The Way Back From 9/11
29 September 2015
By Jacob G.
Given that today is the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it serves as a
good day to place that event in the context of how we began as a nation,
where we are today, and what we need to do to put things back on the right
The 9/11 attacks were not the first post-Cold War terrorist attacks against
the United States. There was the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, an
attack that was no different in principle from the attacks that occurred on
9/11. There were also the attacks on the USS Cole and on the U.S. Embassies
in East Africa.
Why all these terrorist attacks against the United States? Because after the
Cold War ended, the U.S. government went into the Middle East and began
poking hornets' nests. There was the Persian Gulf intervention, the
intentional destruction of Iraq's water and sewage treatment plants, the
brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people, the U.S. government's public
position that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions
were ''worth it,'' the stationing of American troops on Islamic holy lands,
the deadly no-fly zones of Iraq, the unconditional support of the Israeli
government, and more.
It's not that difficult to provoke someone into striking back. Even on a
personal level, if you keep punching a person in the face or keep bullying
him, the likelihood is that at some point he's going to take a swing at you,
even if you're much bigger and stronger.
That's what President Franklin Roosevelt did to the Japanese prior to the
Pearl Harbor attacks. Hoping that he could goad Japan into attacking the
United States, FDR pushed them and provoked them with such things as an oil
embargo, the freezing of Japanese assets in the United States, and the
imposition of humiliating terms in pre-war negotiations.
FDR's strategy worked. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, FDR was able
to say: We've been attacked! We're shocked! We're innocent! We were just
minding our own business! This is a day of infamy.
It's no different with the crisis in Ukraine. After the Cold War ended, U.S.
officials, operating through NATO, began absorbing Eastern European
countries, thereby enabling NATO forces to get closer and closer to Russia's
borders. Not surprisingly, Russia reacted to the provocations in the same
what that the United States would have reacted to Russian forces establishing
themselves in Cuba or along the U.S.-Mexico border.
After the 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials said: We've been attacked by the
terrorists! We're shocked! We're innocent! We were just minding our own
business! Another day of infamy! They just hate us for our freedom and
values! We will now need to adopt emergency totalitarian powers and also
invade Iraq and Afghanistan!
But those terrorist attacks had nothing to do with hatred for America's
freedom and values, any more than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had
anything to do with Japanese hatred for America's freedom and values.
It was all about U.S. foreign policy — an imperialist foreign policy — an
interventionist foreign policy — one carried out by the national-security
branch of the federal government, a branch that came into existence after
World War II and that fundamentally altered America's governmental structure
in the name of fighting communism and a ''cold war'' against America's World
War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union.
Prior to the 9/11 attacks, here at FFF we were publishing articles saying
that if the U.S. government did not stop what it was doing in the Middle
East, there would inevitably be a terrorist attack on American soil. We
weren't the only ones. See the great book pre-9/11 book Blowback: The Costs
and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson, who was saying the
But U.S. officials doggedly continued with their deadly and destructive
interventionism, which ultimately led to the 9/11 attacks and the claims that
the terrorists just hate us for our freedom and values.
Not surprisingly, U.S. officials seized upon the 9/11 attacks as an
opportunity to take away the fundamental freedoms of the American people (and
to declare a ''war on terrorism'' and to attack Iraq and Afghanistan, which
produced a steady supply of new terrorists). The president, who heads the
executive branch, and officials in the national security branch, combined to
assume emergency totalitarian powers. The powers were supposed to be
temporary but since the ''war on terrorism'' was certain to last longer than
even the Cold War, the powers became permanent, ready to be used whenever
another right opportunity presented itself.
Such powers include: the power of the military to arrest any American citizen
as a suspected terrorist, incarcerate him in a military dungeon or
concentration camp as long it wants without trial, torture him, and execute
him. Formal programs of torture, rendition, and assassination became a
permanent part of America's governmental structure, including for use against
American citizens anywhere in the world, including here in the United States.
The NSA's massive secret surveillance scheme also became a permanent part of
America's governmental structure.
Meanwhile, federal spending and debt to pay for all this, as well as fund
America's massive welfare state, continue to soar, leading the country in the
direction of bankruptcy.
Many Americans still innocently believe that despite the assumption of these
emergency totalitarian powers, they still live in a free society. They never
cease to praise the troops who are killing people thousands of miles away
from the United States for protecting ''our freedom.'' Even worse, some of
them proved more than willing and eager to trade our freedom to federal
officials for the sake of security.
All those emergency powers are inherent to totalitarian regimes. Indeed, the
entire concept of a national security state is inherent to a totalitarian
regime. How can people be free when they're living under a totalitarian-like
apparatus whose officials wield the omnipotent power to assassinate them,
incarcerate them, and torture them?
It wasn't supposed to be this way. These are all the types of things our
American ancestors tried to protect us from. Consider the Bill of Rights. It
doesn't address foreign regimes or terrorists. It addresses the federal
government. It assumes that the federal government is likely to do some very
bad things to people. The Bill of Rights says: Don't even try.
Consider the Constitution. While it did in fact call the federal government
into existence, it severely restricted its powers.
Why did it do that?
Because our American ancestors believed that even though they were bringing
the federal government into existence, they also knew that it would be a
grave danger to their freedom and well-being. That's why they limited its
powers to those enumerated in the document. The Bill of Rights was then added
on as an additional protection.
The result: There was no standing army, no CIA, no NSA, no military
industrial complex, no involvement in foreign wars, no programs of torture
and assassination, no surveillance schemes, no foreign aid, no coups, no
regime-change operations, no conscription, no sanctions, no embargoes, and no
It was the most unusual governmental structure in history, notwithstanding
the many infringements on freedom that still remained, such as slavery and
corporatism. (Keep in mind: There was also no welfare state, no Social
Security, no Medicare, no public schooling, no drug laws, no gun control, no
farm subsidies, no Federal Reserve, no fiat money, and no immigration
It's really not difficult to understand the reason for the morass in which
America is mired. By grafting a welfare-warfare state apparatus onto
America's original governmental structure, the nation abandoned its founding
principles and has been paying the price ever since in the form of a loss of
liberty, prosperity, harmony, and peace.
The way back should be obvious.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom
Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in
economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the
University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He
also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught
law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become
director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has
advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the
country as well as on Fox News' Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and
he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show
Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full