Empires, Freedom, and Liberty

Below is an excerpt from a speech by anti-big government libertarian Lew Rockwell. This speech was delivered on October 28, 2006, at "Imperialism: Enemy of Freedom," the Mises Institute Supporter’s Summit. He mentions that fall-out from the Iraq invasion may tarnish good Republican causes, such as free markets. Don’t read this if you believe US foreign policy is in good hands.

Link: How Empires Bamboozle the Bourgeoisie – Mises Institute.

What must a person forget in order to believe in the unity of interest between US foreign policy and the American people? They must forget that the United States was born in revolt against not only the British Empire but also the very idea of empire itself. They must forget that the only way the US Constitution was adopted was the promise that it would not act imperialistically at home or abroad. They must forget the warnings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and many other leaders of the 18th and 19th centuries. They must forget about the history of failure of our own imperial wars in the 20th century, in which guerrilla armies have consistently beat back our regular troops.

Every American is right to be mighty angry at the Bush administration. Bush originally campaigned against the big government of Clinton and called for humility in foreign policy. And what did the Republicans do with their political capital? They squandered every last bit of it on an imperial adventure. In so doing, they further discredited other causes with which the Republicans are linked in the public mind, including the cause of free markets. War is all they have to show for themselves, and it’s a disgrace.

And at this late stage in the Iraq conflict, the Bush-run state is asking us to forget even how the Iraq war began. Recall that the idea was to bomb Baghdad, create shock and awe, decapitate the head of state, and then watch as the rest of the country celebrated their liberation from Saddam. Today, Iraq is a country in ruins. Death and violence are everywhere. The reconstruction is going nowhere. Almost 10% of the population has fled. The only immigrants coming in are those swearing to kill.

And yet I read the headline of the New York Times, which quotes what is passed on as some sort of revelation from the military commanders in Iraq. They have decided that the future of Iraq depends heavily on taking Baghdad, cleaning out its rebels and dissidents, and enforcing this through massive violence.

Folks, this is how this war began. And it is how this war is ending.

But let me say something in defense of the US military commanders in Iraq who concocted this latest scheme. There is something intuitively plausible and honest about the statement that if a government can’t control its own capital, it cannot control the rest of the country.

In fact, I propose that the same approach be used domestically. Before the federal government makes any more attempts to bring their proposed utopia to the rest of the country, let them eliminate poverty, crime, gang war, hate, despair, abuse, corruption, and injustice in Washington, D.C. Once that city is cleared of all such vice, we can talk about moving on to other parts of the country.

I think we can safely predict a quagmire.

The United States has no business attempting to run a government in Iraq, halfway across the world. A policy maker who claims to be surprised by the resistance is feigning ignorance of the heritage of the US. We are all rebels in our hearts. Anyone who longs for freedom must be.