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The War Against Freedom
T.J. Newton

he President's National Security Strategy (PDF File. Requires Adobe Acrobat) argues that in order to "pre-empt" the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction ("WMD's"), the social, political, economic, and moral policies and principles of all nations, including our own, must be controlled using the economic and military power of the United States, under the direction of the Commander in Chief. In the case of disagreements, the administration will act decisively and exercise its own will, using any means necessary, to maintain its power and control over all ideas, in all nations, including the U.S. This strategy, it is argued, is the only way to protect freedom and liberty. But in fact, such a strategy can only produce the complete and total destruction of the principles we cherish, producing a world in which the will of the administration is carried out using the economic and military power of the United States.

We will ...wage a war of ideas to win the battle against international terrorism [...] to ensure that the conditions and ideologies that promote terrorism do not find fertile ground in any nation (NSS 6).

The "conditions and ideologies that promote terrorism" may sound like something we want to prevent. And the document reminds us that

a terrorist enemy['s] ...so-called soldiers seek martyrdom in death and [their] most potent protection is statelessness (NSS 15).

Like much of the document, this sounds very convincing. But the "conditions and ideologies that promote terrorism" include opposition to:

Pro-growth legal and regulatory policies to encourage business investment, innovation, and entrepreneurial activity; tax policies - particularly lower marginal tax rates - that improve incentives for work and investment; [...] [and] sound fiscal policies to support business activity (NSS 17).

How are such political and economic controls on the policies of all nations, including our own, justified in terms of "pre-empting" terrorism?

A strong world economy enhances our national security by advancing prosperity and freedom in the rest of the world. [...] It allows people to lift their lives out of poverty, spurs economic and legal reform, and the fight against corruption, and it reinforces the habits of liberty (NSS 17).

From this premise, the administration's political and economic policies are expounded upon. But anyone with any "common sense" knows that these policies are disputed both in the U.S. and abroad. For example, many of the administration's economic reforms and policies involve the use of social capitalism, repress the poor, deny people equal access to education, discourage entrepreneurial activity, and exploit hard working people all over the world (see The Struggle for Equality: Economics, Politics, & Education and Copyright Law and Social Change).

If the political and economic policies of the administration are viewed as a matter of national security, necessary to pre-empt terrorism, then our democracy becomes a threat to our own national security. This is simply wrong. The primary interest of our national security is to protect our democracy, and prevent political and economic policies from being enacted by a "command-and-control [economy] with the heavy hand of government" (NSS 17). The will of the people cannot be seen as a terrorist threat. In a democracy, our representatives must be free to shape policy according to the will of the people.

The administration's strategy extends not only to our own state, but to others as well. In order to lift themselves from poverty, states must "implement real policy changes" (NSS 21) and "accountability must be expected and required" (Bush qtd. NSS vi) in order to receive aid or other economic incentives. These changes include adopting the administration's social, political, economic, and moral policies and principles, because the administration believes this will "pre-empt" terrorism. In essence, we are economically bullying states to adopt the policies of the administration, including the moral philosophy of the President.

"Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong. I disagree. Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities" (Bush qtd. NSS 3). We will speak out honestly about violations of the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity (NSS 4).

Should any state wish to defend its right to set its own social, political, economic and moral policies and principles, they are not permitted to defend their rights militarily.

Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States (NSS 30).

However, they will face military action from the United States if they even think about defending freedom, or if they simply "hate the United States and everything for which it stands" (NSS 14).

We will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country (NSS 6).

Although states cannot act militarily, they can disagree. However, their disagreements will be ignored.

We will not allow such disagreements to obscure our determination to secure together, with our allies and friends, our shared fundamental interests and values (NSS 31).

