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WATCH: Cops Assault, Taser Teens for Vaping Outside

In the land of the free, police are tasked with enforcement of all laws no matter how arbitrary or even whether or not there is a victim involved. If you break one of these arbitrary laws in the land of the free, police claim the right to extort or kidnap you. If you resist this kidnapping and extortion for a victimless crime, police claim the right to beat or kill you. Despite the utterly tyrannical implications stemming from the enforcement of laws with no victims, the majority of Americans remain completely oblivious to the effects of it.

Even when there are videos of blatant displays of government violence being inflicted on citizens over the enforcement of victimless crimes, most of America reacts with callousness and statements like, “if you don’t break the law, you have nothing to worry about.” As the following video illustrates, until this mentality shifts, police in America will continue to use violence against citizens who cause no harm.

Over the weekend in Ocean City, Maryland, a group of young men were outside hanging out. The men were bothering no one. They were not robbing, looting, stealing, or otherwise harassing passersby. They were talking among themselves while a few of them inhaled from vaping devices.

Because government claims the right to tell people where they can and cannot inhale from vape pens — even when outdoors — police approached the group of young men to initiate the process of extortion.

According to police, when officers approached the men and told them about a local ordinance prohibiting smoking and vaping outside of the designated areas on the boardwalk, the young men stopped vaping and walked away.

However, as the men walked away, one of them dared to take another puff from the vape, thus triggering the officers to escalate the situation. As stated above, police in the land of the free will go to extreme, violent, and often deadly lengths to enforce the most arbitrary laws for crimes with no victim.

One of the teens in the video was the tasered with his hands up, hog tied, and dragged off.

Then, when officers demanded to see Brian Everett Anderson’s identification, Anderson, 19, allegedly refused to provide it, maintaining he had done nothing wrong. This refusal to id then gave the officers just cause to initiate force against Anderson, who had harmed no one.

Police claimed Anderson “resisted arrest,” and force was then escalated. As the video shows, Anderson is face down on the ground with three cops holding him down. As Anderson asks what he’s done wrong, one of the cops begins delivering overzealous knee strikes to the teen.

As he watched his friend get attacked by police, Kamere Anthony Day, also 19, began yelling at the officers to stop. This yelling gave officers just cause to then initiate force against Day as well.

Both men were arrested and charged with multiple crimes — despite harming no one. As WBAL reports:

Anderson was charged with disorderly conduct, resist/interfere with arrest, second-degree assault and failure to provide proof of identity. He was released on his own recognizance.

Day was charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing and hindering, failure to obey reasonable a lawful order, resist/interfere with arrest and second-degree assault. He was released on his own recognizance.

After the video began to go viral, police were quick to release a statement, reminding the public they are allowed to use violence against citizens, even for the most arbitrary laws for victimless “crimes.”

“We are aware of the social media videos circulating regarding this incident. Our officers are permitted to use force, per their training, to overcome exhibited resistance. All uses of force go through a detailed review process. The uses of force from these arrests will go through a multi-level examination by the Assistant Patrol Commander, the Division Commander and then by the Office of Professional Standards.”

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

Biden Declares “Sacred Obligation” to NATO’s Article 5 War Clause

Voice of America Sunday ran a story about the tenor and theme of President Joe Biden’s presentation at tomorrow’s NATO summit in Brussels with the headline Biden to Reassure Allies of US Commitment to NATO Mutual Defense Clause. In the report it cites a pledge Biden made in an address to American Air Force service members at the Royal Air Force Mildenhall base on June 9: “In Brussels, I will make it clear that the United States’ commitment to our NATO Alliance and Article 5 is rock solid. It’s a sacred obligation that we have under Article 5.” Today the White House posted an online fact sheet on the summit which contained in its opening paragraph this stark statement: “During the Summit, the President will reaffirm the enduring Transatlantic bond through NATO and underscore the United States’ ironclad commitment to Article 5 – an attack on one is an attack on all and will be met with a collective response.”

In the speech he also celebrated the fact that the U.S. and his host country, the United Kingdom, were founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He failed to add they’re both nuclear powers and have fought together in NATO’s wars in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya. NATO was characterized by the American commander-in-chief as “the strongest military and political alliance in the history of the world,” adding, “that’s not hyperbole.” Both points rare instances of veracity from him. NATO in fact is unique in a manner that cannot be exaggerated. It is unique in the following ways:

  • it is the only military alliance in the world
  • it is the longest-lasting military bloc in the modern history of the world, this year marking its 72nd anniversary
  • it is the largest military bloc ever, with 30 members and 40 partners on all six inhabited continents (up from 16 members and no partners 30 years ago)
  • it maintains military relations with as many more nations, including the 55-nation African Union and Troop Contributing Countries from the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America that served under its command in Afghanistan
  • it has waged war in three continents (Yugoslavia in Europe, Afghanistan in Asia and Libya in Africa)
  • it is the only military alliance to have ever included more than one nuclear power (the U.S., Britain and France) and to openly proclaim itself a nuclear alliance
  • it is the only military alliance that has defined outer space as an operational domain as well as air, land, sea and cyberspace, and that has just opened a Space Centre (in Germany)

There are several other aspects of NATO and its activities that are unprecedented in scope and nature. Not the least important of which is its Article 5 mutual military assistance provision, the essence of which is:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them…will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

There is no greater threat to peace, to world peace in the nuclear age, than for a military alliance of 30 nations (and growing) to be prepared to go to war (including against nuclear powers) at the request of any of its member states.

