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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ron Paul on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno

Peace candidate Ron Paul was one of Jay Leno's guests on "The Tonight Show" last night (10/30/2007).

9.5-minute video at http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/016523.html.

Odds Are We Won't Elect a Peace President in '08

British bookies give Ron Paul 12-to-1 odds. Kucinich and Gravel are each at 100-to-1.

Meanwhile, Hillary is at 2-to-5 and Guiliani is at 4-to-1.

See http://www.willhill.com/iibs/EN/buildcoupon.asp?couponchoice=

How to Cut Off Funding for War

In his new book, "A Nation of Sheep", Judge Andrew Napolitano

offers several suggestions for improving things, such as repealing the 16th Amendment, which gives the federal government the power to tax our incomes. This would leave the government with less money to wage war on other nations and our liberties.

--from "Wolves and Sheep" by Andrew Young at

See also:
"The Path To Peace" at http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/02/path-to-peace.html,
"The Path To Peace, Part II" at http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/02/path-to-peace-part-ii.html,
"The Path To Peace, Part III" at http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/02/path-to-peace-part-iii.html,
"The Path To Peace, Part IV" at http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/02/path-to-peace-part-iv.html,
"The Path To Peace, Revisited" at http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/03/path-to-peace-revisited.html.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

We Don't Bite the Hand that Feeds Us

Why aren't more Americans outraged by the Iraq War/Occupation? Perhaps it it is because so many Americans are "Dependent On D. C." (to borrow the title from Charlotte Twight's great book)? Perhaps it is because so many Americans are afraid to bite the hand that feeds them, as USAF Lt. Col. (Ret.) Karen Kwiatkowski suggests in the following excerpt?

How come more Americans weren’t outraged in 2002 and 2003? How come more aren’t outraged today, with trillions of dollars wasted, millions of lives ruined, and thousands of government lies put forth to explain those dollars and those lives away? 

We are a country founded on the ideas of freedom of religion. Yet the descendants of the strict Protestants who came to this country to worship God without government interference have largely embraced the war, and the godly president that demanded it.

We are a country that from the beginning took the idea of free speech and free assembly to be a God-given right, not something granted by government so long as we behave. Yet today, protesters of government policies, and the rest of us, have accepted the idea of "free speech zones" set up far away from the sensitive ears and eyes of our rulers.

We live in a country that once valued independence, of economy, of mind, of self. Today, according to the 2006 Heritage Foundation’s Index of Dependency, 52.6 million Americans, nearly 20% are dependent on government programs relating to government spending on health, government pensions, education, housing, and rural and food subsidies. Heritage is interested in tracking growth of government programs, and they have indeed been growing steadily throughout the last century.

More importantly, a study this year by economist Gary Schilling, reveals that, "Slightly over half of all Americans – 52.6 percent – now receive significant income from government programs, …That's up from 49.4 percent in 2000 and far above the 28.3 percent of Americans in 1950."

Even if we do not work directly for government, or government contractors, and are not economically dependent on the many government benefits available to us, for every carrot there is a stick. Most of us, to be honest, fear the disciplining hand of government, and we generally do not trust the legal system to deliver justice.

It is understood in America that justice is generally reserved for those with expensive lawyers. The Duke rape case illustrates that regular people can be accused, charged, and tried for crimes that even the government prosecutor knows they did not commit. At the other end of the spectrum, the Innocence Project illustrates that without money, education and connections, we will very likely be convicted for those crimes the government says we committed.

We may have our property taken by government through eminent domain, and through civil forfeiture if we are only accused of a crime, and the government wants what we have. If we are business owners, we fear IRS audits. If we wait tables for a living, we fear that the government may discover we haven’t declared all our tips. When we travel, we worry that we still have a container of shampoo in our bag, or whether our name is on a government list somewhere.

A big question shortly after the invasion of Iraq – when the fanciful tales told by the neocons, and the mainstream media, and the government began to fall apart – was how will the American people react now, upon learning the truth? After we the people realized we had been lied into an unnecessary and illegal overseas war, that our sons and daughters were fighting and killing Iraqis and dying simply because a small elite group of politicians and policy wonks wanted them to, what would we do then?

