All posts by Jacob G. Hornberger

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.

Why Can the CIA Assassinate People?

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Given that we have all been born and raised under a regime that has the CIA, hardly anyone questions the power of the CIA to assassinate people. The CIA’s power of assassination has become a deeply established part of American life.

Yet, the Constitution, which called the federal government into existence and established its powers, does not authorize the federal government to assassinate people.

If the proponents of the Constitution had told the American people that the Constitution was bringing into existence a government that wielded the power to assassinate people, there is no way that Americans would have approved the deal, in which case they would have continued operating under the Articles of Confederation.

Under the Articles, the powers of the federal government were so weak, it didn’t even have the power to tax, much less the power to assassinate people. That’s because our American ancestors wanted it that way. The last thing they wanted was a federal government with vast powers.

In fact, the purpose of the Constitutional Convention was simply to amend the Articles of Confederation. During the 13 years of operating under the Articles, problems had arisen, such as trade wars between the states. The convention was intended to fix those problems with amendments to the Articles.

Instead, the delegates came out with an entirely different proposal, one that would call into existence a federal government that had more powers, including the power to tax.

Americans were leery. The last thing they wanted was a powerful central government. They had had enough of that type of government as British citizens under the British Empire. They believed that the biggest threat to people’s freedom and well-being lay with their own government. They believed that if they approved a federal government, it would become tyrannical and oppressive, like other governments had done throughout history.

They were especially concerned with the power of the government to murder people, including citizens. They knew that state-sponsored murder was the ultimate power in any tyrannical regime. When a government can kill anyone it wants with impunity, all other rights are effectively nullified. And our ancestors were sufficiently well-versed in history to know that tyrannical regimes were notorious for killing their own citizens, especially those people who challenge, criticize, or object to the tyranny.

The proponents of the Constitution told Americans that they had nothing to be concerned about. The Constitution wasn’t calling into existence a government with general powers to do anything it wanted. Instead, by the terms of the document that would be calling the federal government into existence, its powers would be limited to the few powers that were enumerated within the document. Thus, if a power wasn’t enumerated, it didn’t exist and, therefore, couldn’t be exercised. Since the Constitution wasn’t giving the federal government the power to murder people, it couldn’t exercise that power.

On that basis, our American ancestors approved the deal, but only on the condition that the Constitution would be immediately amended after approval with a Bill of Rights. To make sure that federal officials understood that they didn’t have the power to murder people, the Fifth Amendment was enacted. It prohibited the federal government from killing people without first according them due process of law. It’s worth noting that the protections of the Fifth Amendment are not limited to American citizens. The Amendment prohibits the federal government from murdering anyone, including people who are not US citizens.

What is due process of law? It’s a phrase that stretches all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215, when the barons of England forced their king to acknowledge that his powers over them were limited. Magna Carta prohibited the king from killing British citizens in violation of the “law of the land,” a phase that evolved over the centuries into “due process of law.”

Essentially, due process means notice and hearing. It says to the government: “You cannot kill anyone unless you first give him formal notice of the particular criminal offense that you are claiming warrants killing him.” Then, after notice, there has to be fair trial in which the accused has the right to be heard. The Sixth Amendment ensured that people would have the right of trial by jury because our ancestors didn’t trust judges or tribunals.

And so it was that the American people lived in a society for more than 150 years in which the federal government lacked the power to assassinate people, which is really just a fancy word for murder. A governmental assassination is the state-sponsored killing of a person without notice and trial — that is, without due process of law.

The situation changed after World War II, when the federal government, in a watershed event, was converted from a limited-government republic into what is known as a “national-security state,” a type of governmental system that is inherent to totalitarian regimes. US officials maintained that the conversion was necessary in order to confront the Soviet Union, a communist state, which itself was a national-security state. The idea was that in order to defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War, it would be necessary for the United States to adopt, temporarily, its same type of national-security state system.

In 1947, the CIA was called into existence as part of this new national-security state. President Truman, the president who was responsible for the federal government’s conversion to a national-security state, intended for the CIA to be strictly an intelligence-gathering agency. But someone slipped a bit of nebulous language into the law that called the CIA into existence, which the CIA seized upon to justify the adoption of omnipotent powers, including the power to assassinate people with impunity, so long as the assassination was to protect “national security.” Needless to say, the CIA had the omnipotent power to make that determination.

