All posts by Jacob G. Hornberger

Conscription Is Slavery

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Last month a federal judge in Texas declared the all-male military draft to be unconstitutional because it applies only to men and not also to women. The decision flies in the face of a decision by the Supreme Court in 1981 that upheld the constitutionality of the draft-registration process. Back then, however, women were not permitted to serve in combat roles, which was the justification for the Court’s ruling. Today, women are permitted to serve in combat roles, a point cited by that Texas federal judge.

While the controversy might seem academic given that we haven’t had conscription for several decades, that could change on a moment’s notice. Given the propensity of US officials, from the president down, to embroil the United States in foreign wars, lots of fathers and mothers might suddenly be shocked to see their daughters suddenly being hauled off to boot camp and then to war, where they would face the possibility of being shot, bombed, killed, injured, maimed, or raped. Lots of young women might also be shocked.

Yes, I know America has a volunteer army. And yes, I know that it has proven sufficient to fight America’s forever foreign wars for the past several decades. But the fact is that all that could change overnight if US officials were to embroil the United States in a war that the volunteer army couldn’t handle on its own. In that case, the Pentagon and the CIA would not hesitate to advise the president to immediately initiate the draft.

After all, that’s the point of draft registration. When a male reaches the age of 18, he is required by law to register for the draft. With draft registration, the Pentagon has a ready list of people to conscript at a moment’s notice, should the necessity arise.

What happens if a young man refuses to register for the draft? He is criminally prosecuted, convicted, fined, and sentenced to jail. There is nothing voluntary about draft registration.

Questions naturally arise. Does that District Court’s order mean that young men no longer have to register for the draft? I could be wrong but it sure seems to me that reliance on a US District Judge’s judicial decision might be a legitimate defense in a criminal prosecution for refusing to register. To obviate that possibility, the Pentagon and the CIA will almost certainly advise the Justice Department to appeal the ruling. Or will draft registration — and, by implication, the draft — now be extended to women to make it constitutional? Or is it possible that draft registration will be ended entirely?

For anyone concerned about the principles of freedom, there is only one right answer: End the draft itself and never implement it again. A permanent ban on conscription is the ideal insofar as freedom is concerned.

After all, we call it by that fancy word “conscription” or even by the less fancy term “the draft,” but the fact is that it’s really nothing more than slavery. The state orders a person to leave his life and report to a military installation, where he is required to serve the state, specifically the military, and obey its orders. The draftee has no effective choice. If he refuses, he goes to jail.

That’s the very essence of slavery. A slave is required to serve another person or another entity. He has no effective choice. If he refuses, he is severely punished.

There is no way to reconcile conscription with the principles of a free society. The big problem, of course, is that Americans have been born and raised under this system and, equally important, have been taught that they are living in a free society. Therefore, most Americans (libertarians excepted, of course) are not able to recognize that it’s the exact opposite — that everyone is living in an unfree society, one in which everyone within a certain age group can be enslaved on a moment’s notice and be forced to kill or be killed in one of the national-security establishment’s foreign wars. Ironically, with conscription freedom is destroyed in the name of protecting “freedom” or “national security” in some faraway land.

Statists say that sometimes conscription us necessary to win a war and, therefore, that there’s nothing wrong with enslaving people temporarily for the greater good of the nation.

But when people have to be forced to fight in a particular war, that’s a good sign that the government shouldn’t be waging that war. When a genuinely free people are invaded by a foreign army, most of the citizenry are going to fight to preserve their freedom and well-being. A free people don’t need to be forced to fight.

But when a regime embroils the nation in a faraway war, the situation changes. Suddenly, people say to themselves: That conflict doesn’t involve me, my family, or my nation. I’m staying out of it. That’s when the state resorts to conscription — to force people to fight in those faraway lands and to kill or be killed.

That’s why American men had to be enslaved to fight in the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War I, and World War II. Not enough American men were willing to volunteer to fight in those foreign wars. It wasn’t worth it to them. So, US officials forced them to do so through conscription.

Maybe the solution is to reenact the Thirteenth Amendment in a modified form, as follows:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. And this time we mean it.
Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Understanding Why Iranians Bash the US Government

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Two days ago, the New York Times carried an article by Times’ journalist Thomas Erdbrink entitled, “For Iran, a Grand Occasion to Bash the US,” which was about Iran’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of its revolution in 1979. The article included the following sentence, “And like some evil doppelgänger, the United States was omnipresent, despite having broken all ties with Iran in 1981.”

Unfortunately, Erdbrink failed to point out two things: One, it is understandable why the Iranian people bash the US government, and, two, while the US government may have broken diplomatic ties with Iran, it has nonetheless continued to use economic sanctions to target the Iranian people with impoverishment and death as a way of hopefully effecting another regime change within the country.

First things first though. When the Times refers to “bashing the US,” it makes a common mistake by conflating the US government and our nation. Actually, they are two separate and distinct entities, a phenomenon best reflected by the Bill of Rights, which expressly protects the citizenry (i.e., our country) from the US government.

The distinction is important because the Iranian people love Americans. They just hate the US government. And when one considers what the US government has done to Iranians and continues to do to Iranians, which, unfortunately, many Americans don’t like to think about, it is not difficult to understand the deep enmity that Iranians have toward the US government.

In 1953, the CIA, which is one of three principal parts of the national-security branch of the federal government, secretly initiated a regime-change coup in Iran, one that not only ousted from power the democratically elected prime minister of the country, Mohammed Mossadegh, but also destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy. That’s ironic, of course, given that US officials are always reminding people how enamored they are with “democracy.”

Why did the CIA initiate this regime-change operation? Because the US national-security establishment was convinced that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world, a conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia. (Yes, that Russia!)

What did that supposed worldwide conspiracy have to do with Mossadegh? The CIA was convinced that Mossadegh was leaning left because he had nationalized British oil interests, which, needless to say, had not sat well with British oil companies. Therefore, the CIA concluded, Mossadegh could conceivably be a secret agent for this supposed worldwide communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Russia.

Upon ousting Mossadegh from power, the CIA made the Shah of Iran its supreme dictator in Iran. He turned out to be one of the most cruel and brutal tyrants in the world, with the full support of the CIA and the rest of the US national-security establishment. In fact, the CIA helped organize and train the Shah’s tyrannical enforcement agency, the SAVAK, which was a combination Gestapo, KGB, Pentagon, NSA, and CIA.

