Ladenís objective," I speculated to Hernando de Soto, Peruís great
author of The Other Path and now The
Mystery of Capital,
"is the expulsion of American interests from the Muslim world."
no," he replied, "itís more than that. He wants American interests
out of the whole Third World."
this scenario, the pessimistic concern is not only that American
businessmen, students, and tourists will fear to travel in any
nation with a Muslim community. It could also mean disinvestment
overseas, the further impoverishment of the developing world,
de-globalization, a world depression, and police-state policies
Bush is under great Republican pressure to bomb other Arab nations,
which would further isolate Washington. But in time, Europe
and Russia will withdraw from "Americaís war." After all, they
donít have a dog in this fight. Itís only the U.S., not Europe, that
is now so hated by so many millions of Muslims.
Orwell should have titled his book 2004 rather than 1984.
His scenario of surveillence technology, police power, and perpetual
warfare are coming closer to reality. It is easier now to imagine
American interests being expelled from many parts of the world,
or, as likely, Washington choosing itself to return to the
Western hemisphere. Europe/Russia could become another great
power, and China/Japan the other, just as Orwell imagined.
big government we now have "The Perfect War," everywhere and nowhere,
secret and interminable. The war will justify
ever expanding police powers, higher taxes, and more controls
over the citizenry. You can see easily how Washington
thrives on war. Since Sept 11th, there have been no nasty
challenges to government spending and waste, no tedious debates
over things like social security "lockboxes," nor "political"
attacks upon the Presidency. Congressmen and Think
Tank experts get lots of TV time and most everyone jumps to obey
government orders and support more regulations. Any groups
opposed to American military interventions overseas appear unpatriotic
and are marginalized, while press covereage of the war is restricted,
using the last Gulf
War as a model. Big Government, as Orwell
wrote, thrives from unwinnable wars; it doesn't get any better
just for homeland defense, are already estimated as high as $1.5
trillion over the next five years (Los Angeles Times, October
15, 2001). This is in addition to a military budget approaching
$400 billion per year. Also, our growing security forces are very
costly; an experienced FBI or Secret Service Agent makes $80,000Ė100,000
per year plus a good pension, often after just twenty years
work. Costs for less qualified guards will rise astronomically.
restrictions on capital movements, the end of liberal immigration
policies, and curtailed trade may also herald the end of the golden
era of economic growth in America. The boom of the last years
came in part from technological innovations and the worldwide
market for American goods and services. All this may come under
increasing restrictions, mainly self-imposed by Congress, such
as those brought about by World War I and the 1929 stock market
example, new laws allowing seizures for so-called money laundering
may cause foreign
banks to fear holding deposits in the U.S. One trade reprisal
will lead to another. Meanwhile, more and more nations (currently
some 65) will face American trade sanctions this time for not
cooperating in the "War on Terrorism"; this will reinforce protectionists
who will help push such legislation.
Magazine (October 15, 2001) draws a similar analogy,
pointing out that world trade as a share of world output didnít
return to 1913 levels until 1970. It further explains, "A Fortress
America mentality in security matters could spill into economic
ones...a short hop from nationalism to protectionism...all sorts
of parochial interests in the U.S. are much more likely to get
the upper hand." The effect on the economy will result in real
declines in American living standards. Local governments will
be raising taxes and directing budgets and resources to police, fire,
and medical departments above all else. U.S. productivity
will decline substantially.
George Friedman, editor of Stratfor.com, puts it in a cover story
in Barronís (September 14, 2002): "Wasteful spending
on enhanced security, fattened transportation costs, and the abandonment
of just-in-time inventory supply in favor of just-in-case redundancies,
will play hob with New Era efficiency."
other great costs, beyond massive inconveniences, are the
new restrictions on civil liberties. Particularly pernicious was
a provision proposed for the new anti-terrorism bill that
allowed evidence from foreign courts, obtained by
torture or threats against families, to be used
in American courts, and other sleepers we donít yet know about.
The new law also apparently allows the unconstitutional provisions
of the drug waróseizures of property without warrant or judicial
action, for exampleóto be used equally in the war on terrorism.
once started, always has unforeseen consequences. For example,
now the U.S. is responsible for Afghanistanís starving millions
as winter approaches. A famine was forecast even before the bombing,
but we will now be held responsible. If hundreds
of thousands die, as seems quite probable,
America will again be blamed, as it is now for the half million
Iraqi children dead since the U.S./UN blockade; more anti-American
charges will rock the Muslim world.
Washington is, for the first time, concerned that pro-American
messages donít get out to the Muslim world. It plans new radio
programming, purchasing time on Arab TV, and so on. But itís very
late. The Financial Times (October 13, 2001) warns of the
"readiness among ordinary Arabs to believe anyone...rather than
listen to Washington." Further, the paper notes, "For
a long time after the Gulf war, the US assumed that its allies
in the regionómost of which are authoritarian regimesócould impose
their views on their people. The error of this approach has
become apparent... The plight of IraqisÖforced rulers to distance
themselves from U.S policy... Pictures of rock-throwing Palestinian
youths killed by sophisticated Israeli weaponry have fed anger
towards U.S. policy."
