Harry Browne's Journal

This Journal provides random thoughts on news items and other issues. There won't be new postings every day, but most weeks there should be one to four new entries. This isn't an interactive blog where you can post your thoughts. However, you can email me — and if your email seems to be of general interest, I might respond in this Journal. I can't provide a personal answer, because I don't have the time to do many things I'd like to do.

April 27, 2005

Winning the war: Over and over, George Bush has told us that we're winning the so-called "War on Terrorism," and that the world is now a safer place

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush's State Department doesn't quite agree with him. According to a State Department study, significant terrorist attacks worldwide rose from 175 in 2003 to 655 in 2004 — a more than tripling of the number of attacks. And despite Mr. Bush's claims that we're wining the peace in Iraq, the number of terrorist attacks there increased from 22 in 2003 to 198 in 2004 — more than nine times as many. In addition, terrorist attacks more than doubled in 2004 in Afghanistan — another site of a great U.S. victory.

Of course, the "War on Terrorism" isn't really about security, lives saved, liberation, or victory. It's about words — words that can roll off a president's tongue with no regard to whether the words conform to reality. After all, who's going to check? Who's going to question the President of United States — the leader of the "Free" World?

Maybe that's why the State Department has decided not to include the figures on rising terrorist attacks in its annual report on worldwide terrorism. The figures will be in the version submitted to Congress, but not in this week's public version.

Scrutinizing the scrutinizer: Vice-President Dick Cheney says "I have looked at all of the charges that have been made" against John Bolton and "I don't think any of them stand up to scrutiny."

If only he’d applied the same scrutiny to the claims of WMDs in Iraq before he shot his mouth off so loudly and so often.

The real truth about Syria: Below I quoted Doug Casey's remarks about Syria. He wrote that the Syrian embassy is relatively unguarded, while the American embassies and consulates are armed fortresses. This provoked a few responses, the most well-thought-out of which was:

Remember, you liberal moron, that Syria is the terrorist nation (attacker) and we are the target.....they don't need fortresses....we don't attack embassies.

To which I can only reply:

Remember, you conservative intellectual, that America has attacked or invaded Afghanistan, Libya, Lebanon, Panama, Iraq (2), Grenada, the Sudan, and many other countries. You’re right: we don’t attack embassies, we attack whole countries.

One writer, who signed him/herself Geneva, wrote from Switzerland to say:

The American Embassy here is surrounded with 2 or 3, very high, cyclone fences, topped with razor wire. Marine guards are in front carrying rifles. This has been the case for several years, long before 9/11.

A few blocks down the street sits the Russian Embassy — that evil ex-enemy with which we scared the world and used as an excuse for numerous wars — with children's swings visible behind the fence and not one guard, armed or otherwise. The entrance gate is many times standing open.

Who won what with the cold war's end?

And another writer says:

But it doesn't stop there. All one has to do is look at Government buildings right here in America. Go to any Court House, Police Station, Tax Office, and — yes — even most Fire Stations, and you will find that all who are employed in these places are working behind bulletproof glass in buildings built like fortresses.

And still it doesn't stop there. I have been amazed over the years to see Government Schools (warehouses for future slaves) being built without windows, where fresh air for their little brains and other gray matter has been cut off.

In fact, several people wrote to point out:

I'm sure our embassy architects worked here in firms specializing in government school architecture.

The War on Corporations: I have long assumed that the accusations of corporate malfeasance have been extremely exaggerated. One has only to look at how Martha Stewart was railroaded to become suspicious of the allegations against other corporate officials. I haven't had time to examine the situation in detail, but I can steer you to a few articles that provide a different view from what you're used to hearing:

Dennis Kozlowski's achievements — Business Week, January 14, 2002
What the Tyco Chairman accomplished for his company before he was trashed for supposedly stealing paper clips.

How the SEC helped generate the scandals — Paul Craig Roberts, July 24, 2002
Not surprisingly, the government played a large — but typically unreported part — in the messes.

"Is Kenneth Lay a Criminal?" by William L. Anderson and Candace E. Jackson, August 16, 2004

"A Costly Nightmare for Corporations" by Robert Novak, April 7, 2005
covers the typical over-reaction by Congress to any popular scandal or crisis.

April 14, 2005

Today's Bible reading (courtesy of Revs. Falwell, Robertson, et al.):

Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called the children of God,
Except those who oppose any war started by a Republican president.