It is that collective defense obligation that Biden has focused on since taking office in January and that he will highlight at tomorrow’s thirty-nation summit. It is in fact a central theme, arguably the main one, of his foreign policy.

In his virtual address to the annual Munich Security Conference in February he said:

“We continue to support the goal of a Europe whole and free and at peace. The United States is fully committed to our NATO Alliance, and I welcome Europe’s growing investment in the military capabilities that enable our shared defense.

“You know, to me and to the United States, and to us, we’ll keep article – we’ll keep faith with Article 5. It’s a guarantee. An attack on one is an attack on all. That is our unshakable vow….”

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post on June 5, Biden wrote (or had attributed to him):

“As new technologies reshape our world in fundamental ways, exposing vulnerabilities like ransomware attacks and creating threats such as invasive AI-driven surveillance, the democracies of the world must together ensure that our values govern the use and development of these innovations – not the interests of autocrats.

“Those shared democratic values are the foundation of the most successful alliance in world history. In Brussels, at the NATO summit, I will affirm the United States’ unwavering commitment to Article 5 and to ensuring our alliance is strong in the face of every challenge, including threats like cyberattacks on our critical infrastructure.”

Dividing the world into NATO allies, partners and affiliates against the four nations that Washington and Brussels have branded autocrats, authoritarians and threats to the rules-based international order – Russia, China, Iran and North Korea (now five with diminutive Belarus) – is being done in the name of a global Manichean struggle between democracy (us) and autocracies (them). At the Mildenhall air base Biden also said:

“I believe we’re at an inflection point in world history – the moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies will not just endure, but they will excel as we rise to seize the enormous opportunities of a new age.

“We have to discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over, as some of our fellow nations believe. We have to expose as false the narrative that decrees of dictators can match the speed and scale of the 21st [century] challenges.”

And after offering obligatory diplomatic platitudes about preferring to get along with Russia (if it would only change its ways; all its ways), he canceled out that message with these assurances:

“But I’ve been clear: The United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way when the Russian government engages in harmful activities. We’ve already demonstrated that. I’m going to communicate that there are consequences [for violating] the sovereignty of democracies in the United States and Europe and elsewhere.

“I’m going to be clear that the Transatlantic Alliance will remain vital – a vital source of strength for the UK, Europe, and the United States. And I’m going to make sure there’s no doubt as to whether the United States will rise in defense of our most deeply held values and our fundamental interest.”

A European and ultimately a global crusade by history’s most formidable military bloc to make the world safe for democracy in the face of tyrants, despots, autocrats, dictators and authoritarians – most bearing Russian surnames.

The U.S. chargé d’affaires at NATO headquarters (Biden is yet to name an ambassador), Douglas Jones, further clarified U.S. international military priorities in recently stating that while NATO needs to confront challenges presented by China, Russia remains the “most immediate threat to the common security of the allies.”

Speaking to Euronews, Jones confirmed that Biden’s main message to his 29 allies at the NATO summit will concentrate on “recommitting the United States to NATO and expressing the iron-clad commitment of the United States to Article 5.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking recently in the U.S. at an Atlantic Council event, asserted this concerning alleged cyberattacks of the sort regularly attributed to Russia:

“In a way it doesn’t matter whether it’s a kinetic attack or a cyberattack, we will assess as allies whether it meets the thresholds for triggering Article 5. It sends a message that we regard cyberattacks as seriously as any other attack.”

For all its assertions that it is a political-military alliance, NATO is a military bloc with Article 5 as its bedrock.

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

Where Did Washington Go Wrong in Syria?