As monumental as the conversion to a national-security state was, it was not done through a constitutional amendment. The Constitution continued to be the supreme law that governed the operations of the federal government, including the CIA. Thus, since the Constitution did not give the federal government the power to assassinate people and since the Fifth Amendment expressly prohibited the federal government from assassinating people, the US Supreme Court and the rest of the federal judiciary had the responsibility to declare the CIA’s power to assassinate people unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, however, in a national-security state power is everything and especially omnipotent power. Recognizing that as a practical matter, there would be no way that the federal judiciary could keep the CIA from assassinating people in the name of protecting “national security,” the federal courts went silent or even supportive.

In 1989 the Cold War ended. Yet, we still have a national-security state and we still have a CIA with the power to assassinate people, including Americans. Why is that?

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

The Reason for Killing Iranians

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While US sanctions technically permit Iran to import medicines, it is actually just a ruse to make it look like US officials are kind, compassionate, and benevolent. In actuality, the way the sanctions work will mean that the Iranian people will inevitably be deprived of much-needed medicines. That’s because the US extends its sanctions system to banks that process payments to Iran, which is likely to inhibit the importation of medicines into Iran.

But that’s the point behind the sanctions: to kill as many Iranians as possible in the hope that they will rise up in a violent revolution, oust Iran’s anti-US regime from power, and install another pro-US regime, like that of the Shah of Iran, who the CIA installed into power in its 1953 coup that destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy.

Never mind that the Iranians, who live in a country that has strict gun control, lack the means to violently overthrow their government. And never mind that hundreds of thousands of Iranians would likely die in such a revolution, just like what has happened in the US-supported revolution in Syria.

Those deaths wouldn’t matter to US officials. They would be considered “worth it,” especially if they brought a pro-US regime into power in Iran.

Recall that those were the words that US Ambassador to the United Nations used back in 1996, when the US government was enforcing sanctions against Iraq.

The Iraq sanctions had already killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. The idea was that if Iraqi parents became sufficiently upset with their children dying, they would oust their dictator, Saddam Hussein, from power and replace him with a pro-US dictator.

After some six years of deaths of Iraqi children, however, the sanctions had still not produced the desired result. Saddam was still in power. The CBS news program “Sixty Minutes” asked Albright if the sanctions were worth it. She replied that the sanctions were, in fact, worth it. She was expressing the official position of the Clinton administration. That’s because killing those Iraqi children was viewed in the same way as killing Iranians today: as a means by which a pro-US regime could be installed into power.

One of the ironies of the Iraq sanctions is that in the previous decade, US officials had partnered with Saddam, even furnishing him those infamous WMDs that would later serve as the bogus excuse for invading Iraq in 2001. (See here and here.)

Why was the US government partnering in the 1980s with Saddam, the man they would try to oust from power in the 1990s by killing Iraqi children? They were helping him kill Iranians in the war that he had started against Iran. US officials were so angry that the Iranian people had ousted the CIA-installed Shah in their 1979 revolution that they decided to use Saddam in the 1980s to exact their revenge by helping him to kill Iranians.

What US officials did to an American man named Bert Sacks serves as a valuable lesson for anyone, including banks who process payments, who tries to help the Iranian people. Sachs believed that the sanctions were a moral abomination. He wasn’t the only one. Three high officials in the United Nations resigned their positions in a crisis of conscience against what was considered by some to be a US genocide against Iraqi children.

Sacks decided to take medicines into Iraq, and US officials went after him with a vengeance. They fined him $10,000 and then spent about a decade trying to collect the fine, which Sachs, to his everlasting credit, refused to pay. (See: https://www.fff.org/?s=sacks)

It’s no different, of course, with the US sanctions on North Korea and the decades-old, Cold War-era US embargo on Cuba. The idea is the kill as many North Koreans and Cubans as possible in the hopes that they will finally rise up in a violent revolution and oust their dictatorial regimes from power. No number of deaths is considered too high. They are all considered worth it.

Meanwhile, many sanctions supporters continue to go to church on Sundays and pat themselves on the back for living in a country whose government is kind, compassionate, and benevolent.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

The Korean War: The Moral Bankruptcy of Interventionism

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An article in Sunday’s New York Times entitled “Remembering the Forgotten War” demonstrates perfectly the moral bankruptcy of the philosophy of foreign interventionism. Calling for the Korean War to become more highly remembered, the author, Hampton Sides, extols some of the popular justifications for subjecting US troops to death, injury, and maiming in the Korean War.

