Who Are The Cronies Part I: War

cronyism-out-of-control

Kris Morgan 2/5/2018

Crony capitalism is a catchphrase that crosses all political ideologies. In libertarian circles, one is also exposed to sophisticated sounding jargon like military-industrial complex. Unfortunately the specifics are rarely discussed. Who are these crony capitalists who align themselves with big government to benefit at the expense of the rest of the population? Since we have been at endless war since 2001, the logical place to start is with military suppliers.

According to USA Today, the ten companies which profit the most from war are: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bae Systems, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, EADS, Finmeccanica, L-3 Communications, and United Technologies. A profile of the top five CEOs is in order.

 

Marillyn Hewson

hewson

Marillyn Hewson became CEO of Lockheed Martin in 2013. According to bizjournals.com she made $25.13million in spite of having a base pay of $1.34 million. “The company bases its CEO’s final salary mostly on meeting long-term goals, and 73 percent of her target salary comes from long-term incentives. Annual incentives are 17 percent of her salary. Her base salary is 10 percent of her pay. Salon.com reported in 2016 Lockheed Martin “received a generous $220 million gift from Connecticut taxpayers to keep its Sikorsky Aircraft division in the city of Stratford.”

Hewson by the numbers:

Base salary: $1.34 million

Stock awards: $8.16 million

Incentive Plan compensation: $5.98 million

Pension earnings: $9.41 million

Other compensation: $238,150

Total: $25.16 million

 

Dennis Muilenburg

Muilenburg

Dennis Muilenburg became CEO of Boeing in 2015 and acquired a base pay of $1.6 million. Boeing makes military aircrafts, including B-52 bombers, F-15 Eagles, H-47 Chinooks, and more, according to their webpage. On top of his base pay he could earn an Annual incentive award of $2.72 million and 18,709 Stock units when he takes over. Subsidy Tracker noted that from 2000 to present, Boeing has received $14,444,913,320 in subsidies awarded.

 

Phebe Novakovic

Novakovic

Phebe Novakovic is the chief executive at General Dynamics (GD). GD is involved in aviation, land vehicles, marine systems and more. Novakovic has been CEO since 2013 with a higher base salary than Hewson, at $1.5 million. She was able to secure an additional $4 million in bonuses and other long-term compensation which was difficult to quantify. Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 to present, GD received $466,504,107 in awarded subsidies.

 

Thomas A. Kennedy

RAYTHEON THOMAS KENNEDY

Thomas A. Kennedy is in charge at Raytheon. According to Raytheon.com, they provide goods in missile defense, command and control, sensors and imaging, electronic warfare, and precision weapons. Salary.com reported in 2017 Kennedy earned $13,772,854 in base pay, bonuses, and stock awards. Raytheon has received $256,502,031 in subsidies awarded from FY 2000 to present.

 

Wes Bush

Bush

Wes Bush (no relation to the two former U.S. Presidents) has been the big boss at Northrop Grumman since 2010. The company makes B-2 Spirits, B-21 Raiders, and X-47B strikers on top of other products. Bush was able to make over $16 million in 2016, with a $1.53 million base pay, while acting as CEO, Chairman, and President. Northrop Grumman received $1,079,415,526 in subsidies from FY 2000 to present.

As I write this article, I’ve also set aside the time to read Scott Horton’s brilliant book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. I leave the reader to ponder the following quote:

“…then came legions of New York and Washington, D.C. based pressure groups subsidized by America tax dollars that had been laundered through defense firms like Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. These companies recycle a small fraction of the money they make from weapons contracts in the form of donations to think tanks and institutions of ‘experts’ from the ‘foreign policy community,’ who write up endless ‘studies,’ rationalizations and justifications for staying the course in the War on Terror.”

 

Part II                                                           Part III                                                       Part IV

 

Follow us at http://www.facebook.com/askalibertarian

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

 

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.

 

Advertisements

Government Unchained

use

Jeremy Medley, September 14, 2017

Federalism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “The distribution of power in an organization (such as a government) between a central authority and the constituent units.” Our founders were so intent on this idea that they gave us the Tenth Amendment in our Bill of Rights. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution delegated few enumerated powers to the Federal Government, reserving all remaining powers to the States and the people. Thus, powers of the Federal Government were meant to be limited by our founders, with no exception. They knew then, as we are learning now, the true dangers of a government unfettered and the beast it can become.

Our federal republic was created by joint action of the several states. It has been gradually perverted into a socialist machine for federal control in the domestic affairs of the states and the individual. The Federal Government has no authority to mandate policies relating to state affairs, natural resources, transportation, private business, housing, nor healthcare. Yet these gross violations of our rights happen every day. We, as a society, are more in awe of what celebrities are wearing, or how our favorite football team is doing. We have given up on the idea that the government is beholden to the people. What caused this societal shift to take place? Can we right the course? The people must call on the Federal Government to close all unconstitutional federal agencies that usurp state power and infringe on the rights of this nation’s citizenry, such as the NSA, EPA, IRS, DEA, DHS, etc.