For the next 25 years, the Shah and the CIA-trained and CIA-supported SAVAK ruled Iran with a brutal and oppressive iron fist. Indefinite detention, brutal torture, kangaroo trials, and executions were hallmarks of the Shah’s regime. Of course, from the standpoint of the US government, the Shah was a kind and friendly ruler, one who was a loyal partner and ally of the US government. From the standpoint of US officials, the Shah and his SAVAK were just displaying the “law and order” mentality within the country that characterized all US-supported foreign dictators.

In 1979, the Iranian people had had enough of the Shah’s, the SAVAK’s, and the CIA’s brutal tyranny and oppression. That’s when they decided to revolt, violently. If their revolution had failed, there would have been a horrific backlash involving mass arrests, incarceration, torture, kangaroo trials, and executions at the hands of the Shah and his CIA-trained and CIA-supported SAVAK.

But the revolution succeeded, much to the chagrin of US officials, who have never forgiven the Iranian people for ousting the CIA’s man from power. Unfortunately, however, the Iranian people were unable to restore the democratic experiment that the CIA had destroyed some 26 years before. Iranians ended up with another brutal dictatorship, this one a religious theocracy.

Ever since the Iranian revolution, US officials have never ceased their efforts to effect another regime change in Iran, one that would bring another pro-US dictator into power, one who would be permitted to wield totalitarian power over the Iranian people in return for loyal support of the US Empire in foreign affairs.

That’s what the US sanctions against Iran are all about. The sanctions target the Iranian people with impoverishment, suffering, and even death in the hopes that they will initiate a violent revolution against their government or, alternatively, in the hope of bringing a collapse of the Iranian government, or, alternatively, in the hope of inciting a pro-US coup within the regime, or, alternatively, in the hope of provoking a regime-change war between Iran and the United States.

The Iranian people are obviously the pawns in this process. Like with other US regime-change operations (e.g., Iraq, Chile, Guatemala, Libya, Afghanistan, etc.), no amount of death, suffering, and impoverishment among the Iranian people is considered too high. When asked in 1996 whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children (yes, children!) from the US sanctions were worth US regime-change efforts in Iraq, the response of US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright reflects the current mindset towards the massive suffering and death of the Iranian people from US sanctions: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Is it any surprise why Iranians are bashing the US government and President Trump as Iranians celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ouster of the cruel and brutal tyrant that the CIA installed and trained in their country?

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Understanding Why Iranians Bash the US Government

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Two days ago, the New York Times carried an article by Times’ journalist Thomas Erdbrink entitled, “For Iran, a Grand Occasion to Bash the US,” which was about Iran’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of its revolution in 1979. The article included the following sentence, “And like some evil doppelgänger, the United States was omnipresent, despite having broken all ties with Iran in 1981.”

Unfortunately, Erdbrink failed to point out two things: One, it is understandable why the Iranian people bash the US government, and, two, while the US government may have broken diplomatic ties with Iran, it has nonetheless continued to use economic sanctions to target the Iranian people with impoverishment and death as a way of hopefully effecting another regime change within the country.

First things first though. When the Times refers to “bashing the US,” it makes a common mistake by conflating the US government and our nation. Actually, they are two separate and distinct entities, a phenomenon best reflected by the Bill of Rights, which expressly protects the citizenry (i.e., our country) from the US government.

The distinction is important because the Iranian people love Americans. They just hate the US government. And when one considers what the US government has done to Iranians and continues to do to Iranians, which, unfortunately, many Americans don’t like to think about, it is not difficult to understand the deep enmity that Iranians have toward the US government.

In 1953, the CIA, which is one of three principal parts of the national-security branch of the federal government, secretly initiated a regime-change coup in Iran, one that not only ousted from power the democratically elected prime minister of the country, Mohammed Mossadegh, but also destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy. That’s ironic, of course, given that US officials are always reminding people how enamored they are with “democracy.”

Why did the CIA initiate this regime-change operation? Because the US national-security establishment was convinced that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world, a conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia. (Yes, that Russia!)

What did that supposed worldwide conspiracy have to do with Mossadegh? The CIA was convinced that Mossadegh was leaning left because he had nationalized British oil interests, which, needless to say, had not sat well with British oil companies. Therefore, the CIA concluded, Mossadegh could conceivably be a secret agent for this supposed worldwide communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Russia.

Upon ousting Mossadegh from power, the CIA made the Shah of Iran its supreme dictator in Iran. He turned out to be one of the most cruel and brutal tyrants in the world, with the full support of the CIA and the rest of the US national-security establishment. In fact, the CIA helped organize and train the Shah’s tyrannical enforcement agency, the SAVAK, which was a combination Gestapo, KGB, Pentagon, NSA, and CIA.

For the next 25 years, the Shah and the CIA-trained and CIA-supported SAVAK ruled Iran with a brutal and oppressive iron fist. Indefinite detention, brutal torture, kangaroo trials, and executions were hallmarks of the Shah’s regime. Of course, from the standpoint of the US government, the Shah was a kind and friendly ruler, one who was a loyal partner and ally of the US government. From the standpoint of US officials, the Shah and his SAVAK were just displaying the “law and order” mentality within the country that characterized all US-supported foreign dictators.

In 1979, the Iranian people had had enough of the Shah’s, the SAVAK’s, and the CIA’s brutal tyranny and oppression. That’s when they decided to revolt, violently. If their revolution had failed, there would have been a horrific backlash involving mass arrests, incarceration, torture, kangaroo trials, and executions at the hands of the Shah and his CIA-trained and CIA-supported SAVAK.

But the revolution succeeded, much to the chagrin of US officials, who have never forgiven the Iranian people for ousting the CIA’s man from power. Unfortunately, however, the Iranian people were unable to restore the democratic experiment that the CIA had destroyed some 26 years before. Iranians ended up with another brutal dictatorship, this one a religious theocracy.

Ever since the Iranian revolution, US officials have never ceased their efforts to effect another regime change in Iran, one that would bring another pro-US dictator into power, one who would be permitted to wield totalitarian power over the Iranian people in return for loyal support of the US Empire in foreign affairs.

That’s what the US sanctions against Iran are all about. The sanctions target the Iranian people with impoverishment, suffering, and even death in the hopes that they will initiate a violent revolution against their government or, alternatively, in the hope of bringing a collapse of the Iranian government, or, alternatively, in the hope of inciting a pro-US coup within the regime, or, alternatively, in the hope of provoking a regime-change war between Iran and the United States.