The unending Syrian conflict has become the most prolonged and bloodiest since the start of the twenty-first century. It carried off the lives of millions of Syrian, turned the country into a battlefront and caused an immigration crisis in Western states. Moreover, a new fear threatened the world—an emergence of international terrorism, which not only damaged regional security, but also plunged many European capitals into a chaos.
Such a situation could not be ignored by major players on the international scene, including the United States which has been involved in the Syrian crisis since its very beginning in 2011. But Washington is not currently a belligerent able to influence the conflict settlement, because it had previously made a lot of mistakes, which led to deplorable consequences. Where did the White House go wrong, opening the door to Turkey, Russia and Iran?
Regime change has been a long-standing goal of U.S. policy in Syria. Numerous nationwide protests, which began in 2011 under the auspices of American intelligence, laid the foundation for the civil war by igniting sectarianism. A large number of foreign fighters swarmed into the country. It is worth noting that not only the United States, but the United Kingdom and France also jumped on the opportunity to organize, arm and finance rebels to form the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as outlined in the State Department plans to destabilize Syria.
In mentioning the FSA’s role in the conflict we should note its structure. The American government’s claim, that it consisted of moderates, is contradicted by numerous facts. Thus, Professor Joshua Landis, head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, considers that the media largely ignored attacks on policemen and civilians during early demonstrations. “Western press and analysts did not want to recognize that armed elements were becoming active. They preferred to tell a simple story of good people fighting bad people,” he said in one of his interviews. Moreover, a senior figure in British intelligence, Alastair Crooke believes “the FSA is little more than a cover for the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists.”
Secondly, the CIA is at least indirectly implicated in the formation of ISIS. In particular, General David Petraeus, then-director of the Central Intelligence Agency, headed operations to send large shipments of Muammar Gaddafi’s weapons from Libya to Syria in 2012, which later were obtained by ISIS. Even as the terrorists began to militarily conquer nearly half the country, the U.S.continued to equip Syrian rebels, using local allies like Jordan and Turkey as intermediaries.
An equally important fact is that the Pentagon and CIA had tons of information not just about the movements of the Jihadists, but also their sources of financing and their ambitions to establish an autonomous state. The U.S. also tolerated its closest allies—Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Gulf states, which transfering money to ISIS. According to analysts, the main goal of such activities is a backlash against American opponents in the region, because either ISIS or al-Qaeda works against Iran, Russia and the Syrian government.
Finally, it is important to note subversive operations by U.S.-backed militant groups in central Syria. Despite the need for a political solution of the Syrian crisis, American military advisors continue to train militants in the al-Tanf garrison. Against the backdrop of the White House’s claims of ISIS’ defeat and increased terrorist attacks in southern and southeastern areas it can be assumed that the Americans perform such activities as part of “proxy war” with Damascus.
These circumstances confirm the fact that without the intervention of the United States and other countries, the protests could have never turned into a civil war with its tragic worldwide aftermath, including the migration crisis and spread of terrorism. In other words the United States’ destructive role in the Syrian conflict became obvious, not allowing it to become a full-fledged party to the peace process in the eyes of the international community.

Why Patriots Shouldn’t Pledge Allegiance

Flag Day is upon us, with the Fourth of July not far behind. No better time for a frontal assault on a cherished American ritual—the Pledge of Allegiance.

Though conservatives will be most aghast at this undertaking, the open-minded ones will soon discover they should be among the pledge’s greatest critics.

Before I open fire, a brief explanation for international readers: The Pledge of Allegiance is recited by children across America at the start of start of each school day. It’s also incorporated into many meetings held by federal, state and local governments and private groups as well.

Standing and facing the flag with hand over heart, one recites: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

A Government Loyalty Oath Written by a Socialist

Many who consider the pledge a cornerstone of conservative values will be surprised to learn it was written by a Christian Socialist named Francis Bellamy, who was run out of his pulpit at a Boston church for preaching against capitalism, and who called Jesus Christ a socialist.

His radical cousin, Edward Bellamy, wrote a popular novel, Looking Backward, which glowingly describes a future in which government controls the means of production and where men are conscripted into the country’s “industrial army” and compelled to work in roles assigned to them by central planners.

While working for The Youth’s Companion, a children’s magazine, Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892, timed to be introduced in patriotic celebrations accompanying the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival.

According to a summary of Bellamy’s account of his writing of the pledge, he aimed for brevity, as well as “a rhythmic roll of sound so they would impress the children and have a lasting meaning when they became grown-up citizens.”

Given his beliefs, Bellamy was well-suited for creating a loyalty oath that conditions Americans to subordinate themselves to a powerful central government. Make no mistake—in pledging allegiance “to the republic,” Americans are doing precisely that.

That’s consistent with Bellamy’s wish for state sovereignty and individual liberties to yield to a centralized national government, but it’s starkly at odds with the founding spirit of the country.

Central to that spirit are the notions that government should be a servant and not a master, and that all government should be viewed with deep, ongoing wariness— certainly not the reverence demanded by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Free people have no business pledging loyalty to any government. It’s government that has a duty of loyalty to the people, with no more essential demonstration of that loyalty than the protection of the rights of individuals.

Conditioning America’s Youth for Subservience

Bellamy didn’t just write the pledge, but also instructions for an accompanying ritual that feels simultaneously religious and militaristic:

“At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the Flag the military salute—right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it… At the words, ‘to my Flag,’ the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, towards the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.”

