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Jacob G. Hornberger

The US Government vs. the United States

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Advocates of empire and interventionism are saying that even given the debacle in Afghanistan, America should not “retreat” from the world. Even though our nation has lost “credibility” in the world, they say, it is imperative that the United States continue to project power and influence around the world. To do otherwise, they say, would create a “vacuum” into which would flow Russia, China, Iran, the terrorists, or some other adversary, opponent, or enemy. Some of them are even bringing up the dreaded I word — isolationism!
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An Old Soldier’s Denial on Afghanistan

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In a letter to the Los Angeles Times regarding the Afghanistan debacle, Stephen Sloane, a retired captain in the US Navy who served in the Vietnam War, is a perfect demonstration of how so many people, especially in the military, live lives of denial when it comes to foreign interventionism.

Addressing Marines who served in Afghanistan who are now frustrated and angry over the result in Afghanistan, Sloane tells them that there is no disgrace in defeat because US soldiers “took an oath to the Constitution.” He says, “Loyalty to that oath has helped preserve the right of Americans and others to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for more than 200 years.” He points not only to “the failed effort to keep Afghanistan out of the hands of the Taliban” but also to “the failed effort to keep Vietnam free from communism.”

That’s just sheer nonsense. 

Loyalty to the president

While US soldiers technically take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, as a practical matter their oath is to serve the president and unconditionally obey his orders. Since the president is democratically elected, in their minds they are supporting and defending the Constitution when they dutifully and loyally obey the commands of their commander in chief.
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Why People Don’t Trust the Mainstream Media

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An article in the Washington Post about the January 6 protests at the Capitol goes a long way toward explaining why people do not trust the mainstream media. The article, written by a Post reporter named Mike DeBonis, focuses on allegations that the FBI infiltrated the ranks of the protestors and actually helped to incite them to illegally enter the Capitol and engage in mayhem after doing so.

The overall tone that DeBonis sets forth is one that is oftentimes found in the mainstream media when it comes to alleged wrongdoing by the federal government. The article has a mocking tone to it, suggesting that the people who are making this allegation are conspiracy theorists for actually believing that federal officials would do such a horrible thing.

There is a critical sentence in DeBonis’s article: “The FBI declined to comment.”

Why is that line important? Because there are two ways that a reporter can go when he is writing a story about this type of allegation.

On the one hand, he can mock and ridicule those who are making the allegation, pointing out that they haven’t produced any evidence to support their “unfounded claim.”

On the other hand, he can aggressively go after FBI officials and demand a definitive yes-or-no answer instead of simply settling for a “no comment” by the FBI and also engage in an aggressive investigative effort to determine whether there is evidence to support the allegation.
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Wrong Lessons from the Afghanistan Debacle and Defeat

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Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, interventionists are not learning the real lessons in their defeat in Afghanistan. Instead, they are coming up with all sorts of reasons as to why their Afghanistan intervention turned out to be such a big debacle. They say that they’ve learned how to do better with future interventions.

One of the favorite lessons they have learned from this fiasco is encapsulated in the phrase “forever wars.” Some interventionists now say that converting the Afghanistan war into a “forever war” was the big mistake. They say that what they should have been done is just invade, quickly capture or kill Osama bin Laden and other members of al-Qaeda, and quickly oust the Taliban regime and replace it with a pro-US regime. Then, quickly get out. No “forever war.”

What these interventionists fail to realize is that that is precisely what President George W. Bush wanted to do. Convinced that US military forces had accomplished their mission (well, except for capturing and killing bin Laden), Bush quickly turned his sights toward Iraq, where he aimed to do what his father had failed to do during the Persian Gulf intervention — oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power and replace him with a pro-US regime.
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The Danger that NATO Poses to Americans

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Imagine a massive nuclear exchange between the United States and China. That obviously would not be a pretty sight for the people of either nation. As the mushroom clouds arose over both nations, imagine thinking to yourself: “All this because of a socialist road.”
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Libertarians and the Drug War

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With June 2021 being the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s “war on drugs,” an ever-increasing number of editorials and op-eds are calling for an end to the drug war. This is an extremely positive sign, not only because it brings America closer to ending this evil, immoral, and destructive government program, but also because it shows the power of ideas on liberty.