But we the people did very little. It’s one in a thousand. And who is that one in a thousand? Overwhelmingly, young people who enlist do so because their dad or uncle, or brother or sister or cousin did. They tend to be from poorer states in the South and the Midwest, or in cities and towns near existing military bases. They tend to be those for whom wearing the military uniform is the most profitable and honorable thing anyone in their family has done recently. Sociologist Charles Moskos has studied this phenomenon extensively, and writes of an American "warrior caste." He notes that it tends to be self-perpetuating, as children and extended family members of those who have served in, and made careers of the military, constitute a "very large" percentage of recruits each year. Conversely, there are far more families in America that have no military experience, and do not see the military as a viable option for them, their spouses, their siblings, their children, or their nieces and nephews.

We have here a kind of economic and political slavery – we accept a great deal of good from government, and we grant that generous government unprecedented access into our lives, our records, our privacy. We value a lawful existence, but we have allowed the legal system to grow far beyond the needs of a civil society. The United States incarcerates and executes more people per capita than any other country on the planet. In 2003, the Christian Science Monitor reported that we were Number 1 in the world – for our incarceration rate – with one in 37 American adults either in prison or having had been in prison at some point in their life.

Why do we apparently not really mind being lied into war by our government? Why do we tend to believe what government tells us rather than our own eyes, our own logic, our own morality? Why do we defer to a strong decider and fear real freedom in this country?

When you look at our overwhelming dependency on government – for jobs, income, help and subsidies – rather than ourselves, our communities and our churches, the answer is simple. When you realize that we are 25 times more likely to personally know someone who has been in a government jail than to personally know a soldier in Iraq, the answer is simple.

We support the government’s wishes in foreign policy, because at some very basic level, we do not wish to risk all that government grants us here at home. We wish to be seen as patriotic citizens because we equate the state with our own family welfare. We cannot easily separate our economic, educational, and political lives from the state.

This identification of individuals with the state is the fundamental tenet not of democracy, not of constitutional republicanism, but of fascism. Fascism is alien to American traditions – but it is attractive and often successful for a time in states with pre-existing and highly extensive welfare states.

Very simply, we don’t bite the hand that feeds us.

Our mainstream media doesn’t bite the hand that feeds it. Neither do congressmen and women, who realize that most of us don’t really know a soldier in Iraq – but a great many of us care deeply about that next health care bill, that sub-prime mortgage bailout we hope will save our home, that defense industry or government contract that employs us, that Medicare and Social Security check we hope keeps up with inflation.

They also know, much like the infamous toe-tapping Senator Craig, that we deeply fear government detention and incarceration, as well we should.

George W. Bush, advised by neoconservatives, brought us to a war in Iraq that we didn’t understand, and wouldn’t have wanted if we had known the truth in time. He, the Congress, and the beholden mainstream media worked overtime to repeat lies that we too willingly believed. Butbefore Bush launched this illegal war, a war and occupation that continues now in its fourth year, he established the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. In fact, Bush signed this particular executive order on January 29th, 2001, ten days after his first inauguration.

One asks, as Martin Luther King asked, what is the proper role of churches and religious organizations in standing up for peace, and civil liberties, building character at home and demanding it in our politicians? In the 1960s, the churches were free to answer positively and to act accordingly. Today, many churches and other centers of moral-minded community activism accept government money. They’d like it to continue, so they can do good works. Many who don’t get this money today may want to compete for it in the future.

We don’t bite the hand that feeds us.

I can’t tell you how to heal what we have become. At some basic level, when Americans decide to come home from Iraq, we will do it. But we are still in Korea, Japan and Germany, fifty years later, for reasons that have less to do with national security than national welfare. In the past decade we have launched new long-term military bases in several of the former Soviet satellites, and in Bosnia and Kosovo. Our bases in Iraq are matched by shiny new bases, or those under construction and expansion, in Qatar and Afghanistan and Djibouti. Most of us really don’t even want to know about all this unseemly activity.

Perhaps when the government hand stops feeding, medicating, educating and housing us, or perhaps when it incarcerates more than one in 37 of us, perhaps then we will be able to have a more moral foreign policy. Until then, perhaps it isn’t completely fair to place all the blame on that lousy Congress and our violent, small-minded president.

