All posts by Jacob G. Hornberger

Truman’s War Crimes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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This month marks the 75th anniversary of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While proponents of the bombings have long justified them on the basis that they shortened World War II, the fact is that they were war crimes. The only reason why President Truman and the pilots who dropped the bombs were not prosecuted as war criminals is because the United States ended up winning the war.

It has long been pointed out that Japan had expressed a willingness to surrender. The only condition was that the Japanese emperor not be abused or executed.

President Truman refused to agree to that condition. Like his predecessor Franklin Roosevelt, Truman demanded “unconditional surrender.”

That was why Japan continued fighting. Japanese officials naturally assumed that US officials were going to do some very bad things to their emperor, including torture and execution. In the minds of Japanese officials, why else would the United States not be willing to agree to that one condition, especially given that it would have meant the end of the war?

The dark irony is that Truman ended up accepting the condition anyway, only after he pulverized the people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear bombs.

In an excellent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times today entitled “US Leaders Knew We Didn’t Have to Drop Atomic Bombs on Japan to Win the War. We Did It Anyway” the authors point out:
Seven of the United States’ eight five-star Army and Navy officers in 1945 agreed with the Navy’s vitriolic assessment. Generals Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and Henry 'Hap' Arnold and Admirals William Leahy, Chester Nimitz, Ernest King, and William Halsey are on record stating that the atomic bombs were either militarily unnecessary, morally reprehensible, or both.
Keep in mind that there is nothing in the principles of warfare that required Truman and Roosevelt to demand the unconditional surrender of Japan (or Germany). Wars can be — and often are — ended with terms of surrender. Both presidents were willing to sacrifice countless people on both sides of the conflict to attain their demand for unconditional surrender.

But Truman’s unconditional surrender demand is not why his action constituted a war crime. This bombings constituted war crimes because they targeted non-combatants, including children, women, and seniors with death as a way to bring about an unconditional surrender of the Japanese government.

It has lone been considered a rule of warfare that armies fight armies in war. They don’t target non-combatants. The intentional killing of non-combatants is considered a war crime.

A good example of this principle involved the case of Lt. William Calley in the Vietnam War. Calley and his men shot and killed numerous non-combatants in a South Vietnamese village. The victims included women and children.

The U.S military prosecuted Calley as a war criminal — and rightly so. While the deaths of non-combatants oftentimes occurs incidentally to wartime operations, it is a war crime to specifically target them for death.

Truman justified his action by arguing that the bombings shortened the war and, therefore, saved the lives of thousands of American soldiers and Japanese people if an invasion had become necessary. It is a justification that has been repeated ever since by proponents of the bombings.

There are two big problems with that justification, however.

First, an invasion would not have been necessary. All that Truman had to do was to accept Japan’s only condition for surrender, and that would have meant the end of the war, without the deaths that would have come with an invasion and that did come with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

More important, the fact that lives of American soldiers would have been saved is not a moral or legal justification for targeting non-combatants. If Calley had maintained at his trial that his actions were intended to shorten the Vietnam War, his defense would have been rejected. He would have still be convicted for war crimes.

Soldiers die in war. That is the nature of war. To kill women, children, and seniors in the hopes of saving the lives of soldiers by shortening the war is not only a war crime, it is also an act of extreme cowardice. If an invasion of Japan would have become necessary to win the war, thereby resulting in the deaths of thousands of US soldiers, then that’s just the way that war works.

It’s also worth pointing out that Japan never had any intention of invading and conquering the United States. The only reason that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor was in the hope of knocking out the US Pacific fleet, not as a prelude to invading Hawaii or the continental United States but simply to prevent the US from interfering with Japan’s efforts to secure oil in the Dutch East Indies.

And why was Japan so desperate for oil as to initiate war against the United States? Because President Franklin Roosevelt had imposed a highly effective oil embargo on Japan as a way to maneuver the Japanese into attacking the United States.