Hampton tells the story of a veteran named Franklin Chapman, who is still alive. Hampton was sent to fight in Korea, was shot several times, and also hit by shrapnel. He was taken captive by the enemy and was held as a POW for three years. Today, the 85-year -old suffers from the aftereffects of frostbite, experiences aches and pains from his wounds, and suffers severe memory loss, sometimes unable to recognize his daughter.

Sides implies that while all this is regrettable, it’s all justifiable because Korean War veterans “stopped a naked act of Communist aggression and opposed three malevolent dictators — Stalin, Mao and Kim – while helping South Korea take wing as a democracy.”

What is fascinating about Sides’s article is that it is completely bereft of any moral outrage whatsoever against the US government and, specifically, the US national-security establishment. Sides seems to forget something important: The reason that Chapman was there in Korea waging war was because the president of the United States and the Pentagon ordered him to be there.

I was curious about Chapman and so I looked him up. It turns out that he has written a biography that is posted online, where he tells the reason he joined the military. No, it wasn’t to stop communist aggression in Korea or to oppose three malevolent communist dictators. Chapman explains that he joined the military for one reason alone: He needed a job.

My hunch is that like many people who join the military, he believed that his job would be the defend the United States from invasion or attack. My hunch is that the last thing he ever expected was to be sent to wage a land war in Asia. But that is precisely what the US government did to him. It ordered him to report to Korea to be kill or be killed.

That doesn’t seem to concern Hampton Sides, any more than it concerns any interventionist. Equally important, it obviously doesn’t concern Sides that the order to send Chapman to fight in the Korean War was illegal under our form of government. The US Constitution, which governs the actions of federal officials, including those in the Pentagon, prohibits the president from waging war against a foreign nation without first securing a declaration of war from Congress. It is undisputed that President Truman, who ordered US soldiers into Korea, did not secure a congressional declaration of war. That means that he had no legal authority to order Chapman or any other US soldier to kill or die in Korea.

In claiming that Chapman was fighting to oppose communist aggression, Sides ignores the fact that the Korean War was actually a civil war, not a war between two independent and sovereign nations. The country had been artificially divided into two halves by Soviet communist leader Joseph Stalin, who, ironically, was a partner and ally of the US government during World War II. (The irony lies in the fact that Sides extols Chapman for opposing the man who had been a partner and ally of the US government just a few years before.) In any event, every Korean understood that the dividing line between North and South Korea was just an artificial construct based on international politics. Even today, if you ask a people of Korean descent here in the United States where they are from, they always, without exception, say “Korea” rather than “South Korea.”

We can concede that the northern half of the country was ruled by a brutal communist regime, one that attempted to unify the country by force. But why does a nation’s civil war justify US intervention? Why should US soldiers be sacrificed to help out one side or another in a civil war? I’ll bet that that’s not what most US soldiers were signing up to do after World War II. They were signing up to defend the United States, not help out one side or another in another nation’s civil war. (By the way, the same principle applies to the Vietnam War, another favorite foreign war of the interventionists.)

Another aspect of the Korean War that Sides fails to mention is conscription. The US military didn’t have enough active-duty servicemen to intervene against the North Korean regime, and not enough American men were volunteering for “service.” So, Truman and the military resorted to conscription. That means that they were forcing American men, against their will, to go to Korea and kill or be killed. An interventionist would say that it was nothing wrong with destroy the freedom of Americans to protect the “freedom” and “democracy” of South Koreans.

Sides’s expression “helping South Korea take wing as a democracy” is an interesting one. It’s interesting because South Korea’s first elected president, Syngman Rhee, was one of the most brutal dictators in the world. Immediately after taking office, he curtailed political dissent and authorized his goons to engage in indefinite detention, torture, assassination, death squads, and massacres.

On the suspension of hostilities in 1953, it was clear that the National Assembly, which elected the president, was going to boot Rhee out of office. In order to avoid that, he ordered a mass arrest of opposition politicians and then unilaterally changed the Constitution to enable him to be elected directly by the citizenry. He remained in power until 1960, when he was forced to resign after his police shot demonstrators who were protesting his regime.