I had hoped to be able to share, at the conclusion of this already too long speech, some of the good things we might be able to do to improve the world condition, gain peace and reconciliation around the world, to forgive others and ourselves, and to go forward. Obviously, we should bring the troops home now, from everywhere around the world. But I truly don’t see our government as having any real part of this peace. I believe Randolph Bourne was right when he wrote in 1918, that "war is the health of the state."

I’d like to close with a bit more from his famous essay. Bourne wrote,

We cannot crusade against war without crusading implicitly against the State. And we cannot expect, or take measures to ensure, that this war is a war to end war, unless at the same time we take measures to end the State in its traditional form. The State is not the nation, and the State can be modified and even abolished in its present form, without harming the nation.

This is the right – and perhaps the only – direction for those who prefer truth to lies, life over death, peace instead of violent conflict, freedom over slavery and occupation.

--from "Iraq – What Happened, Why and What Do We Do Now?" by Karen Kwiatkowski at http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkowski/kwiatkowski193.html.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why did we invade Iraq? II. The Reality

Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, considers the two types of reasons the U. S. attacked Iraq. In the previous excerpt (http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2007/10/
), she considers the lies; in this excerpt, she considers the real reasons we invaded Iraq.

There were of course, real reasons for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. There might even be 27 real reasons. But I know of three.

One reason has to do with enhancing our military-basing posture in the region. We had been very dissatisfied with our relations with Saudi Arabia, particularly the restrictions on our basing. There was dissatisfaction from the people of Saudi Arabia, and thus the troubled monarchy. So we were looking for alternate strategic locations beyond Kuwait, beyond Qatar, to secure something we had been searching for since the days of Carter – to secure the energy lines of communication in the region. Bases in Iraq, then, were very important – that is, if you hold that is America’s role in the world. And Saddam Hussein was not about to invite us in.

A major reason for the invasion, and the urgency of it, is that sanctions and containment had worked, and over the years, almost too well. They had become counterproductive. Many companies around the world were preparing to do business with Iraq in anticipation of a lifting of sanctions. But the U.S. and the U.K. had been bombing northern and southern Iraq since 1991. So it was very unlikely that we would be in any kind of position to gain significant contracts in any post-sanctions Iraq. And those sanctions were going to be lifted soon, Saddam would still be in place, and we would get no financial benefit.

Naomi Klein has researched and written many astute articles on our foreign policy in Iraq. One of these, published by Harper’s in September 2003, was called "Baghdad Year Zero." She made a compelling case for the convergence of business interests and a kind of neoconservative free market ideology – and that the invasion and occupation was a clean slate transformation of a command economy into a free trade utopia. Neoconservative ideology does not embrace free trade in the sense that libertarians or Adam Smith might embrace it, but instead prefers significant state involvement in trade, for the good of the nation. However, Klein’s article from 2003 sheds a great deal of light on what we really wanted and intended for Iraq.

Another reason is a uniquely American rationale, and it relates to our currency, and our debt situation. Saddam Hussein decided in November 2000 to sell his Food for Oil program oil sales in euros. The oil sales permitted in that program weren’t very much. But if the sanctions were lifted, the sales from the country with the second largest oil reserves on the planet would have been setting a standard away from, and competing with, US paper.

The U.S. dollar was, and remains, in a sensitive period because we are a major debtor nation now. Our currency is still globally popular, but these days that’s more due to habit than its reliability as a currency backed up by a government that the world trusts not to print boatloads of bills for no productive reason. To the extent that oil, almost the new gold in terms of in-demand commodity reliability, is traded on the euro, global confidence in the dollar and global bank reserve demand for the dollar shifts negatively.

In any case, the first executive order regarding Iraq that Bush signed in May [2003] switched trading on Iraq’s oil back to the dollar.

These, for me are the big three. There are other reasons, beyond American bases, American contracts, and propping up the dollar. An important factor was the neoconservative idea that the best thing we can do for Israel’s security is to be there. It is not enough to send several billions in economic and military aid each year, and it is not enough to veto UN resolutions that are unfavorable to Israel. It is not enough to have bases in Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab monarchies and oligarchies. Some of these American friends are not friends of Israel, and it makes taking diplomatic actions against them more difficult. In the view of many neoconservatives, America needs to be there, militarily and economically in the region, working closely with Israel, our lone democratic ally and one that has the human intelligence capability on the ground that we have never had, and never will have.

