Iraq - search results
by Harry Browne
by Harry Browne
The Bush Administration continues to maintain that its war in Iraq, and its adventures anywhere else, are aimed at ending worldwide terrorism.
But such a feat is not only impossible, it is absurd.
Terrorism is a crime, not a war. Terrorism is committed by gangs of criminals — not soldiers representing a sovereign government. And no one in his right mind can believe that our government can eliminate every criminal gang in the world.
If our government could do that, why wouldn’t it start with the drug gangs that terrorize areas of Washington, D.C.? What a perfect opportunity for the politicians to demonstrate their crime-fighting abilities.
On October 4, 2001, I wrote:
Because the September attacks were a crime, the government's job is to locate and bring to trial any perpetrators who didn't die in the attacks. If some of them are located in foreign countries, our government should request extradition — not threaten to bomb the foreign country if we don't get our way.
I was criticized by some people, who asked, "But what if all the ‘criminals’ aren’t caught"
And yet, here we are four years later, tens of thousands of people have died, and still not all the criminals have been caught regardless. Osama Bin Laden not only hasn’t been apprehended, he isn’t even talked about anymore. As I said in 2001:
If not all the criminals are found and brought to trial, it doesn't mean that bombing innocent people would have brought the criminals to justice.
So why do the politicians talk about a War on Terrorism that makes no sense?
Because it opens the door to all sorts of aggressions against foreigners and Americans.
And it allows the politicians — most notably the leading members of the Bush administration — to pose as noble warriors against enemies that are really only Strawmen.
Charley Reese, in a recent LewRockwell.com article, quoted Dick Cheney as claiming a U.S. pullout from Iraq would leave it in the hands of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Osama Bin Laden, and/or Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Charley points out that "Zarqawi is a Jordanian, not an Iraqi; he has been denounced by his tribe and his family; and he has killed more Iraqis than Americans. It is just a matter of time before some Iraqi drops a dime on him and he’s packed off to Islamic hell."
But he’s a worthy Strawman, a bogey man, whose name is worth a hundred million dollars or more in Congressional appropriations.
Charley goes on, "As for bin Laden and his Egyptian adviser, they are — assuming they’re still alive — hiding out in some cave or rat-infested village in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They could not control a small town, much less a country of 25 million people of which neither of them is a native."
As we all know, the U.S. government has since World War II been financing and arming various foreign dictators — such as Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, the Shah of Iran, and others — only to denounce and attack them once they become wealthy and aggressive enough to be worthy Strawmen.
It’s also true that the U.S. government has financed and armed various opposition groups that supposedly represent the opportunity to topple the mean old dictators. Often these groups oppose each other, and engage in violence against one another. But no matter, the object of our government is to be doing something to fight a Strawman.
Robert Dreyfuss, in another excellent LewRockwell.com article, catalogs a number of the groups that opposed Saddam Hussein and are now battling for control of Iraq. There is far more than the Iraqi National Congress. The strongest groups are SCIRI (the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution), Al Dawa (The Islamic Call), SCIRI’s paramilitary arm, the Badr Brigade, the Muslim Brotherhood , represented by IIP (the Iraqi Islamic Party) — not to mention Al-Qaeda. The first three originated and are based in — guess where — Iran. In fact, SCIRI was founded in 1982 by Ayatollah Khomeini.
Today these groups are fighting each other as much as they’re fighting Iraqi insurgents, Americans, or Iraqi civilians. They regularly practice torture, assassinations, and other dastardly deeds upon one another. They are fighting to become the rulers of the new Iraq — the "democracy" that George Bush claims to be creating.
Is this what 2,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died for? Is this what $200 billion dollars has financed? Is this why we have given up so much of our freedom?
And whoever wins the battle to rule Iraq will eventually become Strawmen against whom the Bush administration can get on its horses and ride off to protect us.
There is no War on Terrorism. There is only a War on Strawmen, a War on Shadows, a War on Fantasies — allowing George Bush to do whatever he, or his advisors, choose to do.
It is time to quit pretending that the War in Iraq serves any purpose relating to world peace, democracy in the Middle East, the first line against terrorism, or any other salutary goal.
It is simply part of the War on Strawmen.
