What Wars Achieve

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Woodrow
Wilson dragged America into a war that was of no concern to the
U.S. – because he had the big idea that he could make the world
safe for democracy and self-determination. According to the Encyclopedia
Britannica, World War I took the lives of 21 million people
(including 53,000 Americans). And I defy anyone to point to a single
benefit that would justify the death of even one person. In fact,
"self-determination" was one of the war’s losers –
as millions of people were herded against their will into countries
where they didn't even speak the language.

Franklin
D. Roosevelt manipulated the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor
so that Americans would support going to war – because Roosevelt
had the big idea that he could bestow the Four Freedoms on the world.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, World War II cost
the lives of at least 20 million people (including 292,000 Americans).
And it caused half of Europe and all of China to become prisoners
of the Communists.

The
Korean War, the Vietnam War, the bombing of Libya, the invasions
of Cuba, Grenada, and Panama, the Marines in Lebanon, the Gulf War,
the bombing of Serbia, and the dozens of other military adventures
and intrigues of the U.S. government since World War II repeat over
and over the same pattern – little Napoleons trying to implement
their big ideas by playing God with the lives of other people, leaving
millions dead and millions more homeless. And no demonstrable benefit
from any of it.

So
now we have another tinhorn cowboy in the White House who has the
big (but not original) idea that he's going to solve the thousand-year-old
problems in the Middle East. It may cost a few lives but "freedom
is always worth it" (so long as it's other people's lives that
are sacrificed).

It's
doubtful that he's ever paid any attention to the futility associated
with previous wars. And why should he? He has the power to go to
war, so why not give it a try? If it doesn't work out as he promised,
he can always change the rationale for going to war. And there will
always be an army of publicists in the press, radio, and television
to support him – whatever happens.

While
Iraqis are dying, homes are destroyed, electricity and water supplies
are interrupted, the cowboy is in Brussels with Jacques Chirac
dining on lobster risotto with truffle sauce and filet of beef with
Bordelaise sauce
, discussing the future of other people's lives
(at least the future for those people who aren’t killed in the process).

If
liberty-loving people ever again gain control of the U.S. government,
we must bind down future Presidents with new chains for the Constitution
– depriving the politicians of the power to commit the mayhem
that has been perpetrated by 13 of the last 16 Presidents.

February
26, 2005

Harry Browne [send
him mail
], the author of Why
Government Doesn’t Work

and many other books, was the Libertarian presidential candidate
in 1996 and 2000. See his website.

Harry
Browne Archives

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