The Iranian people are obviously the pawns in this process. Like with other US regime-change operations (e.g., Iraq, Chile, Guatemala, Libya, Afghanistan, etc.), no amount of death, suffering, and impoverishment among the Iranian people is considered too high. When asked in 1996 whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children (yes, children!) from the US sanctions were worth US regime-change efforts in Iraq, the response of US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright reflects the current mindset towards the massive suffering and death of the Iranian people from US sanctions: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Is it any surprise why Iranians are bashing the US government and President Trump as Iranians celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ouster of the cruel and brutal tyrant that the CIA installed and trained in their country?

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Donald Trump, Dictator

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It is supremely ironic. To respond to the dictatorial mindset and policies of Venezuelan ruler Nicolas Maduro, President Trump has adopted his own dictatorial mindset and policies. Trump obviously believes that the way to fight foreign dictatorship is by adopting dictatorship here at home.

Consider Trump’s actions with respect to Citgo, the Houston-based refining firm that is owned by the Venezuelan government. It is the eighth-largest US refiner and Venezuela’s top foreign asset.

To help effect a regime-change operation in Venezuela, Trump simply issued an order that prohibits Citgo from sending any money to the Venezuela government. He’s also ordering that Citgo’s revenues be transferred to Juan Guaidó, the head of the Venezuelan congress, who is claiming that he’s the rightful president of Venezuela, notwithstanding the undisputed fact that no one has ever elected him president.

We Americans have become so accustomed to the imposition of sanctions on people in foreign countries by US presidents that it’s easy to be blasé about Trump’s actions. But actually his behavior is astounding, especially in that it reflects perfectly the same dictatorial mindset and policies that characterize Maduro.

First of all, Venezuela and the United States are not at war. Oh, sure, there is there standard Cold War or empire-like verbiage that refers to rivals, adversaries, hegemons, communism, socialism, Russia, China, and Cuba, but indulging in empire-speak or Cold War bugaboos does not rise to the level of war. In an extraordinary action taken during peacetime, Trump has seized and confiscated the assets of a foreign regime and is transferring them to someone else.

Second, Trump didn’t go to Congress to secure permission to seize and transfer Citgo’s revenue. That’s ordinarily what rulers in a representative democracy are expected to do. Recall what they taught us in our high-school civics classes: Congress enacts the laws and the president enforces the laws. Here, there was no law enacted by Congress authorizing Trump to seize and transfer Citgo’s revenue. He just unilaterally issued an order authorizing US officials to take control over Venezuela’s money.

That’s precisely how dictators behave. They don’t need no stinking legislature. They don’t have time to jack with elected representatives. They know what’s best for the country. They have to do what is necessary. Fast.

One of the purest manifestations of this phenomenon took place when military Gen. Augusto Pinochet took the reins of power in Chile after the US-supported regime-change operation in that country. Pinochet’s regime was a classic military dictatorship. He didn’t bother with seeking permission from the Chilean congress to round up some 50,000 people and torture, rape, or kill them. He just issued orders to his national-security state goons to do those dirty deeds. His orders were called “decree laws.” That’s because his decrees had the force of law. That is what dictatorship is all about — the power of the ruler, whether democratically elected or not, to issue decree laws to seize people’s property or to arrest, incarcerate, torture, rape, or kill them.

That is precisely what Trump’s order seizing Citgo’s revenue is — a decree law. Trump issues the decree and it instantly becomes the law. Everyone is expected to comply with it. That is classic dictatorship.

Just think: An American president adopting dictatorial mindsets and policies to oppose the dictatorial mindsets and policies of a foreign dictator. Trump obviously believes that his decree laws are making America great again. Ironically, that’s what Maduro also believes about his decree laws.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Donald Trump, Dictator

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It is supremely ironic. To respond to the dictatorial mindset and policies of Venezuelan ruler Nicolas Maduro, President Trump has adopted his own dictatorial mindset and policies. Trump obviously believes that the way to fight foreign dictatorship is by adopting dictatorship here at home.

Consider Trump’s actions with respect to Citgo, the Houston-based refining firm that is owned by the Venezuelan government. It is the eighth-largest US refiner and Venezuela’s top foreign asset.

To help effect a regime-change operation in Venezuela, Trump simply issued an order that prohibits Citgo from sending any money to the Venezuela government. He’s also ordering that Citgo’s revenues be transferred to Juan Guaidó, the head of the Venezuelan congress, who is claiming that he’s the rightful president of Venezuela, notwithstanding the undisputed fact that no one has ever elected him president.

We Americans have become so accustomed to the imposition of sanctions on people in foreign countries by US presidents that it’s easy to be blasé about Trump’s actions. But actually his behavior is astounding, especially in that it reflects perfectly the same dictatorial mindset and policies that characterize Maduro.

First of all, Venezuela and the United States are not at war. Oh, sure, there is there standard Cold War or empire-like verbiage that refers to rivals, adversaries, hegemons, communism, socialism, Russia, China, and Cuba, but indulging in empire-speak or Cold War bugaboos does not rise to the level of war. In an extraordinary action taken during peacetime, Trump has seized and confiscated the assets of a foreign regime and is transferring them to someone else.

Second, Trump didn’t go to Congress to secure permission to seize and transfer Citgo’s revenue. That’s ordinarily what rulers in a representative democracy are expected to do. Recall what they taught us in our high-school civics classes: Congress enacts the laws and the president enforces the laws. Here, there was no law enacted by Congress authorizing Trump to seize and transfer Citgo’s revenue. He just unilaterally issued an order authorizing US officials to take control over Venezuela’s money.

That’s precisely how dictators behave. They don’t need no stinking legislature. They don’t have time to jack with elected representatives. They know what’s best for the country. They have to do what is necessary. Fast.

One of the purest manifestations of this phenomenon took place when military Gen. Augusto Pinochet took the reins of power in Chile after the US-supported regime-change operation in that country. Pinochet’s regime was a classic military dictatorship. He didn’t bother with seeking permission from the Chilean congress to round up some 50,000 people and torture, rape, or kill them. He just issued orders to his national-security state goons to do those dirty deeds. His orders were called “decree laws.” That’s because his decrees had the force of law. That is what dictatorship is all about — the power of the ruler, whether democratically elected or not, to issue decree laws to seize people’s property or to arrest, incarcerate, torture, rape, or kill them.

That is precisely what Trump’s order seizing Citgo’s revenue is — a decree law. Trump issues the decree and it instantly becomes the law. Everyone is expected to comply with it. That is classic dictatorship.