You may notice that building civil society, fostering democracy, and improving a bad humanitarian situation were not the reasons we went to Iraq, nor why we are staying in Iraq. We had no plan and fewer resources dedicated to building civil society. We actually don’t like democracies. We prefer those we buy to stay bought, and this is the realm of dictators and monarchs in countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Staying bought is a major problem for democracies.

Humanitarian reasons only make sense in an Orwellian scenario, where we kill people in order to save them. If humanitarian concern drove our policies in Iraq, the economic sanctions would have been lifted long before we invaded, instead of waiting until after we took over the country and its government, and unleashed chaos.

I have reviewed what we have wrought in Iraq, and why our government felt it was necessary to enter the country through force, build many permanent bases, and create, as George W. Bush himself has said recently, a kind of Middle Eastern South Korea, a standing pseudo-occupation force of 100,000 soldiers, with all of the interference in national Iraqi affairs that this necessitates.

I hope you have enjoyed it so far, because it’s about to get worse.

--from "Iraq – What Happened, Why and What Do We Do Now?" by Karen Kwiatkowski at http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkowski/kwiatkowski193.html.

Why did we invade Iraq? I. The Lies

Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, considers the two types of reasons the U. S. attacked Iraq. In this excerpt, she considers the lies; in the next, she considers the real reasons we invaded Iraq.

Why did we invade and occupy Iraq? We were told Iraq was strong and dangerous. We were told that sanctions were not working, and Saddam Hussein was not in compliance with the UN disarmament regime. We were told that Iraq was working on a viable chemical, biological and nuclear program, had many of these weapons already, and was also working with terrorists who targeted and would target the United States. It was suggested repeatedly in Presidential and Vice Presidential speeches, in statements by the Secretary of Defense and other administration mouthpieces that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the 9-11 attacks on the United States.

In the second half of 2002, a total of 27 different reasons were given by the administration or by Congresspersons as to why we needed to go into Iraq as soon as possible. I know this because a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign wrote her senior honors thesis entitled "Uncovering the Rationales for the War on Iraq: The Words of the Bush Administration, Congress and the Media from September 12, 2001, to October 11, 2002." Devon Largio did a detailed analysis identifying 23 different reasons put forth by the administration, and 4 more put forth by various congressmen in the run up to war.

That’s a lot of reasons. In the infamous words of then deputy secretary of defense and leading neoconservative thinker Paul Wolfowitz, "WMD became the reason upon which we could all bureaucratically agree."

Now, many people in the Pentagon, at CIA, at State, across this country and around the world knew that a lot of the reasons put forth were invalid, not true, or to be generous, were the result of a narrow political interpretation of a small and known to be uncertain data set.

People in America, in the Pentagon, at CIA and the State department knew that Iraq was a fourth rate military state, with no air force, no navy and not much of an Army, in part due to the destruction of the first Gulf War, a dozen years of sanctions and being bombed by the US and the UK since 1991. The Pentagon, CIA and State Department knew that Iraq had accounted for over 96% of all suspected WMD. This 4% – biological and chemical stores – was indeed a matter of debate. Was it our own faulty estimation (after all, we had the receipts), was the material we sought already destroyed or degraded and just missing the paperwork, or did it still exist in some viable form? Saddam Hussein had last sought material for his nuclear program in the late 1980s, and under sanctions and US enforcement of the no-fly zones, had made no observed progress in his nuclear program, and did not seem to be even trying to.

The Pentagon, CIA and State Department knew Iraq had no relationship with al Qaeda. Instead, we understood that they were competitors and adversaries on both governing and religious issues. Two things angered Osama bin Laden – US forces in Saudi Arabia, and a godless Ba-ath dictatorship in Iraq. We also knew that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11

The CIA knew that Saddam Hussein had not been associated with a foiled attempt on the life of former President George H. W. Bush, in 1993 when he and other Bush family members and friends were visiting Kuwait. President Clinton sent missiles into Baghdad in retaliation shortly thereafter, although at the time and more so today, this purported 1993 attempt foiled by the Kuwaitis, did not emanate from Iraq.