Yes, Bellamy directed civilian children and adults to render a military salute to the flag, perhaps laying the philosophical groundwork for the eventual creation of the socialist “industrial army” his cousin envisioned in his novel.

The arm outstretched toward the flag came to be called the “Bellamy salute,” and it endured for several decades before its striking similarity to the Nazi salute prompted its replacement in 1942 by the familiar hand-over-heart gesture.

I haven’t always felt this way. Conditioned by 13 years of public school, I continued sincerely reciting the pledge at various functions far into my adult life. Following my U.S. Army service, I’d even stand at attention with heels locked—Bellamy would’ve been proud.

It was only after learning the true meaning of liberty and the animating spirit of our system of government that my mind was changed. If your experience is like mine, once you begin recognizing the pledge as the authoritarian loyalty oath that it is, you’ll soon develop disdain for its nearly every phrase.

50 States, Infinitely Divisible

Two elements of the pledge are especially destructive of a healthy mindset regarding the relationship between the American people and government: “One nation” and “indivisible.”

First, in creating the United States of America, the founders were not forming a single nation. The U.S. Constitution is a compact of independent states, with the word “states” taking its highest political meaning that puts Virginia, for example, on par with France.

That compact delegated certain, limited powers to a federal government so it could perform stated functions in service to the separate states. As James Madison wrote, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite.”

Fifty different sovereign societies exercising numerous and indefinite powers, without regard to the federal government and, whenever necessary, in outright defiance of it. That’s the United States of America.

With each “one nation” incantation, however, American children and adults are conditioned to view their states as insignificant political subdivisions, while embracing the primacy of the federal government and the centralization of power in Washington, DC.

However, of the pledge’s 31 words, “indivisible” should give greatest offense to American patriots. The very existence of the United States—created by secession from the British empire—is a testament to political divisibility as a foundational human right.

The Declaration of Independence explicitly expresses that sentiment:

“Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed—that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

By reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and proclaiming the United States of America “indivisible,” Americans disclaim their human right of self-determination. They also surrender their ultimate means of holding government accountable: Every government should exist under perpetual threat of disintegration.

Scouring the pledge for positives, one can appreciate that Bellamy rightly referred to the government as a republic and not a democracy—an important yet underappreciated distinction.

Likewise, we can all embrace the idea of “liberty and justice for all.” However, the pledge implies that’s the current state of affairs, rather than a far-off ambition.

That ambition is undermined by the powerful central government advanced by Bellamy’s pledge. Today, it faces a potent new threat from those who, pursuing “equity,” seek to undermine the rights of individuals by imposing new forms of government-sanctioned discrimination.

Making an Idol Out of Cloth and a False God Out of Government

Civics aside, it’s worth noting that, since its introduction, the pledge has also sparked objections on religious grounds—and I’m not referring to the 1954 addition of the words “under God,” and its attendant controversy about the separation of church and state.

Rather, many religious people reasonably view pledging allegiance to a flag as a form of idolatry, or something uncomfortably close to it. Before you scoff at the idea that the U.S. flag has evolved into a “graven image” in the Second Commandment sense, consider that citizens are encouraged to dispose of worn-out flags by burning them and, after a period of silent reflection, burying the ashes.

Other religious individuals are put off by the idea of swearing faith to a government. One such critic quotes the Christian bible’s Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters.” You don’t have to ponder that long to see many profound conflicts between the bible’s values (e.g., “blessed are the peacemakers,” “thou shalt not steal”) and the U.S. government’s.

An Authoritarian Spectacle That’s Not Going Anywhere

No matter where the hand is placed in what Gene Healy rightly calls a “slavish ritual of devotion to the state,” it’s safe to say if the Pledge of Allegiance had never existed, and Americans were to observe a similar rite in another country, most would surely recoil at the authoritarian spectacle.

Alas, there could be no such opportunity: Richard Ellis, author of To the Flag: The Unlikely History of the Pledge of Allegiance, looked but couldn’t find another country that has anything like it.

Created by a socialist and now fiercely championed by those who think they’re conservatives, the Pledge of Allegiance will likely continue warping Americans’ thoughts about the relationship between citizens and government for many more years to come.

This article was originally featured at Stark Realities and is republished with permission.

TGIF: VP Harris Tells Guatemalans to Stay in Their Place

Shame on Vice President Kamala Harris.

On her recent trip to Guatemala she said, “I want to be clear to folks in the region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come. I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”

This is what passes for sensitivity to human rights in the post-Trump era. It’s the same attitude that marked not only the Trump years but also the pre-Trump era under Barack Obama, the deporter-in-chief, and Joe Biden.

