Image via WikipediaFormer VP Dick Cheney's work on his upcoming book, in which he will apparently defend his record, is producing a spate of articles on his views. One observation is that he is still strongly convinced a rogue nation will hand nuclear weapons over to a terrorist group, who will then attack the US.
To a Libertarian, this prospect leads strongly in an entirely different direction than Cheney thinks it must. To Cheney, all solutions involve the US continuing its intense involvement in attempting to direct the affairs of every other nation on earth.
To a Libertarian, the risk of terrorism suggests a different question: Why are foreign terrorists interested in attacking the U.S. in particular?
To answer this, let's turn to a terrorist problem that is not ours, and ask why it isn't. Chechnyan terrorists regularly attack targets in Russia. They have not attacked any U.S. targets, and nobody seems to expect them to. Why not?
They attack Russian targets because they have a beef with Russia. The Russian government holds power in Chechnya, controls its government, and fights with Chechnyan separatists. So the separatists attack those who interfere with what they consider their national rights: the Russians.
They don't attack the U.S. because we are not involved in Chechnyan affairs. More specifically, the U.S. does not involve itself in Russia's affairs: We don't support Russia in this conflict, we don't sell Russia weapons to use against Chechnyan opponents, we don't give speeches about it, we don't consider it our affair. And it isn't. And so we are not at risk from either side in that conflict.
The same goes for Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka. And, for that matter, Basque bombers in Spain. We aren't involved in these conflicts.
But we involve ourselves in every other conflict on Earth, and in some of those conflicts, one party or another sees the U.S. as making their conflict harder because we support the other side.
Muslim terrorists don't denounce us and bomb us and fly jets into our buildings because we are Westerners. Not really. They talk like that sometimes, but if we weren't involved in the affairs of Muslim countries, they wouldn't bother forming an anti-Western-Culture theory to bolster themselves for the long fight against a superior foe. They'd just ignore us.
But we had to overthrow the government of Iraq; we had to take care of Saudi Arabia's problem by defending their neighbor Kuwait; we are now encouraging, apparently, Israel to bomb Iran's nuclear bomb facilities; we have troops in Afghanistan supporting a government we installed, and are bullying the neighboring governments too. And in country after country, year after year, we support oppressive governments, take sides in internal and external conflicts, and come up with elaborate excuses as to why we can't benignly watch the world do what it will, but must intervene, to produce, with force if necessary, the outcome we speculate would be good for us in the long run.
Central to much of this is Israel, whose continued existence we warrant, arm, and fund. Every country, every regime, and every opposition group that does or might someday threaten Israel we must involve ourselves against.
This leads to some perverse behavior sometimes. We can't just arm Israel, and threaten to intervene on her behalf should she be attacked -- in fact, the one thing we don't do is intervene militarily when Israel is attacked, for some reason. No, we have to try to control the complex internal politics of every regime around them -- and every other group in the world that is interested. So when Saddam invaded Kuwait, we couldn't just let Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, and possibly Syria figure it out -- they were all as unhappy with Saddam and his ambitions as we were, and they are right there on the spot. No -- we had to be the ones to intervene militarily, because otherwise the balance of power among Iraq and Iran and Syria and Israel might go out of control, and who knows where that would lead? We had to balance Iraq and Iran -- Iran, which had almost collapsed under the years-long assault of Iraq, and whom we helped prop up; but now Iran was growing too powerful, and a success against Iraq would give the mullahs too much power. To a Libertarian, this mess would have given the powers there a rare opportunity to decide whether they had more to fear from Saddam or from Israel. It might have led to a new alignment of powers. Imagine that. One in which the U.S. would play only a minor role. Imagine that.
No, we had to expend our blood and treasure to defend Kuwait -- and incidentally Saudi Arabia, source of the 9/11 assassins, and Iran, our current source of woes. And they all let us, because then they could avoid the blood and expense, and the political fallout, and still badmouth the US!
Every nation with problems, we have to get involved. North Korea is nuts; we have to step in and tell them that their policies to create nuclear weapons for themselves are "not acceptable." Even though we have, really, no clue what to do about it if the ignore us, as they always do.
For a while there it looked like we were going to use sense: We insisted that China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia take care of the problem in their own back yard. We refused to be drawn into the talks. North Korea, knowing a fish when they see one, very much want the US to be the sole opponent. They know they can always take us for a ride. (The irony of Bill Clinton's trip to shake hands with His Shortness to get the two reporters released is that Bill traded a handshake and photo op bit of propaganda for two human beings -- Bill gave North Korea less and got more from them than the U.S. ever has -- it was the most successful negotiation we've ever had with North Korea! (Usually, we give them oil and money and goods, and get a promise which North Korea never keeps.)
But lately, even with a Democrat liberal in the White House (what a surprise! The peace-loving Democrats in power continue the warmongering policies of the evil Republican predecessors!), the US is talking tough with North Korea. Again, we say have the Cheney worry: North Korea will give its nukes to terrorists who can bomb either Israel (our 51st state in practice tho not in law) or the US mainland.
Well, they might, though nothing we've been doing about it will help Israel, and our continuing involvement in every conflict on Earth makes us a target for the terrorist attack that must sooner or later succeed, because time is on their side, not ours.
And of course we're worried about NKorean missiles reaching Hawaii. Why on earth would Kim send a bomb to Hawaii? If the US decided that NKorea was a problem for the countries around it (and for Israel, the other target), then we wouldn't have to worry about Hawaii in this regard. And maybe -- just maybe -- the other nations of the world would eventually be forced to act like grownups and figure out solutions for their problems. After all, in many cases they are right there in the line of fire even more so than we are. Frankly, I don't believe the nations around Israel really, in their heart of hearts, want to see a terrorist group plant a nuke in Jerusalem. The likely reaction of Israel to the threat, or worse the reality, of such an attack would make me very nervous, even if I were the fruitcake President of Iran.
The US is a target for so very many negative forces of the world because the US involves itself in so many areas of the world. Just as there seems to be no aspect of American life that the government doesn't think it should have an opinion about, pass a law to control, and stick its bureaucratic noses into -- by the same token, there is no country on earth and no disagreement among the peoples of the earth that our wise politicians in Washington think is none of our business.
Switzerland isn't target of anybody's ire. There's a reason. Countries that meddle make themselves targets. We are the biggest target out there -- because we are the supreme meddlers in all the world. Just ask yourself: Why are we the ones at the center of everything? Why do other countries stay away, dummy up, waffle when we're in there Solving the World's Problems? How come they aren't worried about what's likely to happen?
All the security and waterboarding and spies and constrained freedom in the world won't protect us from our own inability to mind our own damned business.
The real root cause? Our political class is composed of meddlers. They get elected, and reelected, by sticking their noses in. They don't get vote by saying, "You know, we should just stay out of that one; yes, I know, awful things might happen; but we aren't the ones best suited to tackle the problem -- we'll just make it worse!" I know, because Libertarian candidates say that all the time, and none of you ever vote for them! Because you, like the pols, can't leave well enough alone!
There are tradeoffs in every involvement. We brush that aside. We shouldn't.