By Ron Paul
It was not long after last week’s horrifying bombings in Brussels that the so-called security experts were out warning that Europeans must give up more of their liberty so government can keep them secure from terrorism. I guess people are not supposed to notice that every terrorist attack represents a major government failure and that rewarding failure with more of the same policies only invites more failure.
I am sure a frightened population will find government promises of perfect security attractive and may be willing to allow more surveillance of their personal lives. They should pause a little beforehand and consider what their governments have done so far to keep them “safe.”
The government of France, for example, has been particularly aggressive in its Middle East policy. Then-French President Sarkozy was among the most determined proponents of “regime change” in Libya. That operation has left the country in chaos, with much of the territory controlled by an ISIS and al-Qaeda that were not there before the “liberation.” As we learned last week from Hillary Clinton’s emails, Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron were much more concerned with getting their hands on Libya’s oil after the overthrow of Gaddafi. The creation of a hotbed of terrorism that could easily make its way to Europe was not important. They wanted to secure enormously profitable deals for well-connected French and English energy companies.
Likewise, European governments have been very active in the five-year, US-led effort to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. This foolish move has boosted both ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria to the point where they nearly over-ran the country late last year. It has also led millions to flee their war-torn country for a Europe that has opened its doors with the promise of generous benefits to anyone who can make it there. Is it any surprise that so many hundreds of thousands took them up on the offer? Is it any surprise that in this incredible flood of people there may be more than a few who are interested in more than just free housing and a welfare check?
Europeans should be demanding to know why their governments provoke people in the Middle East with aggressive foreign policies, and then open the door to millions of them. Do their leaders just lack basic common sense?
Usually the so-called security experts who advise more government surveillance after a terrorist attack have a conflict of interest. They often benefit when the security state is given a bigger budget. Insecurity is the bread-and-butter of the security “experts.” But why is it that after a terrorist attack, governments are rewarded with bigger budgets and more power over people? Shouldn’t failure be punished instead of rewarded?
As in the United States, the security crisis in Europe is directly tied to bad policy. Until bad policy is changed, no amount of surveillance, racial profiling, and police harassment can make the population safer. Europeans already seem to understand this, and as we have seen in recent German elections they are abandoning the parties that promise that the same old bad policies will this time produce different results. Hopefully Americans will also stand up and demand a change in our foreign policy before bad policy leads to more terrorist violence on our shores.
By Robert Wenzel
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are touting policies that would boost public spending by hundreds of billions of dollars even as they vow on the campaign trail to slash the size of government, according to new estimates, says the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
They would increase spending by even more than Hillary Clinton.
“It’s a bit of a shocker. In this election there are a lot of shocking things,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the CRFB. “We are talking about an expansion of government by this amount at a time when public debt is already so high.”
Cruz would be the biggest spender.
Over ten years Cruz would boost spending by 6 per cent to an average of $5.4tn a year — equal to 23.4 per cent of gross domestic product — from $5.1tn under current law.
Trump would raise spending by 3-4 per cent to an average of $5.3tn per year.
Cruz’s spending is a result of his proposed outlays on defense. Trump’s numbers are pushed up by an expensive proposal to expand healthcare for military veterans.
Hillary Clinton, has announced plans that would boost annual spending by 2 per cent to $5.2tn or 22.5 per cent of GDP.
This article originally appeared at EconomicPolicyJournal.com
Image credit: Gage Skidmore
By Jeff Deist
People of goodwill naturally attempt to make sense of terrible events like today’s bombings in Brussels, to help themselves address the psychological discomfort that occurs when seemingly incomprehensible violence occurs. We have a hard time processing a world where random bombs go off and kill peaceful travelers in airports or subway stations, because it threatens our equilibrium and sense of personal well-being.
This discomfort has intensified in our era of 24 hour global news, whereas just a few generations ago our ancestors simply didn’t know about all the trouble in the greater world. The world seems more dangerous today, regardless of whether it actually is more dangerous.
Just as politicians and media attempt to create a narrative that explains and influences events, individuals reflexively apply their personal narrative to the world around them. It’s human nature to want reality to comport with our personal worldview or ideology.
Needless to say, the news channels today are full of ideological perspectives regarding what should be done. Western conservatives generally advocate a more rigorous prosecution of the “war on terror” as the solution to Muslim terrorism, accompanied by the dilution of civil liberties as needed to assist in that prosecution. Western progressives generally advocate humanitarian aid, open borders, and greater assimilation of Muslims by making countries more tolerant and multicultural (i.e., the same welfare/education/housing arguments they make to address homegrown criminality).
Both of these approaches reflect certain inherent biases which are fundamentally incorrect, to put it mildly.
