The Balance of Power vs. the Balanced Budget

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The Balance of Power vs. the Balanced Budget

It is hard to remember that just five weeks ago, there was still talk of a federal budget surplus. Republicans wanted a tax cut. Democrats wanted more “investment,” their capitalist-sounding code word for more government spending. The surplus disappeared in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

It would have disappeared anyway. The U.S. government cannot sustain a budget surplus. First, there never is one. It exists only as an accounting shell game in which surplus revenues generated from Social Security taxes (sorry: “contributions”) are turned over to the Treasury and deposited into the general fund. IOU’s are then issued by the Treasury to the misnamed Social Security Trust Fund, and the IOU’s are not counted as liabilities in the Federal debt. They are off-budget liabilities — liabilities that are not counted in the official U.S. budget. It’s smoke and mirrors — mostly smoke. Second, tax money is irresistible to politicians. It always gets spent. We call it pork — a most unMuslim term.

Now we are facing years of unbudgeted bills for a war that the President says is open-ended. The war on terrorism is not expected to cost what the Vietnam war cost. In terms of outlays on military equipment, it won’t cost as much as that war did. In terms of lost privacy for Americans and long-term costs of dealing with fanatics seeking revenge, it may cost a lot more.

On October 9, a Website calling for a jihad against the West was shut down. It had a dozen clones in various European languages. They disappeared, too. The main site was in South Africa: When I mentioned the shut-down to subscribers of my monthly Institute for Christian Economics newsletter, one of the readers went on- line and extracted some pages through Google’s cache feature. I published one document on an autoresponder. It defends the right of Afghans to execute prisoners of war. You can get a copy by clicking here and then clicking Send.

There was another document, which I have now put on another autoresponder: “Sisters’ Role in Jihad.” It gives us some idea about the mentality of Islamic terrorists. This document persuades wives and mothers to send their husbands and sons off to war against the heathen, meaning us. It shows mothers how to train up little boys who will kill us in the name of God.

Emphasize, while disciplining young children, that they are not to hit a Muslim, but rather forgive, and are only to get their anger out on the enemies of Allah who fight against Muslims. Teach them the meaning of “Ashiddaa’u ‘alal kuffari ruhamaa’u baynahum” (Strong against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves). You can make a makeshift enemy (could be a punching bag for instance) if you have to, and encourage children (especially boys) to use it and build their strength as well as learn to control and direct their anger. . . .

Get your young children interested in Jihad by getting military books (preferably with pictures) and other similar books, CDs etc. and by visiting web sites such as along with your children, and utilizing other internet resources. Show them the pictures of Mujahideen (while making dua, praying, in training, etc. — nothing ‘graphic’ please) and encourage them to become like these people at the least. Introduce them to various weapons and military vehicles through pictures and toys.

Get a copy of the full document by clicking here, and then click Send.

These people are deadly serious. They are preparing the next generation to fight. They believe in succession: fighting men down through the ages. Americans cannot understand people who hold grudges for centuries, who seek revenge to the third and fourth generation and beyond. We suffer from a major liability. We do not understand our self-declared enemies.

The American Way

If you were asked to describe the essence of Americanism in one phrase, what would you say? Of course, it’s not possible to tell the whole story of any nation or people in one phrase, but if a foreigner wanted to know what to think about what America’s philosophy of life is, could you tell him? Think about it.

I’d put it in four words: “Live and let live.” This is the Americans’ version of laissez-faire: let us alone. What we want for ourselves as individuals, we are willing, as individuals, to extend to others.

There was a time — very brief — when American foreign policy was governed by this principle. The finest statement of it appears in what we call Washington’s Farewell Address. It wasn’t really a farewell: he had six months remaining to serve as President. It wasn’t an address, either. It was a newspaper column.

Americans have heard about it, but not many of them have ever read it. It is worth reading. It is the opposite of “Sisters’ Role in Jihad.” What amazes most people when they read it is the sophistication of the language. They find it hard to believe that it was aimed at newspaper readers. We don’t see columns like this one any more, and surely not written by a President with the assistance of the Secretary of the Treasury.

The essay dealt with American political life in general. Washington feared a North-South division. But it is most famous for its recommendations for American foreign policy. Here, in sophisticated language, is the foreign policy of “live and let live.” If this nation had adhered to these words, we would be far richer, far freer, and far less worried about alien fanatics who kill civilians as a religious statement of faith. Here is an abandoned legacy of great wisdom and great value.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Washington spoke of “infidelity to existing engagements.” What did he have in mind? One document: the American-French treaty of 1778, which brought the French into our War for Independence. It was a mutual defense treaty. In 1800, it was mutually abrogated. What our generation has forgotten is that the United States did not enter into another mutual defense treaty until the NATO treaty of 1949.