FDR’s plan, of course, succeeded, which ended up costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and millions of Japanese citizens, including those at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Empire is the Root of US-China Hostilities

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The biggest factor that has led the US government to initiate a hostile relationship against China involves the concept of empire. An empire wants to be the only empire or at least the dominant empire. That is, it wants to control everyone and everybody within its realm, which ideally encompasses the entire world.

That was the way it is with the US Empire, whose core is the US national-security state, which encompasses the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

As the Soviet Union was dismantling with its unilateral decision to end the Cold War in 1989, the US empire found itself to be the only empire standing in the world. Given the scope, range, and money of the US national-security state, that meant putting countries all over the world under US control and dominion.

Throughout history, empires have hated the rise of other empires because they pose a threat to the control and dominion of the already-existing empire. Rising empires have long been considered by existing empires to be “rivals,” “opponents,” “competitors,” “adversaries,” and even “enemies.”

In a free market, when an existing business is confronted by a competitor, rival, opponent, or adversary, or enemy, to maintain its market share the business must continue offering a product or service that customers want more than the product or service being offered by competitors.

That’s not the way it works with empires. They will inevitably resort to force against rising competitors in order to keep their dominate position in world affairs.

Since 1990, the US Empire has been embroiled in wars, conflicts, and hostilities in various parts of the world as part of its imperial mission to maintain “order” and “stability” in the world. Most of the violence has centered around the Middle East and Afghanistan, but the Empire also has been wreaking death and destruction in other parts of the world with such policies as sanctions, which target the citizens of foreign countries as a way to induce their regimes to comply with the edicts of the Empire.

Meanwhile, China was doing things completely differently. A couple of decades ago, the Chinese communist regime began loosening its economic restrictions on the economic activity of the Chinese people. Consequently, there was tremendous amount of wealth accruing in society and also growing standards of living. That, in turn, increased tax revenues for the Chinese government.

Thus, while the US government was making friends around the world through force of arms and hostility, the Chinese government and Chinese citizens were making friends around the world through investments, grants, and loans. This included countries in Latin America, where the US Empire has left a dark legacy of military intervention.

Moreover, war weakens a nation from within. As the US Empire was now engaged in a policy of perpetual war, it knew that China, although still weighed down with a large amount of socialism, was gaining strength.

That’s when US officials knew that they had a problem on their hands — an empire problem. That’s when they, and their supporters in the mainstream press, began referring to China as a “rival,” an “opponent,” an “adversary,” a “competitor,” aand even an “enemy.”

At that point, the objective became to strike at China before it grew any stronger and threatened the worldwide dominion and hegemony of the US Empire.

That’s what President Trump’s trade war was all about — to bring China down a peg, even if it hurt American producers and consumers in the process. That’s also what US sanctions on China and Chinese enterprises, such as Huawei are all about. It’s what the criminal prosecution of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is all about. It’s why Trump is considering banning the Chinese social network TikTok from the United States.

Of course, the Covid-19 crisis did US officials a big favor by adding significantly to China’s economic woes.

If none of this works to the satisfaction of US officials, then another possibility is war, which is a most effective way to bring a rival or adversary or competitor down. After all, as Iraqis and Afghans have learned, what better way to destroy the productive capability of a nation than with bombs dropped on factories, businesses, and people?

When it comes to empire, US officials will stop at nothing to ensure that the US Empire maintains its sole dominion and power around the world.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Blindness on Iraq War ‘Patriotism’

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An op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times by Democrat Tammy Ducksworth demonstrates that when it comes to “patriotism,” liberals are as morally blind as conservatives.

Duckworth’s op-ed goes after conservative Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, who recently questioned Duckworth’s patriotism by suggesting that she didn’t love her country. Naturally, Duckworth, who lost her legs while serving as a soldier in the US military in Iraq, took umbrage over Carlson’s attack and responded quite vociferously in her op-ed.

Much of the controversy involves meaningless exchanges that regularly take place between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. That’s mostly because both leftists and rights believe in the welfare-warfare state way of life.

But there is one aspect of Duckworth’s op-ed that deserves addressing because it so clearly shows that when it comes to war, the left-wing is as morally obtuse as the right-wing.