Just think: An American president adopting dictatorial mindsets and policies to oppose the dictatorial mindsets and policies of a foreign dictator. Trump obviously believes that his decree laws are making America great again. Ironically, that’s what Maduro also believes about his decree laws.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

The US Government’s Love of Foreign Dictatorships

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Lest anyone be tempted to believe that President Trump and other US interventionists are intervening in Venezuela because of some purported concern for the Venezuelan people, let’s examining just a few examples that will bring a dose of reality to the situation. This latest intervention is nothing more than another interventionist power play, one intended to replace one dictatorial regime with another.

Egypt comes to mind. It is ruled by one of the most brutal and tyrannical military dictatorships in the world. The US government loves it, supports it, and partners with it. There is no concern for the Egyptian citizenry, who have to suffer under this brutal tyranny and oppression.

Saudi Arabia also comes to mind. It too is a brutal and tyrannical dictatorship, also a murderous one. The US government loves it too, supports it, and partners with it. There is no concern for Saudi citizens who have to suffer under this brutal tyranny and oppression.

Historically, this has been the case as well. Some examples:

1. Iran under the Shah. In 1953, the US national-security establishment destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy by ousting the democratically elected prime minister, Mohamad Mossadegh, from power and installed in his stead the Shah of Iran, one of the world’s most brutal tyrants. Even worse, they helped train his national-security establishment in the arts of torture, tyranny, and oppression. There was no concern for the well-being or liberty of the Iranian people. Even today, the US aim is to oust the current tyrannical regime and replace it with a pro-US tyrannical regime.

2. Guatemala. In 1954, the US national-security establishment ousted the democratically elected president from office and installed in his stead a succession of brutal military tyrants. The US-engineered coup threw the country into a 3-decade long civil war, which killed more than a million people. US officials couldn’t care less.

3. Cuba. In the 1950s, the US national-security establishment supported and partnered with a brutal, corrupt dictator named Fulgencio Batista, who himself partnered with the Mafia, the premier criminal organization in the world. There was never any concern for the Cuban populace, including the young girls who Batista’s goons were kidnapping and bringing to the Mafia’s casinos to serve as sexual perqs for high rollers. Ever since the Cuban people ousted Batista from power through a violent revolution and replaced him with Fidel Castro, the US national-security establishment has never ceased trying to get a subservient and compliant dictator back into power in Cuba.

4. Chile. In 1973, the US national-security establishment engineered the violent ouster of the democratically elected president of the country, Salvador Allende, and his replacement by one of the most tyrannical and corrupt military dictators in the world, Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet’s goons proceeded to round up, torture, rape, or murder tens of thousands of innocent people, including two Americans, with the full support of the US national-security establishment. There was never any concern for any of the victims, including the two Americans (Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi), on the part of US officials.

5. Iraq. In the 1980s, the US national-security establishment supported and partnered with Saddam Hussein, one of the world’s most brutal dictators, one who some US officials would refer to in the 1990s as a “new Adolf Hitler.” They were helping Saddam kill Iranians. Later, after US officials turned on their partner Saddam in the 1990s, they targeted Iraqi citizens with death and suffering through one of the most brutal sanctions systems in history as a way of hopefully getting rid of Saddam and replacing him with another US dictatorial partner. US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright expressed the official mindset of US officials toward the Iraqi people by declaring that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.”

Make no mistake about it: the US interventionist mindset today toward Venezuela is no different. That mindset is reflected by two things: one, the infliction of US sanctions on Venezuela and, two, the official recognition of an alternative president, in the hope that these two actions will produce a violent revolution. The death toll from such a revolution, no matter how high, doesn’t matter to US officials. After all, the people who will be dying will be Venezuelans. Like with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Chile, and so many others, the liberty and well-being of the citizenry is of no concern. All that matters is the ouster of an independent regime and its replacement with a new dictatorial regime that is eager and willing to be a partner and ally of the US government.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

US Policy Toward Cuba Attacked America’s Freedom and Values

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The decades-long US interventionist policy against Cuba failed to achieve its goal of removing Fidel Castro from power and replacing him with a pro-US regime, similar to the pro-US Batista regime that the Cuban revolution ousted from power in 1959. More important, interventionism against Cuba ended up attacking the freedom and values of the American people.

During the Cold War, US officials claimed that their interventionist policy against Cuba was justified because Cuba posed a grave threat to US national security. Yet not once did Cuba ever attack or invade the United States or even threaten to do so. Moreover, there was never any possibility that the Cuban military could defeat US military forces in a full-scale war. Throughout the Cold War years, it was always the US government, especially the Pentagon and the CIA, that was the aggressor in the conflict with Cuba.

Consider the brutal economic embargo against Cuba, which exists to this day, more than 25 years after the Cold War supposedly ended. In combination with Cuba’s socialist system, the embargo has squeezed the economic life out of the Cuban people, helping consign them to extreme poverty verging on starvation.

Americans have become so accustomed to economic sanctions and embargoes as a tool of US foreign policy that many of them hardly give a thought to how they operate. Sanctions and embargoes target the population of a foreign country with economic suffering, with the aim of bringing about a change in their government or in how their government operates. The idea is that if the civilian population can be made to significantly suffer, either their regime will abdicate in favor of one that is acceptable to US officials, the regime will agree to comply with US dictates, a military coup will take place, or the civilian population will initiate a violent revolution.

With Cuba, the US government’s regime-change objective has never been achieved. To this day, the communist regime that ousted the US-supported Batista regime from power still governs Cuba. But what has been achieved is the continued infliction of economic harm on the Cuban people, along with the continued attacks on fundamental rights of the American people.

Where is the morality of intentionally inflicting harm on the population of a country with the aim of achieving a political objective? That is not what America was supposed to be all about. That is not one of the principles on which our nation was founded.

Proponents of the embargo point to tyrannical actions on the part of the Castro regime to justify the embargo, including its post-revolution executions, seizures of properties and businesses belonging both to Cubans and to Americans, denial of elections, censorship of the press, suppression of dissent, and the adoption of a socialist economic system.

But those are things that took place entirely within Cuba, which is an independent and sovereign state. None of those actions involved a military attack on the United States. They are matters that are the business of the Cuban people, not the business of the US government.

What about the properties and businesses belonging to Americans that were seized? When an American company does business in a foreign country, it takes its chances. Nationalization is one of the dangers that every business confronts when it operates in a foreign country. If a company doesn’t want to take that risk, it should stay at home. When it encounters problems in a foreign land, it should not expect the US government to come bailing it out.