This is what Sides and other interventionists calling “democracy taking wing.” It brings to mind the US-inspired coup in Chile in 1973, which ousted the democratically elected socialist president of the country, Salvador Allende, and installed a brutal right-wing military dictator in his stead, army Gen. Augusto Pinochet. To this day, interventionists say that the Chilean coup demonstrated that “democracy was taking wing” in Chile with the coup that nullified the presidential election, followed by a 16-year-long brutal military dictatorship entailing round-ups of some 50,000 people, torturing most of them, raping and committing gruesome sexual acts against women, and killing and disappearing around 3,000 people.

Sides and other interventionists are dead wrong about the Korean War and other foreign interventions. No US soldier deserves to be ordered to faraway lands to kill or be killed or maimed, as Franklin Chapman was. If Sides or other interventionists want to go overseas and help out one side or another in some faraway civil war, they are free to do so. Just leave US soldiers out of it. The job of a US soldier is to defend the United States from invasion or attack, not be sent to participate in some bogus fight for “freedom” or “democracy” in some foreign country.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Did the Russians Influence My Vote?

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I voted Libertarian yesterday, and the New York Times has me really worried. In an article yesterday entitled “Russians Meddling in the Midterms? Here’s the Data,” the authors, Jonathan Morgan and Ryan Fox, state that while Russian meddling in the midterm election was not as extensive as it purportedly was in the 2016 election, it was nonetheless still pervasive. Morgan and Fox, who run a cybersecurity company, pointed out, “Indeed, our company is currently detecting more overall activity in real time from continuing Russian online influence operations targeting the midterm elections than has been disclosed by social media platforms or detected by researchers during the same period before the election in 2016.”

Okay, so what am I worried about? I’m worried that the Russians might have influenced me into voting Libertarian. Here’s my question: How is a person supposed to determine whether his vote was the result of an independent, reasoned judgment or instead a result of Russian meddling?

After all, lots of people would say that it’s not rational to vote for a Libertarian, given that he or she has virtually no chance of winning. They say that to vote for a Libertarian is just throwing away one’s vote.

Well then, wouldn’t that indicate that the Russians influenced me into voting Libertarian? What else would explain why I voted in what would appear to be an irrational way?

When you think about it, this Russian election meddling thing is really scary because it means that the minds of the American people are susceptible to being influenced or manipulated by the Russians. It all brings to mind the prospect of Americans being brainwashed by the Chinese, North Korean, or Cuban Reds during the Cold War.

But here’s an important question, one that Morgan and Fox unfortunately failed to address in their article: What is it about Americans that makes their minds so susceptible to Russian influence or brainwashing, at least when it comes to voting?

If I had to guess, I would say that a big part of the problem is public (i.e., government) schooling, which I believe weakens the mental ability of Americans to resist government propaganda. Given that public schooling molds the minds of America schoolchildren to defer to authority, memorize, follow rules and regulations, and obey orders, by the time the entire 12-year ordeal is over, many 18-year-old minds have turned to mush, which, I suspect, makes them more susceptible to being influenced by propaganda, perhaps even for the rest of their lives.

But as scary as Russian propaganda might be, it seems to me that a much bigger danger in yesterday’s election was meddling by President Trump, like with his scary fear-mongering about that caravan of Central American refugees that is heading north through Mexico to seek refugee status in the United States.

By calling the caravan an “invasion” and by sending US troops to defend America from the “invasion,” Trump succeeded in scaring the dickens out of millions of his followers, some of whom even grabbed their rifles and headed down to the border to help Trump’s troops defend America from a few thousand unarmed women and toddlers who are still slowly walking to the border. I don’t think anyone would dispute that Trump’s propaganda had a much bigger effect on the midterms than did Russian propaganda. In fact, it will be interesting to see if Trump continues his scary invasion drumbeat going now that the mid-election is over. My hunch is no, but I’ll bet we’ll see it again several months before the 2020 presidential election.

Of course, none of this mental manipulation, by either Trump or the Russians, compares to the propaganda that government officials use to influence people into supporting a war. That’s when the mental manipulation becomes of prime and urgent importance, especially through a strong propaganda campaign based on fear.

A perfect example of this phenomenon took place in the run-up to the Iraq War. By the time the actual US invasion of Iraq was initiated, a large number of Americans were absolutely convinced that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was coming to get them and explode mushroom clouds in cities all across America. It was a testament to the power of US officials to manipulate and influence people’s minds through the use of propaganda.

