While I spent my Christmas weekend surrounded by family, friends, and the warm central California weather, I tried for just a few days to escape the whirlwind circus of American politics.
Sadly, I couldn’t help myself.
While scanning the Internet for news stories (since TV and newspapers are anemic sources of information), I stumble across President Obama quietly signing a Christmas Eve executive order giving another bailout to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, two of Obama’s largest campaign contributors. And I could barely keep from laughing while watching Senator Max Baucus (D-Pharmaceutical Industry) resurrect the ghost of Ted Kennedy while drunkenly stammering and slobbering all over the Senate floor.
But the thing that stood out to me the most was Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Pentagon) calling for preemptive military strikes on Yemen after the failed attack by what is now being called the “underwear bomber.” On a flight bound for Detroit, a Nigerian man put firecrackers in his pants in an apparent attempt at terrorism. He received training and supplies from Yemen, and Al Qaeda, whose presence is growing in the southern tip of the Persian Gulf, is taking credit for the foiled attack.
Immediately, security agencies (there are too many to count) began beefing up security at domestic and international airports, and President Obama assured us today that he is doing everything he can to keep us safe and will soon be launching “accelerated offensives” in Yemen.
There is so much wrong with the responses to this plot it’s hard to know where to begin.
Increasing government “security” only provides the illusion of safety and at great costs to what’s left of our civil liberties.
As Congressman Ron Paul (R-Constitution) pointed out in a great debate on CNN today, the US is spending nearly $75 billion on security measures that are ineffective and easily outmaneuvered. He correctly notes how markets do a far better of job of providing protection, as it is up to individual owners of factories, hotels, banks, etc. to care of their property. If airlines were in charge of their own security instead of the clumsy and pushy TSA, flights would likely be much safer (and no strip searches either!)
Coming back to the suggestion of Lieberman that the US preemptively rain terror on Yemen, I wonder if he is aware that US special forces have been launching raids inside of Yemen for months, that the US-funded Saudi government is continually bombing the Yemeni border, and that President Obama fired a handful of cruise missiles into Yemen a week and a half ago, killing 120?
These minor points aside, the growing calls to blitz Yemen is typical of US policymakers: counterproductive overreaction. It might come as a shock to some, but terrorism comes to the continental US as a direct response to the terror that the US military has been inflicting on the Arab world for decades.
Initiating sanctions that starve half of a million Iraqis; bombing city after city; propping up corrupt governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan that torture, rob, and kill their own citizens; handing out billions of dollars a year for the last five decades to Israel so that they can wage indiscriminate warfare on their neighbors and cage the Palestinians in their own cities.
These are the reasons gullible young Muslim men are willing to blow themselves up. Losing a family member, a home, or a mosque in a US air strike might piss some people off.
Responding to acts or threats of terrorism with overwhelming military force is like chopping a machete to a problem that needs the calculated scalpel of effective intelligence gathering and police work. Using the logic of the Lieberman and Obama, the British had every right to launch air raids on the Irish Mafia in Boston for helping to fund IRA bombings and India should nuke Chicago for the Mumbia attacks.
The attempted attack last weekend fits the cyclical nature of America’s imperial foreign policy perfectly: we intervene militarily around the globe, terrorists strike back, more socialist security; we intervene militarily around the globe, terrorists strike back, more socialist security…
Under this rubble of fear-mongering and the bogeyman of terrorism, Americans become more and more willing to sacrifice freedom for the illusion of security. Eventually, we will run out of liberties to hand over.
For more of Robert’s work, please visit his Libertarian Examiner blog.