Throughout our history, as a nation we have allowed the Federal Government to squeeze the rights of the people away. We have nearly nothing left to give, but our labor and our lives. President Lincoln is regarded by many historians as a hero of the nation.  However, the issue of slavery aside, he was actually nothing more than a tyrannical ruler who discarded the constitution as it suited him, when southern states attempted secession.  President Franklin Roosevelt vowed to fill the Supreme Court with justices friendly to New Deal policies, which helped pave the way for our current welfare state. President Johnson and his “War on Poverty” has laid a tax burden on the people that is nearly unsustainable. President Nixon attacked the African American community with the “War on Drugs.” In recent history, Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump implemented legislation which has basically thrown your cConstitutional rights out the window with the Patriot Act. The blame does not only lie at the feet of the presidents, but they are the figurative head of the beast. “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin. Yet, we have given up the the warm embrace of liberty to suckle the teat of big government.

In a nation that honors itself on freedom we have allowed basic liberties to be swept away by a few legislators like thieves in the night. Why is there no outcry? What happened to the idea of “Give me liberty or give me death”?  Does this only apply in times of national threat or crisis? If so, aren’t we standing at the precipice of a cliff on which we will be unable to climb back? Yet, we still elect the same failed officials for political expedience. We can’t be bothered with the corrupt or troublesome world of politics unless it is sensationalized via Facebook, soundbite, or tweet.

Libertarians see atrocities across the globe committed in the guise of government doing what is right for the people, and for “freedom.” In the words of Ronald Reagan  “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”

Our nation was started by individuals who were tired of the corrupt and oppressive rule of a government that never truly cared for its commoners, the same as we have today. Their political awakening started as a grassroots movement much like ours. Let our voices not go quietly in the night and unheard as if we were never here. We must continue our pursuit of true liberty for all.

 

Follow us at http://www.facebook.com/askalibertarian

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

 

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.

 

Sixteen Years (and counting) Of Eroded Liberty: Where Does It Originate?

FAA50074-DA24-44FA-B8D8-84AB91433CA3

A Guest Article, by Franc Turner, September 9, 2017

Do you know what our last three Presidents have in common?

Inner me – “Everything?”

Well, yes. But to be more specific, Bush, Obama, and Trump all escalated military action in Afghanistan within their first several months in office after running on a platform of non-interventionism.

The Bush Administration, along with the neoconservatives, laid the groundwork of never-ending military intervention, occupation, and destabilization of country after country. The torch was then passed to “anti-war” Obama, who expanded the reach, scope, and magnitude of the policies which he inherited from his predecessor. And Trump is the culmination of everything that the neoconservatives wanted to bring about during the Bush era, but just had a hard time accomplishing in eight short years.

Among these objectives were multiple and simultaneous theater wars, along with achieving military strongholds in specific geopolitical regions of the Middle East, Asia, and elsewhere; not only as a means of acquiring finite resources, but also to assert dominance in areas that are considered “unfavorable” to U.S. interests (commercially, politically, or otherwise).  Also on the table was the implementation of regime change in those nations through economic sabotage, instigating manufactured uprisings, or all-out coup d’etat via tomahawk cruise missiles. They would then engage in nation building after the initial destruction, and give contracts to businesses that profit off of that very destruction. Similar to our own government, those private contractors have a vested interest in keeping all of these regions in a state of conflict.

Each and every item listed above was desired, including the countries with whom we’ve since gone to war or at least suggested that we should, by the very people who propped up the Bush presidency before he even took office. In September of 2000, one year before 9/11, a neoconservative think tank called the Project for a New American Century, or PNAC, described the objectives they wished to achieve in their publication entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.” However, they also acknowledged that, “the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”

It has been sixteen years since they got their wish for that catastrophic and catalyzing event.  Yet, our nation is still doing the bidding for these people, even though their reign allegedly ended when Obama took office, and their  “swamp” was supposed to be “drained” when Trump took office.

Major aspects of life in this country are based entirely off that one day. This includes most aspects of foreign and domestic policy, travel, homeland security, militarized police, the ever-expanding government, the subversion of the Bill of Rights through the Patriot Act, TSA, NDAA, MCA, the surveillance state “smart grid” built up around us, warrantless searches of property, and “free speech zones.” All of which could mean the end of your privacy in regards to every action you take — whether it’s where you go, how you spend your money, your personal beliefs, etc.

Each new military action taken along with the loss of thousands of our own military, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians abroad, the torture, the destruction, the destabilization, the blowback, and new “threats” are a direct result of 19 individuals with box cutters and a bearded freak, apparently.

But, “Hey, I guess it’s all just to “protect us from the terrorists” and to “preserve freedoms,” right?” Weren’t those freedoms obliterated for the sake of having the illusion of security?  Weren’t they swept under the rug while we were too busy updating our Twitter statuses, and arguing about Obama vs. Trump vs. Hillary, and walls, and Russia, and statues, and fringe “radical” groups?”….. Yes, they were.