December 14 , 2005
Copyright © 2005 Harry Browne
The recent death of my grandson, just days before he was to be born into this world, has reinforced a long-held personal sentiment on behalf of the inviolate nature of life itself. The death of our fourth daughter, some three decades ago, was an earlier, painful reminder that life – particularly of young children – is both resilient and fragile. The grief that all of us feel in the death of a loved one – even of one we had not yet come to know – is an expression of the very best of what it means to be a human being: it is not irrelevant to us that others have died; it is not a matter of indifference to be hidden in statistics. We cry because we love; because we can love.
For all the many reasons I hold political systems in utter contempt, this is by far the most dominant: the state is in a constant war with all of life. It always has been and it always will be, and no mouthing by politicians of empty bromides about "caring" will ever change this fundamental fact. Political systems war against the spontaneous and self-directed nature of all living systems, using violence as a weapon to force life to go in directions it does not choose. The state is the most fundamentally indecent of all human inventions, a fact that most of us prefer to keep from our conscious mind, which we obfuscate with lies and rationalizations; anesthetize with drugs or alcohol; or trivialize with entertainment-as-news.
The most contemptible expression of the state's war against life is found in its abuse, maiming, and slaughter of children. I have long opposed abortions, knowing that a "person" – with a unique DNA – comes into being at the moment of conception. (Although I once had a feminist try to convince me that one did not acquire DNA until after he or she was born, a mysterious process she was never able to explain to me!) As one who rejects the state in any form, I am likewise opposed to governments intervening to prevent a woman from having an abortion. "Does this mean," I am sometimes asked, "that in a free society people are at liberty to kill others?" Of course, I reply, but this is equally true in the most tyrannical of societies. To one who regards liberty and responsibility as inseparable, the question always comes down to this: how will you exercise your liberty so as not to inflict harm on others? Whether a society is to be peaceful or destructive will – as Carl Jung and others have expressed it – always be determined by the nature of the inner lives of those who comprise it.
While the war system has long plagued mankind with its organized insanities, it has been in recent centuries that destructive technologies have made all of humanity a target for attack. This is a fact that has still not sunk into the consciousness of most Americans, who do not understand the atrocities of 9/11 as the playing out of war games on a world – rather than regional – stage. Wars are supposed to be conducted "over there:" we even have popular war songs to remind us of this. But to those long victimized by American or British militarism in their lands, New York City and London have become the "over there" battlefields.
All of humanity has become the target of state warfare, and children are now part of a homogenized "enemy" force to be destroyed along with all other members of "them." Frankly, I have no problem with a bunch of lunatics choosing, voluntarily, to engage in mutual head-bashing rituals. If gladiators or knights-in-armor wish to contend with one another out of some twisted sense of "honor," let them do so, as long as there are no spillover effects – what economists refer to as "socializing costs" – and non-combatants are not bound by the outcomes. I would regard such foolishness with the same indifference I have to professional wrestling, pursuits that seem to attract the same nitwitted following of fans.
But I draw the line at dragging non-belligerents into this insane game, particularly when children are affected. If there is any activity that is more of an abomination to even the most meager sense of decency among humans, it is to be found in the systematic and unapologetic slaughter of children. If one chose to personify such a depraved disposition, one could find no more fitting paragon than former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who, when asked in 1996, if American economic sanctions against Iraq were worth the deaths of half a million Iraqi children, replied "we think the price is worth it." Her arrogance and contempt for the lives of the most innocent of human beings is reflected in the sneering lips through which she speaks.
This is what not only America, but other statist regimes, have come to represent. That there were no adverse political or criminal consequences to such actions – just as there are none attaching to President Bush's slaughter of Iraqi innocents – is an indictment of a society that has lost its very soul. The conservatives who answer that "other societies are just as bad" reveal their own moral bankruptcy, as do those who charge critics of governmental policy as "America-haters." I have a great love for this country, but not for the political system – or those in control of it – who seem intent on flushing the country into the same moral swamp that destroyed earlier civilizations.
