We have just passed the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This should be a good time to go back and reflect on that great tragedy, what it means, and where we should go from here. Unfortunately, so many people are using it as a platform for their opinion on separation of church and state—on both sides. Of course, the real lessons of 9/11 once more go unlearned.
The lessons of 9/11 go to the unintended consequences of our foreign policy, as every intelligence expert has concluded but politicians continue to ignore and deny. They just don’t want to admit that our meddling in foreign affairs, our sending the military to police the world and topple governments and kill thousands of foreigners just might not be welcomed with open arms by some.
What’s worse is there seems to be a feedback loop. Supposedly we have to go over there to teach those terrorists a lesson. Reagan bombed Libya to teach Qadaffi a lesson. Shortly afterwards, Libyan terrorists destroyed a TWA plane over Lockerbee, Scotland. It seems that the lesson just doesn’t get learned—instead, it results in even more violence, which causes us to go over there again and try and teach another lesson…with similar results.
Our so-called “leaders” whine and moan about what a cowardly act the 9/11 attack was. Well, it was certainly an insane act, a despicable act, and a horrendous act, but the truth is, it was anything but cowardly. Certainly not as cowardly as the President ordering the bombings of foreigners, while he himself was completely safe, not having to face any danger, not even so much as real accountability for his actions. And by The President, I’m referring to Barack Obama…and George W. Bush…And Bill Clinton…and George H.W. Bush…and Ronald Reagan…and…well, I’d better stop before I use up all my time.
Oh, if only someone had had the foresight to warn us ahead of time that something like this would happen—oh, wait, someone did! It was none other than the late, great Harry Browne, in an interview on C-Span on July 3rd, 2000—the day after he received the Libertarian Party‘s nomination for President:
The problem today is that we don’t have much of a national defense. We can’t protect this country against any two-bit dictator who gets his hands on a nuclear missile. What we do have is a giant national offense. We have the ability to annihilate any country in the world. We have troops in almost 100 countries in the world as though we were the occupying Roman Army. We have bullied other countries into coming to Washington and agreeing to settlements that the President of the United States thinks is good for them. And of course we have been bombing countries around the world. It’s no wonder that terrorists are trying to attack our country! They don’t like our foreign policy. They don’t like the idea that we are running their countries, and they want to influence our foreign policy. And the only way they know to do that is by blowing up the World Trade Center or whatever. If we would simply butt out of other countries’ affairs then other countries would be much less anxious to come over here and try to terrorize us.
Every time something like this happens, we’re asked to give up more of our precious liberties. We’re told we need to do this, because the terrorists hate us for our freedom and want to take it away from us. But what sense does this make? It’s like saying, people hate you for being so rich, so you need to burn all your money to stop them from destroying it.
And then, of course, there are all the lies they tell us to get into war, like so-and-so has weapons of mass destruction to use against us, or is harboring terrorists, or whatever. These lies are well-documented: the website TruthAboutWar.org documented all of the publicly-available information about Iraq and Saddam Hussein before the Iraq war started to show that there just wasn’t any reason to believe that Saddam had these weapons or any ties to Al-Qaeda or any other terrorists. On the day the Iraq war started, they froze the site, and with the exception of a couple of articles which are clearly labeled, no additions have been made since then: the site represents the information that was publicly available the day the Iraq War started. So when Democrats and other people who supported the war wholeheartedly tell you they were misled, that there was no way they could have known, you’ll know not to take that seriously, either.
All the wars in my life I have been against. The Vietnam War, Cambodia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Panama, Bosnia, Somalia, I’ve been against them all. And I’m against the current wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. And I’ll save you the suspense: the next war the Democrats and Republicans get us into? I’m already against it. Because I know that it will be based on lies, just as all the others were. I’ll know not to believe them when they say that whatever country has weapons of mass destruction, because they lied about that in Iraq. I’ll know not to believe them when they say that that country’s leader is a more dangerous tyrant than all the dangerous tyrants in all the other countries we’re not invading; that he’s not really the next Hitler, because they said that about Slobodan Milosovik, Saddam Hussein, and Moamar Qadaffi.
And most of all, I’ll know not to believe them when they talk about the threat of terrorism, because I know that terrorism is inspired and encouraged by these foreign wars and occupations, killing people, destroying property, generating hate and resentment. Because people predicted that, and they were right, whereas the predictions of warmongers have been wrong time and time again. That is the lesson we should learn from 9/11. That is the lesson we should take with us as we move on into the 21st Century, and once again make this country a beacon of liberty unto the world, creating free countries and toppling dictators not through arms, because that never works, but through leading by example. Back when America did that, we inspired rebellions and freedom movements all over the world without having to send a single soldier. That is what America must become again, for our sake, and for the sake of all the people of the world.
This commentary originally appeared on the Bogosity podcast.