Every aspect of our lives seems to have been molded by that one day. The real question is who stands to gain from everything that’s transpired over the last 16 years. Is it the American citizen? Is it the countries we’re at war with? Is it those pesky terrorist organizations we just can’t seem to stamp out? Or is it the folks who were wanting these kind of things to take place, long before they ever came to fruition?

Just some food for thought, folks.

Follow us at http://www.facebook.com/askalibertarian

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

 

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.

Betrayal Of The American Media

B0CE5864-CFCE-41F6-84A8-402CAC35449F
 

Kris Morgan, September 6, 2017

I know everyone loves their right to bear arms, but freedom of the press is first in America’s Bill of Rights.  The right to bear arms exists for the instance that our government becomes unbearable. Freedom of speech is designed to stop tyranny from forming.  The late Former President John F. Kennedy articulated the importance of the press on April 27, 1961 when he addressed the profession directly, stating:

 
“…And that is why our press was protected by the first amendment.  The only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution– not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply give the public what it wants–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion… And so it is to the printing press, to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news, that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be, free and independent.”  

 
Media today is certainly not focused on being watchdogs of government overreach.  Instead we have what we all know to be the liberal media and conservative media. Deep down we know we are getting a spin, but hope that the effects are negligible and the facts are solid.   We are in the midst of an anti-intellectual movement that is powered by these left/right biases. Conservatives and liberals tend to stick to their own sides in media consumption. As a result, each thinks the other nothing short of pure evil.  

 
This observation was echoed by Mediaite when they published the following in an article: “Most of those who get their news only from Fox News, Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity & Breitbart.com think Donald Trump is a savior who is certain to win (the 2016 election) and that Hillary Clinton is the anti-Christ [sic].  Almost everyone who only consumes the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, NPR & The Huffington Post are sure the opposite is true.”

 
These attitudes stop intellectual discourse before it even starts.  How can people with differing points of view possibly have a productive conversation if they each go in thinking of the other person as the devil?

According to Business Insider, as of 1983, 90% of everything we read, hear, and see is owned by just six corporations.  Prior, it took 50 companies to make that same market share. This is important because it’s much easier to manipulate a handful of companies than 50.  The lack of diversity in mainstream media is most visible when government wants war.

 
On the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Howard Kurtz (CNN) reflected on the beginnings of the war and wrote “Major news organizations aided and abetted the Bush administration’s march to war on what turned out to be faulty promises.  All too often, skepticism was checked at the door, and the shaky claims of top officials and unnamed sources were trumpeted as fact… From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003 launch of the war, I found more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq.”  

 
While we do appreciate people like Mr. Kurtz writing such pieces years later, the damage is done.  War is the first example used in this essay, but the media’s weakness is not limited there. How economic circumstances are reported is also not entirely factual.

 
Matthew Stein of the Huffington Post opened an article on the 2007 financial collapse with criticism of the free market.  “Unregulated greed will result in the demise of our planet just as surely as it is causing the collapse of our economy.”  Indeed, there is always a tendency to blame free markets for all economic woes and praise government for economic boons. That is to be expected when the two major parties are products of Keynesian economics.  For a market to be free, all levels of government (Federal, State, and Local) have to restrict their actions to   the protection of private property. No economy riddled with regulations, taxation, fiat currency, central banking, wars, uncertainty about those in power, a welfare state, etc. can be said to be free.  It makes absolutely no sense to blame that which doesn’t exist.

 
Before 2007, for about two decades, the central bankers at the Federal Reserve and politicians alike specifically focused on giving cheap credit in the housing sector.  In essence, they inflated a bubble that was certain to burst. Credit and interest rates are reflections of assets on hand and time-preference.  Using politics to control interest rates obscures the information entrepreneurs use to gauge how many resources are available and where to invest.  It’s easier to spend $100 in your wallet if you think you have $1,000 in the bank. What happens when you spend that money, only to realize later that your account is also empty?  Free Market? You might as well blame space aliens, at least then it might be possible.

 
When I was younger I dutifully watched the news.  I believed I was staying informed about the world.  However, I later realized I was exposing myself to story after story of some evil crime taking place; people harming their own babies, shootings, robberies, assaults, etc.  After years of studying economics, philosophy, politics, logic, etc. I came to the conclusion that the media is nothing more than the watchdog of the people. Rather than keeping an eye on government acquiring unjust power, the news seems more interested in running negative stories that originate in the general public, almost as a reminder of why we ‘need’ the state.

When politics is involved, reporters seem to act like starving dogs at a dinner table, waiting for their masters to offer up any extra crumbs, begging our politicians to answer a question or provide a comment, so they can simply repeat it.  This is not the media JFK spoke about in his brilliant speech.  I am not alone in this observation.  The Guardian published an article explaining some of the negative effects of consuming too much news as well as the impotence of the media in explaining how the world actually works.

