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Jacob G. Hornberger

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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How Can Anyone Still Be An Interventionist?

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Given the ongoing disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and the rest of the Middle East, how can anyone in his right mind still be an interventionist?

Look at Iraq. The US invasion and multi-year occupation of that country was supposed to bring a paradise of peace, prosperity, and harmony to the country. That’s what killing all those Iraqis was about — sacrificing them for the greater good of a beautiful society. Wasn’t it called Operation Iraqi Freedom?
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America’s Police State is Rooted in Four Federal Wars

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Consider the impact on the civil liberties of the American people of four of the non-stop wars that the U.S. government has been waging for a very long time: the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, the war on immigrants, and the war on wealth. These four wars have converted what was once a free country into a police state, making the United States the most over-incarcerated nation in the world.

The war on drugs has subjected people to an untold number of searches of persons, homes, businesses, and especially automobiles. This war has served as a convenient excuse to make vast inroads on the protections against unreasonable searches provided by the Fourth Amendment. It would be impossible to calculate the number of people who have been stopped, patted down, and searched, especially without a judicially issued search warrant, in the name of the war on drugs during the past several decades.

The drug war has also brought us asset-forfeiture, a money-making operation for law enforcement that has encouraged the police and the DEA to make warrantless stops of people traveling on the highways, in the hopes of finding a large amount of cash to seize. Additionally, it has encouraged law-enforcement personnel to initiate searches of homes, businesses, and cars in the hopes that some drugs will be found, thereby enabling them to seize the property of the owner.
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Iraq and American Sniper

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Last January the movie American Sniper was breaking box-office records and generating a national debate over the nature of war and how the movie depicts war. The movie revolved around Chris Kyle, a real-life US soldier who had four tours in Iraq as a sniper and, in the process, set a record for the number of people killed by a US sniper.

The Left criticized the movie for glorifying war and for celebrating Kyle’s heroics. Clint Eastwood, who directed the movie and who is a conservative, responded that the movie made “the biggest anti-war statement any film” can make.

Both the Left and the Right, however, miss the central issue with respect to Iraq, one that I believe is the principal reason that Kyle and so many other American troops came back from the war psychologically disturbed: In this conflict, the United States was the aggressor nation and Iraq was the defending nation.

Why is that important? Because it means that US soldiers, including Kyle, had no right, morally or legally, to kill even one Iraqi. It means that the soldiers who did kill Iraqis did so wrongfully. It means they murdered them. And murder is not something anyone should be glorifying or celebrating.
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Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and My Lai Were All War Crimes

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On the 70th anniversary of the US government’s nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are still people coming out in favor of the bombings. They’re saying that since the bombings shortened the war by bringing a quick surrender of Japan in World War II, the targeting of those two cities was morally and legally justified, especially since it saved the lives of US soldiers who would have been killed in an invasion of Japan.

If those killings were justified, then was it wrong for the Army to criminally prosecute Army Lt. William Calley for killing innocent people at My Lai during the Vietnam War? Couldn’t the same have been said of his actions — that by killing the residents in that Vietnamese village, who were considered to be communists, he was helping to bring the war to a speedier end? Why was Calley treated as a war criminal rather than praised and glorified, as President Truman has been for targeting the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

The reason that Calley was prosecuted was that it is a war crime for a soldier to intentionally kill innocent civilians.

This might come as a shock to some people, but in war there are rules. If a soldier violates those rules, he is subject to criminal prosecution. The adage “anything goes” does not apply to war, not even if enemy soldiers are violating the rules.
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Dealing With The Cops

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Everyone has to do some serious soul-searching when it comes to dealing with the cops. This is especially true for African-Americans, given that police departments seem to have attracted a disproportionate share of racial bigots to that line of work. But it’s also true for everyone else, given that the police have effectively been given a license to kill citizens with impunity.

No one can escape the possibility of an encounter with the police, especially if driving on streets and highways. As the young black woman Sandra Bland discovered in Texas — indeed, as many drivers have discovered over the years — it’s not difficult for a cop to come up with an excuse for pulling over a driver. In Bland’s case, it was “changing lanes without signaling.” It could just as easily have been “failure to make a complete stop at a stop sign or while turning right at a red light” or “defective taillights” or “speeding” or whatever. In fact, the cop can just make up something if he wants because they all know that most every judge in the land is going to believe a police officer over a citizen.

Even though bigoted cops will never admit it, in the case of African Americans, the real offense is “driving while black” or simply “being black.”
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