article on the Internet stating: “All this terrorism is rooted in what the U.S. government has done and continues to do to Mexico. All the death and destruction that the U.S. government has done with its bullets and bombs, in the name of winning the war on drugs, has incited the rage that is motivating Mexicans and Mexican-Americans to commit these terrorist acts against America. The government should never have invaded Mexico. It had no moral or legal right to kill even one Mexican citizen. It’s time to bring all the troops home and end the drug war by legalizing drugs. That will also spell the end of Mexican and Mexican-American terrorism against America.”
It’s not difficult to imagine how the mainstream media and the U.S. presidential candidates would respond to those libertarians: “You hate America! You love the drug dealers and the terrorists! You’re a justifier! You hate the troops! You’re a traitor! If you don’t love it here in America, why don’t you move to Mexico? This is war — the war on drugs and the war on terrorism! Mexicans and Mexican-Americans just hate us for our freedom and values and for what we did to them at the Alamo, Goliad, and Guadalupe-Hidalgo. We need to send more troops into Mexico and drop even more bombs so that we can kill all the terrorists and drug dealers before they come here and kill us.”
And so the wars on terrorism and drugs would continue into perpetuity, with terrorism following the bombs, and bombs following the terrorism. The big winners, of course, would be the U.S. national-security establishment, whose budgets would soar indefinitely, and the drug lords, whose black-market business would be skyrocketing.
The big losers would be the Mexican people, who would be suffering and dying at the hands of the U.S. government, and the American people, who would continue to lose their liberty and prosperity at the hands of the U.S. government, in the name of keeping them safe, from the danger that the U.S. government’s intervention into Mexico produced.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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