Duckworth writes:
Even knowing how my tour in Iraq would turn out, even knowing that I’d lose both my legs in a battlefield just north of Baghdad in late 2004, I would do it all over again. Because if there’s anything that my ancestors’ service taught me, it’s the importance of protecting our founding values, including every American’s right to speak out.

So while I would put on my old uniform and go to war all over again to protect the right of Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump to say offensive things on TV and Twitter….
What Duckworth obviously still hasn’t come to the terms with is that her military service in Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with protecting the right of freedom of speech of the American people. That’s because neither the Iraqi regime nor the Iraqi people were threatening the freedom of speech of the American people.

What Duckworth obviously still doesn’t recognize is that it was the US government that was the aggressor in the Iraq War. She was part of a military force — the most powerful in history — that attacked and then occupied an impoverished Third World country that had never attacked and then occupied the United States or even threatened to do so.

Yes, I know, US officials called the operation “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” But that was just propaganda. The operation had nothing to do with bringing freedom to Iraq, any more than it did with protecting the right to Americans to exercise freedom of speech. The purpose of the operation was to replace Iraqi dictator (and former US partner and ally) Saddam Hussein with another US stooge.

Moreover, let’s not forget that every US soldier who served in Iraq, including Duckworth, was serving in an illegal war. It was illegal given that there was no congressional declaration of war against Iraq, as the Constitution requires. It was also illegal under international law because it violated the principle against wars of aggression established by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.

Let’s also not forget about the countless Iraqis who were killed in the process. By being deprived of their lives, they were also deprived of their right of freedom of speech.

Leftists and rightists can engage in their meaningless debates on “patriotism” all they want. Just leave out the part that holds that invading and occupying a country that has never attacked the United States protects the right of Americans to exercise freedom of speech because that just isn’t true. 

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

The ‘Greatest’ Generation’s Refusal to Fight the ‘Good War’

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The most sacred shibboleth of US foreign interventionists is World War II. Whenever the issue of foreign interventionism arises, you can count on interventionists to raise what they call the “good war” and the “greatest” generation who fought it. If the “greatest” generation had not intervened in the “good war,” they exclaim, Nazi Germany and imperial Japan would have ended up conquering the United States and the rest of the world.

Yet, there is an important oddity about World War II that is never raised in any discussions about the war. According to the website of the National WWII Museum, 38.8% (6,332,000) men were volunteers in World War II while 61.2% (11,535,000) were draftees.

What’s up with that?

Let’s keep in mind something important about the “draft” — or as it is also known, “conscription”: It’s not voluntary. Conscription or drafting people to fight a war means forcing them to do something that they are not willing to do voluntarily. If a man refused to comply with a draft order in World War II, the government sent armed agents to seize him forcibly, after which he would be criminally prosecuted and incarcerated.

When a free nation is being attacked and invaded, why would people have to be forced to fight? Wouldn’t you think that under that circumstance, you could count on at least 95 percent of men and women to come to the defense of their country, themselves, their families, and their liberty?

Yet, there is that glaring statistic: The US government had to force 61.2% of the “greatest generation” to fight in World War II.

Why?

Why didn’t those 11,535,000 men of the “greatest” generation immediately volunteer to fight after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941? Why did they need to be forced to fight?

Reasons for refusing to volunteer

One possible explanation, of course, is that the many members of the “greatest” generation were scared to fight and just wanted other American men to do the fighting for them. Fear undoubtedly was a factor for a few American men to not volunteer to fight, but my hunch is that it was not why most of those 11 million American men had to be forced to fight.

My hunch is that most of the 11 million men who had to be forced to fight in World War II instinctively knew that (1) the war was a crock, just like World War I that preceded it; (2) that President Franklin Roosevelt had knowingly and deliberately provoked the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor with the aim of getting the United States embroiled in the war; and (3) that there was no possibility of a Japanese or German invasion and conquest of the United States.

