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Jacob G. Hornberger

Iraq: The Interventionist Hellhole

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When Vice President Joseph Biden traveled to Iraq a few days ago, he did it, as always, under a shroud of secrecy. The mainstream press was asked in advance to keep the trip secret and dutifully complied. Biden declined to spend the night in Iraq, staying only 10 hours before whisking away to Italy, where presumably he slept safe and sound.

Why all the secrecy? Why didn’t Biden stay in Baghdad a few days, walk the streets, do a little shopping, visit with the people, and tour the country? After all, isn’t this the country that the US government invaded and regime-changed under the military rubric “Operation Iraqi Freedom”? Isn’t this the country that the US military and the CIA occupied for more than 10 years, killing people with impunity and destroying homes, buildings, and infrastructure in the process, all with the aim of producing a showcase for interventionism to present to the world?

Oh, let’s not forget the regime they installed. After all, lest we forget, this was, in fact, a regime-change operation, one devoted to removing Saddam Hussein from power (who had been a partner and ally of the US government during the 1980s) and installing and establishing a government that would be, well, more pro-USA. and, therefore, more “free.”
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America Doesn't Need a National-Security State

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The American people are absolutely convinced that they need the US  national-security establishment, namely, the military, the CIA, and the NSA. Without this totalitarian-like apparatus that was grafted onto America’s governmental system after World War II, it is commonly believed, Americans wouldn’t be safe. It’s the national-security state, the story goes, that is America’s last bastion against the terrorists, communists, North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, and other supposedly dangerous entities that supposedly pose a potential threat to “national security,” the most important two-word term in the lexicon of the American people.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As I point out in my new ebook, The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State, it’s the exact opposite. The national-security state actually makes Americans less safe, less prosperous, and less free.

Let’s begin with the obvious. There is no nation-state anywhere in the world that has the military capability, money, resources, troops, armaments, ships, or planes — or even the interest — that would be needed to cross the ocean and invade, conquer, and occupy the United States.
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The US Middle East Killing Racket

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Consider the following two headlines during the past three weeks:

U.S. Strike Kills ‘150 al-Shabaab Terrorists’ in Somalia” (March 7, The Telegraph)

49 Killed in U.S. Airstrike Targeting Terrorists in Libya” (February 20, CNN)

The reason for the Somalia killings? US officials say that the 150 dead people were terrorists who were planning to carry out an attack in Somalia.

The reason for the Libya killings? US officials say that the 49 dead people were ISIS terrorists.

Now, let’s just take US officials at their word. Let’s assume that all the people they killed were terrorists who were planning to carry out attacks in Somalia and Libya.

Questions naturally arises: What business is that of the US government? Under what constitutional authority does the US national-security establishment kill people with impunity overseas? How do we really know that they were guilty? What impact will those killings have on the American people, especially in terms of terrorist retaliation?
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Coming to Terms With Iraq

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It seems that Iraq will continue to haunt the American people for the indefinite future. And it should. Including the Persian Gulf intervention, the 11 years of sanctions, the no-fly zones, the post-9/11 invasion and and occupation, and the post-occupation bombing, the U.S. government has killed, injured, and maimed several hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens.

There is also the massive destruction of homes, businesses, automobiles, infrastructure, and other property in Iraq.

There are also the Iraqis who were rounded up, tortured, sexually abused, or executed, including those at Abu Ghraib.

Finally, today there are US presidential candidates who are practically foaming at the mouth in the hope that they will have the opportunity to order US troops to wreak even more death and destruction on Iraq, this time under the rational of attacking ISIS.
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The Washington Post’s Interventionist Mindset

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If you have ever yearned for a perfect example of the interventionist mindset that undergirds the mainstream media, the Washington Post provided it last Sunday in an editorial entitled “Failure in Cuba.” The editorial could have easily been written by any member of US national-security establishment, especially those in the Pentagon and CIA who have been obsessing over Cuba for the past half-century.

What failure is the Post referring to? The editorial says that President Obama’s diplomatic outreach efforts to Cuba and his loosening of economic controls have failed to bring a “sea change” in Cuba’s domestic affairs. The Post points out that Obama’s efforts have done nothing to cause the Castro regime to release its tyrannical hold on power over the Cuban people. Obama, says the Post, should stop making unilateral concessions to Cuba and instead should secure positive changes from the Castro regime as a condition of further lifting US economic controls on Cuba.