When societies organize themselves into war systems – which is the nature of all political entities – and purposefully destroy each other's children – be they soldiers or non-combatants contemptuously dismissed as "collateral damage" – they are placing themselves in a state of war with the very future of mankind. The casualties of such a war are not to be measured just in the calculus of young persons destroyed in the process, but in the general diminution of respect for life itself; for the sense of truth and reality upon which life depends; and for the value that is fundamental to any vibrant and decent social system, namely, that neither the dignity nor the will of harmless people shall be violated.
We may not always be able to protect our children and grandchildren from biological forces we do not understand, but we can – and ought to – protect them from the dangers of our thinking, and from the destructive systems that our thinking creates. Right now, there is a tug-of-war taking place for the soul of Americans. We can personify this struggle as one between two mothers, although all of us are contestants. One mother is Cindy Sheehan, who continues to ask President Bush the question he regards it as irrelevant for any American to even ask: "what was the noble cause for which my son died?" The other is Bush's own mother, Barbara, who declared: "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"
It is easy to understand the different perspectives of these two women. Cindy's son died because of the cascade of lies, forged documents, and other deceptions employed by Mrs. Bush's son to send Casey Sheehan to Iraq. Unlike Cindy, Mrs. Bush never had to "waste" her "beautiful mind" waiting for the knock on the door that informed her of her son's death. During the Vietnam War, Mrs. Bush's son enjoyed the immunity from personal harm that attaches to members of the politically privileged classes: he safely manned a bullet-proof desk at air national guard facilities in Texas and Alabama. This is what is at the heart of our difficulties. As long as it is other people's children who are dying, many of us have a calloused indifference to the suffering.
Which mother's question is central to the future, not just of this country, but to mankind itself? If Barbara Bush – like Madeleine Albright – regards the systematic, politically-driven slaying of children as "not relevant" to her "beautiful mind," what prognosis are we to make for humanity? And does the answer to that question matter to you?
by William Anderson
[Posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2005] [To receive the Daily Article in your inbox, go to email services, and tell others too!]
It was only a decade ago that the Clinton Administration had decided that Microsoft was an Enemy of the People and tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to litigate the company into oblivion. While the principals in that set of lawsuits have gone on to other things, the "anti-monopoly" propaganda machines are turning their sights elsewhere. It seems that Google, the powerful and innovative Internet search engine, now enjoys the title of "Most Hated Company."
Now, if this were an article criticizing the 6.7 million "Hate Google" links that have sprung up (yes, you can use Google to find anti-Google sites ), it would be quite short. Those people who don't like Google can use Alta Vista, Yahoo, or some other search engine, and that should be the end of it. And if they wish to spend a good part of their day blasting Google on blogs or in emails, that is their business.
Google is no longer just a search engine of course. It offers premium email, instant messageing with voice, online books and media, maps and directions, web-use analytics, advertising programs, among a hundred other fast-changing, super-innovative ideas. For years now, it has been on the cutting edge, and the company shows no sign of slowing down. The competition seems constantly on the defensive. Many people believe that if the Windows OS is ever taken down a peg or two, it will be because of some Google innovation.
Its success is driven entirely by the consumer's evaluation of its quality. Google innovates but it is the market that renders the verdict.
When it comes to the law, however, I fear that we are not at the end, but rather the beginning, and the people at Google should be worried. If Microsoft's error was not being politically astute when the Clinton Administration took aim at the software company, then perhaps Google's big "mistake" is being aligned closely with the political party that happens to be out of power.
According to CNN, 98 percent of political contributions from Google employees went to candidates who were Democrats, and Google's search policies are decidedly left-wing. (For example, Google refused to run an advertisement for Candice E. Jackson's book Their Lives, which is critical of Bill Clinton's behavior toward women.)
In the libertarian view of things, Google has (and should have) the right to run those things they wish to run and extend its right of refusal to whatever it chooses. The politics of Google, its CEO, and its employees are irrelevant in the larger scheme of things and are private matters. However, politicians are not the sort of people to permit individuals to live and work as their conscience dictates, and I would not be surprised if the Bush Administration decides to use antitrust law (a term that in my view is an oxymoron) to punish the company.
Granted, the suit would have no legal or economic merit (although one can say that about any antitrust case), but searching 90-year-old grandmothers in wheelchairs who are trying to board planes has no merit, either, yet the government does it.