In other words, by not volunteering to fight in the “good war,” those 11 million American men were essentially saying that they had no desire to give up their lives for what they considered was a nonsensical cause.

The 'Great War'

Remember: Most Americans knew that World War I itself had been a crock. The United States had no business intervening in that war. But like so many other leaders in history, President Woodrow Wilson as well as other US interventionists felt that war was the way to national greatness. Wilson also maintained that US intervention into the “Great War” would make the world “safe for democracy” and, by bringing about the total defeat of Germany, make it the last war in history.

Within a relatively short period of time, however, brutal unelected dictators ruled in Germany, the Soviet Union, and Italy. So much for making the world safe for democracy. That was followed by the outbreak of war between the European powers in 1939. So much for the war to end all wars.

After World War I, Americans could easily see that that war had entailed a total waste of American life and treasure. 160,000 men had died for nothing. $32 billion had been wasted. Civil liberty had been quashed in the United States during the war.

Lesson learned

The American people were resolved to never let another US president do that to them again. When war broke out again in 1939 between England and France and Germany, the overwhelming sentiment of the American people was: Stay out. Don’t get us involved in this one.

But President Roosevelt, like Wilson, would have nothing of that mindset. While falsely paying lip service to non-interventionism during his 1940 campaign for an unprecedented third term as president (“I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”), the truth was that Roosevelt was doing everything he could to provoke first the Germans and then later the Japanese into attacking the United States.

Americans could see what Roosevelt was doing. Sending US warships to serve as escorts for British ships in the Atlantic. Giving money and armaments to Great Britain and the Soviet Union under so-called “Lend-Lease.” An oil embargo against Japan to paralyze its army in China. Freezing Japanese bank accounts in the United States. Imposing humiliating terms in pre-war negotiations with Japan. Leaving US troops and battleships vulnerable to attack in the Philippines and Hawaii.

Moreover, those 11 million American men could see that after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, there was no attempt by the Japanese military to invade and occupy Hawaii, much less the United States. They could see that the Japanese aim was simply to knock out the US Pacific fleet so that it would be unable to interfere with Japanese efforts to secure oil in the Dutch East Indies.

They could also see that Germany lacked the military means and even the interest in crossing the Atlantic Ocean and invading and occupying the United States. Given that Germany was unable to even cross the English Channel to successfully conquer England, the chances of having a different result crossing the Atlantic and conquering the United States were nil.

Moreover, don’t forget that it wasn’t Nazi Germany that declared war on Great Britain. It was Great Britain that declared war on Nazi Germany. It was always clear that Nazi Germany was moving east, toward Hitler’s enemy the communist Soviet Union, which ironically would become America’s wartime partner and ally as well as its official postwar enemy.

Perverse consequences

Moreover, those 11 million men undoubtedly instinctively knew that the results of intervening in World War II were going to be just as perverse as the results after World War I: a complete 45-year-long communist takeover of Eastern Europe and half of Germany; a 45-year Cold War against America’s wartime partner and ally the Soviet Union; the Korean War; the Vietnam War; and the conversion of the US government from a limited-government republic to a national-security state, a type of totalitarian governmental structure to oppose communist totalitarian governmental regimes.

Those 11 million men who refused to volunteer for “service” in World War II and who had to be forced to fight a crock war knew what they were doing. That’s what made them great.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Why Foreign Interventionism?

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What is the point of US foreign interventionism?

Why are US troops killing and dying in faraway countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia?

Why does the US government have 165,000 troops stationed in more than 150 foreign countries?

Why is the US government enforcing economic sanctions and embargoes against the people of Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and other countries?

Why are US officials waging trade wars against foreign nations?

Why do the CIA and the Pentagon assassinate foreigners?

Why are US officials provoking conflicts with Iran and Venezuela?

Why is regime change a core feature of US foreign policy?

Why do US officials partner with tyrannical foreign regimes?

Why does the US government tax hard-pressed American citizens in order to send money to foreign regimes, including dictatorial ones?

Why does the US government initiate wars of aggression against countries that have never invaded or even threatened to invade the United States?