The same goes for American citizens. If they don’t want to take the risk of being arrested, incarcerated, or executed by some foreign regime, they have a simple remedy: Stay at home. If they choose to go abroad, they assume the risk that bad things might happen to them. If they encounter trouble in a foreign land, they should not look to the US government to be their daddy.

Lost in the effort to achieve regime change in Cuba was a much more important aspect of the Cuba embargo — its infringement on the rights and liberties of the American people, specifically freedom of travel, private property, and economic liberty, which are among the principles on which America was founded. For more than a century, Americans were free to travel wherever they wanted and spend their money any way they wanted. If an American decided to travel abroad, he just did so, without asking for permission from federal officials.

With the embargo, Americans learned that if they traveled to Cuba without official permission and spent money there, they would be arrested, prosecuted, convicted, incarcerated, or fined, not by the Cuban government but rather by their own government. With the embargo, the federal government confirmed its power to control where Americans went and how they spent their money. The irony, of course, is that that type of control was being wielded by the Castro regime with its communist and socialist system.

Assassination

Consider the repeated attempts by the CIA to assassinate Castro, along with the assassination partnership that the CIA entered into with the Mafia. “Assassination” is really just a fancy word for murder. What moral or legal authority did the CIA have in trying to murder Castro? Remember: Cuba never attacked or invaded the United States.

The CIA held that because Castro was a communist, the CIA’s attempts to murder him were justified. But since when does a person’s political or economic ideology justify snuffing out his life? Does that mean that the CIA wields the legal and moral authority to murder anyone who believes in communism, or is it limited to presidents and prime ministers? How about political leaders who are perceived to be sympathetic to communists or communist regimes?

The CIA had no moral or legal authority to engage in murder attempts against Castro. Perhaps that is why it did everything it could to keep its assassination attempts secret, along with its partnership with the Mafia.

When the CIA’s assassination attempts became public, there was little outrage among the American public, which demonstrated what the Cold War and the US national-security state had done to the consciences of individual Americans. After all, when the country was founded, the Framers did not delegate a power of assassination in the Constitution to the federal government. Murdering people, no matter how despicable their political or economic philosophy might be, was not what America or the American people were all about. In fact, it was the exact opposite: one of America’s founding principles was that people are free to believe in anything they want and to advocate anything they want, no matter how odious everyone else might consider it. Another founding principle was that no person anywhere could be deprived of life by US officials without due process of law.

The fact that the CIA entered into an assassination partnership with the Mafia makes the situation even worse. The Mafia was the premier criminal organization in the world. Among its specialties were murder, torture, rape, and importing heroin into the United States. The fact that there was little outrage that the CIA would choose the Mafia as a partner in any endeavor, including murder and cover-up, speaks volumes about what the policy toward Cuba has done to traditional American moral values.

Of course, it wasn’t just Castro that the CIA targeted for believing in communism. Along with the FBI, it also targeted American citizens. The Fair Play for Cuba Committee, the US Communist Party, and the US civil-rights movement were prime examples. No, the CIA and the FBI didn’t murder people in those organizations, as they were trying to do with Castro, but they did do everything they could to infiltrate, smear, and destroy them. In fact, while the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, whose membership included prominent Americans from all across the country, included people who were sympathetic to communism and socialism, its objective was simply to reestablish normal relations between Cuba and the United States, something that was anathema to the Pentagon and the CIA.

Even if communism, if fully adopted, would have destroyed America’s free-market economic system and maybe even its political system, that still would not justify governmental attempts to murder or destroy the proponents of communism. Most assuredly, freedom can be dangerous, especially given the possibility that people might be induced to embrace a bad idea or a bad philosophy. But the fact that freedom comes with risks does not justify governmental efforts to undermine freedom in the name of saving it. The way to fight bad ideas is not by using force to suppress them but instead by advocating good ideas.

Consider all the other foreign coups and regime-change operations that the CIA and the Pentagon engaged in, in the name of fighting communists and communism. The CIA’s coups in Iran, Guatemala, and Chile destroyed the democratic regimes in those countries and brought into power brutal right-wing regimes that murdered, tortured, raped, abused, disappeared, and incarcerated thousands of innocent people.

Through it all, the American people were taught to passively accept or even support what was going on. The fear of communism and communists that the US national-security establishment had inculcated in the American people had stultified the conscience of many of them and paralyzed their sense of moral values.

Ambush, sabotage, and terrorism

In 1961, the CIA engineered a paramilitary invasion of Cuba, without any declaration of war from Congress, as the US Constitution required. Only 20 years before, Americans had been outraged that Japan had initiated a surprise attack on the United States without first declaring war. Yet here was the United States doing the same thing to Cuba, with nary a peep of protest over the US government’s surprise, undeclared attack at the Bay of Pigs.

The CIA’s plan entailed keeping its role in the invasion secret. It also called for John F. Kennedy to deny the CIA’s role in the invasion. Is that what the United States is supposed to be all about — secretly initiating wars of aggression against other nations and having the president lie about the government’s role in initiating the invasion?

There were the CIA’s acts of sabotage and terrorism inside Cuba. If the communist regime in Cuba had done those things here in the United States, there would have been tremendous anger and outrage among the American people, and rightly so. But when the US government did them to Cuba, the reaction among many Americans was silence or even support.

When a Cuban airliner was bombed over Barbados, on the way back to Cuba, killing 73 people, including the members of Cuba’s fencing team, it had all the earmarks of a CIA anti-communist sabotage and terrorism operation. To this day, there has never been an official investigation in which the CIA is the specific target of the investigation. The CIA’s denial that it was involved in that particular act of anti-Cuba terrorism was sufficient to foreclose any possibility of an investigation that made the CIA a target of investigation. Never mind that the CIA has always been notorious for lying, as manifested by the criminal conviction of CIA Director Richard Helms for lies told under oath to Congress, for which he was honored and glorified by his fellow operatives in the CIA.

We also mustn’t forget that the CIA’s and Pentagon’s interventionist policy toward Cuba almost succeeded in snuffing out the lives of tens of millions of Americans. Americans are taught that the Cuban Missile Crisis was caused by the Soviet Union and the Castro regime. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was caused by the Pentagon and the CIA.

After the CIA’s surprise attack at the Bay of Pigs met with defeat at the hands of Castro’s forces, the Pentagon and the CIA became more determined than ever to oust the Castro regime from power and replace with it another pro-US regime. From the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion in the spring of 1961 to the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall of 1962, the Pentagon was exhorting the president to order a full-scale military invasion of Cuba. The Joint Chiefs of Staff even came up with a plan called Operation Northwoods, which they unanimously recommended to him. The plan called for terrorist attacks and plane hijackings that would be carried out by US operatives posing as Cuban communists, which then would have provided Kennedy with the pretext to order an attack on Cuba in “self-defense.” Garnering increased enmity from the Pentagon, Kennedy rejected Operation Northwoods, to his everlasting credit.