Now – there were many things the Pentagon, CIA and State department did not know, because we had no trustworthy human intelligence assets in Iraq. It seems we paid little attention to what we didn’t know, short of establishing bombing targets and cultivating potential Iraqi outsiders to replace Saddam, like convicted fraudster Ahmad Chalabi. We knew nothing of the culture, political or otherwise in Iraq, we didn’t understand the economy, the history, or the people of Iraq. In the winter of 2002 and 2003, a group at Pentagon, CIA and State madly rushed to create a plan for the US occupation, for the aftermath of the invasion. As a key member of the Bush team at the time, Lt General Jay Garner recalls, when he tried to give the plan to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, he was told curtly, to "Shelve it."

Rumsfeld used to like to talk about the known knowns, the known unknowns, etc. He forgot to mention the willful, criminal, purposeful unknowns because some people (Americans and Iraqis) just don’t matter a hill of beans in a world you make up as you go along.

Today, we generally understand that we were lied to by the Pentagon, and by our government. These lies were repeated and often expanded upon by politicians and our media in 2002 and for several years after the invasion. Suggestions by politicians and media outlets that the truth was actually somewhat different were met by scorn, and accusations of sleeping with the enemy. And we all fell in line, and marched in unison.

--from "Iraq – What Happened, Why and What Do We Do Now?" by Karen Kwiatkowski at http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkowski/kwiatkowski193.html.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Restore the Constitution!

Uber investor Peter Lynch has famously said, "Go for a business that any idiot can run – because sooner or later, any idiot is probably going to run it."

I think this idea applies to governments as well businesses. But not only is it true that someday "any idiot" will run a given government (i.e., be its chief executive), it is also true that someday a power-hungry tyrant will run it. (Is it possible that "someday" is today?)

That's why the original design of our federal government was such a good one. The original idea, as set forth in the Constitution, was to divide power between the states and the federal government by granting the federal government only a very limited number of enumerated powers and by dividing those powers among three equal branches of the federal government, the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. This has, of course, changed dramatically over time. Today the federal government, having assumed the lion's share of government power, tells the states what they can do, what they must do, and what they must not do. As well, the executive has usurped many of the powers (e.g., the power to declare war) that rightfully belong to one of the other two branches. In short, we no longer have a Republic; what we have is an elected dictatorship that is all too quick to "declare" and wage war.

If we want an enduring peace, we will have to reject the Imperial Presidency and return to the design laid out in the Constitution.

It's depressing to note that most of the candidates for President are saying little or nothing about the need to reduce the power of the federal government and the need to reduce the power of the Presidency. Instead, with only one or two exceptions, the candidates are simply telling us what they plan to do with all the power that now comes with being elected Emperor.

We voters should refuse to play this game. We should demand that the candidates tell us how they plan to restore the Republic and the Constitution and return the country to a defensive military posture and, thus, substantially reduce the power of the Presidency. Returning the country to a defensive military posture (by closing ALL of our overseas bases and bringing home ALL of the troops) would be a giant step forward on the path to peace.

As long as we have an all-powerful federal government that is run not by three equal branches but by a single Decider (with the Congress only playing the role of an "Amen Chorus"), the prospects for an enduring peace look very grim. We might occasionally elect as President someone who believes that the U. S. should pursue a humble foreign policy and actually aligns his behavior as President with that belief, but more often than not the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will be power-hungry, war-mongering tyrants that will drag the country into one illegal, unconstitutional war after another. Want proof? Just look at American history since, say, 1898!

It's very important that we elect a true peace candidate in 2008. But it's just as important that we also retrace our steps back to the system of government defined by the Constitution by substantially reducing the power of the federal government and by substantially reducing the power of the President.