What are these "values?" The administration's strategy asserts that we are "united by common values" (Bush qtd. NSS v). These values include the social, political, economic, and moral policies and principles of the administration, which the administration's strategy argues are not matters for democratic debate, but matters of national security. This essentially indoctrinates the administration's belief that dissent aids terrorists, and makes the case that dissenting Americans should be spied on by anyone ranging from animal inspectors to agents of the FBI. (see see Why Should You Care if the Government Spies on You and Officially Terrifying America: The Rhetoric of Homeland Security). The message is clear: Americans, and the rest of the world, must agree with the administration or be labeled as terrorists, or as aiding terrorists. The administration will use the "full influence of the United States" (NSS 6) to enforce its interests and values.

Despite all of the efforts to destroy freedom and democracy, domestically and abroad, a small portion of the administration's strategy is devoted to weapons of mass destruction. Trying to stop "the Bomb" before it goes off is certainly "common sense" (Bush qtd. NSS v), but if pre-emption means pre-empting social, political, economic, and moral thought that the administration believes leads to the development of weapons of mass destruction, I'm not sure "pre-emption" is the word to use for trying to keep bombs from going off. A state's tax policy does not cause terrorism. Controlling the social, political, economic, and moral policies and principles of states is not the way to go about making the state economically strong (Bush qtd. NSS v), and it will inevitably foster the conditions for military competition.

Must social, political, economic, and moral policies be controlled to "pre-empt" the spread of weapons of mass destruction? Doesn't such a stance undermine the idea of freedom we hold dear? Doesn't such a policy provoke terrorism? If it is believed that the world will achieve peace through a common understanding, is military force and social control the way to achieve it? Looking at the state of our own nation, are we in a position to claim we have reached a common understanding about anything? As someone who has tried, and hoped for the same peace, I remain convinced that the answer is still no (see neoNewtonian Philosophy). If we simply ban dissent in an attempt to achieve such an understanding, and are forced to give up our freedom out of a fear of the "knock of the secret police," we will not have achieved a common understanding. It would be wiser to do what we can to stop the spread of weapons, and, indeed, encourage education, encourage the free flow of all information and ideas, and encourage debate, than to attempt to use force to bring about a false certainty in which all conflicting ideas are viewed as terrorist threats. If we really do believe in freedom, we have to practice it and hope for the best. If we want to protect freedom against terrorist ideas, we have to do so using ideas. We cannot protect ourselves from weapons of mass destruction by fighting a "war of ideas" with military force. When the threat of weapons of mass destruction is imminent, we do not have to wait for the bombs to go off, but we cannot attack based on ideas. We cannot suppress ideologies in an attempt to protect ourselves. The conditions and ideologies that promote terrorism cannot be cured with the threat of military force and social control; they must be addressed using ideas. The fact that the ideas we've tried haven't worked is proof that we do not yet have the "right" ideas. If we had achieved a true common understanding based on the ideas we already have, we hopefully wouldn't have had a 9/11. Our ideas are still flawed, and we can't prop them up as a common understanding using the strength of our military and our economy. If we believe in our ideas (as I do in the ones I advocate), the best thing to do is to put them out there and see if they work. And it is important to remember that even the best ideas and the strongest economy cannot provide absolute certainty against terrorism. That kind of certainty would destroy freedom.

In the U.S., we cannot even agree on how to interpret the ideas we already have. If our leaders act alone instead of continuing to debate until a common understanding is reached, we will be left with only the ideas of those in power. When our leaders use their power to force us to agree to those ideas, it smacks of a "will to power." Whether or not that can be avoided is a matter for debate. I believe it can, and that's why the administration's National Security Strategy must be recognized as a serious threat to freedom all over the world. It is a doctrine of war against everyone on Earth.


NSS: United States (2002). White House. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Washington: http://www.whitehouse.gov.

Selected Works Cited:

Newton, T.J. (2002). Copyright Law and Social Change. http://www.newsking.com/newsking/iprop.htm, 21 September 2002.

---. (2002). neoNewtonian Philosophy. http://www.neonewton.com/, 21 September 2002.

---. (2002). The Struggle for Equality: Economics, Politics, & Education. http://www.newsking.com/newsking/edecpo.htm, 21 September 2002.

United States (2002). White House. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Washington: http://www.whitehouse.gov.

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