The vindictiveness against Google stems from the fact that people choose to use that particular search engine more than they do other searchers. Other people don't like the way that Google ranks websites, which means that a site that someone may think is the Most Important Website in the World is buried deep among the many other sites on the same subject.
But the biggest current complaint against Google is that it is just "too big." We hear things like "Google controls 80 percent of the market" for search engines, yet that statement is nonsense. Google does not "control" anything on the Internet. People have to choose to avail themselves of Google's services. No one is forced to use the Internet at all and, thus, can avoid Google altogether if that is their choice.
These things should be obvious to anyone, yet antitrust law is not based upon what is obvious. In fact, antitrust law does not even constitute good law, since the violations of the law, such as "restraint of trade" or "monopolizing a market" are not readily defined. "Recognizing" a "monopoly" depends upon how one chooses to delineate the term. That fact alone should make one recognize the political nature of antitrust "enforcement."
The vagueness of antitrust law makes it easy for government to heap abuse upon those firms that are out of favor at any given time, as no real legal proof is needed for the courts to act against the alleged "monopolist." All that is needed is an allegation and a friendly judge, and prosecutors and the news media will perform the rest of the job.
There is much historical evidence (especially at the state level) to suggest that the laws were intended by business and agricultural interests to restrict and restrain efficient competition, much like tariffs and quotas still do in international trade.
But regardless of original intent, any objective study of antitrust cases would reveal that the laws have never been used to protect consumers from monopoly power. On the contrary, they have been used by government and private plaintiffs (90% of all antitrust cases are private) to attack and destroy successful companies while protecting their inefficient competitors.
It's no accident that in all of the classic antitrust cases in business history, the indicted firms were expanding output, innovating rapidly, and lowering their prices. Antitrust has never been consumer friendly and the antitrust establishment's protestations to the contrary simply won't wash with the facts.
Thus, if antitrust cases brought on by the government are overtly political, then it would seem that Google could have problems. First, as I already have pointed out, Republicans â” who hold both the White House and a majority of both houses in Congress â” are not particularly fond of Google.
Second, despite the millions of dollars that the company's leaders and employees have raised for the Democrats, it is doubtful that many Democrats would be willing to stand up for a firm that is accused of being a "monopolist." After all, Bill Gates is rumored to be a Democrat and Microsoft is located in the Seattle area, which is a Democratic stronghold. Even though that was the case, no Democrat having real political influence was willing to speak out against the Clinton Administration's jihad against Microsoft and Gates.
Further evidence of Democratic cowardice in protecting business figures accused of wrongdoing was the lack of support by politicians for Martha Stewart. While Stewart has been a stalwart contributor to the Democrats, no one from that party stood up for her when the Bush Department of Justice tried and convicted her in federal court on very flimsy charges. (Hillary Clinton even sent back a $1,000 contribution that Stewart had sent her during her 2000 U.S. Senate campaign.)
On the Republican side, no one with influence has stood up for Kenneth Lay, who was indicted last year on charges of "securities fraud," despite the lack of real criminal evidence. Republicans might have sought Enron money when it was a hot company, but it seems that everyone headed for the exits when the firm financially unraveled.
|Big is not bad: $10|
At the same time, however, Google will find that any political capital it has tried to establish with the Democrats will come to naught, as no self-respecting Democrat is going to stand up for a "monopoly." (Remember that Enron also made large contributions to the Democratic Party during the years of the Clinton Administration, but when the company fell from grace, it suddenly was described as a "Republican" firm.)
Such is the world of antitrust law. Because the law can be applied only on a political basis, all government prosecutions of firms accused of violating antitrust statutes are political by definition. While I hope this is not the case, I do know that there exists almost no political downside for an administration that pursues civil and criminal cases against firms and business owners. Although the Bush Administration is unpopular with large segments of the population (mostly for the failure of war in Iraq), any action it takes against Google will win praise from all sides â” and the Bushies could use some political popularity at the current time.
 Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, in writing an opinion about an obscenity case, said that while he could not define obscenity, he would know it when he saw it. Things like "restraint of trade" and "monopolizing markets" are even more vague than obscenity in Potterland.
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