May 20, 2019

It’s time to end the failed War on Terrorism

war_on_terror_montage1_800x581Another September 11 is upon us and the usual calls for “vigilance,” “resolve” and “remembrance” have begun. For Americans, this has become a quasi-religious event, with the kinds of rituals and communal utterances once reserved for holy days like Christmas and Easter. Except, in this case, it is not a call to love thy neighbor or one’s enemies, but to continue what can only be described objectively as another failed government “war.”

The War on Terrorism is as complete a failure as the War on Drugs. Both share the hallmark symptoms of all such government endeavors: continually increasing budgets, exploding proliferation of what is made war upon, increasingly harsh measures following each successive failure and enormous collateral damage.

At the center of both debacles is the same fundamental issue: the failure to recognize government intervention as the root cause of the problem itself.

The attack fifteen years ago was not the first terrorist attack perpetrated by foreigners on American soil, but it was by far the worst. And just as it does for so many other government-caused catastrophes, the public demanded the government “do something” about it, rather than stop doing the things that motivated the killers.

Or, maybe the public simply went along with the government-media complex’s unison exhortation for a “war on terror,” along with its promotion of the ludicrous ‘hate us for our freedom” explanation of the motivation behind the attacks. Never mind that every single terrorist ever captured and questioned by U.S. authorities – including those prosecuted for the 9/11 attack itself – have cited U.S. military intervention in the Middle East as their motivation.

The unwillingness to accept the perpetrators’ own words for the motivation behind their attacks is unprecedented in American jurisprudence. For any other crime, correctly identifying the motive is a key element of the prosecution’s case. Failure to prove a compelling motive can mean acquittal, even for a guilty defendant. Yet Americans show no interest in the motive for this crime, defaming anyone who talks about it for “blaming America.”

If a wife catches her husband with another woman and shoots him, nobody claims she hated him for his freedom. Acknowledging her true motivation is an integral part of proving her guilty. But for the War on Terror, like most government programs, common sense and logic doesn’t apply.

Regardless of whether one faces reality concerning the motive for 9/11, one thing is certain: terrorism has proliferated enormously since the government declared war upon it, just like drug use. It’s time to ask ourselves exactly what we hope to accomplish with another fifteen years of bombing, invading or sanctioning destitute countries full of people with nothing left to lose.

There are two possible reasons for continuing the “war:” deterrence and revenge. The former is the politically correct reason. The latter is not, but, let’s be honest with ourselves, just as real. When Americans post “never forget,” they are expressing a range of emotions, but among them is the same understandable anger that motivated Sam Houston’s soldiers who exclaimed “Remember the Alamo!” while visiting a merciless slaughter upon Mexican soldiers, even after the Mexicans began trying to surrender.

If revenge is the motivation, it has been accomplished. The 9/11 attackers killed approximately 3,000 Americans. The War on Terror has since killed millions of inhabitants of the Middle East, most of them as innocent as the Americans killed on 9/11. It has ransacked two entire nations, indirectly led to chaos in several others controlled by ISIS and other jihadist groups, and created the refugee crisis we now find ourselves dealing with. For fifteen years, every day has been 9/11 for populations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and several other Middle Eastern countries.

At some point, even Sam Houston’s soldiers stopped the slaughter.

As for deterrence, it should be obvious by now that those of us who always maintained that fighting a conventional war with bombers and ground troops does nothing to deter individual terrorist acts were right. This should be intuitive. How could a conventional army fighting a war thousands of miles away possibly do anything to deter terrorists like the Tsarnaev brothers, who cited those very wars as the motivation for their attacks?

An entire generation of Middle Easterners who weren’t even born on September 11, 2001 will turn fifteen years old tomorrow. They are approaching adulthood having lived their entire lives under the constant threat of death from above, with foreign troops of an alien culture patrolling their streets by day and kicking in their doors at night. Only a fool could expect anything but hatred, rational or not, from people in this situation.

Only a government could suggest this epic failure simply requires more funds spent on the same strategy to turn decades-long failure into success. It’s the same fairy tale taxpayers are told about education, poverty, or drugs. The dynamics don’t miraculously change nor the government become suddenly competent when it is fighting terrorism. But it does create even more lethal problems for those it purports to help.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Libertarians to Chris Christie: Is life so dear, or peace so sweet?

TAMPA, July 27, 2013 – Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would have defunded the NSA’s blanket collection of metadata and limited the government’s collection of records to those “relevant to a national security investigation.”

It terrified New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who lashed out at those who supported the bill and libertarianism in general.

“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.

Yes, it is dangerous, but to what? It is dangerous to the bloated national security state, which tramples the liberty and dignity of every American under the pretense of protecting them from what Charles Kenny recently called the “vastly exaggerated” threat of terrorism.

Chris Christie shamelessly invoked the image of “widows and orphans” of 9/11 in an attempt to discredit any resistance to the federal government’s complete disregard for the Bill of Rights. He then echoed former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani in claiming some imagined authority on the matter because he is the governor of the state “that lost the second-most people on 9/11.”

Newsflash to Governor Christie: You have no more moral authority on this subject than the U.S. Congress had legislative authority to pass the Patriot Act.

Christie doesn’t understand that the power that legislators may exercise is limited to what was delegated to them in the Constitution. He seems to believe that power changes depending upon how he “feels.”

“I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t,” he said. “And I remember what we felt like on Sept. 12, 2001.”

Ignoring the cheap tactic of trying to paint libertarians as “unfeeling” or not having sympathy for the victims of 9/11, there is a simple answer to Mr. Christie’s question.

“We as a country” decide questions like this through Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment forbids the federal government from running programs like the NSA’s. Only an amendment that revises or repeals it can change that.

Until then, the federal government does not have the power to do what it is currently doing, regardless of any terrorist attacks or how Mr. Christie feels about them.

Amash’s amendment should be unnecessary, but it is preferable at the moment to the remedy offered in the Declaration of Independence for a government that exercises power not given to it by the people.

If history provides any guidance, the people will never give this power to the federal government. Let’s not forget that none of the Soviet-style security measures establishd since 9/11 have prevented a single terrorist attack, other than those the government created itself. Flight 93 on 9/11, the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber were all foiled by private citizens, the latter two after the perpetrator walked right past the government’s garish security apparatus.

The truth is that no security measures will ever be able to make Americans 100% safe from harm. There is absolutely nothing the U.S. government could do right now to prevent Russia or China from launching a nuclear attack on the United States. What makes one unlikely is the ability for the United States to retaliate and the lack of any good reason for either country to do so. The United States doesn’t routinely commit acts of war against Russia or China.

Perhaps that strategy might also be effective in preventing terrorism.

Regardless, the government can’t stop the next terrorist attack any more than it has stopped any previously. What it can do is continue to erode American liberty. This country is already unrecognizable as the same one that ratified the Bill of Rights. The Chris Christies and Michelle Bachmanns (she’s “one of them”) of this world are too busy cowering in fear to be concerned with “esoteric” subjects like the liberty and dignity of the individual.

Their opinions are not important. The people will decide whether a false sense of security is worth their liberty or not.

The first shot in this war has been fired. Amash lost the opening battle, but so did the colonists at Bunker Hill.

The real question that the American people will have to answer is this:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.