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Bogus Justifications for the National-Security State

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CIAby Jacob G. Hornberger

Interventionists justify the existence of the vast military and intelligence establishment in America by telling us that there are “radical Islamic elements” in the world.

But the question is: Should that be a justification for continuing the U.S. national security state — i.e., a permanent military and intelligence establishment — that was brought into existence in 1947?

After all, what was the justification for building a vast, permanent military-industrial complex, an empire of foreign military bases, and a CIA in 1947? Was it the fact that there were radical Muslims in the world? Was it the possibility that Islamic terrorists were planning to invade the United States and conquer and occupy our nation?

No! The justification had nothing to do with any of that. Instead, the justification for the permanent militarization of America was communism and communists. If we don’t militarize America, the argument went, the communists will invade, conquer, and occupy our nation.

Well, guess what. There is still communism in the world, and there are still communists in the world. China, North Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam are notable examples. Some might add Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, and other nations with leftist regimes to the list. And the list of self-avowed communists in the world would be a long one; it would include lots of people right here in the United States.

And guess what else. Those communist regimes in China, Cuba, and North Korea are much more radical and brutal than any radical Islamic elements in the world. In fact, unlike so many of the radical Islamic groups, such as al Qaeda, the communists actually have monopolies over the levers of power within some nations.

Yet, where is all the concern among the modern-day defenders of the national-security threat over communism and the communists? It seems to have just dissipated. It’s almost as if even the fiercest advocates of “national security” have finally come to realize that it’s safe to fall asleep at night without worrying about whether the communists are landing on American shores or even hiding under people’s beds. Why, I don’t even know of one single defender of the national-security state who advocates re-invading Vietnam to protect the United States from falling dominoes.

In fact, our current-day defenders of America’s vast permanent military and intelligence empire, who worry endlessly about radical Muslims in the world, conveniently forget that the U.S. government ardently supported radical Muslims in Afghanistan when it was the Soviet Union, rather than the United States, that was the occupier of that country.

Oh, and guess what else: There are radical Islamic dictatorships in the world that are supported by the U.S. national security state! Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, and Yemen come to mind.

Yes, there are bad things that happen in the world. There are brutal regimes, communist and non-communist around the world. There are extremist Muslim elements. There are extremist Christian elements. There are extremist Jewish elements.

But none of them has the military capability of invading, conquering, and occupying the United States — or even the interest in doing so. They don’t have the trillions of dollars that would be required to finance such a large military operation, or the transport ships, or the carriers and destroyers, or the planes, or the millions of troops that would be required.

The worst that any radical Islamic group could do is commit terrorist attacks on either government or non-governmental targets, just as they did with the USS Cole, the U.S. embassies in East Africa, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, and the 9/11 attacks.

Are those attacks enough to justify the continued, permanent existence of the military industrial complex, the CIA, the NSA, and the empire of foreign military bases?

No! And the reason is a simple one: It has been the actions of the national security state itself that has given rise to those acts of terrorism. That is, by its actions overseas, ostensibly to “protect national security” here at home, the U.S. national security state ensures the constant threat of retaliation against the United States by the people it targets overseas.

In other words, by going abroad “in search of monsters to destroy,” to employ the words of John Quincy Adams, the U.S. military and the CIA have caused the attention of those monsters to be focused on the United States.

The national security state, having lost the threat of communism as its justification, has then used the threat of terrorist retaliation that it itself produces by its own actions overseas, to justify its continued existence.

Even worse, the national security state then uses that terrorist threat that its actions produce as the excuse for ever-increasing military and intelligence spending and debt and, even worse, ever-increasing infringements on the civil liberties and privacy of the American people.

It’s time for Americans to step back and reflect on all this. Given that Americans have lost their fear of communism and communists, it’s time to do the same with respect to “radical Muslims.” Then, we can embark on the road toward restoring a free, peaceful, prosperous, harmonious society in our land, a road that necessarily entails a restoration of a constitutional republic to our land and an end to the military-industrial complex, the CIA, the NSA, the empire of foreign military bases, and the entire national-security state that have proven so harmful to our society.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.


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