PLAYERS AND PAWNS: THE PERSIAN GULF WAR
By JACOB G. HORNBERGER
For the greater part of this century, the United States
government has plundered, looted, and terrorized the American
people through the Internal Revenue Service. It has
surreptitiously stolen people's income and savings through the
Federal Reserve System. It has brutally enforced--through
fines and imprisonment--rules and regulations governing
people's peaceful economic activities. In a very real sense,
ours is a government which has been--and is--waging a terribly
immoral and destructive war against its own people.
Yet, Americans continue to delude themselves. Harkening back
to their high-school civics classes, they continue to believe
that America is the land of the free--that the welfare-state,
planned-economy way of life was formed in 1787--and that their
government is founded on moral and benevolent principles. Like
the cancer patient who undergoes a denial stage upon being
told of his disease, Americans refuse to face the truth: that
they are not free--that they have abandoned the principles of
limited government, private property, and unhampered markets
on which this nation was founded--and that our government is
now based on evil and morally degenerate principles.
But many Americans who know the truth have concluded that our
kakistocracy, through its liberation of Kuwait, miraculously
reformed itself into a good and honorable government. Let us
review the record.
Among the panoply of reasons given by the U.S. government to
justify its intervention in the Middle East was its professed
concern for the Kuwaiti people. But the evidence establishes
that our government has even less concern for the well-being
of foreign citizens than it has for its own citizens.
For many decades, our government has used money which has been
plundered and looted from the American people to give foreign
aid to brutal tyrants--knowing that such money would be used
to tyrannize the people who lived under such tyrants. Ours is
a government which delivered millions of dollars to the Shah
of Iran--despite its knowledge that the money was being used
to torture and kill the Iranian people . . . which actively
supported Saddam Hussein--despite its knowledge of his
aggressive acts against Iranians and his murderous conduct
against his own people . . . which embraces Mikhail
Gorbachev--despite its knowledge of his aggressive acts
against Lithuanians and the murderous acts of this barbaric
communist against his own people . . . which willingly shakes
one of the bloodiest hands in the Middle East--that of Hafez
Assad of Syria--despite its knowledge of his aggression
against the Lebanese and the brutal killing of thousands of
his own people . . . and which feels right at home with the
savage, communist tyrants of China--despite their long-time
aggression against the Tibetans and their murderous conduct
against their own citizenry.
And Americans have yet to confront another uncomfortable
reality: that the same evil, immoral, and tyrannical
government which reigns supreme in our domestic affairs has
omnipotent power over our lives and fortunes in foreign
affairs as well. Remember--the President sent hundreds of
thousands of American troops into war without seeking
congressional approval. (Many Americans do not realize that a
military blockade is an act of war.) By the time congressional
approval was sought, the President had already--by placing
American troops in harm's way--effectively cornered the
Congress and the American people into supporting his
unilateral decision. The subsequent debate concerned only the
method by which the war was to be waged--not whether or not
the war would be waged. Moreover, the President made it
abundantly clear that the congressional vote was, in any
event, only window dressing--that he would order an attack on
Iraq regardless of the outcome of the vote.
Why is all of this important? Because the American people must
be made to realize what they have wrought for their children,
and their children's children, who will probably have to pay
the price: a nation whose ruler has the same omnipotent powers
over the lives and fortunes of the citizenry as those
exercised by the most powerful dictators in history.
During the Persian Gulf crisis, the U.S. government preached
the importance of the rule of law. But our government itself
violated the rule of law by ignoring the U.S. Constitution,
not only with respect to waging war without a Congressional
declaration of war, but also by exercising a power--policing
the world--that the Constitution does not authorize.
And our government also failed to explain how the rule of law
is supposed to be followed in international affairs. Was the
U.S. government following the rule of law when it mined
Nicaraguan harbors? If so, why did the World Court enter a
monetary judgment against our government for what it adjudged
to be an illegal act? And if our government does have such a
principled devotion to the rule of law, why then has it
refused to comply with the World Court's judgment?