Why do US officials spend taxpayer money on foreign interventionism?

Why do US troops inflict death, suffering, and destruction in foreign lands?

What are US troops dying for in faraway lands?

After all, let’s acknowledge the obvious: No nation-state is invading the United States. No nation-state has the money, resources, personnel, equipment, and supplies to cross the ocean and invade and conquer the United States. There is no possibility of an invasion and conquest of the US by Canada or any Latin American country.

Therefore, what is the purpose of all that US meddling in overseas countries? We don’t like foreign regimes meddling in American affairs. Why should US officials be meddling in the affairs of other countries, especially when the meddling involves the infliction of death, suffering, and destruction?

Consider Switzerland. It doesn’t have troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan. It doesn’t send foreign aid to regimes. It doesn’t assassinate people. It doesn’t initiate wars of aggression against Third World countries. It just devotes itself entirely to defending Switzerland against an invasion. And no one ever jacks with the Swiss.

In fact, have you ever wondered why US officials call the Department of Defense by that name? I can see why Switzerland would use such a name. But the US? it seems to me that the more truthful name would be the Department of Foreign Interventionism.

The Swiss model of non-intervention was actually the founding foreign policy of the United States. This was reflected by John’s Quincy Adams’ profound Fourth of July, 1821, speech to Congress entitled “In Search of Monsters to Destroy.” In that speech, Adams observed that if America were ever to abandon her founding foreign policy of non-intervention, “She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”

In fact, that was one of the reasons why the Framers and our American ancestors had such a deep antipathy for what they called “standing armies,” by which they meant large, overgrown military-intelligence establishments, or what President Dwight Eisenhower would later label “the military-industrial complex,” or what we call today a “national-security state.” The Framers and our ancestors didn’t want a “standing army” large enough to engage in foreign interventionism.

Where to go from here? Isn’t the answer obvious?

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Regime Change through the Drug War

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The Justice Department’s securing of a criminal indictment of Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro reminds us that when it comes to the US government’s regime-change operations, coups, invasions, sanctions, embargoes, and state-sponsored assassinations are not the only ways to achieve regime change. Another way is through a criminal indictment issued by a federal grand jury that deferentially accedes to the wishes of federal prosecutors.

The best example of this regime change method involved the president of Panama, Manuel Noriega.

Like many corrupt and brutal dictators around the world, Noriega was a partner and ally of the US government. In fact, he was actually trained at the Pentagon’s School of the Americas, which is referred to in Latin America as the School of Assassins. He later served as a paid asset of the CIA. He also served as a conduit for the US government’s illegal war in Nicaragua, where US officials were using the Contra rebels to effect a regime change in that country.

But like other loyal pro-US dictators, Noriega fell out of favor with US officials, who decided they wanted him out of office and replaced with someone more to their liking.

The big problem, of course, is the one that always afflicts US regime-change aspirations: Noriega refused to go voluntarily.

US officials knew that it would look bad to simply invade the country and effect a regime-change operation through force of arms. Undoubtedly, they considered a state-sponsored assassination through the CIA, which specialized in that form of regime change, but for whatever reason that regime-method wasn’t employed.

So, the regime-changers turned to the US Justice Department, which secured a criminal indictment against Noriega for supposedly violating America’s drug laws. The US rationale was that the US government, as the world’s international policeman, has jurisdiction to enforce its drug laws against everyone in the world.

On December 20, 1989, the US military invaded Panama to bring Noriega back to the United States to stand trial on the drug charges. One might consider the invasion to be one gigantic no-knock raid on an entire country as part of US drug-war enforcement.

An estimated 23-60 US soldiers were killed in the operation while some 300 were wounded. An estimated 300-800 Panamanian soldiers were killed. Estimates of civilian deaths ranged from 200 to 3,000. Property damage ranged in the billions of dollars.

But it was all considered worth it. By capturing Noriega and bringing him back for trial, US officials felt that they had made big progress in finally winning the war on drugs. Equally important, they had secured the regime change that had been their original goal. At the same time, they sent a message to other rulers around the world: Leave office when we say or we’ll do this to you.