Castro was well aware of the Pentagon’s and CIA’s desire to invade Cuba. He knew that his forces, like all Third World armies, were no match for the US military. Therefore, to deter another invasion of his country and, alternatively, to provide Cuba with the means of defending against an invasion, Castro invited the Soviet Union to install nuclear missiles on the island.

To obfuscate the defensive purpose of the missiles, US officials and the US mainstream press often refer to the Soviet missiles as “offensive” missiles. The implication is that the Soviet Union and Cuba were threatening to initiate a nuclear attack on the United States.

The truth was that the Soviet missiles were entirely for the purpose of deterrence and defense — to deter the Pentagon and the CIA from invading Cuba again and, if that failed, to have a means of defending against such a US invasion.

Americans have been taught that it was the Soviet Union that “blinked” during the crisis. That is just not true. It was actually Kennedy who “blinked.” The deal that he reached with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev entailed a promise that neither the Pentagon nor the CIA would invade Cuba again. Kennedy also promised the Soviets that he would remove nuclear missiles based in Turkey that were pointed at the Soviet Union. In return for Kennedy’s promises, the Soviets removed the missiles and returned them to the Soviet Union.

Cuba had gotten what it wanted — a US presidential guarantee against another Pentagon-CIA invasion. Needless to say, the Pentagon and the CIA were livid. Gen. Curtis LeMay, US Air Force Chief of Staff, called it the worst defeat in US history. The military brass and the CIA hierarchy considered the president to be weak, a coward, an appeaser, even a traitor for leaving Cuba’s “communist dagger” pointed at America’s throat permanently in power.

It’s a good thing, however, that Kennedy did blink and did not give the Pentagon and the CIA the invasion they wanted. Unbeknownst to Kennedy, the Pentagon, and the CIA, the nuclear missiles had been fully armed and Soviet commanders on the ground had been given battlefield authority to use them in the event of a US invasion. If Kennedy had succumbed to the enormous pressure that the military and the CIA were putting on him to invade, it is a virtual certainty that nuclear war would have engulfed the United States and the Soviet Union.

Similarities

One of the most interesting aspects of the of the decades-long policy of interventionism against Cuba pertains to two former US government officials, Kendall Myers and Ana Montes, each of whom is now residing in a federal penitentiary. Their crime? Spying for Cuba. While they were working for the US government, they separately and independently delivered classified information to the communist regime in Cuba.

Why is that interesting? Because keep in mind that Cuba had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. The aggressor in the Cuba-US conflict had always been the US government, especially the Pentagon and the CIA. Thus, while Americans are not permitted to know what precisely was the classified information that was delivered to Cuba, at worst it had to be information relating to acts of aggression that the US government was carrying out or planning against Cuba, such as assassination, sabotage, terrorism, embargo-tightening, or other regime-change operations.

What motivated Myers and Montes to do what they did? They believed it was morally wrong for the government for which they were working to be waging a war of aggression against a country that had never attacked the United States. Thus, they felt morally bound to help Cuba defend itself from acts of aggression that were being undertaken by US officials against Cuba.

Needless to say, US officials didn’t see things that way. That includes the federal judges who issued a life sentence without parole to Myers and a 25-year sentence to Montes. In life under a national-security state, governmental officials are expected to keep the secrets of the regime, even if they consist of murder, coups, and wars of aggression. In a national-security state, “national security” trumps everything, including conscience, as well as such principles as due process of law, freedom of travel, economic liberty, and private property.

Finally, it is worth mentioning an ironic aspect of the US government’s decades-long policy of interventionism against Cuba — the similarities between Cuba’s socialist economic system and America’s welfare-state, regulated-economy system. Such socialist and interventionist programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, a central bank, paper (i.e., fiat) money, economic regulations, trade restrictions, licensure, and income taxation are core elements in both the Cuban and American systems.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Pentagon’s “judicial” system at Guantanamo Bay more closely resembles that of the Cuban communist regime than that of the United States, given its trials of accused terrorists by military commission, its use of evidence acquired by torture, its admission of hearsay, its denial of the rights of speedy trial and due process of law, its destruction of the attorney-client privilege, its presumption of guilt, and its preordained verdict of guilty.

Throughout the long US decades of interventionism against Cuba, the notion has always been that the means justified the end of regime change. Too bad that such means entailed an attack on the freedom and values that once characterized the United States and the American people.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

The Disgrace of Maria Butina’s Prosecution

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Some anti-Russianites and Trump critics are saying that the guilty plea by 30-year-old Russian citizen Maria Butina confirms that the Russian government was meddling in the 2016 presidential election. It’s true that Russia might well have been helping Donald Trump, who was committed to establishing friendly relations with Russia, defeat Hillary Clinton, who was committed to maintaining a relationship of anger, animosity, and hatred toward Russia. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Butina’s guilty plea to agreeing to fail to register as a foreign agent establishes that she was knowingly part of a conspiracy within the Russian government to meddle in the presidential election.

Anyone who believes that has a genuinely naïve and innocent way of viewing the federal criminal justice system, which is akin to how sausage and congressional laws are made, which many people would rather not see or know about.

Here’s how the federal criminal-justice system works.

When the feds decide to target someone, they charge them with every conceivable crime that even remotely relates to the targeted person’s conduct. The potential time in jail, if convicted on all counts, usually adds up to several decades or even to life in prison.

The reason the feds do this is to coerce a plea of guilty from their target. What the feds do is offer the person an opportunity to plead guilty to one count of the indictment in return for a dismissal of all the other counts.

The deal can include an agreed-upon sentence for the count to which the person is pleading guilty or the sentence can be left up to the judge.

The feds make it clear that if the deal is rejected, they will go to trial on all the counts in the indictment and, if successful in securing convictions, will ask the judge to impose the maximum possible punishment, which could be decades in jail. Federal judges go along with this vicious game by severely punishing defendants who exercise their right of trial by jury but then lose.

Thus, the person is left with a very uncomfortable choice: Should I take the chance and go to trial, in which case I am facing 30 years or so if I lose? Or should I plead guilty to a felony and limit the amount of time I will have to serve in jail, either by agreement or in the hope that the judge will show mercy?

