|Politicians thirst for power and confiscate your money though onerous taxation. They never met a government program they didn’t love. And that’s why they especially love the biggest government program of all: total permanent war.
When terrorists turned domestic commercial airliners into flying missiles that bombed the World Trade Center, they perpetrated the worst mass murder in the history of the United States. Those directly responsible - the hijackers - paid the ultimate price for their crimes. Those indirectly responsible - the planners - should also pay a price for their role in these odious offenses.
But within hours of the tragic events, the politicians in Washington, DC were describing these crimes as an act of war. The major news networks complied by running banners over their 24-hour coverage that proclaimed “America’s New War.”
Even though no foreign government declared war on the United States, the ruling elite in Washington immediately announced a War on Terrorism, with Afghanistan as the first target. My use of the word “announced” is intentional. Despite the fact that the US Constitution requires Congress to make a formal declaration of war, a pusillanimous Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing the president “ to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons ¼” With the stroke of its collective pen, the Congress shirked its responsibility and confirmed George W. Bush as the King of the World.
Why did this happen? As Randolph Bourne stated in 1917, “War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense...”
Regardless of the “public service” canard, politicians seek positions of power in order to wield authority over others. What better way to increase power than through the power to wage war? Our rulers know that in a time of war a majority of the citizens will readily sacrifice individual liberties in order to attain more security, never mind that the promised security never materializes. They also know that people will tend to blindly support their leaders in times of armed conflict, as evidenced by President Bush’s 90% job approval rating and a similar level attained by his father during the Gulf War.
The tab for the war so far is over $60 billion and counting. President Bush recently proposed the largest spending bill in history. Not only will there be more money for the war, but also plenty of money to “stimulate” the economy, a misnomer if ever there was one. Because government produces no resources of its own and must take by force from you and me every dollar it spends, it cannot truly stimulate the economy. Whether through taxes, monetary inflation or assumption of further debt, government spending always replaces private spending and investment.
Perhaps the government could fund its war by reducing wasteful expenditures in other areas, but pork barrel spending continues unabated as the politicos look ahead to reelection. And no matter what the final figure for the Pentagon will be in the next budget (estimated at $343 billion), emergency funds can be appropriated at any time.
Beyond the financial cost of war is the cost of liberty lost. Using the fear of future terrorism as a pretext, Congress passed (without reading) the Orwellian PATRIOT Act, which allows government agents to monitor your email and web-surfing habits. Anticipating resistance to a national ID card, Congress instructed the Department of Transportation to work with state Motor Vehicle Departments to implement uniform driver’s licenses that will include biometric identifying information such as a fingerprint or retina scan. All states’ licenses will be linked in a national database and will become a de facto national ID card. As usual, such a move is touted as a security measure. And, as usual, the plan ignores the fact that ID cards can always be forged or that corrupt MVD functionaries can always be found to issue fraudulent documents. Worse, the 9/11 terrorists were in the US legally and such an ID card would not have done anything to prevent the attacks.
Americans must also be wary of unannounced visits by government agents investigating “un-American” behavior. In October, AJ Brown, a student of Durham Technical Community College in North Carolina, was accosted and interrogated for 40 minutes by Secret Service agents. Her crime? Hanging a poster in her home critical of George W. Bush’s staunch support of the death penalty as governor of Texas. In November, an FBI agent and a Secret Service agent showed up at Houston’s Art Car Museum to investigate “anti-American activity.” The activity under suspicion was an exhibit (planned long before 9/11) on US covert operations and government secrets dubbed “Secret Wars.” The museum docent Donna Huanca rightly questioned the gestapo tactic: “What's anti-American about freedom of speech?”
The Bush administration assured us from the outset that Osama bin Laden was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, despite no concrete evidence. But because US intelligence has failed in its bid to find and kill bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who have apparently escaped Afghanistan, the strategy is changing. Now the focus is on rooting out terrorists wherever they exist. According to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, terrorist enclaves can be found in over 60 countries. Does that mean the Pentagon will bomb 60 nations into oblivion? Imagine how much that will cost in lost treasure and innocent lives.
US military planners also recently announced that the War on Terrorism would last at least six years. Don’t believe it; the War on Terrorism will last as long as terrorism persists; terrorism will persist as long as the US government continues its hegemonic foreign policy, which makes our people vulnerable to more terror attacks.
As long as politicians thirst for power, they will confiscate your money though onerous taxation because they believe that they can spend your money better than you can. They never met a government program they didn’t love. And that’s why they especially love the biggest government program of all: total permanent war.
War: The Biggest Government Program of All
By Rick Gee
A version of this column originally appeared in the January 2002 issue of The Valley News.
Posted on the Independent Newswire on 26 January 2002
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