Noriega was convicted and received a 40-year jail sentence. When his lawyers tried to introduce evidence at trial of his close working relationship with the CIA and other elements of the US national security state, not surprisingly federal prosecutors objected and the judge sustained their objections. Better to keep those types of things as secret as possible.

Alas, Noriega’s conviction and incarceration did not bring an end to the war on drugs, as this crooked, corrupt, failed, and racially bigoted government program continues to this day. Moreover, as Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro might soon find out., the drug war continues to provide an effective way for US officials to effect regime change.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

More Dying for Nothing in Iraq

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Two more US soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Yes, that Iraq — the Iraq that never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so — the Iraq that the US government invaded and has occupied for umpteen years under the rubric of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

What did those two soldiers die for? They died for the same thing that 58,000 US soldiers died for in Vietnam — nothing.

They certainly didn’t die for freedom. Just as the North Vietnamese were never threatening the freedom of the American people, neither is anyone in Iraq, including ISIS, the group that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq brought into existence.

The Pentagon announced that it has retaliated for the killings by bombing an “Iranian-backed militia” that the Pentagon is “confident” was responsible for the killing.

And then what? Then that Iranian-backed militia retaliates by killing more US soldiers, which then motivates the Pentagon to retaliate again, which causes the Iranian-backed militia to retaliate again.

That’s how this entire sordid process has turned into a perpetual “war on terrorism,” one that sacrifices US soldiers for nothing and, in the process, ends up destroying our rights and liberties here at home in the name of keeping us “safe” from the enemies that the Pentagon (and the CIA) are producing over there.

What business do US soldiers have in Iraq? No business at all. The longer they are kept there, the greater the chance that more of them will be dying for nothing.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Lift the US Embargo on Cuba

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The US embargo on Cuba has been in effect for 60 years. It’s time to end it.

The embargo makes it a criminal offense for any American to spend money in Cuba or to do business in Cuba. If an American travels to Cuba and spends money there or does business there, he is subject to criminal prosecution, conviction, fine, and imprisonment by his own government upon his return to the United States.

The purpose of the embargo is regime change. The idea is to squeeze the Cuban people economically with the aim of causing discontent against Cuba’s communist regime. If the discontent gets significant enough, US officials believe, the population will revolt and re-install a pro-US regime into power.

Where is the morality in targeting the civilian population with death and impoverishment with the aim of achieving a political goal? Isn’t that why we condemn terrorism?

I say “re-install” because Cuba had a pro-US dictator in power before the Cuban revolution installed Fidel Castro into power. The country was ruled by a man named Fulgencio Batista, one of the most brutal and corrupt dictators in the world. US officials didn’t care about his tyranny because he was a pro-US dictator — that is, one who could be counted on to do the bidding of the US government.

But the Cuban people, who were suffering under Batista’s regime, revolted against it. Successfully ousting Batista from power, new Cuban dictator Fidel Castro made it clear that he would be no such puppet. In the eyes of US officials, that made him a threat to “national security.”

What many Americans fail to realize is that the embargo is actually an infringement on their liberty. Under principles of freedom, people have the natural, God-given right to travel anywhere they want and spend their money any way they want. Freedom of travel and economic liberty are encompassed by the rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that the Declaration of Independence enumerates as rights that preexist government.

When the American people agreed to this fundamental infringement on their rights and liberty, it was at the height of the Cold War. US officials told them that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy based in Russia to take over the world, especially the United States. Cuba, US officials said, was a spearhead in that effort. If a communist regime was permitted to remain in Cuba, which is only 90 miles away from US shores, they said, there was no way to keep America from going Red.

The irony is that America was already going socialist and without an invasion by Cuba. That was reflected by the US embrace of such socialist programs as Social Security, Medicare, public schooling, immigration controls, and a central bank, all of which are core elements of Cuba’s socialist economic system.

Terribly fearful of this supposed communist threat to conquer the United States, the American people traded away their rights and liberties for the sake of purported safety and security from communism.