Notice Harris mentioned the “dangerous trek” without acknowledging that the U.S government is a big reason for the danger. If immigrants were welcome, they would have safe ways to travel north to the United States with their children. It’s typical of government officials to create a peril and then pose as humanitarians in offering advice about safety.

What’s the Biden-Harris solution to the problems that Guatemalans are trying to escape from by migrating to America? Harris promised U.S. help in reforming the government there. “The goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home,” she said. Her administration has about as much chance of doing that as it has to help Americans find hope at home.

The U.S. government would have a chance to improve conditions in Guatemala and other places, but that would require doing something it has no desire to do, namely, slash its power dramatically. It could start by permitting unconditional free trade and by ending the drug war, which has ravaged Guatemala and Latin America even worse than it has the United States. Do you think Biden-Harris would entertain that truly progressive program? Me neither.

But even if that were to happen and Guatemalans became much freer and safer, many might still want to come to the United States. Yet that would be none of the U.S. government’s business. Until someone has been proved to have violated someone else’s rights, they should be left unmolested by the state. That’s not just a right of Americans; it’s a right of all persons. The right to move is a natural individual right that in itself does no harm to others as physical force does. Accepting a job that an American wanted or affecting the culture doesn’t count as harm. We benefit from the countless people who have changed the culture over years and from the immigrants who have started businesses, invented products, and achieved great productivity. That some people fear change should not be allowed tilt government policy against immigrants.

All the fear-mongering about free immigration is nothing more than that: baseless attempts to scare Americans essentially into shutting the borders. To see this, one need only consult the heroic work of Bryan Caplan of George Mason University, who demolishes every bogey about open borders in blog posts, journal articles, and graphic nonfiction. Caplan shows that fear of immigrants–about wages, culture, politics, and more–is simply irrational. He also points out how much free movement would increase the wealth of the world, as people in low-productivity countries moved to high-productivity countries like the Unites States. He and others have emphasized that the best global antipoverty program would be open borders.

And as I pointed out recently, a new book emphasizes that restrictions on immigrants and would-be immigrants necessarily constitute restrictions on Americans. Chandran Kukathas writes in Immigration and Freedom: “It is difficult to control outsiders without also controlling insiders, since insiders are all too ready and willing to hire, teach, rent to, trade with, marry, and generally associate with outsiders. Moreover, insiders and outsiders are not readily distinguishable unless there are instruments of control in place to identify one or the other.”

Telling Guatemalans or anyone else “Do not come” is no different from telling them to stay in the place where they belong. The long-suffering victims of tyranny, corruption, and government planning are properly resentful of American officials who give them such a condescending admonition.

The Case of Colonialism: Secession for Thee, But Not for Me

The twentieth century was a century of secession. Since the end of the Second World War, the number of independent states in the world has nearly tripled as new states, through acts of secession, came into existence. This was driven largely by the wave of decolonization that occurred following the Second World War.1Alberto Alesina and Enrico Spolaore, “What’s Happening to the Number and Size of Nations?” E-International Relations, November 9, 2015.

From the late 1940s through the 1970s, across Africa and Asia—and even in Europe, as in the case of Malta—dozens of colonial territories declared independence through referenda and other strategies.

Throughout these processes of decolonization, much of the international community—including the United States—was supportive. Following the Second World War, the United States explicitly supported decolonization efforts, and was often quick to recognize the new countries’ sovereignty and establish diplomatic relations.

The U.S. frequently supported these acts of secession because, it was said, it was morally imperative so as to respect the rights of “self-determination” denied to the world’s colonized territories. Moreover, many of the world’s sovereign states supported this global spree of secessionist movements, from the US, to the Soviet Union and China, and within many international organizations like the United Nations.

Yet, when secession is suggested in other contexts, today’s regimes are far less enthusiastic and generally condemn the very idea of secession.

For example, the Spanish regime today opposes independence for Catalonia and for the Basque Country. The Russians fought a long and bloody war to prevent independence for Chechnya. The U.S. regime would clearly take a very dim view of any member state or region that attempted to declare independence.

Doesn’t this illustrate a glaring inconsistency in thinking? If self-determination is desirable for African or Asian colonies, why is secession verboten in other situations?

The answer is it’s easy to support secession in far-off territories of little strategic value. When secession hits “close to home,” on the other hand, regimes that have long pretended to be in favor of self-determination will quickly turn on a dime and begin to manufacture a multitude of reasons as to why secession and self-determination are not, in fact, tolerable after all.

Defining down the Meaning of “Colony”

The idea of national self-determination as an explicit political movement originates with the American Revolution. As Jefferson and his colleagues stated in the Declaration of Independence, “it is the right of the people to alter or abolish” a government deemed to be abusive by the governed. Obviously—given that the Declaration of Independence was a declaration of secession—these strategies rightfully employed by “the people” included secession.