There is another factor for targeted people to consider: the exorbitant costs of attorney’s fees to go to trial. Federal prosecutors, for all practical purposes, have virtually unlimited funds to finance their prosecution. Moreover, federal prosecutors are on the government dole. Their salaries are paid out of the taxes that the IRS collects from the citizenry.

If the defendant has retained counsel, she will be paying something like $700-$1000 an hour during the entire course of the trial. If she is convicted, appeals follow. By the time the case is over, the defendant could easily compile several hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, which can end up bankrupting  the person. If the defendant is using a public attorney, on the other hand, he knows that he is probably not getting the type of first-class legal defense that he’d be getting from a private-sector lawyer, which means that he stands a better chance of losing.

There was also the possibility that the feds could charge Butina with spying, a prospect that the anti-Russianites and Trump critics were raising in the mainstream press. And we all know what they do with spies. They execute them.

Weighing all this, many people decide to take the plea deal.

Now, we don’t know what machinations went into Maria Butina’s guilty plea. What we do know is that she was a graduate student who clearly loves politics and who spent an inordinate amount of time befriending people in the conservative movement, making contacts, and attending conferences sponsored by such organizations as the Heritage Foundation, CPAC, the NRA, and Freedom Fest. In the process, she supposedly was providing updates on her activities to some bank official within the Russian government.  

We also know that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been clearly interested in bettering relations with the United States and, therefore , was logically rooting for Trump to defeat Clinton.

We also know that the feds are claiming that certain Russians were buying Facebook ads to convince people to vote for Trump.

Was Butina serving as an actual official secret agent of the Russian government has she made contacts and attended conferences of conservative think tanks and foundations? Anything is possible, although it’s worth noting that Putin expressed no knowledge of who she was. Or was it more likely that she was like any other young person who happens to be passionate and enthusiastic about politics and was just striving to just improve relations between her country and the United States and, in the process, keeping some officials in her own country, who were also interested in improving relations with the United States, abreast of her activities?

My hunch is that Butina would have been able to beat the rap for supposedly violating the FDR-era 1938 law that requires foreign agents to register with the federal government. Simply advising Russian officials of what she was doing to improve relations with the United States or asking for input from them on what else she could do improve relations would not make her an official secret agent of the Russian government. I also think she could have beat any spy charge.

But my hunch also is that she finally realized that she couldn’t take a chance. Being 30-years-old and facing the possibility of spending the next 30 years in jail in an American jail would not be very attractive. Pleading out to a failure-to-register charge, with a sentence probably equal to the time she has served in jail, would seem to be the prudent thing to do, especially given the attorney’s fees that could be saved.

Of course, Butina shouldn’t have been charged with anything. First, she clearly wasn’t a spy. Second, her prosecution stems from the severe anti-Russia animus of the US national-security establishment that stretches back to its Cold War need for an official enemy to justify its ever-growing expenditures and largess. And third, there shouldn’t even be a foreign-agent registration law, at least not in a country that purports to be based on freedom of speech.

It’s also a disgrace the way that feds have treated Butina in captivity. For months they have kept her solitary confinement, which is a form of severe mental torture. That might well be another factor in her decision to plead guilty to the failure-to-register charge. People will often say or do anything to stop torture, especially if there is a good chance of a light jail sentence and of ending the torture by being deported home.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Celebrating another Regulatory Conviction in the Anti-Russia Brouhaha

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The mainstream press is tipping its glasses in exultation over the latest regulatory conviction in the anti-Trump, anti-Russia brouhaha. This one comes in form of a upcoming guilty plea by a 28-year-old Russian woman named Maria Butina. Her crime? Failing to register as a foreign agent of the Russian government.

The press is reporting how Butina has infiltrated the conservative movement by dating a GOP operative, making contacts with the Heritage Foundation, the NRA, the National Prayer Breakfast, CPAC, the Trump administration, and others conservative organizations and people.

This is obviously very scary stuff. I mean, just think about it: The entire conservative movement facing the danger of going Red, or at least pro-Russia. Then it’s just a matter of time before the U.S. government falls to the commies, or least the Russkies under former KGB officer Vladimir Putin.

Pardon the Red slip but all this anti-Russia brouhaha really does remind me of the Cold War, when the U.S. national-security establishment was warning Americans of the danger of communist infiltration within our nation. The main danger, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA maintained, was that posed by the Soviet Union, of which the principal member was Russia. Yes, that Russia, the same country that Butina is alleged to be a secret, unregistered agent for! America, people were told, was faced with a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the federal government and the rest of the world, a conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow. Yes, that Moscow! The capital of Russia!

In his famous Peace Speech at American University, President Kennedy announced an end to the Cold War racket and his intent to befriend the Russians. Of course, we all know what happened to him as a consequence. (See FFF’s ebook JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne and my current ongoing series on the JFK assassination.)

One of the interesting aspects of all this is how Russia’s strategy to supposedly take over America has shifted since the Cold War. Back then, the strategy was supposedly to conquer us by force by causing the dominoes to fall in places like Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba. The final big domino was going to be the United States.

Today, on the other hand, the Russian strategy is obviously to try to make friends with the United States, just as Kennedy was trying to do with Russia when he was assassinated. In dating a GOP operative, making contacts with conservatives, and attending conservative conferences, Butina was clearly part of this nefarious plan on the part of Russia to befriend the United States.

But here’s my question: Why is dating a Republican, attending conservative conferences, and making contacts with conservatives and members of the Trump administration a criminal offense here in the United States. Aren’t such activities protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

After all, we are clearly talking about actions that involve freedom of speech and freedom of association. Before anyone says that Butina is a Russian and, therefore, isn’t entitled to exercise such rights here in the United States, let’s remind ourselves of what our Declaration of independence states: that all people, not just Americans, are endowed with fundamental, God-given rights with which no government can legitimately interfere, not even the U.S. government.

Okay, you might say, but Butina isn’t being convicted of doing those things. Why, she’s not even being convicted of spying, which is what the mainstream press continues to allege about her nefarious dating, contacts, and conference activities. She’s being convicted of failing to register as a Russian foreign agent.

Now, this might shock you and maybe even scare you, but under U.S. law it’s not illegal for Butina or anyone else to be an agent of the Russian government. It’s only illegal to fail to sign an official U.S. government registry disclosing that a person is acting as an agent for the Russia government (or any other foreign government).

Is that not sort of weird? In other words, it’s legal for a Russian to befriend the United States, including lobbying the president and the members of Congress. But the person doing the befriending is simply required to sign an official U.S. registry indicating that he or she is acting on behalf of the Russian government.