Needless to say, the Post just makes the natural assumption that what goes on in Cuba is the business of the US government. That’s the mindset of the interventionist. He looks on the US government as an international imperialist daddy, one that must stick its nose in everyone else’s business and dictate what everyone else should do and not do.
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Cold War Fearmongering on Cuba and Korea

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It is standard strategy in North Korea for officials to keep the citizenry constantly on edge about the possibility of a US attack. The idea is that if people are kept afraid, they will inevitably rally to the government, ignore their desperate economic plight, and accept any loss of liberty necessary to keep them safe.

To keep the citizenry afraid, North Korean officials point to pronouncements by US officials regarding the evil nature of North Korea, military exercises by US troops, and provocations by South Korean officials.

North Korean officials also never cease reminding North Koreans of the massive bombing and napalming of North Korean cities and villages during the Korean War, when the US Air Force had almost total air superiority.

In fact, that was also the reminder that the US Air Force wanted to send North Koreans when it flew a B-52 bomber over South Korea a few days ago, after North Korea reportedly exploded a hydrogen bomb.
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Gun Control? What About US Arms Sales?

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While President Obama was tearing up to support his call for gun control, the US military-industrial complex was celebrating its continued leadership in the sale of weaponry to foreign regimes. According to the New York Times, US foreign arms deals increased nearly $10 billion in 2014. Total sales went from $26.7 billion in 2013 to $36.2 billion in 2014, a 35 percent increase.

Meanwhile, American statists, including those in the mainstream press, continue to scream about gun-show loopholes here in the United States but remain mute about the US government’s #1 position in sales of guns and other weapons around the world. (Russia and China, which US national-security state officials perceive to be “rivals” of the US Empire, are #2 and #5.)

Not surprisingly, billions of dollars of armaments went to brutal pro-US dictatorships, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar. While US officials justify such sales as “defense,” everyone knows that the armaments are used to fortify the dictatorships’ brutal hold on power in their countries. If citizens begin making waves against the US-supported tyranny under which they are suffering, they’re labeled terrorists. If they continue to make waves, that’s where US guns, tanks, and other armaments come into play.
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From Crisis Comes Leviathan

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Lovers of big government love crises because crises are the sure-fire way to get big government. It is during crises that many people go into a fright-filled panic, demanding that government assume extraordinary powers to keep them safe. Government officials, of course, are always willing to oblige, given their love of power over others.


Then, as Robert Higgs points out in his insightful book Crisis and Leviathan (which I highly recommend), once the crisis is over, while the size of government might diminish, it hardly ever returns to the size that it was before the crisis. Thus, with each new crisis, the government only gets bigger, more powerful, and more oppressive.

We witnessed this phenomenon after the 9/11 attacks. We saw it after the Paris terrorist attacks. And we are seeing it again after the shootings in San Bernardino, California.

“We need gun control!” the fear-stricken cry, unable to recognize that California already is ranked near the top in the nation in terms of strict gun-control laws.

We need stricter immigration controls!” the panicked scream, unable to see that the shooters in California were here legally.
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Thanking Iraq War Veterans For Their Service

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I wonder what goes through the mind of an Iraq War veteran when someone says, “Thank you for your service.” I wonder if he ever asks himself, “What exactly am I being thanked for?”

Consider what the Bush administration did to US soldiers on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq. Bush and his people, many of whom had avoided the draft during the Vietnam War, knew that many soldiers had serious misgivings about invading Iraq. After all, neither the Iraqi people nor the Iraqi government had ever attacked the United States. In this war, US soldiers were going to be the aggressors.

But American soldiers don’t like looking at themselves as aggressors. They like seeing themselves as defenders, as in defending America from attack or defending our rights and freedoms. That’s why many of them signed up after 9/11.

On the eve of the Iraq invasion, I read a newspaper article that described a Catholic soldier who was in deep consternation about whether he could kill any Iraqi, including Iraqi troops. The soldier was afraid that he would be committing a mortal sin under Catholic doctrine. I was stunned to read that a chaplain assured him that he could kill Iraqis with a clear conscience because he had the right to place his trust in his commander in chief.
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Gitmo Reflects Disdain For The Constitution

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Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has an op-ed in today’s New York Times entitled “Let’s Finally Close Guantanamo,” in which she points out what critics of the Guantanamo facility have been saying for years: It is a very effective tool that overseas terrorist organizations use to recruit new members. Feinstein calls for closing down the facility, transferring the remaining prisoners to the United States, and prosecuting them in US federal courts.

Among President Obama’s most notable campaign promises was to close the US national-security state’s prison camp and special tribunal system at Guantanamo Bay. As Obama enters into his last year in office, it is becoming increasingly likely that his promise is going to go unfulfilled. That’s because the Republican members of Congress, along with the US national-security establishment, are not likely to let it happen.
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