The Criminal Disaster of Iraq

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Of all the candidates running for the Republican nomination, only one was right — if not prescient — about the big foreign policy issue of the day, namely, the war in Iraq. I speak of course of Congressman Ron Paul. The whole world now knows, as even the CIA has admitted, that the war was based on a lie; there never were any "weapons of mass destruction" that threatened the U.S.; Saddam Hussein, as evil as he was, posed no threat to America; and he had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. Bin Laden in fact hated Hussein because Iraq was a secular society.

Nor does the neocon chant that the terrorists attacked on 9/11 because "they hate our freedoms" make any sense at all. America was much freer decades ago before it became the fascist police state that it is today, and there were no terrorist attacks back then. The truth is that it is the neocons, with their PATRIOT Act, threats to suspend Habeas Corpus (and even the internet), warrantless wiretaps, internet censorship and spying, and their chant that "9/11 changed everything!" (translation: the hell with the Constitution) who are the real enemies of American freedom.

All of the bought-and-paid-for neocon chickenhawks who are running for the Republican nomination, from Newt Gingrich to Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, were and are cheerleaders for endless unconstitutional war in the Middle East. They never, ever, seem to get enough of it. Only Ron Paul has expressed learned intelligence grounded in history and constitutionalism on the issue. Anyone who is interested should read his 2007 book, A Foreign Policy of Freedom: Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship.

The book is a collection of Congressman Paul's speeches in the U.S. House of Representatives on the topic of foreign policy. On September 14, 2001, Congressman Paul made perhaps his most important point about the then-threatened wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when he said, "it is crucial to understand why we were attacked, which then will tell us by whom we were attacked." The neocon establishment ignored him, the result of which was the senseless war in Iraq that led to needless death of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

While Congressman Paul warned against "inadvertent or casual acceptance of civilian deaths as part of this war," the neocon establishment ignored him and proceeded to demonize all Muslims everywhere to "justify" the indiscriminate murder of civilians. By contrast, the bloodthirsty and quite insane-sounding New Gingrich, who is now said to be "rising in the polls," once wrote a Wall Street Journal article arguing for the military invasion and occupation of Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and North Korea all at once. Such an endeavor could never occur without the resurrection of military conscription.

In 2001 Congressman Paul warned against "finding ourselves needlessly entrenched in conflicts unrelated to our national security," which of course is exactly what has occurred over the past decade, repeating the American foreign policy record of the past several decades. The latest gambit is military invention in Central Africa of all places, where the Obama administration has sent "military advisors," Vietnam style.

On September 25, 2001 Congressman Paul warned his congressional colleagues that it is "no easy task to destroy an almost invisible, ubiquitous enemy spread throughout the world, without expanding the war or infringing on our liberties here at home . . . above all else . . . our mandate and our key constitutional responsibility [is] protecting liberty and providing for national security." The neocon wars of aggression in the Middle East have made Americans less secure by creating more enemies in the Muslim world while turning America into a fascist police state, the symbols of which are the jack-booted thugs (and quite a few perverts) known as TSA bureaucrats, with their naked x-ray porno-tron machines and their rubber-gloved groping of thousands of travelers every day, including small children and the elderly wearing adult diapers.

In the same speech Congressman Paul pointed out the absurdity of "rewarding" government failures with bigger budgets and more bureaucrats. (I call this DiLorenzo's first law of politics: In government, failure is success). "Bureaucracies by nature are ineffiecient," he wrote. "The FBI and CIA records [about terrorists] come up short. The FBI loses computers and guns and is careless with records. The CIA rarely provides timely intelligence. The FAA's idea of security against hijackers is asking all passengers who packed their bag."

Despite these obvious truths "the clamor now," the congressman wrote in 2011, was "to give more authority and money to these agencies," which of course was done. In government, failure is success. The alternative proposed by Congressman Paul at the time was to privatize the FAA and allow the airlines to handle their own security. He pointed out the obvious fact that, had the FAA allowed pilots to arm themselves, 9/11 would never have happened.

Congressman Paul also provided a precise definition of a war in Afghanistan in his September 25, 2001 speech: "a foolish invasion of a remote country with a forbidding terrain . . . a country that no foreign power has ever conquered throughout history." This, too, was ignored completely by the neocon establishment. Instead of an endless quagmire in a country like Afghanistan, Congressman Paul recommended the targeting of "Osama bin Laden and his key supporters" instead. The neocon establishment was not the least bit interested in this either, for their main objective was (and is) to militarily occupy the entire Middle Ease to protect "American interests," which essentially means the interests of a relatively small handful of corporations who rake in billions while financially supporting the careers of the Washington political establishment. It is not the "interest" of the average American taxpayer that is of any concern to them.

"Maintaining an overseas empire is incompatible with the American tradition of liberty and prosperity," Congressman Paul said on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on September 5, 2002, echoing the foreign policy views of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He predicted that "the financial drain and the antagonism that it causes with our enemies, and even our friends, will finally force the American people to reject that policy outright." As the dollar continues to be devalued by the Fed's legalized counterfeiting machine, creating new financial bubbles that are bound to burst eventually, Congressman Paul's prediction is bound to become reality. His opponents in the race for the Republican nomination, by contrast, behave like so many finely-groomed, expensive suit-wearing ostriches with their heads firmly implanted in the sand.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America. His latest book is Hamilton's Curse: How Jefferson's Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution — And What It Means for America Today.

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