 
Although much more could be written on this topic, I think it would be more productive to start brainstorming what changes we can make.  The news gives us information about events taking place and provides us with some hard facts. However, when we dive into any analyses that requires serious thought, such as economics or whether or not to support wars, we have to research these topics in detail.  It is irresponsible to use sound-bites from biased media to make long-lasting decisions. Don’t be afraid to study opinions that contradict your own. Most people stick to media and explanations that reflect their own assumptions about the world.  We are all prone to this behavior. Opening ourselves up to the possibility that we are wrong, or have been taught incorrectly by people we love and trust, creates uneasiness.  Rather than put our first instincts to the test as we should, we tend to associate with people who echo our own bias.

 
The world, with its nuclear weapons and tools for economic manipulation, cannot afford to be ruled by people who are not willing to step outside their comfort zones.  Spotting our biases is not hard. Simply ask yourself why you believe X, and if you don’t have evidence and logic in your answer, then your stance is based on assumption.  Ask yourself why others believe the opposite you do. Study their literature. Converse with those of varying viewpoints. Leave the “anyone who disagrees with me is the devil” stuff at home.  While there are exceptions to every rule, for the most part we all want the same things, to be physically and financially secure and have long, happy, and productive lives. It may be more beneficial in debate, especially on social media, to determine if you and the other person share the same values before you begin.  

 
I presented this article for two major reasons.  First, libertarianism takes a great deal of abstract reasoning to fully grasp, which is why we are so often painted as people who want the poor to die off and everyone else to shoot up heroin.  Second as long as we let the news control us, by feeding us constant streams of negativity which make us fearful, we lose domestically and we lose internationally. We cannot expect to make sound decisions when we are driven by anxiety.   When our population digs deep and pushes back against this news lead anti-intellectualism we will get on track towards real virtue.

Follow us http://www.facebook.com/askalibertarian

 
Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

 

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.

 

Terrorism Unleashed

terrorunleashedKristopher Morgan, June 30, 2017

“The Wise Warrior Avoids The Battle”
(Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

I had just started my senior year in high school.  As I entered my Criminal Justice classroom, I observed my teacher frantically searching for a socket to plug in our television.  As the screen turned on, what I saw was unreal, a skyscraper with smoke pouring out of it.  I stood there in disbelief, unable to register from any of my remaining senses, as I watched the World Trade Center twin towers collapse.  For the time being, I felt numb, thinking I had been dreaming.  As the day wore on, I experienced a series of feelings ranging from fear and sadness to anger and confusion.  Whatever doubts that were still in my mind about joining the military had vanished.  My generation’s Pearl Harbor happened just six weeks before my 18th birthday and I was mad as hell.  This is just my personal story, but during my time in the Army, I met many who had similar experiences.

The narrative, as I understood it at the time, was very simple.  The United States had been minding its own business, and on September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda, under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, orchestrated a terrorist attack that resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths.  I did not fully understand why this happened, but the fact that it did happen was enough for me.  The people in those buildings were innocent office workers. They were not in the midst of any battle and had attacked nobody.  Only a madman would even consider taking such an action.  On October 7, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom began in Afghanistan, as it was believed bin Laden was hiding along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  By the following February, my Army papers were signed; I left that June.  Having been raised to believe in the best of my country, I never questioned the official story, at least not until the second invasion of Iraq was under way.

On March 19, 2003 President George W. Bush declared war on Iraq.  In the declaration he stated: “Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly, yet our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens peace with weapons of mass murder.”  Paying serious attention to politics for the first time in my life, you can imagine how it felt later when no WMDs were found.  Inspectors consistently failed to find such weapons.  Indeed, on April 25, 2005 NBC News reported the CIA had issued a final report stating no WMDs were found in Iraq.  Upon hearing this news, I noticed something strange.  President Bush did not fall back on his position.  He began claiming that Iraq had connections to terrorists, but the evidence did not support this story either.  In 2008 CNN reported that Iraq under Saddam had no connections to Al Qaeda, according to the Pentagon.  Already refusing to reenlist, I decided I was not willing to be part of a war effort with a president in office who seemed to say anything to get support for the war in Iraq. This finding signaled my mistrust had guided me well.  In light of this, I decided to do my own research into Al Qaeda, Iraq, and the United States.  If you have not researched these topics for yourself, and are merely listening to the media, please take the time to do so.  We owe it to ourselves to know our enemies.