One of the masters of influencing people’s minds through propaganda was Nazi official Hermann Goering, who expressed the matter perfectly when it comes to war:
Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
In any event, if anyone has any insights into how I figure out whether the Russians influenced me into voting Libertarian in yesterday’s mid-term elections, please let me know.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Why Do We Need a National Security State?

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Given President Trump’s impulsive decision to suddenly send 5,200 armed US soldiers to the US-Mexico border to prevent a few thousand women and children and others from seeking refugee status in the United States, which foreign citizens are entitled to do under US law, a question naturally arises with respect to those troops: What were they doing before they were sent to the border?

The answer is: Nothing, at least nothing productive.

Oh sure, one can say that they were training to kill more people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Africa, or other parts of the world. Or they might have been preparing an invasion of some other country in the world. Or they might be figuring out how to best enforce the embargoes and sanctions against the people of Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and elsewhere.

But how can any of that possibly be considered productive? None of the people they are killing are attacking and invading the United States. Neither are the governments in the countries in which the victims are citizens. Moreover, the constant, never-ending killing brings the constant, never-ending danger of terrorist blowback against the United States, which US officials then use as an excuse to destroy further our own freedom and privacy here at home.

How is that productive?

The sanctions and embargoes do nothing but bring death, suffering, impoverishment, and misery to the people in countries who happen to find themselves living under a regime that US officials don’t like. By targeting the citizenry in those countries, US officials are hoping that the targeted people will initiate a violent revolution that will oust their regime from power and install one that is acceptable to US officials. But such a revolution would only bring more death and suffering, along with more anger and hatred against the United States.

How is that productive?

Our American ancestors had it right: No US government meddling in the affairs of other countries. No foreign wars. No foreign aid. No sanctions or embargoes. No US-inspired coups. No wars of aggression. No torture. No rendition. No alliances. No partnerships with dictatorships.

Such being the case, there was no need for a giant military-industrial-congressional complex. Yes, there was an army for the first 100 years of US history but it was a relatively small army. Large enough to defeat Indian tribes and even defeat Mexico in a war but nowhere large enough to invade and occupy European and Asian countries, intervene in their forever conflicts, or initiate wars of aggression against them.

There was also no need for a CIA or NSA or vast military-industrial-congressional complex. In fact, if the proponents of the Constitution had told our American ancestors that they were bringing into existence a government that had the omnipotent power to take them into custody, hold them forever without a trial, torture them, spy on them, experiment on them, and assassinate them, they never would have approved the Constitution. We would still be operating under the Articles of Confederation, where the federal government’s powers were so weak it didn’t even have the power to tax. Our American ancestors liked it that way.

Let’s assume that we were to bring all US troops home from everywhere, including Germany, Korea, Japan, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Afghanistan, Cuba, and everywhere else.

What would we need them for? We obviously wouldn’t need them at all given that they would have been engaged in actions overseas that were no longer being engaged in. They could all be discharged into the private sector. That would be doubly positive: No longer would citizens be taxed to fund what is essentially a military welfare dole, but also all those former soldiers would now be in the private sector producing wealth rather than living off of a tax-funded military dole

But then the question arise with respect to the troops here at home: Why do we need the vast military-industrial-congressional complex? What do we need all those domestic military bases for? Just because cities that have military bases are scared of losing their military welfare dole? What do we need all those domestic troops for? What do we need the CIA for? What do we need the NSA for?

One of the legitimate purposes of government is the military defense of the nation. But there is no danger whatsoever that any foreign regime is going to invade and conquer the United States. No foreign regime has the money, the troops, the weaponry, the supplies, the transports, or even the desire to invade and conquer the United States. Don’t forget: Hitler, despite Germany’s powerful military machine, couldn’t even cross the English Channel to invade England. Crossing the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean with the millions of troops that would be necessary to successfully invade and conquer the United States would be a virtual impossibility, especially when we consider the supply lines necessary for such an enormous endeavor.

So, the question again arises: What do all those troops do on a daily basis on all those military bases that are strung out all over the United States? They’re clearly not protecting American cities from Indian (i.e., Native-American) attacks because that danger was eliminated a long time ago. And they’re clearly not protecting the United States from an invasion or conquest because no such danger exists. So what do all those soldiers do on a daily basis — that is, when they are not being sent to the border to possibly shoot women and children and other prospective refugees?

