Foreign Policy

The Government Will Do Anything to Keep Us Safe–Except End the Empire

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Sheldon Richman, editor of The Freeman, writing at the Future of Freedom Foundation:

The handwringing about the would-be Christmas Day airplane bomber and the politicians' tiresome declarations that it will never happen again miss the point: As long as the U.S. government pursues its imperial program of invasion, regime change, occupation, and sponsorship of corrupt governments in the Muslim world, Americans will be targets for avengers….It's either foreign intervention and retaliatory terrorism or nonintervention and security. There's no third way….Every empire has reaped a terrorist whirlwind. "Terror" is the tactic that the weak use against the strong. The U.S. government unleashes the most powerful "conventional" weapons known to man, including pilotless killer drones operated like videogames thousands of miles away. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab sewed an explosive into his underwear and ended up burning himself.

It is disgraceful that the choice between terrorism and security is rarely publicly discussed in terms of the choice between American imperialism and nonintervention. The empire is treated as a given — even by most so-called progressives — as though it were ordained by history. The American people are expected to believe that the very existence of their society depends on the U.S. government's policing the globe and using whatever violence it deems appropriate….

But this picture is precisely upside down. It is the imperial program and the inevitable "war on terror" that threatens Americans' way of life…

What we call terrorism will always be cheap, flexible, and at least one step ahead of the plodding, clueless authorities. Al-Qaeda is not an organization. It's an idea and an open-ended set of tactics. Clear it out of Afghanistan — and it appears in Pakistan or Yemen or New Jersey.

Ron Bailey wrote for Reason Online back in August 2006 on the real (very, very low) risks of being injured by terrorism.