The Balance of Power

A little over a week ago, I phoned my friend Sam Cohen. Sam invented the neutron bomb. This bomb kills front-line enemy soldiers with radiation. The farther from the detonation, the fewer killed. Most enemy troops are incapacitated for a few weeks. It does not knock down buildings. It is strictly a tactical weapon. Or, should I say, it was. President Bush destroyed all of them before he left office.

I called Sam because I had read a report of the possible deployment of tactical nuclear weapons by the U.S. and Russia in Afghanistan. This included neutron bombs. He was skeptical. “We can’t deploy what we don’t have.” I asked him if he thought the Russians had developed a neutron bomb. He said they probably had. I asked if this joint alliance might plan to use the Russians’ inventory. An October 6 story, still on-line (, speaks of Russian bombers armed with small neutron bombs. He was still skeptical.

I asked him a question. “Do you think that the United States has adopted the traditional British foreign policy of the balance of power, where we create shifting alliances where we move back and forth in an attempt to keep other nations off-balance?” He did not hesitate: “Yes.”

What is the balance of power? It is something like the following.

President Bush in his October 11 speech said that the U.S. government gave $170 million earlier this year to Afghanistan. What he did not say was that this aid has been distributed by the United Nations. The State Department has admitted this. In fact, the State Department says, the U.S. government has given $184 million this year. It gave $113 million last year. It plans to give another $320 million. Who gets the credit in the eyes of the Afghan people? The United Nations, which is headed by a Muslim, Kofi Anan, a Ghananian. In the 1980’s, we sent food to Saddam Hussein. After all, he was fighting the Iranians.

The U.S. has entered into an alliance with Russia to invade Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban. This is now necessary because, in the late 1970’s, the U.S. government began arming the Afghans in an attempt to lure the USSR into attacking Afghanistan, thereby embroiling the Soviets in their own Vietnam. Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted this in a 1998 interview.

We then armed the most radical of the Afghan mujahadin, especially the troops under Hekmatyar. I remember the libertarian adventurer Jack Wheeler warning against Hekmatyar in the 1980’s. Hekmatyar’s theology is close to the Taliban’s: complete hatred of the West. Now we are arming him again. He is now part of the Northern Alliance.

We are using Pakistan to help us fight the Taliban. But Pakistan is an ally of the Taliban. Pakistan and the Northern Alliance despise each other. In fact, the term, “Northern Alliance,” is Pakistan’s term. The alliance calls itself the United Front. Americans are not being told any of the following:

One key ally must be the Northern Alliance, whose public face, following the assassination of General Massoud by a novel Taleban weapon, the suicide television crew, is their civilised and charming foreign minister Dr Abdullah Abdullah. It was he who earned considerable gratitude at ITN by flying our team into northern Afghanistan.

Yet ask him about Pakistan, a key member of the U.S. coalition, and an uninterrupted flow of anger and bile comes out. “The United States must understand that Pakistan is the source of all evil in this region,” he told me. Some in Dr Abdullah’s circle are said to believe that the United States should terminate the “Pakistani menace” by dropping a nuclear bomb on them.

In Pakistan, sentiments towards the Northern Alliance are scarcely warmer. To an astonishing degree the Pakistani world view is formed by one simple question: will India gain or lose from what happens? Thus the long-standing policy of the Pakistani government, formulated and imposed by the ISI intelligence service, has been that any government in Kabul, no matter how extreme or loony, is acceptable as long as it is firmly pro-Pakistan and fulfils the cherished objective of reviving the Pakistani nation with “strategic depth”. Seen through this prism, the Pashtu-speaking Taleban have always been the tool of choice, while the Northern Alliance is seen as a gaggle of largely irrelevant ethnic minorities who are probably in the pay of the Indian secret service. An embarrassing fact which Washington may choose not to highlight is that while America and Britain battle with the Taleban, there are still hundreds if not thousands of Pakistani citizens, including professional soldiers, in Taleban ranks, confronting the Northern Alliance. As for the Alliance itself, Spectator readers should immediately correct their nomenclature, for, as Dr Abdullah told me firmly, the term “Northern Alliance” is a Pakistani invention and the correct name is the “United Front”.

This appeared in The Spectator (Oct. 6).

India joined the U.S.-Russian alliance last March. Meanwhile, Pakistan has long been a safe haven for Muslim death squads used in Kashmir against Indian rule. India keeps protesting, to no avail.

We have now launched a war against terrorism in general. We will not rest until it is stamped out.

Therefore, we will not rest.

We have endless allies. We also have endless enemies. They and we keep changing sides. And the money keeps changing hands: from ours to theirs, from our wallets to the U.S. Treasury, and from there to parts unknown.


George Washington had it right.

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© 2001

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