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Jacob G. Hornberger

Pledging American Lives in the Defense of NATO

Yatsnato

Notwithstanding its recent decision to lift its debt ceiling once again to enable it to add to its ever-growing mountain of debt, the US government has now issued a new pledge, this one being as a guarantor of a $1 billion loan to the new government of Ukraine. Unfortunately, that’s not all that US officials have pledged in that part of the world. I wonder how many Americans realize that the US government has also pledged the lives and limbs of America’s young people in the defense of nations that once formed part of the Soviet bloc.

That’s what membership in NATO is all about — the pledge that the United States will come to the military defense of any nation that is a member of NATO.

Keep in mind that NATO was brought into existence in 1949 as part of the US government’s “Cold War” against its World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately, however, not only did the US government keep NATO in existence, it actually proceeded to expand its membership eastward — directly toward Russia.
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Ukraine and The US National Security State

American Sector

At the end of the Cold War, the American people had a grand opportunity, one that entailed the dismantling of the national-security state apparatus that had been grafted onto our governmental system after the end of World War II. It would have made sense, given that the justification for making the national-security state apparatus a permanent feature of American life was the Cold War itself. No more Cold War should have meant no more national-security state.

Unfortunately, however, that was the last thing the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA were going to permit. Having become essentially the fourth branch of the US government — and the most powerful branch at that — they weren’t about to permit themselves to be dismantled despite the fact that the justification for their existence — the Cold War — had suddenly and unexpectedly come to an end.

Instead, the national-security state apparatus went on what seemed to be a desperate campaign to convince Americans that it was still needed. The drug war. The war on immigrants. An unsafe world. The possibility of a resurgent communist threat. We’ll do anything; just don’t dismantle us, they said.
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Russia Reminds Us of Us

Saddamstatue

US officials and the mainstream press are aflame with outrage and indignation over Russia’s invasion of Crimea. If only they would feel the same degree of outrage and indignation over what the US national security state, which was grafted onto our governmental system without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment, has done to our American republic.

Isn’t it fascinating how US officials and the mainstream media are able to quickly arrive at a moral judgment condemning foreign interventionism on the part of Russia while, at the same time, blocking out of their minds all the foreign interventionism on the part of the US government for the past many decades?

Have they really forgotten US aggression against Honduras, Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam? Or do they simply consider those acts of aggression to be good and honorable because they were done in the name of the Cold War and with the fervor of anti-communism?
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On Cuba, The Times Just Might Be A’Changin’

The New York Times is reporting that most Americans, including a majority in Florida, favor normalizing relations with Cuba, which would mean a lifting of cruel and brutal economic embargo that the U.S. government has been enforcing against the Cuban people for more than 50 years.

It’s about time.

Maybe Americans are finally figuring out that the embargo is an infringement on the rights and freedoms of the American people, including freedom of travel, freedom of association, and economic liberty.
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Nice Job, Conservatives

When Barack Obama was elected president, the chickens came home to roost above the sordid nest that conservatives made for us after the 9/11 attacks. It was after those attacks that conservatives, quivering and quaking in their shoes over the thought that the terrorists were coming to get us, traded away the freedom of the American people to the federal government in the hope of gaining safety and security from the terrorists.

What were the terms of that fateful trade? They surrendered to President Bush omnipotent powers, powers that are inherent to any totalitarian regime and that are antithetical to the principles of freedom, due process of law, and limited government in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
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Morality versus the National Security State

One of the horrible consequences of the national-security state apparatus that was grafted onto America’s governmental system is how it has oftentimes placed Americans in the position of choosing between morality and obedience to the law.

Just this week, we have been reminded of the conflict between morality and law back in 1971, during the height of the Cold War, the “war” that was used to justify the existence of the national-security state apparatus in the first place.

The federal government was illegally targeting American citizens who were protesting and demonstrating against the national-security state’s war in Vietnam. In a free society, people are free to protest and demonstrate against anything they want.  Freedom entails letting the government know that one is opposed to what it is doing. Freedom entails having the right to persuade government that it is doing wrong and to change direction. Freedom entails persuading other people to take a stand against government wrongdoing.
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The National-Security State’s Dangerous China Taunt

B52

It didn’t take long for the U.S. national-security state’s “pivot” toward Asia, after its disastrous 12-year foray into the Middle East, to produce a new crisis for Americans. In response to China’s decision to implement a new air zone involving a long territorial dispute with Japan over a group of islands, the U.S. military sent two B-52 bombers flying over the zone to test China’s resolve, proving that China is just a “paper tiger” given that it didn’t shoot the planes out of the sky.

It was a childishly dangerous taunt. What would have happened if China had shot down the planes? Then what? Would the U.S. national-security state have stood idly by, thereby exposing itself to being accused of being a paper tiger? I don’t think so. To show its resolve, the U.S. government would have had to retaliate with some sort of bombing campaign against China.

Don’t forget, after all, that under our system of government the president can now send the entire nation into war without a congressional declaration of war.
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Terrorism and the Bill of Rights

Constitution Day

In the aftermath of the Boston bombings last spring, GOP Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham and others called on Barack Obama to treat the surviving suspect in the bombings, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, as an “enemy combatant” rather than as a criminal defendant. The episode highlighted the revolutionary change in the relationship of the American people to the federal government that took place in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. For while Obama rejected the plea to treat Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant, no one can dispute the fact that the president of the United States now wields the discretionary authority to go either way — enemy combatant or criminal defendant — with respect to people who are suspected of being terrorists.

Ever since 9/11 the president of the United States, together with the Pentagon and the CIA, has been wielding extraordinary emergency powers that historically have been wielded by the most powerful dictators in history. They include the power of the government to seize people, including Americans, cart them away to a military dungeon or concentration camp, torture them, keep them incarcerated indefinitely, and even execute them, perhaps after some sort of kangaroo military tribunal — all without judicial process to determine whether the person had done anything to warrant such treatment.
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Veterans Day and Foreign Interventionism

Cemetery Flag

Commemorating Veterans Day, people honored Americans who have served in the U.S. military, especially those who have fought and died in America’s foreign wars. In doing so, however, it’s easy to forget the fact that what the soldiers fought for and died for in those foreign wars wasn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Consider World War I. American soldiers fought and died in that war under the notion that it would finally be the war that would end all European wars into the future. It was also a democracy-spreading war — that is, the war that was supposed to make the entire world safe for democracy.

Alas, it was not to be. Within a relatively short time, Europe was it again, this time with World War II, which really was just a continuation of World War I.
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The Fourth Branch of Government

Military Industrial Complex

One of the most interesting aspects of President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address in 1960 was his warning to the American people regarding the danger that America’s military-industrial complex posed to our democratic processes. Eisenhower didn’t make it clear whether he was referring to the economic dimension associated with warfare-state spending or to the possibility of a military takeover here in the United States.

Of course, statists would say that there’s no way that Eisenhower would have been referring to the danger of a coup here in the United States. He would have had to be talking about the economic danger posed by ever-increasing spending on warfare-state programs, they would say. The United States is the last place where people would have to fear the danger of a military coup.

Eisenhower’s successor, John F. Kennedy, however, did not share that sentiment. Kennedy was truly concerned about the possibility of a military coup during his administration, especially given the deep animosity that the military and the CIA had toward his foreign policies, as I outlined in my article “The War Between JFK and the National-Security State.” Interestingly, while I may have missed it, I have never come across anyone who has mocked or ridiculed Kennedy for his concern over this possibility.
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