The intellectual climate was entirely different back in 1989, when I started The Future of Freedom Foundation. Back then, it was mostly only libertarians who were calling for an end to the drug war — and not all libertarians at that. The idea of drug legalization was considered weird, bizarre, and beyond the pale of legitimate discourse. People were simply not ready to hear such a radical message. 

After all, the argument went, anyone who favored drug legalization obviously favored drug use and drug abuse. People simply could not understand that advocating an end to the drug war did not necessarily connote support of drugs themselves.

Back then, I was appearing on lots of talk-radio programs. I knew that I could always light up the phone lines by calling for drug legalization. People were outraged that anyone could possibly favor such a position. 

I was once invited to deliver a talk on libertarianism to a libertarian club at a public high school in Houston. Parents of a student in the club learned that I favored drug legalization. They called a member of the school board, who called the principal, who called the club’s sponsor, who called me. You would have thought that World War III had broken out. 

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End the Draft Permanently

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Recently the US Supreme Court declined to consider a challenge to the all-male draft. The plaintiffs in the case argued that excluding women from the draft was unconstitutional. Apparently the Court is simply letting Congress decide the issue. 

I’ve got an idea — an idea grounded in freedom. How about abolishing the draft — and, of course, draft registration? In fact, better yet, how about enacting a constitutional amendment prohibiting the draft from ever being enacted again?

Young people might think the matter is irrelevant, given that there hasn’t been conscription since the Vietnam War. That is naive, wishful, and dangerous thinking. Every 18-year-old male is required, on pain of a felony conviction, to register for the draft. The reason? Because in the event of some major foreign war, make no mistake about it: The Pentagon will not hesitate to restore the draft because it will need soldiers to fight, kill, and die. Young men — and also most likely young women — will begin receiving draft notices ordering them to report to military facilities for training and “service” to “their country.”

The fact that the national-security establishment continues doing everything it can to gin up such a war — like with Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea — makes the possibility of a draft even more likely. And once it happens, there is little anyone will be able to do to stop it. In fact, in the event of another major foreign war, I wouldn’t be surprised if they started jailing people for just challenging the draft, as US officials did in World War I.
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Old and New Official Enemies

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Doing his best to justify President Biden’s $750 billion military budget, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that China’s military has been building its military capabilities at “a very serious and sustained rate.”

Well, of course it has been. How else would the US national-security establishment justify its ever-increasing budgets? I’m just surprised that Milley didn’t mention Russia in the same breath, as well as North Korea, Cuba, the Taliban, Venezuela, Iran, and all the other minor official enemies, maybe even communist Vietnam too.

China and Russia were the two official enemies — or “rivals,” “opponents,” “enemies” — during the Cold War that kept the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA in high cotton. That was when both countries were supposedly part of an international communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow. If increasing amounts of US taxpayer money were not shifted into the coffers of the US national-security establishment, it was argued, America would end up falling to this international communist conspiracy.
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How We Got Omnipotent Government

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We have all been born and raised under a government that wields the power of assassination. State-sponsored assassinations at the hands of the US government — and specifically the Pentagon and the CIA — have become a rather ho-hum affair. They have become fully accepted as part and parcel of American life.
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Ban Paternalistic Government

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What is it about paternalists that prevents them from minding their own business? They are obsessed with minding everyone else’s business and, even worse, using the power of government to force people to live their lives the way paternalists want them to live them.

Look at the war on drugs. For our entire lives, paternalists have used the force of government, at the both the federal and state level, to punish people for putting substances in their mouths that haven’t been approved by our federal and state masters. 

But what business is it of some politician or bureaucrat what I put into my mouth? Why should they have the authority to punish me for putting something in my mouth that I wish to ingest?

The paternalist says: “Jacob, that substance that you’re putting into your mouth is potentially harmful to you. We have no choice but to threaten you with jail if you persist in doing so.”

How does a person acquire a mind like that? My best hunch is public (I.e., government) schooling.
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