With the Taliban defeat of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, the temptation will be to engage only in “smart” interventions in the future. You can already see this in the countless articles and commentaries about the Afghan debacle, both in the mainstream press and on the Internet. Most of the critiques revolve around how the the war and the resulting occupation were mismanaged. “If only they had done this and if only they had done that, everything would be different” is the common refrain.

If that’s all we learn from this deadly and destructive disaster, we will not have learned anything. What we need to do is to raise our sights to a higher level by focusing on what fundamental changes are needed to move our nation in a better, more peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious direction.

A foreign policy of non-interventionism

First, we need to end foreign interventionism entirely. 

Some of the critics of the Afghanistan debacle are suggesting that what we need instead are just “smarter” interventions — ones, they say, that really, truly are only in our “national interest.” 

They are wrong. You can be assured that with every single intervention, U.S. officials have concluded that the intervention is in our “national interest.” When U.S. officials invaded Afghanistan, make no mistake about it: they were convinced that they were acting in our “national interest.”

After all, let’s keep in mind that it’s not some independent committee that decides what is in our “national interest.” It is the government personnel who are doing the intervening who make that determination.

That’s why it imperative, if we are going to get our country on the right track, that people begin discussing and debating the concept of foreign interventionism itself, not whether government officials should be engaging in “smart” interventionism in the future.

What would it mean to end all foreign interventionism? It would mean no more foreign aid to anyone, no more sanctions and embargoes, no more coups, no more invasions and occupations, no more regime-change operations, no more foreign alliances, no more foreign military bases, no more kidnappings, no more renditions, no more torture, and no more state-sponsored assassinations.  

It would mean limiting the power of the U.S. government to defending the United States from an invasion by some foreign regime, which is today and into the near future a virtually non-existent possibility.

We should keep in mind that non-interventionism was the founding foreign policy of our nation. It remained our nation’s foreign policy for more than 100 years. It’s encapsulated in John Quincy Adams’s 4th of July Address to Congress in 1821, entitled “In Search of Monsters to Destroy.” It is one of the principal reasons that the United States became the most prosperous, harmonious, and generous nation in history.

The “war on terrorism” racket

What about anti-American terrorism? They say that the terrorists just hate us for our “freedom and values.” U.S. officials say that foreign interventionism is necessary to kill the terrorists before they come and kill us.

Those  are lies, among the many lies that have been that form the basis of foreign interventionism. It is foreign interventionism itself that produces anti-American terrorism, which is then used as the excuse for more foreign interventionism, which then produces more terrorism. The process became a perpetual deadly and destructive racket. 

In other words, if there had been no foreign interventionism, there would never have been the 9/11 attacks (or the terrorist attacks that preceded them — e.g., the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center, the USS Cole, and the U.S. embassies in East Africa.) If there had been no 9/11 attacks, there would have been no excuse for invading Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Restore a limited-government republic

Second, we need to dismantle (i.e., not reform) the U.S. national-security establishment and restore a limited-government republic to our land. That means dismantling, not reforming, the Pentagon, the vast military-industrial complex, the CIA, and the NSA. It means having simply a relatively small, basic military force.

A limited-government republic was our founding governmental system. It lasted for more than 100 years. It was one of the principal reasons that the United States became the most prosperous, harmonious, and generous nation in history. 

A national-security state is a totalitarian form of governmental structure. North Korea is a national-security state. So are China, Cuba, Vietnam, Russia, Egypt, Pakistan … and post-WWII United States.

A national-security state needs official enemies to justify its existence, power, influence, and ever-increasing budgets. That’s how the United States got the Cold War after winning World War II. A new official enemy was needed to justify the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state. That official enemy became “godless communism,” the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia), Red China, North Korea, North Vietnam, and the rest of the communist world. 

When the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA suddenly and unexpectedly lost their Cold War official enemy in 1989, they desperately went in search of a new official enemy to replace “godless communism” and the communist world. That’s why they went into the Middle East with a fierce, deadly, and destructive policy of interventionism, which finally succeeded in producing their new official enemy — “terrorism” (and, to a certain extent, Islam). 

That’s how we got those terrorist attacks on 9/11 and those that preceded 9/11. That’s how we got the “war on terrorism,” which has proven to be an even bigger racket than the Cold War. That’s how we got the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s how we got the interventions in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and other places. That’s how we got Gitmo. That’s how the U.S. government has aligned itself with some of the most brutal and corrupt dictatorships in history. 

Old/new official enemies

For the past few years, anticipating an end or at least a drastic reduction of their interventions in Afghanistan and the Middle East, the U.S. national-security establishment has been doing its best to revive its old Cold War official enemies. That’s what all that focus on Russia and China has been all about — to prepare the American people to accept old/new official enemies to keep their racket going in one fashion or another. 

To move our country in a better direction, it is simply not enough to revise and reform America’s dual system of foreign interventionism and a national-security state. To move America toward freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony, it is necessary to restore a foreign policy of non-interventionism and a limited-government republic to our land. 

This article was originally published at the Future of Freedom Foundation and is republished here with permission.

Jacob Hornberger
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