Al Qaeda is Formed

It all started with the Soviet/Afghan war, which lasted almost a decade (1979-1989).  In 1988 Al Qaeda was formed to aid in the effort to destabilize Soviet forces.  According to The Guardian, “11 AUGUST 1988 Al-Qaeda is formed at a meeting attended by Bin Laden, Zawahiri and Dr Fadl in Peshawar, Pakistan.  The creation of the group brings together extraordinary Saudi wealth, the expertise of a lifetime Egyptian militant, and a philosophical foundation for jihad from a Cairo intellectual.”  This is towards the unexpected end of the Cold War, so guess who helped pay some of the bills? In a 1998 NBC article titled Bin Laden Comes Home To Roost, Michael Moran explains how Bin Laden was running an organization known as Maktab al-Khidamar (MAK) which “was nurtured by Pakistan’s state security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the CIA’s primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow’s occupation.”  By Christmas day 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and Al Qaeda found themselves with a new opponent.

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm

On August 7, 1990, in response to Iraq’s attempt to annex the oil-rich land of Kuwait, 500,000 troops were sent to the Arabian Peninsula to defend Saudi Arabia against an attack from Iraq.  Kuwait was a major supplier of oil to the United States. Saddam’s goal of annexing them would have caused a dramatic shift of power in the region.  Operation Desert Storm is the code name of the first Iraq war.  Lasting 43 days, from January​ 17 until February 28, 1991, environmental damage was great as Iraqis destroyed oil fields in Kuwait after retreating, and lost lives ranging in the hundreds of thousands.  The United States lost only 148 soldiers.  While the war itself had ended, Iraq fell under heavy sanctions and was even intermittently bombed throughout the 1990s.

The Sanctions

First applied in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the sanctions on Iraq are quite possibly the worst evil that have been imposed on any country in recent history.  Restricting food, medicine, arms, and investment, estimates showed over half a million Iraqi children died as a result by 1995.  Whether or not these figures are inflated is up for debate, but imagine the world’s surprise to the response Madelyn Albright gave when questioned on 60 Minutes:

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

By 1997, UNICEF reported 32% of children under five were malnourished, an increase of 72% since 1991.

The Bombings

For over a decade before Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the United States had been bombing Iraq.  Nick Turse wrote the following in 2011 to explain the situation:

“From 1991 to 2003, the U.S. and its allies conducted a low-level air war to enforce no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, while attacking Iraq’s air defenses and other targets. In February 2003 (still before OIF), the U.S. would, again, conduct a blistering “shock and awe” campaign and, by mid-April, Iraq had been subjected to 41,000 sorties and 27,000 bombs dropped. The U.S. air war would continue on as, year after year, U.S. planes attacked targets, killing enemy fighters and civilians alike.”

The no-fly zones were originally set up to protect Kurds in the North and Shiites in the South, and were enforced by U.S., Britain, and French forces.

The sanctions and Bombings of Iraq during the ’90s were a way of continuing efforts to control the country.  Saddam Hussein’s attempt to annex Kuwait showed the world he was aggressive.  Had he succeeded, Kuwait’s precious oil would have been under Saddam’s control, which could have given him the resources he needed to set his sights on Saudi Arabia, a major Western ally.  The UN, lead by the U.S., targeted Iraq’s alleged WMDs through Bombings and inspections.  In 1998, Iraq stopped cooperating with the UN commission to destroy their WMDs.  Between 1998 and 2003 multiple bombing raids were conducted and President George W. Bush was outspoken about Iraq’s threat to stability in the region.  Public support to launch a full scale invasion would not come until the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Al Qaeda in the 1990s

Al Qaeda launched two terrorist attacks prior to 1996.  The first was the 1992 Yemen Hotel bombing, which targeted US soldiers on duty headed to Somalia, in which two Australian tourists were killed.  The second was a bombing at the World Trade Center in 1993.  Six people were killed and over 1,500 were wounded.  It was not until 1996 that Al Qaeda made an official declaration of war on The United States.  In that declaration, bin Laden made clear the reasons for going to war.  The length of this article is too great to copy and paste it in its entirety, but I urge you to read the text in full.  There is language in it about us refusing to go along with Sharia law and what not, but that is true for much of the world.  So I shall share parts of the declaration that I think reveal why the US was targeted specifically:

Though it is towards the end, finishing with a powerful message in my opinion is the format for declaring war. Bin Laden wrote:

“The youths hold you responsible for all of the killings and evictions of the Muslims and the violation of the sanctities, carried out by your Zionist brothers in Lebanon; you openly supplied them with arms and finance. More than 600,000 Iraqi children have died due to lack of food and medicine and as a result of the unjustifiable aggression imposed on Iraq and its nation.  The children of Iraq are our children. You, the USA, together with the Saudi regime are responsible for the shedding of the blood of these innocent children. Due to all of that, whatever treaty you have with our country is now null and void….”

Finishing a declaration of war talking about hundreds of thousands of dead children makes it easy to paint the US as crusaders, at the start, which he did:

“It should not be hidden from you that the community of Islam has suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims’ blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajikistan, Burma, Kashmir, Assam, the Philippines, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Eritrea, Chechnya and in Bosnia”

After the declaration, in June of ‘96 a truck bomb killed 19 military members in Saudi Arabia and in 1998 embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania were bombed, killing 200 and injuring 5,000.

