L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 140, September 24, 2001
Cliff 'Em All!
Tear Down The Taliban ... Not The Bill of Rights
by Vin Supynowicz
Special to TLE
George Bush the Younger rose to the occasion Thursday night, marking the one-week anniversary of the World Trade Center slaughter in an effective but nuanced speech.
He was particularly successful in generating confidence that he understands the complexity of the challenge at hand.
The British attempted to subdue forbidding, mountainous Afghanistan three times in the 19th century ... without marked success. The Russians spent a decade there not along ago, committing 100,000 troops -- and still failed, as they will finally fail in Chechnya.
(The Chechen independence fighters, by the way, are no more "terrorists" when they act in their own region than were George Washington and John Paul Jones, who -- some may remember -- carried the American Revolution to the shores of England.)
The prospect of spending the next decade attempting to subdue the Afghans with land forces, as we attempted to subdue the Vietnamese in the 1960s, thus warmed no one's heart.
It's tempting to note that the handicap of the suicidal Johnson-McNamara policy of "gradual escalation" would at least be absent. But let's recall the New York state senate delegation now consists of two socialists -- a senior member who helped facilitate the massacres of Sept. 11 by guaranteeing every law-abiding American on the planes in question had been thoroughly stripped of his or her Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and his nation, and a junior member who actually gave Mrs. Yasser Arafat a big hug and a smooch not long ago, right after that lady finished making a speech in which she called for shoving the Israelis into the sea. Neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Schumer has been much heard from in the past 10 days. Give these Fifth Column enemies of freedom some time to building a whining chorus of defeatism and despair, though ... give them time.
On the other hand, if invasion and occupation are a daunting prospect -- not least because the assailants of Sept. 11 would love to polarize the rest of the Islamic world against us -- what's the alternative? Lobbing a few dozen cruise missiles at some Afghan "training camp," killing three terrorists and a camel? Dispatching Janet Reno with 98 black-clad BATF agents to pull up in front of Taliban headquarters in a cattle trailer, pump the place full of nerve gas, burn it to the ground, beat up a couple TV cameramen on the way home, and declare victory?
No, this is the kind of "war" in which Americans are going to have to be willing to settle for nodding their heads and saying "God works in mysterious ways" if Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafii and Yasser Arafat all die eating bad dates while watching reruns of "Baywatch" ... whereupon a reluctant Saudi press would feel obliged to print posthumous photo spreads revealing the strange sexual habits of these departed gentlemen, apparently involving young "crusader" boys and, well ... naked pigs.
Gratifyingly, Mr. Bush indicated some theaters of this battle will consist of "covert operations which remain secret even in success."
On the other hand -- it can't be said too many times -- if we are fighting a battle to the death for our values, our freedoms, and our culture, we can't afford to sacrifice the very freedoms and values that make us what we are, on the pyre of a Pyrrhic victory.
The president named Gov. Tom Ridge to the new post of Secretary of Homeland Security Thursday night. It could be a harmless way to bring his 2004 vice presidential nominee into the limelight ... or Gov. Ridge could quickly become our new Wiretapping Czar.
Attorney General John Ashcroft was a miserable choice for that job -- a man who will whitewash any federal atrocity for a price (do Lon Horiuchi and the Waco Killers still walk free?), and who believes along with the nation's largest gun control organization, the NRA, that the Second Amendment allows "some reasonable regulation of firearms." (Who but a lawyer could read that into "shall not be infringed"?)
Sen. Ashcroft last week called for expanded FBI powers to read all our e-mail (make no mistake, the recently renamed "Carnivore" device can read all the e-mail flowing through an ISP, not merely those of a suspect named in a warrant.) Mr. Ashcroft's proposal could force cooperation from "any communications provider in the chain of providers carrying the suspect's communications" -- which also means accessing our voicemail messages .. before we ourselves have heard them.
Does this sound like the kind of free country for which American servicemen will soon be asked to fight and die?
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., responded to Mr. Ashcroft's proposals by warning "We are not going to let our Constitution get shredded. If we let the Constitution get shredded the terrorists win."
"A police state can do a much better job of protecting us, but unfortunately it would protect us from the very liberties that have made this country special," added Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif -- a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which would have to draft any such legislation.
Stick to your guns, guys. We've had enough of police state wish-lists and just-for-show "security." Time to:
1) Restore the right of all law-abiding Americans (including air crews) to carry firearms whenever and wherever they travel -- I'll personally book a cross-country fare the first day the first carrier advertises I can carry my firearm aboard, even if I do have to show my "concealed carry permit" and reload with frangible ammo.
2) Encourage U.S. and British oil companies to file suits to force compliance with the original contracts under which they explored and developed the oil fields of the Middle East -- contracts in many cases unilaterally abrogated 50 years ago. Enforce the resulting TROs. Cut off bin Laden's cash flow.
3) Make war in Southwest Asia by following the rules of the last fellow to successfully conquer the place. Genghis Khan graciously accepted the peaceful surrender of any city that would send him tribute ... even allowing them to keep their religion and customs. Those who demurred were left with no stone standing atop another. Their surviving male inhabitants had their hamstrings cut so they'd be crippled for life, while their women and children were herded back to China to serve as slaves and concubines.
"The greatest happiness is to crush your enemies and drive them before you," the great Khan advised, "to see his cities reduced to ashes; to see those who love him shrouded in tears; and to gather to your bosom his wives and daughters."
We do not need to strip any American of his liberties here at home. This "airport security" nonsense batted zero on Sept. 11. I could carry a high-tech plastic Bowie knife through the metal detectors, strapped to my thigh, tomorrow. Give it up. (No terrorist could have done what was done Sept. 11 if faced with a plane full of armed American passengers.)
Instead, the question now arises whether we have the strength of resolve to visit exotic lands, meet interesting people, kill them, get children on their wives and daughters, teach the resulting brats to play baseball, and barbecue their goats, leaving strangers who may happen upon the resulting piles of rubble a thousand years from now to scratch their heads and wonder if the people who once lived here had a name.
The nostalgic Taliban pray for a return to the conditions of the 13th century. Time to oblige them.