It is easy to apply the Jefferson’s notion of self-determination to any colony, whether in North America in the eighteenth century, or in Africa in the twentieth. Thus, governments looking to show off their humanitarian chops—what we might today call “virtue signaling”—will embrace secession. But only for purposes of decolonization—and regimes are very careful to limit what they mean by “colonies” and “decolonization.”

In this way of thinking, there’s a bright shiny line between a population oppressed by colonizers, and one that isn’t. Cases like Nigeria or India, for example, offer easy cases. Nigeria and India were both controlled by Britain and subject to British political domination. But, both these places are far away from Britain itself, and their populations—at least in the mid twentieth century—were easy to distinguish visually from the British population. In other words, the people in these colonies “looked like” what one expects to see in foreigners exploited by colonizers. Moreover, these populations did not have direct representation in Parliament.

Yet none of these factors are really the key issues in determining if a population is denied self-determination. Yes, the Indians and the Nigerians did not have votes in Parliament. Yes, the Indians and the Nigerians often had interests very different from those of their rulers who governed from thousands of miles away.

But colonization and the denial of self-determination is not just something that occurs in faraway lands where people look different and speak different languages.

In his 1927 book Liberalism, Mises contends that the denial of self-determination is most certainly not just for people who live in colonial territories. Indeed, self-determination is routinely denied even within polities that are democratic. Mises writes:

The situation of having to belong to a state to which one does not wish to belong is no less onerous if it is the result of an election than if one must endure it as the consequence of a military conquest…. To be a member of a national minority always means that one is a second-class citizen.

In other words, if a person, for whatever reason, is forced to be part of a nation-state or empire in which he does not wish to be a part—even if he can vote in elections—his situation is not fundamentally different from one who has been “colonized” via military conquest.

After all, any group or any “people”—to use Jefferson’s term—which is in a permanent voting minority will indeed find itself at an immense disadvantage. Mises illustrates this in the case of a person who is part of a linguistic minority:

when he appears before a magistrate or any administrative official as a party to a suit or petition, he stands before men whose political thought is foreign to him because it developed under different ideological influences…. At every turn the member of a national minority is made to feel that he lives among strangers and that he is, even if the letter of the law denies it, a second-class citizen.

For Mises, the problem of linguistic minorities was the go-to example, but this framework can be applied to any number of other factors. Minority status could be based on religion, ethnicity, or just ideology. Any “citizen” who finds himself within an group whose worldview is substantially different from that of the ruling majority will be at a disadvantage.

That is, if a small minority group believes that circumcision is an important religious and cultural ritual—but the majority vehemently believes circumcision is in fact barbaric—it is just a matter of time before the minority group’s culture and religion will be gravely threatened.

In other words, this group will have been essentially colonized by the majority. It will be assimilated and subjected to the whims of what is a “culturally alien” power that just happens to be located geographically within the same community.

Limiting the Meaning of Self-Determination

Yet regimes are careful to ignore this problem or deny that colonized populations exist within the borders of the metropoles themselves. In their essay “National Self-Determination: The Emergence of an International Norm,” Michael Hechter and Elizabeth Borland note the inconsistency, and how regimes create an arbitrary distinction between external colonies and internal ones:

That culturally alien rule is deemed illegitimate in colonies but legitimate when it occurs within sovereign states (as in internal colonies) seems both logically and ethically inconsistent; but this is not necessarily so. Because decolonization does not tend to alter international boundaries, it is does not directly threaten existing sovereign states. The secession of a region does cause a shift in international boundaries, however, and thus is represents a potential threat to the territorial integrity of many, if not most, extant states. This fact provides a political rationale for what otherwise appears to be a glaring inconsistency. Although few sovereign states, if any, might be prepared to endorse a principle that could threaten their own territorial integrity, a majority could (and did) vote for this much more restrictive conception of self-determination. (emphasis added)2Michael Hechter and Elizabeth Borland, “National Self-Determination: The Emergence of an International Norm,” in Social Norms, ed. Michael Hechter and Karl-Dieter Opp (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2001), p 199.

I think Hechter and Borland here err in concluding that the inconsistency has been overcome. It’s still there. It’s just that regimes have successfully managed to create the impression it’s been overcome by creating an arbitrary distinction between varying types of colonies. So, when the United States regime conquered and annexed New Mexico and Hawaii, the regime was careful to define these as domestic non-colonial territories.

It’s Not a Colony, It’s the Homeland

The French did something similar with Algeria, although the strategy ultimately failed: as far as the French state was concerned, Algeria was not a colony, it was an “integral part of France” after 1848 and was designed to become like any other French region complete with representation in the national legislature. Thus, France fought hard against Algerian independence both in Algeria and in international forums with other powers. France insisted that the loss of Algeria would mean the loss of core French territory.

The situation was similar in the American southwest. The only difference is that Anglo-American settlers eventually overwhelmed both the Mexican and indigenous populations in New Mexico, thus ensuring the colonized populations could never hope to assert independence or autonomy.