Dissing war: In the April 7 Journal, I said:

The very fact that it's World War II that's continually invoked (rather than the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Panama, or the War of the Roses) is an indication that World War II was unique.

To which,  Paul Farah said:

I bet you would have stood idly by during the War of the Roses too, and just let the House of Hanover win over the House of Tudor.  If people listened to folk like you, we'd all be speaking English today! 

New TV show: I have a new weekly Internet TV show on the Free Market News Network. Each week at 6pm Eastern time a new episode is posted on the FMNN website. Every episode is 30-45 minutes in length, and consists of several segments, including a different perspective on recent news items — and a guest with whom I have a spirited, but civil, debate on a current issue of the day.

Syria & the U.S.: My friend, investor writer Doug Casey, travels the world — and his reports are always fascinating. In the April issue of his newsletter, he talks about a recent trip to see firsthand what's going on in the Middle East. Before visiting Syria, he was in Dubai — where he obtained his Syrian visa.

I found this part of his report quite enlightening:

The Syrian Embassy was a perfectly ordinary, if rather rundown, house in a residential area, untroubled by security or guards — rather unlike the American consulate, which resembles a high-rise fortress with armed guards, metal detectors, steel doors with buzzers, and bullet-proof glass windows, behind which lurked surly clerks who might have been transplanted from the local DMV.

And that was just the Consulate; the U.S. Embassy for the U.A.E. in Abu Dubai (as well as the one in Qatar), is a massive high-tech affair, a blockhouse-style building, a bunker really, surrounded by a high blast-wall that leaves the whole compound looking as formidable as any prison. Very much the template for U.S. embassies around the world.

Not that I'm a connoisseur of embassy design, but I know of no other country employing such paranoid architects. It says a lot about the success of our foreign policy that such extreme measures are required.

April 7, 2005

Mission Accomplished, Part XVII: Breaking news: Ibrahim Jafari, a Shiite politician and former exile who battled Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, was named prime minister of Iraq Thursday.

I guess it's time for another great celebration — and another round of articles proclaiming that George Bush was right all along, that he's brought democracy to Iraq, and that it was worth the cost (without mentioning that the cost was tens of thousands of human lives snuffed out).

Perhaps we were wrong to celebrate the final and total victory when the new Iraqi Parliament began its meetings (and resorted to shouting matches) — or just because an election was held on January 31 — or when "sovereignty" was turned over to the interim Iraqi government — or when Saddam Hussein was captured — or when George Bush swaggered on the aircraft carrier and announced that "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended" — or when Saddam's statue was toppled (by U.S. marines and Iraqi quislings, as it turned out) — or when Baghdad fell.

But this time we know Iraq is finally liberated and free. And now no one could possibly believe that George Bush wasn't absolutely right in killing thousands of people to bring us to this moment.

The "good" war: It never fails that when I write an article having to do with Iraq, the "War on Terror," or any other war, someone (no, make that some people) will write to me pointing out that I probably would have stood by during World War II and let Germany or Japan conquer America. One way or another, the "good war" is invoked to let me know that I'm a fool for opposing the war in Iraq or some other current crusade.

All right, let's look at World War II.

And let's forget about Franklin Roosevelt baiting the Japanese until they attacked Pearl Harbor — and we'll ignore the fact that Hitler couldn't even cross the English Channel to conquer England, let alone cross the Atlantic Ocean to conquer America — and we'll overlook the point that America's entry into the war didn't prevent six million Jews from being executed — and we'll just pretend that Roosevelt's ridiculous ideas of "unconditional surrender" and cozying up to Joe Stalin didn't lead to half of Europe and all of China falling into Communist hands.

So if we leave all that out of the discussion and assume that World War II was the most noble, justified, glorious, humanitarian war ever fought in the history of the world, we're still left with the question: So what???!!

What has World War II to do with Iraq, George Bush, the "War on Terror," or anything else going on today?

The very fact that it's World War II that's continually invoked (rather than the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Panama, or the War of the Roses) is an indication that World War II was unique. If it really was a "good war," the constant rhetorical resort to it is proof in and of itself that most wars aren't good wars. So we can't possibly believe that the mere fact that America entered World War II is a justification for America entering any other war.

But I can imagine that if George Bush decides to invade Canada tomorrow, and I write an article complaining about it, someone (no, make that some people) will write to me saying that if I'd had my way in the 1940s, we'd all be speaking German (or Japanese) today.

March 2005 Journal



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