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November 1, 2001

Preventing Future Terrorism


by Harry Browne

How can we prevent future terrorist attacks?

The first step is a foreign policy that rests on a simple principle:

We're prepared to defend ourselves, but we threaten no one.

Such a foreign policy should have four elements.

1. Noninterference

Our government should never interfere in other countries' disputes, never arm foreign governments, and never give terrorists a reason to pressure our government.

The idea that our government acts to defend human rights around the world is absurd. It replaces democratically elected governments with dictators like the Shah of Iran or Augusto Pinochet. And it rarely comes close to achieving any of its goals. Too often Americans have fought and died for nothing.

Any American who wants to fight for – or send money to – a foreign government or revolutionary movement should be free to do so (even though that's currently illegal). But our government should stay out of such conflicts. When the U.S. no longer imposes its way on foreign people, those people will have no reason to fear us or hate us.

2. No Foreign Aid or Military Assistance

The Constitution doesn't authorize our government to use your money to support foreign governments.

It's not only unconstitutional, it's unfair. As Fred Smith has pointed out, foreign aid taxes poor people in rich countries for the benefit of rich people in poor countries.

And by giving tons of money and military hardware to Israel's enemies, the politicians can say we have to give massive aid to Israel to keep it from being destroyed.

Every American should be free to send money or weapons to any government anywhere. But you shouldn't be taxed for that purpose.

Without our government arming dictators, the dictators' subjects would have no reason to hate us or fear us.

3. Security against Attack

If the world's bad people want to conquer America, they'd have to pulverize American cities until we submit to being occupied.

In 1983 Ronald Reagan said America should protect itself against missile attacks. Unfortunately, he gave the job to the Department of Defense – which is really the Post Office in fatigues.

And so 18 years later we're no closer to being protected than we were in 1983.

We should rely as little as possible on politics and bureaucracy to achieve anything. The government should simply post a reward – say, $25 billion – to go to the first private company that produces a functioning, foolproof missile defense. We'd probably have it within five years.

Will that make us 100% secure? Of course not. Nothing will.

But it will make us far safer than we are today. And it will eliminate a principal excuse for meddling in other countries' affairs, so that foreign people have no reason to hate us or fear us.

4. Target the Aggressors, Not the Innocent

Even with a missile defense, America could be threatened by a foreign ruler.

But a Libertarian President would target the aggressor himself – not his innocent subjects.

He would warn the ruler that an actual attack against the US would trigger the posting of a reward of, say, $100 million for the person who kills the ruler. Everyone would be eligible to collect the reward – including the ruler's guards and wives.

This response would spare both innocent foreigners and Americans. Only those who try for the reward would be at risk. Americans wouldn't fight and die invading a foreign country.

If you believe assassination is an unsavory act, what's the alternative – killing thousands of people?

Once we stop bullying innocent foreigners, they will have no reason to hate us or fear us.

Peace for All Time

These policies will produce a strong national defense, instead of the strong national offense we now have. And terrorists will have no reason to attack us.

Then we must find a way to permanently stop politicians from playing with loaded weapons.

Here's a start – a proposed Peace Amendment to the Constitution:

Except in time of war as declared by Congress, the United States will deploy no military personnel or weapons outside the boundaries of the United States; will not provide money, military equipment, or other resources to foreign governments; and will not attack any foreign power. Upon any violation of this article, Congress will immediately institute impeachment proceedings against the President.

If such an amendment had been enforced over the past 55 years, it would have . . .

  • Prevented the deaths of almost 100,000 American military personnel;
  • Saved each American family thousands of dollars in foreign aid – most of which went into the pockets of foreign dictators;
  • Saved a trillion dollars in unnecessary military costs; and
  • Allowed people around the world to like us for what we are, instead of hating us because of our government's meddling.

And it's 99% probable that the September 11 attack would not have occurred.

This constitutional amendment is the only kind of gun control that truly makes sense.

 

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Harry Browne is a best-selling author and two-time Libertarian Party nominee for president.

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