It is my sincere hope that, if anything, the reader understands the complexities on the issue of terrorism.  Anyone who, for whatever reason, did not pay attention to Iraq in the 1990s, myself included, is now aware that there is a very complex history.  The United States was not just strolling idly along until one day some crazy people flew some planes into two skyscrapers in New York.  Bin Laden listed 11 other countries in which conflict took place.  Now I’m not suggesting that something is good or bad based on what bin Laden said in his declaration of war, but if we are to be responsible, we should not get behind any war without at least being able to speak intelligently about the history involved.  Unfortunately getting a truly complete historical account is beyond the scope of this article.

September 11, 2001

Now we revisit this sad day in history with a fresh perspective of events that lead to it. Al Qaeda had declared war on the U.S. five years before, citing several conflicts and concluding by highlighting the half-a-million dead children in Iraq.  We revisit this tragic day keeping in mind that the CIA once used Al Qaeda as a pawn to battle Russian forces in Afghanistan as part of a Cold War operation.  The United States also launched Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm as Saddam Hussein attempted to annex Kuwait and bring about a power shift in the Middle East.  500,000 American soldiers were sent to invade Iraq and defend Saudi Arabia from further Iraqi aggression.  President Bush claimed Iraq had ties to the notorious terrorist group while trying to gain support for the war.  Now, let’s recap the events of 9/11.

At 0819 am Flight attendants on board a Boeing 767 traveling from Boston to Los Angeles notified the FBI that the plane had been hijacked, just twenty minutes after takeoff.

0846 am The above flight is flown into floors 93-99 of the North World Trade Center building, killing everyone on the plane and hundreds in the building.

0903 am Hijackers flew a second Boeing 767, also traveling from Boston to Los Angeles, into floors 75-85 of the South World Trade Center building, again killing everyone on board and hundreds in the building.

0937 am Hijackers fly Flight 77 into the Pentagon, killing 59 passengers and 125 people at the building.

0959 am South Tower collapsed

1028 am North Tower collapsed

0520 pm Seven World Trade Center building collapsed.

The attacks took the lies of 2,977 people in total.

Who Were The Terrorists?

On December 13, 2001 a tape was released in which Osama bin Laden took credit for the attack.  The actual Hijackers consisted of 19 people, 15 of which were citizens of our ally, Saudi Arabia, (as Bin Laden also was), one of Egypt, two of United Arab Emirates, and one of Lebanon.  While bin Laden was the mastermind, the tactical leader of the attack was 43 year old Mohamed Atta, from Egypt.

A Brief Bio of bin Laden

Mastermind Osama bin Laden himself was born in 1957 and was the 17th out of 54 children fathered by Muhammad Awad bin Laden.  Bin Laden’s father was a Yemeni immigrant who ran a billion-dollar construction company in Saudi Arabia.  In 1979, after studying Public Administration and Economics at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, bin Laden left for Afghanistan to join the battle against the USSR.  He remained in the fray from 1979 until 1989; everything after 1989 has already been covered.

More Reasons

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11 signaled that Al Qaeda was willing to take the battle to the next level.  Most Americans, myself included, were stunned.  It wasn’t until well after my Army years that I learned there was actually a list of demands following the attack.  We don’t read the list of demands so we know what we must do. We read them understand our enemies’ point of view, in hopes that we will be educated enough to design a world that is just for everyone.  Below is a summary followed with a link to the text in it’s entirety.

The text begins with a lot of language about following Allah and fighting against evil forces in the world.  Later bin Laden seeks to answer questions Americans seem to be pondering: “1) Why are we fighting and opposing you? And 2) What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?”  He then goes on to answer question one.

“Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.  You attacked us in Palestine.  The British handed over Palestine, with your help and your support, to the Jews.”  Language about Palestine goes on for several paragraphs. Then he discusses Somalia, Chechnya, Kashmir, and Lebanon.  After which he takes issue with puppet regimes saying “Under your supervision, consent and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your agents, attack us on a daily basis. (The US installed the Shah in Iran in the 1950s).

Then he wrote about Iraq:

“You have starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day.  It is a wonder that more than 1.5mil Iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, you did not show concern, yet when 3,000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down.”

The answer to question two has two basic parts.  First, they demand that the United States turn to Allah and follow Muslim law, which would mean no usury (interest on loan repayments), gambling, homosexuality, and so on…  The second part is a call for our country to mind our own business; stop intervening in Middle Eastern affairs and stop supporting Jews over others who claim the holy land for themselves.

Again, we don’t want to know these things because we want to appease bin Laden, or whoever runs the show at present.  We want to know these things to understand our enemy’s motives and to make sure our own actions are truly virtuous.  The US is by far the most powerful country in the world, and that gives us the obligation as citizens to be careful in what actions we get behind.  As we have seen with documented history and the declaration of war, along with this list of demands after 9/11, there is far more to the story of terrorism today than a group of crazy people flying some planes into the world trade center one random day because they hate freedom.  They are blaming us for many things that would make us just as angry. Right or wrong, our officials have taken credit for them.

