The War on Terror Is Anti-Conservative
(Campaign For Liberty) -- Speech By Philip Giraldi --
Why Real Conservatives Oppose the War on Terror
[This speech was part of a panel sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation, Campaign for Liberty and the Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA) held on February 20th at the 2010 CPAC. The panel presentation was titled "Why Real Conservatives Are Against the War on Terror."]
Benjamin Franklin once observed that those who would trade their liberties for security will wind up losing both. James Madison stated that no nation can preserve freedom in the midst of perpetual warfare. Few can question that America's Founding Fathers epitomize true conservatism. There is something seriously wrong in America today precisely because the elites from both political parties have forgotten about Franklin and Madison and ignored their wise counsel.
No one should doubt that ill-conceived security measures and the greatly exaggerated fear of terrorism have driven much of both foreign and domestic policy since 9/11 -- it was undeniably a horrific experience for this nation, but it did not threaten the survival of the American Republic. Its perpetrators and their heirs do not do so today. Only we Americans can do that and we are doing so by overreacting to the danger and compromising our own liberties.
Conservatives should be the voice of reason. They should demand commensurate and realistic responses to genuine foreign and domestic threats rather than overkill, more bureaucracy, and lots of unneeded government pork. The government's creation of a no-fly list with one million names and a terrorist suspects list with nearly half a million entries exemplify that damage that has already been done. If there were even one per cent that many people in the US actually threatening terrorist acts there would be waves of bombings in the streets. That that has not taken place tells you that both the lists and the process used to compile them are essentially bogus...
The exploitation of fear of terrorism by those in government has led to wars that did not have to be fought. Fear has been the key to the door for expansion of government and government powers and the people in charge in Washington have seized the opportunity. It has also eroded the liberties that have defined us as a nation. To cite only one example, the position taken by the Obama Administration in early February that it is all right to assassinate American citizens overseas based on secret information, violates principles of due process and deprives every citizen of the constitutional right to defend himself before a jury consisting of his peers.
While government expanded, and because bureaucrats view the world in terms of institutions and power, America's leaders looked at the terrorism tactic and drew all the wrong conclusions, namely that those we call terrorists hated the United States for no rational reason and that there was a military solution that could be imposed to make the terrorists go away. The Washington elite confused America's ability to field a large army with something we call policy, in this case foreign policy, not understanding that using the military is a failure of foreign policy, not an alternative to it. The same officials and politicians also created a vast and ineffective homeland security bureaucracy, the domestic equivalent of an interventionist foreign policy, that has stripped many Americans of their fundamental liberties here at home. Predictably, the international situation has become even more unstable as a result of the enormous expansion of the security state. When meddling in the affairs of others began to produce bad results, the solution was more meddling, most recently in Somalia and Yemen, never looking at intervention itself as a possibly source of the instability and the terrorism.
Some of the numbers behind what has happened should appall every true conservative. The United States now spends nearly one trillion dollars every year on the military, homeland security, and intelligence. Much of the money is borrowed from China. If one assumes that there are something like 5,000 active terrorists in the world, and there are likely less than that, it works out to something like $200 million per terrorist per year every year. Fear of terrorism drives growth in government and has led to involvement in multiple little wars and some bigger ones as well as subsequent exercises in nation building, all of which have been unconstitutional, and none of which have turned out well. The so-called global war on terror, now referred to as overseas contingency operations, is without end and without limits, and has made the US hated and feared in most of the world, not respected. It has even made American citizens potential targets of their own government without any recourse to the protections afforded by the constitution...MORE...LINK