Maniacs on Pedestals

“[B]y false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. … But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”
Lysander Spooner, No Treason (1867)

Ever since the Constitution was ratified, what is now the national government of the United States has been brutally killing people. It began with George Washington’s invasion of Pennsylvania to put down the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, and has scarcely stopped for a day.

Armies had been a major complaint of the American revolutionaries. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, King George

“[H]as affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

“For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

“For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States….”

So what did these revolutionaries do about it? They wrote a new Constitution in which the legislature has the authority to raise standing armies:

“The Congress shall have Power … To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years….”

Two years, huh? Yeah, that’ll hold ’em.

The U.S. Congress has declared war five times: against Britain in the war of 1812, against Mexico, against Spain, against the Central Powers of the “Great War,” and against the Axis Powers of World War II.

In addition to this handful of official declarations of war, the United States military has undertaken – ready? – over 240 other violent interventions, not including the near-extermination of the American Indian, the Union’s invasion of the Southern Confederacy, the “putting down” of strikers, or the Waco massacre.

This list compiled for the U.S. Navy by the Library of Congress is incomplete, as it ends in 1993, and Lord knows the U.S. government has killed a hell of a lot of people since then.

Now, not all of these wars have been aggressive invasions by America. Obviously, if not for the U.S. Army, we’d all be speaking Japanese right now. And then there was that time when North Korea almost conquered Washington State…

Truth is, the U.S. government is nothing but a ring of brutal thugs who wrap themselves in the legitimacy of our traditions as they wage aggressive warfare.

The U.S. military does not protect liberty, and they sure don’t spread it. They are the provocation for our enemies, and their secret “intelligence” agencies now admit that the resentment caused by their recent adventure in Iraq has turned that country into a “breeding ground” for future terrorists.

National defense is a myth. The purpose of government is the use of violent force to tax “its” people to pay for their own sons to go far away to kill people and die for the private interests that control the state – and make more enemies along the way.

All our government’s hype about freedom and democracy is the most obscene hypocrisy to all but the willfully blind. Everyone else sees the biggest empire of bases in the history of the world, two ongoing wars under the umbrella of a third (with at least two more on the way), a very real Department of Homeland Security, vastly expanded powers for the national police forces, the creation of the U.S. Northern Command to keep the American people in line, unprecedented secrecy, promotions for torturers at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, individual acts of murder, “ghostprisons built by the vice president‘s former company, the wholesale destruction of the Bill of Rights by executive order – and to what end?

The American Empire is now overextended. A draft looms. Oil costs 60 bucks a barrel, the currency is in tatters, and future generations are obligated to pay trillions for it all. Our reputation as the land of liberty is in burning shreds.

No outside enemy could ever destroy America, short of an all-out nuclear attack. And why bother with that? Those whom our politicians have made into our enemies can sit back and watch as we destroy ourselves.

Four more years!

Author: Scott Horton

Scott Horton is editorial director of, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from He’s the author of the 2021 book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, and the editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,500 interviews since 2003. Scott’s articles have appeared at, The American Conservative magazine, the History News Network, The Future of Freedom, The National Interest and the Christian Science Monitor. He also contributed a chapter to the 2019 book, The Impact of War. Scott lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, investigative reporter Larisa Alexandrovna Horton. He is a fan of, but no relation to the lawyer from Harper’s. Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.