Thursday, March 5, 2015

Maybe we could learn something from the Swiss...

Striking at the Root of Foreign Crises
by Jacob G. Hornberger

As the United States jumps from foreign crisis to foreign crisis, it’s important that we recognize that there is a root cause of all these crises. The reason it’s important is that if Americans ever want to get off the crisis merry-go-around, there is a way to do it — by striking at the root of the crises.

Consider two of the crises that have U.S. officials pacing the floors and experiencing sleepless nights: Iran and ISIS. What to do about these grave threats to “national security”? Should there be a nuclear agreement with Iran? Should more sanctions be imposed on Iran? Should Iran be bombed? Should more bombs drop on ISIS? Should Congress give the president the authority to drop more bombs on ISIS? What if ISIS takes over Iraq and other parts of the Middle East?

The crisis mindset, along with all the fear, anxiety, and depression that comes with it, never stops. Americans live their lives in a constant state of mental agitation.

On the surface of things, there doesn’t seem to be any other alternative. This is just our unfortunate plight in life, people feel. We just happened to be born in the wrong era. If only we had been born in an era of freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony. Woe is us. Maybe future generations will have it better. We’ll just keep praying for an end to terrorism and continue praising the troops for doing their best to keep us safe.

Yet, when we examine the root cause of these crises, we get a hint as to how we could exit the current lifestyle of constant, ongoing crises and actually live in a society of freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony.

The antagonism between Iran and the United States is rooted in what the U.S. national-security state did to that country in 1953. Operating through the CIA, the U.S. national-security state ousted the democratically appointed prime minister of Iran from power and installed in his stead the shah of Iran, a brutal tyrant who proceeded to tyrannize and oppress the Iranian people for the next 26 years, employing such totalitarian practices as arbitrary arrest of dissidents, indefinite detention, torture, and extra-judicial execution. Even worse, the U.S. national-security state supported and trained the Shaw’s goons in how to engage in these totalitarian-like practices.

In 1979, the Iranian people successfully revolted against what the U.S. government had done to them. The problem, however, is that they weren’t able to restore the democratic system that the U.S. national-security state had destroyed back in 1953. Instead, the shah’s tyrannical regime was replaced by a religious tyrannical regime headed by ayatollahs.

U.S. national-security state officials have never forgotten the ouster of their Iranian dictator nor have they forgiven it. That’s in fact why they partnered with Saddam Hussein during the 1980s and even delivered him those infamous WMDs — so that he could use them to kill Iranians. (See here and here.)

What U.S. officials still want, above all else, is another regime change in Iran, one in which a pro-U.S. Iranian stooge, like the shah, is placed into power. By the same token, Iranian officials and the Iranian people have never forgotten what the U.S. national-security state did to them in 1953 and are bound and determined to resist another U.S. regime-change operation.

So, look at where we are today — an ongoing, never-ending crisis with Iran. And who do Americans look to in order to resolve the crisis? They look to the national-security state, the governmental apparatus that caused the crisis in the first place. Why should it surprise us that the crisis just keeps getting bigger and bigger? National-security state officials keep hoping that the fuel they continue to pour on the fire they ignited many years ago will succeed in putting it out.

It’s no different with ISIS. There was no ISIS before the U.S. invasion and war of aggression against Iraq. Obsessed with the idea of ousting Saddam Hussein from power in a violent regime-change operation, the U.S. national-security state threw Iraqi Sunnis out of power and replaced them with Iraqi Shiites. Not surprisingly, the Sunni faction wasn’t too happy about that. Why does anyone get surprised that a civil war breaks out?

Indeed, that’s precisely what happened in Guatemala in 1954. The national-security state ousted the democratically elected president of the country and installed a brutal military dictator, one who proceeded to impose one of the most horrible tyrannies in Latin America. Is it surprising that a civil war broke out in Guatemala, one that lasted for decades and resulted in the death, maiming, torture, incarceration, or disappearance of millions of people?

Now, consider Switzerland. Do you see the Swiss going from foreign crisis to crisis? Do you see them pacing the floors in fear, anxiety, and depression? Do you see them having color codes for the latest terrorist threat against Switzerland?

No, you don’t see any of that. Why is that? Why is it that Americans pace the floors and constantly lament “Woe is us” while the Swiss go about their daily lives in a normal fashion?

There is a difference between the two nations, one that goes to the root of the problem. The Swiss do not have a giant national-security state apparatus attached to their governmental system.. They don’t have a vast empire of foreign military bases. They don’t have a foreign policy based on regime change, interventionism, meddling, foreign aid, and partnerships with foreign dictators. They don’t have a CIA. They don’t have a NSA. The Swiss government limits itself to defense.

In other words, Switzerland has a governmental structure that once characterized the United States — that is, before the United States grafted a national-security state apparatus onto its constitutional structure. In fact, the Framers looked to Switzerland and its longtime antipathy toward standing armies and foreign interventionism as their model when they were drafting the Constitution.

When there is a weed in your garden, do you trim the branches or do you pull it out by its root? Then why not do the same with respect to the national-security state apparatus that was attached to our constitutional system during the Cold War? That’s the only solution that will bring us what we all want — a life without constant, ongoing crises — a life of freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony.


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