Libertarians also stand accused of trying to fit real-world events into their ideology, rather than the other way around. In fact, libertarians are perceived as particularly dogmatic in their anti-state bias — especially regarding so-called public goods. The argument seems reasonable enough, at least on its face: terrorism, and the specter of groups like ISIS, demonstrate the need for coordinated action by governments.
But if market failure is the justification for state-provided public goods like security at airports, what is the argument when such state services utterly and predictably fail to protect anyone? Do economists then clamor about “bureaucratic failure” and propose privatization to break up the state’s unnatural monopoly on police and intelligence services?
On the contrary, nobody blames government agencies or government police when terrorist acts are not thwarted. If anything, state actors are rewarded with increased budgets, personnel, and powers when horrific things happen on their watch. After the 9/11/2001 attacks in New York, for example, whole new federal agencies and departments were created. Federal intelligence agencies were vastly expanded. State and local police went on buying sprees for new militarized equipment.
The point here is not to blame anyone other than the actual malefactors involved in Brussels. Islamic terrorism is a very real problem, but so is American and European foreign policy.
The point is that conservatives think “liberal” policies (soft on crime and foreign policy) lead to terrorism, while the Left thinks “conservative” policies (cultural intolerance and aggression) lead to terrorism. But there is one policy that all governments everywhere share: the policy of not allowing markets, including markets for security, to operate freely.
If allowing markets to operate represents an “ideology” to most people, so be it. I would argue that markets represent a lack of ideology. More importantly, markets provide far and away the most practical approaches to difficult problems like terrorism. It is conservatives and progressives, in fact, who are the dreamers: no matter how many times governments fail to prevent terrorism, the same tired policies are revamped and the same tired state apparatus are “reformed.” A more libertarian approach requires no great change of public opinion or politics, just a willingness to begin privatizing security at a few airports, train stations, and the like.
Crime and violence exist in every society. The goal is to minimize crime and violence within the framework of available resources and at a reasonable overall cost, economic and otherwise. Governments are uniquely ill-suited to provide competent security services or prevent terrorist attacks for the same reasons they are ill-suited to provide housing, food, or medical care: they cannot rationally calculate costs vs. benefits. They are also hopelessly bureaucratic and completely political in everything they do. They are process-oriented rather than results-oriented.
Only private actors, with their own money at risk, can provide the “appropriate” (i.e., market) level of security in any given environment. Only private property can be properly protected, surveilled, and insured by self-interested owners. Only private actors worry about bottom-line market share and business reputation. Only private actors, including airlines, are fully subject to an imperfect but extant system of tort liability. Only an insurance model, where private actors directly bear the costs of their action or inaction, can provide the proper incentives and align the interests of security providers with those being protected. In short, only private actors have all of the right incentives to keep people safe.
Free markets aren’t perfect, because they merely reflect the imperfect actions of human beings. Free markets can’t create utopia, or a world free of risk and violence. But airport and transportation security can be vastly improved, with a better bottom line: more people making it home safely. When we offer an alternative to grossly incompetent and sclerotic state bureaucracies in providing security to high-crime areas, conditions improve. And that’s the real goal of libertarian “ideology”: a better world, not a perfect one.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
By Tom Woods
Imagine what you would have seen and heard had you been in charge of security for the 2012 Ron Paul presidential campaign. You'd accumulate some stories, right? Well, imagine no more:
By Jacob Hornberger
Repeating myself sometimes gets tired and tiresome, but when it comes to the endless stream of innocent people who continue to be killed in terrorist attacks, it’s important to do so. Until enough people realize the root cause of the ongoing and never-ending death and destruction and decide to do something about it, the death and destruction will continue indefinitely into the future.
As I have written so many times in the past, especially since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. national-security state has been the greatest terrorist producing machine in history. It is impossible to come up with a bigger one, no matter how far you go back into history.
When the Cold War was going on, Americans weren’t concerned about terrorism. Oh sure, there might have been domestic terrorism inside certain countries, especially ones in which there were tyrannical regimes or internal grievances, but there certainly wasn’t the international, cross-border terrorism that we see today.
That’s because the national-security state had a different official enemy — communism and the Soviet Union. Every American — indeed, every citizen of every Western country — was exhorted to be afraid that communism and the Soviets were coming to get them. Everyone’s mindset was expected to orient itself toward the anti-communist crusade.
So, not surprisingly, the Pentagon’s budget soared. So did the CIA’s. They were the only things standing, we were told, between freedom and a communist takeover of the United States. That’s how tens of thousands of Americans ended up dying in Korea and Vietnam. That’s how we ended up with a U.S. sponsored invasion, embargo, assassination, terrorism, and sabotage against Cuba. That’s how we ended up with coups and other regime-change operations in Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Indonesia, Congo, and many others.