Indeed, the arbitrariness of regimes’ limited conception of self-determination is all the more highlighted by the presence and plight of indigenous populations within settler-majority nations (e.g., Canada, the U.S., Bolivia, Mexico).

In these cases, we find many groups that are still characterized by culture and language that is separate from that of the majority population. Moreover, these groups are often even tied to specific geographic areas. In the U.S., for instance, we see this with tribal populations on tribal lands.

Yet, the U.S. regime is careful to never refer to these tribal lands as “colonies” or colonized areas although that is clearly what they are. As suggested by Hechter and Borland, the reason lies in the fact that to label these areas as colonies would give fuel to the notion that, as with African and Asian colonies, these areas deserve self-determination either through full secession or at least through a radical shift toward regional autonomy. To do so would present a threat to the “territorial integrity” of the U.S. itself.

Democracy Will Fix It!

So, it is not surprising that today’s regimes reject the notion that denial of self-determination is even possible along the lines of laid out by Mises. If a religious or ethnic or ideological group finds itself in the minority, regimes insist that self-determination can nonetheless be achieved through “democracy” within the political forms preferred by regimes. This is not a realistic hope for groups that are in a state of permanent minority, however.

Although Western regimes like the United States like to talk a lot about self-determination for others outside the U.S. itself, the regime and its supporters steadfastly deny that the nation contains any minority groups—ideological, religious, or otherwise—that ought to be granted autonomy in the fashion of colonized populations in Africa or Asia. Even when the Left emphasizes the existence of “oppressed minorities” the answer always lies in a larger, more active regime, and in promises of more “democracy.”

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

How America Destroyed the Middle East

The following is the Introduction to the Libertarian Institute’s Executive Director Scott Horton’s new book, Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism.

The Middle East, North Africa and South-Central Asia are in chaos. Populations have been riven by sectarian civil war in what remains of the former states of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Mali, across to Afghanistan and down into the Arabian Peninsula. More than a million people have been killed. Tens of millions more have been displaced, resulting in the massive refugee crisis that afflicted Europe in the last decade.

This is because the U.S. government has spent the last 20 years waging wars and interventions across these regions against an endlessly shifting series of enemies. They claim to be doing all this to defend the American people against international terrorist groups. In truth, the entire War on Terrorism has been at the expense of the actual security of the United States and the people of the Middle East and Africa. Membership in bin Ladenite terrorist groups is near its all-time high.

The reality is that the US government got us into this mess in the first place and that virtually everything they have done in response to anti-American terrorism has only helped the terrorists grow in strength.

This is by design: the enemy’s. As Osama bin Laden explained for years before the attacks of September 11, 2001, he was attempting to lure Americans into personally fighting the wars al Qaeda members believed the US was already waging against them. They blamed America for the actions of its various proxy forces in the region, primarily the dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well as the Israeli occupation in Palestine.

By providing the American government a crisis to exploit, bin Laden guaranteed that the United States would set about accomplishing the terrorists’ goals for them. Among these were the destabilization of U.S.-supported regimes in the region, religious and political radicalization of populations of Middle Eastern countries, and most importantly, the bankruptcy of the American treasury with the ultimate goal of forcing the US from the region entirely.

Their plan was to provoke a US invasion of Afghanistan so they could attempt to replicate their 1980s war of attrition against the Soviet Union’s military occupation of that nation. By most accounts, that effort, supported by the United States and their Saudi and Pakistani allies, did contribute to the final collapse of the USSR in the years 1988–1991.

Al Qaeda’s mission was accomplished when America attacked Afghanistan in 2001. But, if the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the “hoped for, but unexpected gift to bin Laden,” in the words of the former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s al Qaeda unit, the rest of American policy since then must seem like they hit the lottery. The regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia still stand, but America’s wars in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and especially the covert war against the Syrian government from 2011–2017 have helped spread bin Ladenite political and religious radicalism and violent conflict throughout the region and into northern and western Africa. Membership in groups declaring loyalty to al Qaeda or its Iraqi splinter group ISIS are now in the tens of thousands.

A long-term proxy war between Saudi Arabia, Iran and their respective Sunni and Shi’ite allies was worsened considerably by the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, which redrew territorial lines of authority through bloody conflict and guaranteed further violence for decades to come. Over time, America has fought for and against all sides of this conflict, sometimes at the same time.

Both radical Sunni al Qaeda, the American people’s enemy, and Shi’ite-led Iran, the American government’s major strategic rival for dominance over the Middle East, have only continued to make gains these last two decades, at the expense of entire Middle Eastern civilian populations. As many as two million fighters and civilians have been killed, wounded and widowed – and tens of thousands of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, guardsmen and contractors with them.