It Be Won?
of this will inevitably spawn a rethinking of American foreign
policy (see my article, "America
is Not Rome"). For the U.S., this war is
because our policymakers refuse to address its causes, and fear
that doing so would make us look like we are caving
in to terrorism. Until we do, for every terrorist killed, ten
more will take his place, just as is true regarding Israelís much
tougher policies on the West Bank.
is indeed ironic and threatening that Bin Ladenís objective of
making America the enemy of the whole Muslim world is solidly
reinforced by naive (or worse) American conservatives demanding
attacks on more Arab nations. Fox News, the op-eds of the Wall
Street Journal and Washington Times, National Review,
the American Enterprise Institute, and Heritage Foundation are
filled with demands for policies that will cause the killing of
more Muslims, which they euphemistically call "changing the
is exactly what Bin Laden planned (see Robert
Fisk of the Independent). Bin Ladenís writings
argue first for the overthrow of pro-American regimes in the Arab
world. He foresees that American attacks on other Arab nations would
generate sufficient hatred to bring this about, and that Americans
overseas would become targets. Already, the U.S. Navy has severely
shore leave in many nations. Student plans to study
in Europe are
being trimmed. Our enemies
are not going to fight us on our terms, with F-16's and cruise
missiles. Instead, they may hit our soft underbelly: unarmed Americans
abroad. They'll use the weapons they have.
of the above supports the thesis that we are faced with a "clash
of civilizations" or that Muslims love dying in order to get a
quick trip to Paradise. This rot comes from those who made the
catastrophe we now face: the neo-conservative foreign policy establishment
that ran Republican foreign policy. Their interest is in obfuscating
the consequences of the interventionist foreign policies they
were able to force upon Washington.
for Bin Ladenís stated political demands on the U.S., they reflect
nothing but the political priorities of the Muslim world. Bin
Laden has been very clear (as the now-famous British
study of his motives has shown): American troops
out of Arab lands, an end to the blockade of Iraq, and an end
to the occupation of Palestinian lands on the West Bank and Gaza.
He certainly uses Muslim fundamentalism as his weapon, but nonreligious
Arabs have the same views (witness the hijackers who drank liquor
and visited girly bars).
forget how America and Americans were once loved in the Muslim
world, when we stood up against European imperialists, as when
Eisenhower forced withdrawal of French, English, and Israeli troops
from Suez in 1956. (See Will
the Middle East Go West?)
Americans individually are still popular, and millions love our
culture. There is certainly enough goodwill remaining to revive
mutually beneficial commercial relations and maintain peace.
To Do Now
Afghanistan's terrorist bases is one thing, but it does nothing
to resolve the underlying issues that have generated hatred and
will continue to motivate suicide bombers for years to come. To
begin to address the problem, the U.S. should no longer support
militarized settlements on the West Bank and Gaza. Established
under military occupation, they were always a prescription for
"an even greater disaster and constant conflict," as Richard
Cohen suggests. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times
pull back is not a radical suggestion; it reflects what most Israeli
peace groups have long advocated, as well as the priorities of
the late Yitzhak Rabin. There can be barriers between Israel and
Palestine for a cooling-off period; however, a majority of both
Jews and Arabs want peace and commerce. Eisenhower and Reagan
negotiated Israeli withdrawals in the past, from Suez and Beirut.
It can be done again.
Iraq, we should immediately allow the import of civilian
consumer goods, as well as supplies to restore the civilian infrastructure,
for example, water purification and irrigation. The naval
blockade must be dropped, which was and is an act of war. It will
take Iraq a
generation to recover from the horrendous damage done
to it, a generation malnourished and uneducated. By then, we can
hope, tensions will have calmed throughout the Muslim world. Our
fleet should be withdrawn from the Arabian Gulf and our air base
taken out of Saudi Arabia. A European, non-English force can be
assembled to guard the border of Kuwait.
the sore issues out of the way, America would no longer be the
target of Muslim hatred and terrorism, and the world could get
on with the prosperity and progress it began to know during the
resists this solution, but our alternative is unending conflict,
lower standards of living, higher taxes, fewer freedoms, longer
lines and traffic jams, more searches, global economic calamity,
and, eventually, strong pressures for a permanent state of war
and big government. The U.S. should do now what it should have
been doing all along: strive for commercial relations with all,
without attempting to manage the entire world political scene.
article is reprinted with permission from Mises.org.
Utley is the Robert A. Taft Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
He is a graduate of Georgetown University's School of Foreign
Service, studied languages in Europe, and lived 15 years in South
America. He was in business and then served as a foreign correspondent
for Knight/Ridder newspapers. He has served on the Board of Directors
or Advisory Boards of many organizations including Accuracy
in Media, Council for Inter-American Security, and the Conservative
Caucus. Send him MAIL and
see his Mises.org Articles