The aftermath of 9/11 was the invasion of Afghanistan and later Iraq.  It was believed Osama bin Laden was hiding along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that Saddam Hussein either possessed WMDs, was a terrorist supporter, or both.  As a result of these invasions, the United States has emboldened another enemy, ISIS, and has been involved in military operations all over the region in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia.

Who is ISIS

ISIS, according to Richard Allen Greene and Nick Thompson, is a group very similar to Al Qaeda that was formed in 2004.  Like Al Qaeda, they had ties to Osama bin Laden and are identified as a terrorist organization.  What makes them different, however, is their willingness to use more brutal methods and establish solid governing bodies.  Once they dominate a territory they establish almost Western-like governing structures, with legislatures and governors put in place to rule.

ISIS gained traction as a powerful force, a result of the invasion of Iraq.  Generals in the Iraqi military were wise enough to know they would be quickly overpowered by US forces in conventional warfare, and their military was  defeated in a matter of months.  In fact, by April 2003, much of Baghdad had fallen into American hands.  It was the occupation and nation building that has taken a decade and a half.  The Iraqi generals, seeing they were not going to be successful, joined the ranks of ISIS, and they have been very effective.  As Hendawi and Abdul-Zahra explained:

“Under its leader, Iraqi jihadi Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State group’s top command is dominated by former officers from Saddam’s military and intelligence agencies, according to senior Iraqi officers on the front lines of the fight against the group, as well as top intelligence officials, including the chief of a key counter-terrorism intelligence unit.  The experience they bring is a major reason for the group’s victories in overrunning large parts of Iraq and Syria. The officers gave IS the organization and discipline it needed to weld together jihadi fighters drawn from across the globe, integrating terror tactics like suicide bombings with military operations. They have been put in charge of intelligence-gathering, spying on the Iraqi forces as well as maintaining and upgrading weapons and trying to develop a chemical weapons program.”

Conclusions: The Middle East and Terrorism

The Middle East is a very different civilization from the first world Western nations.  Osama bin Laden spoke in his list of demands of the United States and its allies as agents of the Devil, attacking their countries directly and indirectly, as well as giving in to every known vice.  Separation of Church and State does not seem to be as strong a value as it is here in the west.  However, they do have legitimate reasons to be upset.  They chose to declare war on the US specifically for reasons that surpass those which motivated us to occupy the entire region for a decade and a half.  Whether the number of children who died in Iraq (over half-a-million) is accurate or not, sanctions were placed, they harmed the civilian population, and our representatives went on television in front of the world and said it was worth it.  In their eyes, no matter what you think, the West is the problem in the world, which means no matter how hard we press, the terrorism problem is not going away. It will only intensify as long as warfare is the strategy.

Conclusions: American Foreign Policy

The United States has enjoyed the position of being the dominant power in the world ever since World War 2.  Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s fear of awakening a sleeping giant (as a result of the Pearl Harbor attack)) was far deeper than what would play out at the end of the war.  Our position has not come without a price.  That price includes choosing the military means to solve problems more eagerly.  President George W Bush’s administration was tainted very much with intelligence failures because he was hasty in his decision making.  In the age of widespread terrorism, the US government has grown exceedingly paranoid, has been openly keeping tabs on American civil communications, and all but embraced the use of torture despite it being a proven failed method of gathering reliable intel.  My personal opinion is our politicians would welcome a world war to gain the honor and prestige associated with Former President Franklin Roosevelt himself, who was in office during WW2.  The official narratives, with names like “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Operation Enduring Freedom”, always sound good.

Since it is the United States in which I live, I ask the readers to take action.  It is not to join the military. It is not to go to an anti-war rally. It’s not to absorb or even believe a single word that has been written here.  I ask the reader to do a little soul searching.  Ask yourself the following questions: What do you really know about the relationship between the USA and the countries with which we are at war? Are you really ready to put your support behind the bombings and invasions that have continued since 9/11?  Are you really ready to trust politicians to act responsibly and honorably in matters of warfare?  Since none of us will ever know all the information available, trust is the vehicle which our politicians lead us to war. Are they worthy?  Have you examined the knowledge you do or do not have?  And finally, are your opinions motivated by propaganda that is designed to elicit emotional responses, or by the facts and theories about modern warfare and it’s effects on the world?