They practice shooting or they training new recruits how to kill. They are training them how to march — left-faces, right-faces, and to the rear. They clean their rifles. They maintain their vehicles. They learn how to drive tanks or fly military aircraft. They do bureaucracy-type work. They do lots of paperwork. They collect their paychecks, which come from taxes the IRS collects from people’s income. They go to work and they return home. It’s all so mundane and unnecessary. And none of it is productive. That is, it does not produce wealth in American society. Instead, it drains wealth from society in the form of taxation to fund all this unnecessary and unproductive activity.

The biggest mistake the United States ever made was to convert the US government from a limited-government republic into a national-security state. The Founding Fathers and the Framers had it right. The best thing that the American people could ever do is dismantle their national-security state governmental structure and restore a limited-government republic to our land. That would naturally entail the dismantling, not the reform, of the NSA, CIA, Pentagon, and what former President Eisenhower labeled the military-industrial-congressional complex.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Still Dying for Nothing in Afghanistan

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It wasn’t until history class in college that I heard of the Thirty Years War. My immediate reaction was: No way! It just wasn’t possible that a war could last 30 years. Nobody would be that dumb.

But given that the US war in Afghanistan has now been going on for 17 years, it’s now easier for me to understand how a war could go on for 30 years. Just think: Another 13 years, and the US government can tie that record.

Over the past weekend, another US soldier was killed in Afghanistan and another was wounded in what the media calls an “insider attack.” That means that a member of the Afghan military or police was the one who killed and wounded those two soldiers. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, it is rather difficult to protect against an attack from your friends.

That was the sixth US soldier killed in Afghanistan this year, bringing the total death toll to 2,200.

What did the latest soldier die for? The US national-security establishment delivers the same line that it has used since the inception — that he, like all the others, died protecting his country. At the man’s funeral, there will undoubtedly be people who say that the soldier died protecting our freedom.

Both are flat-out, unequivocal, ridiculous lies. No one in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, is threatening our country or our freedom. No matter how discomforting it might be, that soldier died for nothing, just as all the rest have. Or to be more exact, they all died for empire, which, in reality, is the same thing as dying for nothing.

From the start of the US invasion of Afghanistan, US officials have maintained that it was necessary to wage war on the Taliban regime because it supposedly was “harboring” Osama bin Laden, who, they said, orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.

That is a lie too. The reason that President Bush, the Pentagon, and the CIA waged war on the Taliban regime was not because it was supposedly complicit in the 9/11 attacks. The reason was because the Taliban regime refused to comply with Bush’s unconditional extradition demand for bin Laden. If the Taliban had agreed to Bush’s unconditional extradition demand, there never would have been a US war on the Taliban regime.

Sometimes US officials also say that they need to prevent the Taliban from regaining power because it would offer safe harbor to terrorists. It’s amazing that there are still people who buy into this nonsense. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, people can plan terrorist attacks in some hotel room or living room anywhere in the world. They don’t need the mountains of Afghanistan to plan their attacks.

Another thing worth remembering is that the US war on Afghanistan is illegal under our form of government. That’s because the US Constitution, which is the highest law of the land, prohibits the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA from waging war without first securing a declaration of war from Congress. That has never been done, which means that US soldiers who have killed people in Afghanistan have done so illegally under our form of government. Don’t forget, after all, that US soldiers take an oath to support and defend the US Constitution.

Over the weekend, a new US commander was appointed to oversee the 15,000 US troops who are still in Afghanistan. Like the eight commanders before him, he doesn’t have a clue as to what to do to “win” the war. That’s because “winning” the war has become an impossibility.

What is the real reason that US soldiers are still being kept in Afghanistan after 17 years of deadly and destructive warfare? US national-security officials know that once the last US soldier is pulled out, Americans will go full-force into second-guessing mode, especially if the Taliban end up winning Afghanistan’s civil war. By keeping a relatively small contingent of US troops in Afghanistan to preserve the puppet regime that US officials have installed, US officials can forestall the inevitable second-guessing for a few more years.

Recently, a young waiter at a restaurant near my home told me that he had just signed up to join the military. I said to him, “Would you mind if I give you just one piece of advice?” He said, “Not at all.” I said, “If they send you to Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and anywhere else in the world, don’t take any unnecessary risks. Your life is too valuable to lose it for nothing.”

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.