It will be a huge challenge to elect a true peace candidate—a Mike Gravel, a Dennis Kucinich, or a Ron Paul—in 2008. I dare not ask how much more difficult it will be to restore the Republic and the Constitution and return the country to a defensive military posture. But it seems to me that these are the things we must do to achieve an enduring peace. Electing a true peace candidate in 2008, while necessary, will simply not be sufficient. We have to change the entire system, not just the temporary occupant of the White House. It’s unlikely that the federal government will voluntarily give up any of the powers it has stolen from the states and the people. To change the system, it’s up to the states and the people to take back the powers that rightfully belong to them. And it's up to Congress and the Courts to take back the powers that have been taken from them by past Presidents. The media could help, but the national, mainstream media appear to be clueless. Thank goodness for the local and alternative media and the internet!

Once we succeed in restoring the Constitution, we should give serious thought to replacing the Constitution with an even weaker federal government. The one defined by the Articles of Confederation might be just about right: it might be one that any idiot could run!

Why We Need the Separation of School and State

If, for example, Wal-Mart were running our schools, who wouldn't be surprised that criticism of Wal-Mart would be kept to a minimum and that pro-Wal-Mart attitudes would be cultivated among students? We would expect that. It would not shock us. We would just consider the source.

But how rarely do we consider the source when it comes to state-funded education! There is an assumption that people make that education when sponsored by the state will be objective and keep the student's best interest at heart. This assumption makes no sense whatever, but it is nonetheless widely held. We encounter this often in dealing with the issue of elementary and secondary schools. If someone attends a Baptist or Catholic school, people ask how they can stand all that religious indoctrination. But have you ever heard a student in public school questioned as to how they can stand all that statist indoctrination? It's not likely.

--from "The First and Next 25 Years" by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. at http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/25years.html.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ron Paul: Let's Restore The Constitution

Restoring the Constitution is an essential step on the path to an enduring peace. Let's ask our Representatives and Senators to support The American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007!

This legislation seeks to restore the checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution by our Founding Fathers to prevent abuse of Americans by their government. This proposed legislation would repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and re-establish the traditional practice that military commissions may be used to try war crimes in places of active hostility where a rapid trial is necessary to preserve evidence or prevent chaos.

The legislation clarifies that no information shall be admitted as evidence if it is obtained from the defendant through the use of torture or coercion. It codifies the FISA process as the means by which foreign intelligence may be obtained and it gives members of the Senate and the House of Representatives standing in court to challenge presidential signing statements that declares the president's intent to disregard certain aspects of a law passed in the US Congress. It prohibits kidnapping and extraordinary rendition of prisoners to foreign countries on the president's unilateral determination that the suspect is an enemy combatant. It defends the first amendment by clarifying that journalists are not to be prevented from publishing information received from the legislative or executive branch unless such publication would cause immediate, direct, and irreparable harm to the United States.

Finally, the legislation would prohibit the use of secret evidence to designate an individual or organization with a United States presence to be a foreign terrorist or foreign terrorist organization.

--from "Support the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007" by Rep. Ron
Paul at http://www.antiwar.com/paul/?articleid=11790.

Jacob Hornberger: The War on Afghanistan Was Wrong, Too

While most Americans have turned against the Iraq War, many of them still think that the war on Afghanistan was morally and legally justified. Their rationale is that the United States was simply defending itself by attacking Afghanistan and retaliating against those who had conspired to commit the 9/11 terrorist attacks. . . .

Another major problem with the attack on Afghanistan was the one that most U.S. presidents and, alas, most Americans, have chosen to ignore for the past several decades: that the U.S. Constitution requires the president to secure a congressional declaration of war from Congress before waging war against another country. Bush failed to do that.

Why did Bush order an invasion of Afghanistan? Not because he believed that the Taliban had conspired with al-Qaeda to commit the 9/11 attacks and not because he felt that the Taliban had committed some act of war against the United States by knowingly "harboring" a known fugitive.

Instead, Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan for one reason: the Taliban government refused to comply with his demand to unconditionally deliver bin Laden to the United States. He always made it clear that if the Taliban delivered bin Laden to the United States, such action would spare Afghanistan from a U.S. invasion. The "offer" that he made to the Taliban was not significantly different from that made to Pakistani military dictator Pervez Musharraf, a close friend of the Taliban, after 9/11: play ball with us and you stay in power; refuse to do so, and you're history.