The communists. The communists. The communists. That’s what gripped the hearts and minds of the American people for 45 years.
At no time during this entire process were Americans scared of terrorism and Muslims. They were scared only of communists, the official enemy of the U.S. national-security state, which is a type of governmental apparatus that is inherent to totalitarian, dictatorial regimes.
How did Americans end up with a national-security state? They were told that it was necessary for America to embrace this totalitarian structure — on a “temporary” basis only, of course — in order to defeat the national-security state totalitarian structure of the Soviet Union.
In fact, when the U.S. national-security state partnered with extremist Muslims in Afghanistan during the Cold War, when it was the Soviet Union doing the occupying of Afghanistan, Americans cheered. They liked that. There was certainly no fear of Osama bin Laden and others of his ilk at that time. He was on our side.
It was only after the Cold War suddenly and unexpectedly ended that the Pentagon and the CIA were forced with the challenge of finding a new official enemy. With no official enemy, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to explain why the entire national-security establishment was needed. After all, don’t forget: this totalitarian apparatus came into existence after World War II, with the Cold War as its sole justification. No more Cold War naturally meant no more national-security establishment.
At first the Pentagon and the CIA said: Please leave us be. We can fight the drug war. We can fight for American business interests overseas. We’re still important even with no Cold War.
But they knew that wasn’t enough. After 45 years of ever-increasing military spending (and taxation), too many people were talking about a “peace dividend.”
So, in a brilliant ploy, the national-security state went into the Middle East and began killing people. And continued killing people. It turned into one of the most massive killing sprees in history. We don’t know the exact number of people they’ve killed but it’s got to range well over a million.
There were the thousands of Iraqis killed in the Persian Gulf War. There were the hundreds of thousands of children — yes, children! — killed by the brutal U.S. sanctions against Iraq. There were the countless Iraqis killed in the enforcement of the no-fly zones over Iraq.
On top of those deaths were the stationing of troops near Islamic holy lands, the partnerships with brutal and oppressive Middle East dictatorships, and the unconditional financial and military support given the Israeli government.
U.S. officials had to know that all of this was going to produce blowback. In fact, Blowback was the title of the pre-9/11 book by Chalmers Johnson, the former consultant for the CIA. He said that if the U.S. government did not stop its death machine in the Middle East, there would ultimately be terrorist attacks on American soil.
Johnson wasn’t the only one. Here at FFF, we were publishing articles before 9/11 saying the same thing.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. There had already been terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, on the USS Cole, and on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. When Ramzi Yousef, one of the WTC terrorists in 1993 was arrested and brought to the United States, he angrily cited the U.S. government’s death machine as the motivating factor in his act of terrorism.
It has been no different with all the other anti-American terrorist attacks — 9/11, Fort Hood, Detroit, and all the rest. The terrorists all consistently cite the U.S. death machine in the Middle East as the motivating factor.
So, what do U.S. officials do after 9/11? They do more of the same! They go on an even bigger killing spree! They invade Iraq, a country that never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. They torture and abuse people who did nothing against the United States. They kill people for more than 10 years. They destroy their country. And they don’t even keep count of the dead.
The same for Afghanistan. They kill wedding parties. They drop bombs everywhere. They kill and kill and kill. Ninety nine percent of the people they’ve killed had nothing to do with 9/11.
Throughout the death and destruction, whenever someone retaliated with terrorism, the response has always been the same: “They just hate us for our freedom and values. This has nothing to do with our 25-year killing spree in the Middle East and Afghanistan.”
And they’ve then used the terrorist attacks to justify an expansion of the killing spree, which then brings more acts of terrorism, which brings a greater expansion of the killing spree, which then brings more acts of terrorism.
It’s the greatest racket in history. It guarantees ever-growing budgets for the military and the CIA. It guarantees a perpetual cycle of killing and terrorism. It is much better than the Cold War, which the Pentagon and the CIA have, interestingly enough, now succeeded in reviving with their provocations in Ukraine, the South China Sea, and Korea.
Notice how the racket works: They effect a regime change in Iraq, which kills untold numbers of people. That incites a civil war involving ISIS, which is composed largely of former members of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the regime that an outside imperialist power ousted in an invasion against a country that never attacked the United States.
ISIS now becomes a new official enemy, replacing al Qaeda, the organization consisting of former extremist Muslims who the U.S. national-security state was partnering with in Afghanistan when it was the Soviets doing the occupying of that country.
We’re now told that ISIS is the greatest threat to “national security” ever. If the U.S. doesn’t kill ISIS, it will come to the United States and take over the federal government and the IRS. It’s a bigger threat than communism, we’re told.
