Bring Back America

by Harry Browne

March 13, 2003             

You and I are fortunate that we weren't born and raised in Iraq or Syria or Korea or Zimbabwe or Indonesia.

Because we're Americans, we don't live in a police state, as so many billions of people in the world do.

Of course, our own government has made it clear that it can and will monitor our emails, tap our phones, dig into our bank accounts, and imprison us indefinitely without trial or even access to an attorney. But then, unlike the police states, our government does these things only for good purposes never to hide its mistakes, to intimidate dissenters, or to force us to trust its good intentions as happens in police states.

Because we are Americans, we have a free press not the controlled press that exists in Iraq and other despotic countries.

Of course, our President holds scripted news conferences during which the questions and questioners have been chosen in advance. But that's merely because he has a penchant for organization, not to control what the press reports the way it's done in despotic countries.

It's true that over the past year we've been subjected to an unrelenting drumbeat of accusations against Saddam Hussein all emanating from our government. This has been picked up by the press. Radio and TV newscasts (and even commercials for the newscasts) replay over and over statements from George Bush and Colin Powell about the evils of Saddam Hussein as though we were living in the land of 1984 where citizens are bombarded with Big Brother's pronouncements from all sides.

And it's true that the obsession with Saddam Hussein has become so pervasive that polls by ABC, CNN, CBS, the Los Angeles Times, and Knight-Ridder all show that a majority of Americans assume the World Trade Center attackers were Iraqis. (I wonder how they got that idea.) I guess it's no surprise that a majority supports the President's desire to attack a country that hasn't attacked us or even threatened to do so.

But, unlike in Iraq, this propaganda has been disseminated as a replacement for the presentation of evidence that the President feels is too sensitive for us to see. So, unlike in Iraq, government brain-washing is done for our own security.

What I Want

If you'll forgive my feeble attempts at irony, I hope you'll at least see my point: in the guise of supposedly protecting our freedom, our government has already confiscated far too much of it.

"But what would you do about Iraq? Would you trust a known liar like Saddam Hussein? How would you get Hussein to disarm?"

I wouldn't even try anymore than I'd try to disarm Israel or China or Pakistan or India or Korea. Not one of those countries, including Iraq, has tried to attack us.

America's entry into World War I "to make the world safe for democracy" caused the war to last an extra year, allowed the communists to come to power in Russia, allowed Adolf Hitler to come to power in Germany, and laid the groundwork for World War II.

Our government's attempts to fight communism or spread democracy around the world have caused millions of innocent people to die in Iran, Indonesia, Iraq, Panama, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Grenada, Cambodia, and many other countries. All the good intentions in the world are little comfort to the people buried prematurely all over the globe.

What I want is for our government:

  • To quit pretending it knows what's best for other countries.

  • To quit inciting terrorists by backing coups and dictatorial regimes.

  • To quit generating hostility by bribing foreign governments to allow American troops to be stationed in a hundred countries.

  • To quit giving our money to foreign countries no matter whose side they're on.

Restoring the Real America

More than anything else, I want my America back:

  • The America in which politicians were limited to just what's authorized in the Constitution.

  • The America in which the government had no power to monitor your private life.

  • The America in which the government was so small, there was no need for an income tax and every dollar you earned was yours to put your child in a private school, maintain a much higher standard of living, or support your favorite church or charity in a much better way than you can today.

  • The America where people like George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Trent Lott, and Teddy Kennedy couldn't impose their ideas on us where each American was free to work out his own destiny.

  • The America that was once such a symbol of peace and freedom providing light and hope and inspiration to the entire world that the French people (not their government) voluntarily donated money to build the Statue of Liberty in gratitude.

  • The America in which each of us could live in peace and security because America was no threat to any other country.

That was the real America. What we have today is merely a carbon-copy of every smug government that presumed to rule the world and eventually caused people like you and me to pay for its arrogance.