But given that everyone, including Butina and every other Russian, has the fundamental, natural, God-given rights to engage in freedom of speech and freedom of association, then why in the world must she register in order to exercise such rights? Doesn’t a registration requirement convert these rights into privileges rather than rights?

It turns out that this foreign-registration law, not surprisingly, was enacted in 1938 by the Franklin Roosevelt administration, no doubt as part of FDR’s welfare-warfare state revolution that he was implementing in the United States. At that time, federal officials were inculcating a fear of Nazi Germany into the American people and, ironically, a mindset of friendship toward Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union into the American people, who were strongly opposed to entry into World War II. Ironically, after FDR succeeded in pulling the U.S. into the war, his successor President Truman succeeded in making Hitler’s wartime enemy and America’s wartime partner, the Soviet Union, into America’s postwar official Cold War enemy.

Thus, that was what the Cold War was all about — keeping Americans afraid, very afraid, that the Russians were coming to get them. That deep fear lasted until 1989, when the Soviet Union unilaterally and surprisingly ended the Cold War, thereby depriving U.S. officials of their longtime scary bugaboo. After that, the official enemy became Saddam Hussein, and then terrorists, and then Muslims, and, to a certain extent, illegal immigrants.

But now we have come full circle, with Russia once again an official enemy of the United States. No, there has been no law enacted to that effect. And no, there has been no official declaration of war against Russia. But the Pentagon and the CIA have made it clear, especially through the mainstream press, that Russia is to be considered, once again, an official enemy of the United States. Maria Butina’s conviction for befriending the United States without having first registered her name with U.S. officials confirms that.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Celebrating another Regulatory Conviction in the Anti-Russia Brouhaha

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The mainstream press is tipping its glasses in exultation over the latest regulatory conviction in the anti-Trump, anti-Russia brouhaha. This one comes in form of a upcoming guilty plea by a 28-year-old Russian woman named Maria Butina. Her crime? Failing to register as a foreign agent of the Russian government.

The press is reporting how Butina has infiltrated the conservative movement by dating a GOP operative, making contacts with the Heritage Foundation, the NRA, the National Prayer Breakfast, CPAC, the Trump administration, and others conservative organizations and people.

This is obviously very scary stuff. I mean, just think about it: The entire conservative movement facing the danger of going Red, or at least pro-Russia. Then it’s just a matter of time before the U.S. government falls to the commies, or least the Russkies under former KGB officer Vladimir Putin.

Pardon the Red slip but all this anti-Russia brouhaha really does remind me of the Cold War, when the U.S. national-security establishment was warning Americans of the danger of communist infiltration within our nation. The main danger, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA maintained, was that posed by the Soviet Union, of which the principal member was Russia. Yes, that Russia, the same country that Butina is alleged to be a secret, unregistered agent for! America, people were told, was faced with a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the federal government and the rest of the world, a conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow. Yes, that Moscow! The capital of Russia!

In his famous Peace Speech at American University, President Kennedy announced an end to the Cold War racket and his intent to befriend the Russians. Of course, we all know what happened to him as a consequence. (See FFF’s ebook JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne and my current ongoing series on the JFK assassination.)

One of the interesting aspects of all this is how Russia’s strategy to supposedly take over America has shifted since the Cold War. Back then, the strategy was supposedly to conquer us by force by causing the dominoes to fall in places like Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba. The final big domino was going to be the United States.

Today, on the other hand, the Russian strategy is obviously to try to make friends with the United States, just as Kennedy was trying to do with Russia when he was assassinated. In dating a GOP operative, making contacts with conservatives, and attending conservative conferences, Butina was clearly part of this nefarious plan on the part of Russia to befriend the United States.

But here’s my question: Why is dating a Republican, attending conservative conferences, and making contacts with conservatives and members of the Trump administration a criminal offense here in the United States. Aren’t such activities protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

After all, we are clearly talking about actions that involve freedom of speech and freedom of association. Before anyone says that Butina is a Russian and, therefore, isn’t entitled to exercise such rights here in the United States, let’s remind ourselves of what our Declaration of independence states: that all people, not just Americans, are endowed with fundamental, God-given rights with which no government can legitimately interfere, not even the U.S. government.

Okay, you might say, but Butina isn’t being convicted of doing those things. Why, she’s not even being convicted of spying, which is what the mainstream press continues to allege about her nefarious dating, contacts, and conference activities. She’s being convicted of failing to register as a Russian foreign agent.

Now, this might shock you and maybe even scare you, but under U.S. law it’s not illegal for Butina or anyone else to be an agent of the Russian government. It’s only illegal to fail to sign an official U.S. government registry disclosing that a person is acting as an agent for the Russia government (or any other foreign government).

Is that not sort of weird? In other words, it’s legal for a Russian to befriend the United States, including lobbying the president and the members of Congress. But the person doing the befriending is simply required to sign an official U.S. registry indicating that he or she is acting on behalf of the Russian government.

But given that everyone, including Butina and every other Russian, has the fundamental, natural, God-given rights to engage in freedom of speech and freedom of association, then why in the world must she register in order to exercise such rights? Doesn’t a registration requirement convert these rights into privileges rather than rights?

It turns out that this foreign-registration law, not surprisingly, was enacted in 1938 by the Franklin Roosevelt administration, no doubt as part of FDR’s welfare-warfare state revolution that he was implementing in the United States. At that time, federal officials were inculcating a fear of Nazi Germany into the American people and, ironically, a mindset of friendship toward Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union into the American people, who were strongly opposed to entry into World War II. Ironically, after FDR succeeded in pulling the U.S. into the war, his successor President Truman succeeded in making Hitler’s wartime enemy and America’s wartime partner, the Soviet Union, into America’s postwar official Cold War enemy.

Thus, that was what the Cold War was all about — keeping Americans afraid, very afraid, that the Russians were coming to get them. That deep fear lasted until 1989, when the Soviet Union unilaterally and surprisingly ended the Cold War, thereby depriving U.S. officials of their longtime scary bugaboo. After that, the official enemy became Saddam Hussein, and then terrorists, and then Muslims, and, to a certain extent, illegal immigrants.

But now we have come full circle, with Russia once again an official enemy of the United States. No, there has been no law enacted to that effect. And no, there has been no official declaration of war against Russia. But the Pentagon and the CIA have made it clear, especially through the mainstream press, that Russia is to be considered, once again, an official enemy of the United States. Maria Butina’s conviction for befriending the United States without having first registered her name with U.S. officials confirms that.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.