The irony is that Cuba never attacked the United States and never even threatened to do so. Throughout the Cold War, it remained an impoverished Third World nation that never posed any military threat to the United States.

Instead, throughout the Cold War it was always the US government that was the aggressor against Cuba. Not only did the US government target the Cuban people with its embargo, it also secretly partnered with the Mafia to assassinate Castro.

In fact, the reason that Castro invited the Soviet Union to install nuclear missiles in Cuba was not to attack the United States but rather to deter the US government from invading Cuba a second time or to defend Cuba in the event of another US invasion of the island.

The Cold War ended some 30 years ago, but not for the Cuban people. When it comes to freedom and prosperity, they have been left behind, squeezed in a vise that consists of socialism on the one side and the US embargo on the other.

Fidel Castro outlasted the embargo and the US-Mafia murder attempts on his life and ended up dying four years ago. Nonetheless, the embargo goes on.

It’s time to bring an end to this sordid, immoral behavior on the part of US officials. Leave the Cuban people alone, and restore freedom to the American people. If Cubans want to end their socialist system, that’s up to them to do so. The US government has no legitimate business contributing to their suffering with its brutal economic embargo.

Moreover, the American people have the right to the restoration of their rights of freedom of travel and economic liberty, which should never have been traded away in the first place. The US government has no legitimate authority to be prosecuting and punishing Americans for exercising what are natural, God-given rights.

Lift the embargo, now. It’s the morally and economically sound thing to do.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Drug War Obtuseness

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Sometimes I wonder how super-smart people can be so obtuse when it comes to the drug war. A recent example of this phenomenon is Ioan Grillo, a contributing editor for the New York Times. Grillo is the author of two books on the drug war: El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency, which was translated into five languages and was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, and his new book Gangster Warlords.

Clearly, Ioan Grillo is a super-smart person.

The problem is that he, like so many other super-smart people in the mainstream press, is also super-obtuse when it comes to the war on drugs.

Grillo thinks he has found a way to win the war on drugs. In an op-ed entitled “Dismantling Mexico’s Narco State,” he says that the secret is for the Mexican and US governments to start targeting for criminal prosecution Mexican government officials who protect the drug cartels. The corruption within the Mexican government would then be ended, which would mean an end to the official protection for the drug cartels and drug lords, which would enable law enforcement to finally — finally — shut them down. Victory in the drug war!

Why, that’s ingenious! Why didn’t anyone come up with this brilliant idea before now?

Maybe because it is so ludicrous.

Anyone who still thinks that the war on drugs can be “won” is living in la-la land. I would recommend to Grillo that he go spend several hours watching Narcos: Mexico, both Season 1 and the just released Season 2, which are based on real-life figures and events in the drug war. I will guarantee that anyone who watches those two seasons will be forever dispelled of the notion that the war on drugs can be “won.”

Targeting consumers and sellers

For the past 50 years or so, drug war strategy has been based on targeting sellers of drugs and consumers of drugs. This two-pronged approach, it was believed, would bring victory in the drug war. Consumers of drugs would be sent to jail for decades, which was supposed to deter other people from consuming drugs. At the same time, there would be a crackdown on drug sellers, especially the drug kingpins.

And so it’s been for the past several decades. The penitentiaries, both here and in Mexico, have been filled with drug consumers, especially African Americans, and with big-name heads of drug cartels or just people who have been caught smuggling or selling drugs. Every time there is a record drug bust, the mainstream media goes gaga — and then covers the criminal trial with rapt attention to every detail of drug distribution and violence.

With each drug bust and conviction, hope springs eternal among the drug warriors and the mainstream press. Finally — finally — the drug war will be won.

Alas, not even close. As the Narcos series shows, each time they bust some high-profile drug dealer, he is quickly replaced by a new one or by multiple new ones.

The laws of supply and demand

It’s just economics 101 — i.e., the laws of supply and demand. By making drugs illegal, black-market prices and profits soar, attracting unsavory competitors into the market who don’t hesitate to employ violence to garner larger market share. If one of them is busted, that causes prices and profits to spike, which means that other competitors quickly fill the void.

