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L. Neil Smith's
Number 651, January 1, 2012

"A century of incompetent, irrational, murderous foreign policy"

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by Chris Claypoole

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

America, like Rome, didn't start out to become an empire. Yet, while America's path to empire, and the kind and structure of America's empire are quite different from that of Rome, it is what America has become. The United States has a military presence in well over 100 countries, and has few qualms about expanding that presence to do much more than meddle. The obvious examples are Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Then there is the spillover of military actions into Pakistan, which have the potential to get rather ugly. Go back a bit and remember Bosnia. The point is, despite being the pre-eminent military power in the world, the United States, like the Roman Empire, engages in aggression against nations out of fear, despite the vanishingly small possibility that those nations could attack America here.

I'm not forgetting the attacks on September 11, 2001. But, IMHO, those were a one-off, an outlier, which exploited a security hole. Not a hole in airport security; rather, a blind spot in the attitude of the security personnel and the flying public. The flying public has shown since that they will no longer be passive to any perceived threat, as the hapless shoe bomber and underwear bomber found out. Airport security, however, has gone off on a weird, almost irrational tangent that has done nothing to improve airline security, but much to prepare Americans to follow orders, no matter how intrusive and/or silly. But that's another topic. For whatever reasons, many, if not most Americans seem to have a fear of foreign attack or even foreign conquest of the United States. As long as there are hundreds of millions of privately owned firearms, the only fear Americans should have is an internal conflict, in which the ruling governments attempt to confiscate those guns. And that is often the next step in the growth of an empire.

Empires, even more than other types of governments, hate competition, because they fear losing their position at the top of the heap. Unlike a company in a competitive market, which will try to cut costs, find new uses and new markets for its products/services, and generally try to better please potential customers, an empire (or a large corporation in a crony-capitalist or mercantilist system) will try to destroy competing nations by force. To finance that force, empires need money, which generally comes from taxing their own citizens. Sooner or later, though, the taxes become too burdensome while the fear-mongering doesn't suffice to scare the taxpayers into submission, at which point the rulers of the empire realize that they need a more compliant tax base.

While on the topic of a government-corporate partnership, it needs to be pointed out that the current American version of crony-capitalism is more like crony-socialism. Those corporations that cooperate with the government (like General Electric) will get favors and those that don't (like Microsoft) get attacked. Who was it that said, "You're either with us or against us"? Was that George Bush or Gaston? False dichotomies are a demagogue's stock in trade, and go to the heart of a political system in which the two parties are indistinguishable from the left boot and the right boot of the fearsome master in the probably made-up quote often attributed to George Washington. (George Washington, who lead the colonial army in the fight to avoid "taxation without representation", made one of his administrations key acts the whiskey tax, which lead to the Whiskey Rebellion, in which this paladin of freedom sent troops to force compliance. Read the link—he failed in the long term.)

Because Americans have long had an independent streak (ornery might be a better word), the growing government has had, until recently, needed to use a lot of subterfuge and propaganda to get us to go along in various adventures. An example of this is the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The propaganda about the Domino Theory was begun by Eisenhower, laying the philosophical groundwork, but Lyndon Baines Johnson still needed a false flag operation to get Americans behind a major fight in a place half a world away.

Not so hard now. There was little opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan, mostly partisan opposition to the invasion of Iraq (which faded away with the election of Obama), and nearly no notice of the bombing of Libya.

The other main element of crony-socialism is corruption. We are seeing corruption on a banana republic scale in the United States for the last several years, at least. It's absolutely breathtaking how hundreds of billions of dollars have been stolen with little attempt at covering up the criminal activity. A good analysis of this and the problems caused by American governance over the last fifty years can be found at The Corruption of America.

So, the United States is a crony-socialist empire that is in trouble financially, and finds that the taxpaying portion of its citizens is somewhat reluctant to pay even more to finance the lust for power that drives the empire. And a lot of those folks own guns, and might resist what are clearly confiscatory taxes. Well, the geniuses in government are going to try another false flag operation. Operation Fast and Furious was to give the Obama administration leverage to resurrect strict gun control. (If you're unfamiliar with this, check it out yourself—there are too many potential links to pick one here. A good place to start, as he was the one who doggedly pursued the story and made sure it didn't get pushed down the memory hole, is the blogger Sipsey Street Irregulars.)

In my opinion, the power of the Internet prevented this from succeeding, just as the Internet will eventually uncover and publicize the truth about the criminal activity by portions of the financial establishment ("Wall Street") in the housing bubble and the financial meltdown that resulted. Yes, they were aided and abetted by many of our elected and appointed officials. That is the crony-socialism I'm writing about.

So, what are we going to do? Well, as many others have said, I don't think we can vote ourselves out of this mess. But that's another topic.

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