Congress has passed thousands of new laws, established entire new federal bureaucracies and granted spy agencies such as the CIA, NSA and FBI vast new powers to collect information on all American citizens without constitutional warrants. In the era of the War on Terrorism, federal government lawlessness has made a mockery of the American values of freedom and justice that our politicians have cynically invoked to justify their destructive policies.

The government has spent trillions of dollars. Politically connected interests have made massive fortunes, but American society at large has gained nothing beyond, perhaps, increasingly necessary technological advancements in the manufacture of prosthetic limbs.

The generals and hawks say we can never withdraw from any Muslim country where US forces are stationed because those spaces will then become “safe havens” from which terrorists will be able to stage attacks on American civilians. But it has been unwarranted American intervention in other people’s countries that has motivated terrorist attacks against us all along. Meanwhile, American strategy and tactics against al Qaeda-loyal forces have only been counterproductive, increasing the power and influence of the targeted groups. When the US has outright sided with the enemy in Libya, Syria and Yemen, the results have been catastrophic.

In a perverse imitation of our enemies, the policy of American dominance in the Middle East amounts to murder-suicide on a mass scale. The treasury is empty, the infantry is exhausted, the Bill of Rights is in tatters and the American people do not believe in the war anymore.

Polls show that strong majorities of even the troops who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan say these wars should never have happened in the first place.

Twenty years is enough already.

It is time to end the War on Terrorism.

It is time to just come home.

You can purchase your own copy of Enough Already at this link.

WATCH: Cop Flips Over Pregnant Woman’s SUV to Give Her a Speeding Ticket

Cops, as the Free Thought Project reports on a regular basis, are extremely quick to escalating force. From baton blows to trigger pulls, American cops love to dish out the violence with extreme prejudice. There is another form of violence police use that doesn’t get mentioned as much but is just as deadly. It is called the Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) maneuver and a pregnant woman in Arkansas is seeking to change police policy after a cop used a PIT maneuver on her after accusing her of speeding—a traffic ticket.

Last July, Nicole Harper was driving home on the interstate when Senior Cpl. Rodney Dunn accused her of driving fast and targeted her for revenue collection.

Not wanting to pull over on a dark highway, Harper, who was pregnant with her daughter at the time, tried to drive to a well lit spot to be extorted. Harper put on her hazard lights, pulled into the right lane and slowed down to look for a well lit area to stop.

Harper failing to immediately prostrate herself before the state to receive her promise of extortion, however, seemingly enraged the Arkansas state trooper. That’s when Dunn decided it was time to perform a PIT maneuver on the pregnant woman which caused her car to roll end over end before crashing into a concrete barrier at 60 mph.

“In my head I was going to lose the baby,” Harper told FOX 16.

The trooper’s body camera recorded the conversation after the deadly maneuver.

“Why didn’t you stop?” Dunn questioned.

“Because I didn’t feel it was safe,” Harper said.

Dunn responded, “well this is where you ended up.”

“I thought it would be safe to wait until the exit,” Harper said,

“No ma’am, you pull over when law enforcement stops you,” the trooper stated.

“We don’t anticipate vehicles rolling over nor do we want that to happen,” Dunn said, adding, “all you had to do was slow down and stop.”

“I did slow down, I turned on my hazards, I thought I was doing the right thing,” Harper said.

Harper explained that the exit at which she intended to stop was less than a half mile down the road.

Harper has since filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas State Police accusing the trooper of using negligent and excessive force by conducting the PIT maneuver.

The lawsuit states and the video illustrates that Harper had slowed down and indicated that she was going to stop but the trooper escalated to deadly force anyway.

“I feel like I had heard that’s what you do, you slow down, you put your flashers on and you drive to a safe place,” Harper told FOX 16, and it turns out, according to the State Police’s own textbook—that is exactly what you are supposed to do.

According to State Police’s “Driver License Study Guide,” under “What to do When You Are Stopped” section, the first instruction says to  use, “emergency flashers to indicate to the officer that you are seeking a safe place to stop.”

This is exactly what Harper did and she was nearly killed for it.

FOX 16 reports:

PITs are becoming more common with State Police. Recent FOX 16 Investigates uncovered State Police attempted or used pits on at least 144 drivers last year. That’s almost double compared to the year before. In 2020 at least three people were killed during PITs, one was a passenger.

“What was done to Ms. Harper was deadly force,” Harper’s lawyer Andrew Norwood said, noting they intend to change to policy on when cops use PIT maneuvers.

“There was a less dangerous and more safe avenue that could have been taken before flipping her vehicle and making it bounce off a concrete barrier going 60 miles an hour,” Norwood said, and he is right.

What this incident illustrates is the lengths to which cops will go to extort citizens over traffic violations. If a cop claims you made some arbitrary and victimless infraction, that cop will extort you. If you refuse to be immediately extorted, that cop will try to kill you.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

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