Thus, this drug-war strategy has never worked and will never work. The more drug lords and drug dealers they bust, the more that others quickly replace them.

Grillo’s plan is just a variation on that theme. As soon as some corrupt government official is busted and prosecuted, another one will quickly take his place.

Imagine a head of the state police in one of the Mexican states that border the United States. Let’s say his annual salary is $75,000. A drug cartel approaches him and offers him $5 million to look the other way on cocaine shipments into the United States. The official is told that if he refuses, he and his wife and children will be killed. Plata o plomo? Silver or lead?

What will he do? He’ll do whatever any rational person would do — he’ll take the money. If he doesn’t, he knows that his negative response will not have any effect on the supply of drugs into the United States. If he does, he saves his own life and the lives of his family, plus he now has $5 million of extra money. Of course, he could just resign, but he knows that that could antagonize the drug cartel, and he knows that his resignation isn’t really going to impact the flow of drugs into the United States. By choosing to become “corrupt,” the police official is behaving as rationally as people in the United States who go on the government dole.

Only one way to end drug cartels

Thus, there is not a snowball’s chance in Hades that Grillo’s plan is going to finally — finally! — win the war on drugs. Yes, the prisons will have more people in them, and drug war prosecutors and judges will continue to draw nice salaries, but so what? Life will go on as usual, with new drug lords and new corrupt officials and a never-ending flow of drugs.

There is only one — only one — repeat: only one — way to put the drug lords and drug cartels out of business. That way is by ending the drug war by repealing all laws that criminalize the possession or distribution of drugs. Ending drug prohibition would have the same impact that ending alcohol Prohibition did. It would immediately put all the drug cartels and drug lords out of business. Drug legalization would immediately dismantle Mexico’s narco state and restore a state of normality and peace to Mexican society.

Why can’t super-smart people like Ioan Grillo see that?

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

US Lies and Deaths in Afghanistan

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Last December the Washington Post published secret Pentagon documents showing the official lies that have undergirded the US war on Afghanistan for the past 18 years. The opening paragraph of the article puts the matter bluntly: “A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”

I can’t help but wonder whether Sgt. First Class Javier Gutierrez, of San Antonio, Texas, and Sgt. First Class Rey Rodriguez of Las Cruces, New Mexico, read that article. Both men were killed last Saturday in an attack on a joint-US military operation in Afghanistan. Both were 28 years old.

In fact, I can’t help but wonder whether their families read the article. If so, what will be going through their minds at the funerals of both men, when some Pentagon spokesman states that they died fighting for “our freedom.” Won’t both families know deep down that that’s just one more lie piled onto all the other lies?

The truth, as painful as it might be, is that both men have died for nothing. They certainly didn’t die protecting our freedom because our freedom is not being threatened by anyone in Afghanistan or by anyone else. All that one has to do is visit the east coast and west coast and see that no enemy nation is invading the United States. The same holds true for the US northern and southern borders.

The two men died for the “right” of the Pentagon and the CIA to meddle and intervene in the Afghanistan and other parts of the world. They died for what is called interventionism, which is the same as dying for nothing because interventionism is not worth dying for. For that matter, it’s also not worth killing for.

US soldiers don’t belong in Afghanistan. They belong here at home. Those people who are killing them want to rid their country of foreign troops. Americans would do the same if there were foreign troops occupying the United States.

There are currently 12,000-13,000 US troops in Afghanistan. The Pentagon’s policy is to slowly bring them home.

That is a ludicrous policy. The more they bring some home, the more dangerous it becomes for the smaller number left behind. They become more vulnerable to the types of attacks that killed Gutierrez and Rodriguez.

Even one more US soldier killing and dying for interventionism and more Pentagon lies is one too many. It’s obviously too late for Javier Gutierrez and Rey Rodriguez and their families. But it’s not too late for the others who are still there. Bring them all home, now.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.