The simple truth is that there is no mechanism by which
international disputes among non-consenting, independent,
sovereign nations can be adjudicated. (And the United Nations
is not a judicial body designed to resolve such disputes; the
Persian Gulf crisis showed that its votes are delivered in the
same way as those in the U.S. Congress--to the highest bidder
for cash or other consideration.) Does the lack of such a
mechanism justify aggression against another nation-state--
whether it be our government's invasion of Panama or Iraq's
invasion of Kuwait? No. But it does show two things: that for
the foreseeable future, nation-states (including the U.S.)
will continue to resolve their disputes through military
force, and, second, that the U.S. government's moralizing
on the importance of following the rule of law in
international affairs only evidences its own hypocrisy.
The opportunity to serve as the world's policeman is a dream
come true for the military-industrial complex--that is, those
who are dependent on military welfare. With the collapse of
communism in Eastern Europe, the military welfare-recipients
were in a state of panic. How could they now justify the
tremendous tax burden associated with a huge, standing
military force? This concern and panic were best evidenced by
the Pentagon's eagerness to involve itself in the government's
"war on drugs"--after years of refusing to do so.
But to be able to serve as the world's policeman--especially
in the Middle East--now guarantees total political and
bureaucratic control over the lives and fortunes of the
American people for the indefinite future. Why? Because war
and the threat of war always and inevitably entail omnipotent
power over the citizenry. Moreover, brutal foreign tyrants
against whom such wars can be waged are never in short supply
--and especially not in the Middle East! And what better place
(from the standpoint of the military-industrial complex) to
have the mission of establishing peace and stability than in a
part of the world which has never known peace and stability?
By becoming the world's policeman whose primary beat is the
Middle East, those who are on the military dole have ensured
themselves perpetual existence--and perpetual control over the
lives and property of the American people.
And, of course, it is the American people who are the pawns in
all of this. Innocently believing that their government
miraculously has become good and moral overnight, they
ardently support its omnipotent power over their own lives and
fortunes--the same way they have done in their government's
futile and destructive wars on poverty, illiteracy, and drugs.
But Americans ignore two important things: first, their role
as pawns and, second, that pawns can and will be sacrificed
whenever the political and bureaucratic chess players in
Washington deem it necessary for the "international good."
Is there an answer to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait based on
principles of individual freedom and limited government? Yes.
And it is an answer which is also based on the principle of
The power of our government to intervene in both domestic and
foreign affairs should be strictly constrained through express
constitutional limitations. In domestic affairs, this means
the end of the welfare-state, planned-economy way of life. In
foreign affairs, this means the end of foreign aid, the end of
our government's ability to wage trade wars, and the end of
its role as the world's international policeman. The power of
our government should be constitutionally limited to three
primary functions: protecting the American people from
domestic criminals, defending the United States from foreign
attack, and resolving disputes which arise in this nation.
And the American people? They should be free to travel and
trade all over the world without the permission and
interference of their own governmental officials . . . and to
donate their own lives and fortunes to oppose tyranny and
oppression anywhere in the world. Does this mean that the
American people would have to take responsibility for their
beliefs and convictions? Of course--but isn't that the type of
society which we desire?
Freedom for Americans is possible in our lifetime. But it will
only come when they finally realize that people are not free--
and can never be free--under either a welfare state or a
warfare state. And when the American people finally make their
own freedom their highest political end, they will discover
what only a select few in history have discovered: that true
personal pride and self-esteem come from the achievement of
one's own freedom--not vicariously through the military
conquests of one's government.
Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of
From the July 1991 issue of FREEDOM DAILY,
Copyright (c) 1991, The Future of Freedom Foundation,
PO Box 9752, Denver, Colorado 80209, 303-777-3588.
Permission granted to reprint; please give appropriate credit
and send one copy of reprinted material to the Foundation.