The 9-11 Commission Charade
The 9-11 Commission report, released late last month, has disrupted the normally quiet Washington August. Various congressional committees are holding hearings on the report this week, even though Congress is not in session, in an attempt to show the government is “doing something” about terrorism in an election year. The Commission recommendations themselves have been accepted reverently and without question, as if handed down from on high.
But what exactly is going on here? These hearings amount to nothing more than current government officials meeting with former government officials, many of whom now lobby government officials, and agreeing that we need more government! The current and past architects of the very bureaucracy that failed Americans so badly on September 11th three years ago are now meeting to recommend more bureaucracy. Why on earth do we assume that former government officials, some of whom are self-interested government lobbyists, suddenly become wise, benevolent, and politically neutral when they retire? Why do we look to former bureaucrats to address a bureaucratic failure?
The 9-11 Commission report is several hundred pages worth of recommendations to make government larger and more intrusive. Does this surprise anyone? It was written by people who cannot imagine any solution not coming from government. One thing you definitely will not see in the Commission report is a single critique of our interventionist foreign policy, which is the real source of most anti-American feelings around the globe.
The Commissioners recommend the government spend billions of dollars spreading pro-US propaganda overseas, as if that will convince the world to love us. What we have forgotten in the years since the end of the Cold War is that actions speak louder than words. The US didn't need propaganda in the captive nations of Eastern Europe during the Cold War because people knew us by our deeds. They could see the difference between the United States and their Soviet overlords. That is why, given the first chance, they chose freedom. Yet everything we have done in response to the 9-11 attacks, from the Patriot Act to the war in Iraq, has reduced freedom in America. Spending more money abroad or restricting liberties at home will do nothing to deter terrorists, yet this is exactly what the 9-11 Commission recommends.
Our nation will be safer only when government does less, not more. Rather than asking ourselves what Congress or the president should be doing about terrorism, we ought to ask what government should stop doing. It should stop spending trillions of dollars on unconstitutional programs that detract from basic government functions like national defense and border security. It should stop meddling in the internal affairs of foreign nations, but instead demonstrate by example the superiority of freedom, capitalism, and an open society. It should stop engaging in nation-building, and stop trying to create democratic societies through military force. It should stop militarizing future enemies, as we did by supplying money and weapons to characters like Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. It should stop entangling the American people in unholy alliances like the UN and NATO, and pledge that our armed forces will never serve under foreign command. It should stop committing American troops to useless, expensive, and troublesome assignments overseas, and instead commit the Department of Defense to actually defending America. It should stop interfering with the 2nd amendment rights of private citizens and businesses seeking to defend themselves.
More than anything, our federal government should stop deluding us that more government is the answer. We have far more to fear from an unaccountable government at home than from any foreign terrorist.
August 24, 2004
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.