So, they keep killing and killing and killing, this time in the name of killing ISIS, the latest new official enemy.
ISIS then responds with a terrorist attack on people in France, another colonialist power who won’t leave people in the Middle East alone, especially in the former French colony of Syria.
Belgium arrests one of the terrorists who committed the attacks in France.
ISIS bombs innocent people in Belgium.
Belgian, French, and U.S. officials exclaim, “They just hate us all for our freedom and values,” acting as though the ongoing U.S. death machine in the Middle East has nothing to do with this never-ending, perpetual cycle of death and destruction.
Meanwhile, we have the predictable response: Destroy the civil liberties of the citizenry. Use the terrorist attacks as the excuse for more oppression at home. Assassination. Torture. Secret Surveillance. Indefinite incarceration. Secret prison camps. Rendition. The U.S. has led the way in the destruction of civil liberties and personal and financial privacy. All to keep us “safe” from the enemies its death machine has produced.
I repeat what I have stated for 25 years: If Americans want to restore a peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous society to our land, there is but one solution: Stop the death machine. Stop it and dismantle it.
“But Jacob, what about ISIS? What if it takes over Iraq or Syria?”
So what? Is one more regime that hates the U.S. government going to mean an invasion and conquest of the United States? North Korea’s government hates the U.S government. Does that mean it’s going to invade and conquer the United States? So does Venezuela’s government. And Bolivia’s government. And many others. It doesn’t mean anything insofar as the existence of the United States is concerned.
Sure, those tyrannical regimes are not good for the people who live under them, but that’s no business of the U.S. government. That’s the business of people who live in those countries. As we have seen time and time again, the U.S. government’s crusade against evil regimes only produces more death, suffering, destruction, and loss of liberty for everyone.
After all, just look at what their crusade against Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein has produced. What better evidence than that?
The U.S. government’s death machine caused enough death, damage, and destruction. When does it stop? It stops when the U.S. government stops killing people in the Middle East. It stops when it brings its troops home and discharges them. It stops when enough Americans demand that it stop.
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
By Chris Rossini
Very tragically, it appears that blowback might have occurred once again in Europe. Another suicide terrorist attack, this time in Brussels.
U.S. politicians have been responding all day today, and it's deja vu all over again. The same old script is being read to the American public.
Hillary Clinton says: "These terrorists seek to undermine the democratic values that are the foundation of our way of life. They will never succeed." Paul Ryan stated that "We must confront this threat together. We must defend democracy, and defeat terror."
These arguments are so unusual. If more of us took a few moments to actually think about what is being said, perhaps politicians would change their tune for once.
Is it logical to believe Islamic radicals are willing to commit suicide in a foreign country because that country practices democracy? Democracy is just a method of choosing politicians by vote. It's a way to choose between politicians (who ironically end up taking away our freedom).
This is supposed to be the motivation of the terror attacks? The ability to choose a bureaucrat by vote?
Why attack democracies? Why not dictatorships? Why not monarchies? Why not any other form of government? What's so special about democracies that people are willing to end their own lives in an attempt to cause harm to others?
A vast majority of Americans don't even vote! Those who do are so fed up with the whole thing that Donald Trump is now a stone's throw away from the White House. Americans obviously have no love for democracy in practice. So why do American politicians keep recycling the same nonsense whenever a terrorist attack occurs?
Could it be that terrorism is an unintended consequence and blowback against a failed foreign policy?
The recent terror attacks have been occurring in Europe. Why Europe? There are democracies all over the world. Why there?
Could it be Europe's close proximity to the Middle East? Could it be retaliation against European policy in the Middle East. Unfortunately, Europe has walked lockstep with America in destabilizing the Middle East and creating mass migrations that are occurring at the moment.
Here's another key question: Why now? During the 45 years of the Cold War, there were no fears of radical Muslims, or Sharia Law, or the Koran. Instead, Americans were supposed to fear communists. Why are terrorist attacks happening in Europe now?
Could it be that after the Cold War ended, peace was tossed aside by the victors? Rather than capitalizing on the fall of the Soviet Union, military adventures in the Middle East would begin in earnest.
If these attacks in Europe are retaliation, what could be done? Well the usual course that is taken is to ratchet up the violence in the Middle East...to double-down, and triple-down, and quadruple-down. But such a policy only seems to invite more retaliation and blowback.
Perhaps a better idea (instead of arbitrary talk about "defending democracy") would be a shift in policy. Maybe attempting to run the world militarily is not a good idea after all.
Perhaps a policy of peace and non-intervention would serve everyone better than this never-ending cycle of violence.