But Now You Know

The search for truth in human action

How, Exactly, Are They Defending Our Freedom?


neo-con-war-shortWhen people object anything relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, neocons claim that they should be quiet and comply, because the criticism hurts the feelings of “the troops”, who are busy “defending our freedom” over there.

I do appreciate that the soldiers feel like they’re serving America…but defending our…freedom?

Our freedom? We Americans, here in the United States?

When I’m faced with this argument, it is hard to give a clear, coherent response for or against, because the claim makes no sense to me, whatsoever.

This is an honest question, not sarcasm:

What, exactly, does the conquest of Iraq have to do with American freedom?

Did we conquer Iraq for American freedom?

  • First, we built up momentum to attack because Hussein was supposedly involved in 9-11.

But then it became more widely understood that Hussein was one of Al Qaeda’s mortal enemies. In fact, one of the things bin Laden demanded was that Hussein, whom he referred to as a socialist infidel, be removed from power. So…

  • Second, when we actually attacked, it was supposedly because of Weapons of Mass Destruction. We knew Iraq once had WMD, because we openly sold Hussein the technology for them, in the 1980s, and claimed we thought they still had somehow kept some, despite the years of inspections.

But it turned out, after we got there, that we had known he didn’t have the WMD any more at all, so…

  • Third, we retroactively decided we were there to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He is a dictator, killed hundreds of thousands of people, imposed tyrannical laws, et cetera.
Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with close American ally Saddam Hussein, in the 1980s

Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with close American ally Saddam Hussein, in the 1980s, shortly after the US acknowledged Hussein had been using WMD against civilians.

Of course we supported him doing ALL of those things, including the mass murder, for decades, we even sold him WMD tech months after acknowledging that he was slaughtering innocents with it, but let’s just pretend that’s why we invaded, anyway. It sounds good.

The problem is that NONE of those things have anything to do with American freedom.

The Warfare Facts

  • First, 9-11 wasn’t an assault on American freedom. Al Qaeda was attacking in order to change our foreign policy (giving money to Islamic tyrants, occupying Saudi Arabia, killing a million people in Iraq with economic sanctions, backing Israeli war crimes).

…in fact, the only 9-11 related assault on freedom was domestic, like the PATRIOT Act.

  • Second, American freedom wasn’t going to be threatened by Hussein having mustard gas, or anthrax, or even nuclear bombs. Nobody ever seriously suggested he could conquer the US with his mighty navy of 16 wooden patrol boats and his deadly force of a few dozen short-range SCUD missiles, no matter how many WMD he loaded on them.

Liberty depends on economic freedom…whomever controls your life needs, controls you. This war has crippled the US economically, which had turned into an assault on our freedom of choice. By the way, why exactly did we sell him WMD technology in the first place?

  • Third, that’s barely even a fight for Iraqi freedom, since they’re voting as much against freedom now as anyone who knew about the region would have expected. The laws passed are on their way to becoming more repressive than under Hussein’s secular government. These include a move to make burqas mandatory, and growing bans on freedom of expression. Certainly overthrowing Hussein has nothing to do with freedom here in America.

Actual Assault on American Freedom

Because we’ve been “on war footing” for six years, BOTH parties have used the “don’t criticize the government during a war” argument, dramatically attacking American freedom of expression. We have had “free speech zones“, warrantless wire tapping, demands that we not criticize foreign policy lest the troops feel bad, secrecy regarding torture and other violations of American principles, et cetera.

Oil Prices, Real and Adjusted, from 1990 to mid 2008

Oil Prices, Real and Adjusted, from 1990 to mid 2008

We have had economic malaise caused by both the huge deficits and diversion of wealth-production the war produced, and the 700% increase in the price of oil that attacking or threatening four different oil-producing nations caused. And this resulted in a depression that Bush and Obama have used to expand government massively into our personal lives, and to loot our future to pay off failing multinational corporations, perhaps the most vicious of the attacks on our freedom.

You know, there may be a country closer to home than Iraq, where our troops should be fighting a government that is attacking American freedom…

Anyway, I definitely need someone to explain what is the “defending AMERICAN freedom” part of invading, conquering, and occupying Iraq.

Words of the Sentient:

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

— Oscar Wilde, A Portrait of Mr. W.H.

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August 16, 2009 Posted by | International, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Secrecy is Tyranny


(caption: Keeping secrets from voters is exactly as coercive as holding a gun to their head in the voting booth)

(caption: Keeping secrets from voters is exactly as coercive as holding a gun to their head in the voting booth)

Secrecy, even in and of itself, is a form of tyranny.

No, this doesn’t mean when you don’t tell your friend about his surprise party, nor concealing the recipe for Coke Classic, not even the hidden initiation rites for that fraternity…

But when you cause someone to do something they would have otherwise not chosen, because you conceal information from them, then you are coercing them, the same as if you pointed a gun at their head. 

And, in the case of government, when the People are supposed to control policy through elections and popular support, any government-concealed information that changes how they would vote is tyranny, same as if they sent stormtroopers to help fill out ballots on election day.

Any pundit you see complaining that a government official told the American public too much is, in effect, advocating tyranny.

It’s one thing to hide when troops are making an attack for a few days, or to openly refuse to tell exactly how a nuclear bomb is made…but it’s another, entirely, to conceal information that will change how people vote, no matter what “national security” excuse they invent.

This is most painfully transparent when the actual “national security” excuse is “this will embarrass [some government official or office]”. Embarrassment, shame, and general changing of how someone sees something are obviously not legitimate excuses. What’s more, it would not matter either way, because that is the price of liberty.

America is supposed to be a free country. This requires responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions, including when it means something embarrassing, whether to your neighbor or the foreigners who will be horrified or disgusted at our government’s behavior.

In fact, without secrecy, many of those evils would not occur in the first place, just as in our real lives. If the government can’t hide when it bribes a foreign official, or tortures someone, or other evils, then it will face public and international shame, and the threat of voter retaliation, and hopefully not do it in the first place.

By preventing voter retaliation, a government does not make itself more stable…just more tyrannical.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | International, Philosophy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

   

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