Another Perverse Consequence of the “War on Terrorism”

Sometimes the perverse consequences of federal government policies and programs are evident immediately and sometimes they take a bit longer. For example, at the end of World War I, statists, imperialists, and interventionists were in ecstasy over the U.S. intervention, proudly claiming that the loss of more than 100,000 American deaths was worth the conquest of Germany because the intervention had made the world safe for democracy and finally, once and for all, put an end to all European wars.

Sixteen years later, Adolf Hitler came to power, capitalizing in large part on what had been done to Germany in World War I, including the vengeful Treaty of Versailles that was imposed on Germany by the United States and its allies. Less than seven years later, World War II began. I wonder if the pro-World War I crowd still thought that more than 100,000 American deaths in that war were worth it in 1940 or 1945.

After 9/11, President Bush, amidst tremendous fanfare, declared his “war on terrorism.” Rather than simply going after those individuals who had conspired to commit the 9/11 attacks, he invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq, on the basis of the notion that the president has the power to preemptively attack, without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, any nation whose rulers might have “harbored” terrorists or who might pose a terrorist threat to the United States at some time in the future. In the process, the United States killed tens of thousands of innocent people (that is, people who had nothing to do with 9/11 or even the 1993 terrorist attack on the WTC), thereby producing even more anger and hatred that will inevitably lead to more terrorist attacks and ensuring that the process will continue. This policy also ensures ever-increasing budgets for the Department of Defense (so-called) and ever-increasing federal power over the lives and fortunes of the American people.

In the aftermath of the recent terrorist attack on a school in Russia, which killed hundreds of innocent people, mostly children, Russian officials are now announcing that they are adopting and embracing Bush’s policies and programs for Russia itself. According to CNN, Col.-Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces said, “As for carrying out preventive strikes against terrorist bases … we will take all measures to liquidate terrorist bases in any region of the world.”

What are the supporters of the Bush doctrine going to say now — that only the United States — and no other nation — has the legitimate power to fight a war on terrorism by attacking sovereign and independent countries? No nation that has just lost hundreds of children in a terrorist attack is going to accept that!

So there you have it — the U.S. government and the Russian government are both claiming the right to invade independent and sovereign nations and wage wars of aggression against them as part of their respective “wars on terrorism.”

Ask yourself: What could be better from the standpoint of the military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned us about? When Russia begins attacking nations, just as its predecessor the Soviet Union did, the U.S. Department of Defense will have a new official enemy — Russia, or communism, or the former Soviet Union, or an unsafe world, or whatever else is necessary to keep NATO and the Department of Defense in high cotton for the foreseeable future. What a surprise!

Meanwhile, given the president’s unconstitutional assumption of power to declare war; the doctrine of waging wars of aggression contrary to the principles set forth at Nuremberg; the brutal, indefinite military occupation of foreign countries; the indefinite detention of citizens and foreigners alike; FBI monitoring of citizens; the rape, sex abuse, torture, and murder of prisoners and “ghost detainees” and the resulting whitewashes and cover-ups; and the calls to effectively build a Berlin Wall and station troops along the U.S. southern border, no one can reasonably deny that the United States is increasingly moving in the direction of Russia or, even more accurately, the Soviet Union.

That is why it is so important to continue striving to turn America in a new and better direction — one that rejects the principles of empire and interventionism of the Soviet Union and instead embraces the principles of republic and nonintervention of America’s Founding Fathers. If we fail to do that, an increasing array of perverse consequences arising from current U.S. foreign policy will inevitably besiege us.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.