What You Can Do

Discovering the ideas of liberty and having the courage to participate in intellectual discourse can be a very empowering experience.  Many who are touched by it believe we must be hasty and take every action possible, whether it’s phoning representatives, participating in protests, engaging in agorism, or even civil disobedience.  Reader, what you do and how you choose to express yourself is a journey of self-discovery that would be a crime to rob you.  Your personality and your talents are for you to discover. The only idea I wish to share is that your actions do not have to be extreme to spark change.  Simply mentioning the complexities of the world when the topic of war comes up will signal any potential intellectual that there may be, dare I say, pre-9/11 history they haven’t examined.  When you hear someone is going to join the military, just mentioning the fact that they could find themselves fighting a political war they don’t believe in could make a big difference without even inviting a debate concerning the current wars.  Finally, never let anyone disarm your intellectual truths with emotionally charged statements like “you just hate America” or some similar claim.  This is not about likes and dislikes, it is about truth.  The destruction capabilities of the world’s nuclear arsenal are too great to stick our heads in the sand and ignore facts because someone insulted us.

 

Follow us at www.facebook.com/askalibertarian

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

 

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.

The McDonald’s Standard: A Guide for Determining The Legitimate Role of Government

18817601_10155410415074452_2031048929_o

Kristopher Morgan, May 23, 2017

We all have things we would like to see humanity do, whether we want to feed the poor, move towards clean energy, protect endangered species, scientific research, or setting floors on wages.  We all like to believe that passing a law is akin to waving some magic wand that simply makes things better. We get ourselves into trouble when we consider the reality of the situation;  there is no wand.  When we realize passing and enforcing new laws means making criminals out of more and more people, we have to choose responsibly.

Coming to a balanced belief system as to what the proper place of government in society takes an immense amount of study into the social sciences, history, political economy, ethics, philosophy, etc.  This can be extremely time-consuming… fortunately there are shortcuts to answering most questions pertaining to the proper role of government.  I call one of them the ‘McDonald’s Standard.’  The method is very simple: Clarify what action the government is taking and ask yourself “how would I feel if McDonald’s were doing this?”  Here are a few examples to demonstrate how it works.

  1. Taxation.  On one hand, we are threatened with fines and jail time if we do not pay taxes.  On the other hand, those taxes pay for services such as roads.  Let’s imagine that McDonald’s decided to use the same business model.  McDonald’s decides to provide every resident within a 1mi radius with a Big Mac.  McDonald’s then decides that they will collect money from all residents, and those who decline simply get locked in a room on McDonald’s property.  Is food not a vital service?
  2. Welfare programs.  On one hand, they are paid for through taxation, on the other hand poor people benefit from them.  So, let’s imagine McDonald’s decides that they’re going to send their employees in a neighborhood, armed with tasers, guns, and clubs, and they collect money from some residents to give to others (while keeping about 80% for themselves!).  What would we think about McDonald’s?
  3. War.  On one hand, evil do-ers really should be taken out of power.  On the other hand, innocent people die in government wars.  So, let’s imagine a McDonald’s employee tracks a criminal into a Burger King bathroom, right after taking from the BK cashier’s drawer.  The McDonald’s employee then proceeds to blow up the entire Burger King restaurant to get this criminal.  Does this person get to claim all the other people inside the Burger King were simply collateral damage?

Now I know someone out there is going to say something along the lines of: “of course we don’t expect McDonald’s to take on the same role as the government ya dope!  McDonald’s doesn’t have a Constitution, and we don’t elect politicians to operate McDonald’s like we do the government.  We don’t expect these things from them because they’re not the government!”

This line of reason is exactly why I am writing this article.  What we are actually talking about is government legitimacy, so let’s examine the reasons people believe government has it.

1. The government represents the people through voting.  Their job is to carry out the will of the people they represent.

  • False.  All governments operate via law and enforcement thereof.  So what that means is the first thing politicians assume is that they do not have your consent.  If they had your consent, there would be no need to use law enforcement measures.  Also, the idea that some bureaucrat you have never met before can accurately take your conscience and values into account when making decisions… come on…

2. The government is an entity on its own charged with the task of running society.

  • False.  The government is a collection of human beings.  Society is not a machine that needs an operator, but rather a collection of people.  If no human being has the moral right to use force against another, then the government can’t possibly have it.  Morality for McDonald’s doesn’t change if they change their name to McGovernment!

3. The government derived its power to use force from the consent of the people.

  • False.  If nobody has the power to use force against others to begin with, nobody could have possibly given that power to the government.  Giving one’s consent to others to use force against themself is a contradiction in terms.

This list could grow exponentially, but I hope the point is clear.  Governments are nothing more than groups of people, same as any other, whether it’s a business, a family, a charity, a community watch group, etc.  It doesn’t have to be McDonald’s necessarily, but before you support anything any government does, ask yourself “what if someone else in society were doing the same thing? How would that make me feel?”  Because let’s face it:  most of us spent our formative years pledging allegiance to the flag and learning politically correct/tainted history.  By projecting government actions onto parties we feel neutral about, we can overcome these biases.

 

Follow us at www.facebook.com/askalibertarian

Do you have a libertarian oriented message you want to get out? Consider contacting Ask A Libertarian via messenger at https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/askalibertarian to find out how you can become a volunteer in our Journalism Department.

 

The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.