So why did the Taliban refuse to turn over bin Laden? For one thing, there wasn't any extradition agreement between Afghanistan and the United States. And there is a long tradition in Muslim countries to treat foreign visitors as guests. Nevertheless, the Taliban did express a willingness to deliver bin Laden over to the United States or to a third country if U.S. officials provided convincing evidence that bin Laden had, in fact, been complicit in the 9/11 attacks. Was the demand unreasonable? Well, it would be nothing more than any government, including the United States, would expect in any extradition proceeding.

Bush's response was that U.S. officials would not furnish any such evidence to the Taliban government. The Taliban simply needed to follow U.S. orders and turn bin Laden over to the United States, with\ no guarantees of what would happen to him once he was in U.S. custody. That is, there were no assurances that bin Laden would be brought back to the United States for trial for terrorism in federal district court instead of being turned over to the CIA for torture and execution.

The Taliban refused to accede to Bush's unconditional demand. The result was the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the ouster of the Taliban from power, the installation of a U.S.-approved regime, a nation ruled by regional warlords, the deaths of countless Afghanis, the failure to capture bin Laden, and an ever-growing terrorist movement generated by ever-deepening anger and hatred against the United States.
Obviously, the only reason that the U.S. government is getting away with its "war on terror," including regime-change operations against Third World countries and military wars of aggression on sovereign and independent nations, is that it has overwhelming military strength, especially compared with Third World countries. In the U.S. government's war on terror, might makes right. But as the U.S. empire becomes increasingly overstretched by waging such a war, the American people are going to inevitably discover what lies at the end of that road: death, destruction, conflict, discord, terrorism, torture, rendition, and infringements on liberty.

--from "The War on Afghanistan Was Wrong, Too" by Jacob G. Hornberger
at http://www.lewrockwell.com/hornberger/hornberger136.html.

Pat Buchanan: Who restarted the Cold War?

At the Cold War's end, the United States was given one of the great opportunities of history: to embrace Russia, largest nation on earth, as partner, friend, ally. Our mutual interests meshed almost perfectly. There was no ideological, territorial, historic or economic quarrel between us, once communist ideology was interred.

We blew it.

We moved NATO onto Russia's front porch, ignored her valid interests and concerns, and, with our "indispensable-nation" arrogance, treated her as a defeated power, as France treated Weimar Germany after Versailles.

Who restarted the Cold War? Bush and the braying hegemonists he brought with him to power. Great empires and tiny minds go ill together.

--from "Who Restarted the Cold War?" by Patrick J. Buchanan at

Robert Higgs: What chance does peace have?

What chance does peace have when millions of well-heeled, politically connected opportunists of all stripes depend on the continuation of a state of war for their personal financial success? For members of Congress, the Department of Homeland Security has quickly become the most magnificent dispenser of pork and patronage to come along in decades. Everyone is happy here, except for the beleaguered ordinary citizens, whose pockets are being picked and whose liberties are being overridden by politicians and private-sector predators with utter contempt for the people's intelligence and rights. Yet, so long as the people continue to be consumed by fear and to fall for the age-old swindle that the government seeks only to protect them, these abuses will never end.

--from "The Song That Is Irresistible: How the State Leads People to Their Own Destruction" by Robert Higgs at http://www.mises.org/story/2749.

Here's another excerpt:

The so-called war on terror has given rise to a huge industry that has emerged almost from scratch during the past few years. According to a 2006 Forbes report, the Department of Homeland Security and is predecessor agencies paid private contractors at least $130 billion after 9/11, and other federal agencies have spent a comparable amount. Thus, besides the military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC), we
now have a parallel security-industrial-congressional complex (SICC).

Between 1999 and 2006, the number of federal homeland-security contractors increased from nine companies to 33,890, and a multi-billion-dollar industry selling security-related goods and services has emerged complete with specialized newsletters, magazines, websites, consultants, trade shows, job-placement services, and a veritable army of lobbyists working around the clock to widen the river of money that flows to these opportunists. As Paul Harris wrote, "America is in the grip of a business based on fear." The last thing these vultures want, of course, is an abatement of the perceived terrorist threat, and we can count on them to hype any signs of an increase in such threats and, of course, to crowd the trough, happily slurping up the taxpayers' money.