Harry Browne departed this terrestrial ball on March 1.
I've thought about him quite a bit since. Each time, I've missed my friend and mentor.
There's allegedly a debate about Iraq in Congress today. I'm sitting here trying to think about what Harry Browne would say about the overly dramatic political opera playing on C-SPAN as I write this. I conclude that today, we all miss Harry Browne's clear, moral voice.
But we must go on without Harry.
What Harry Browne would say
Now, I'm no Harry Browne, but it seems to me that the one thing that's not on today's agenda is the actual War in Iraq. In fact, an old argument that had long ago been so thoroughly repudiated that it's only believed by the most isolated, partisan viewers of FoxNews, is being resurrected as if the past three years haven't happened.
That argument is that our government's attack on Iraq is part of the war on terrorism.
We haven't heard much about this linkage since the 2004 Bush campaign - until yesterday. And there was a reason for that: that link never existed.
* We're being asked to ignore the fact that fundamentalist-leaning Bin Laden and secularly-inclined Hussein were enemies.
* We're told to never-mind that the very places where bad guys like Zaqawri hung out, were located in the No-Fly Zone that the U.S. military patrolled and enforced for a decade before this war, that the White House refused not one, but two Pentagon plans to take him out months BEFORE the war started, and that Hussein couldn't, therefore, do anything to rid his country of these elements.
* We're supposed to forget that were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq (even though our government still held the packing slips on chemical weapons we supplied Hussein when he was fighting Iran).
* We're supposed to disregard what we've learned about how this White House handled intelligence in the period leading up to the war.
* We're to put out of our mind the rosy predictions about how Iraqi oil would fund our efforts, how the Iraqi people would "greet us as liberators," and throw roses at us.
* We're expected to check any thought that this war was started in an anti-Constitutional fashion and that it chucked any remaining vestige of Just War Theory right out the window.
* While we're building a huge, permanent base, with the second busiest American airport in the world (second only to O'Hare in Chicago) and an incredibly immense embassy compound (a small city from scratch with a population of 8,000) on Iraqi soil, we're supposed to believe that this administration actually wants to make Iraq self-governing and bring our troops home.
* And as if all that's not enough, we're supposed to dispel any notion our mind might entertain that the diversion of resources to Iraq has resulted in Osama Bin Laden continuing to operate - Allah knows where.
All that, and we haven't even discussed Iran!
So many arguments about the supposed linkage of Hussein to terrorism and his ability/desire to give WMDs to terrorists, have been demolished by the evidence that didn't show up until long after the claims had achieved their political goal of war.
New House Majority Leader Boehner said, publicly, that he hoped the discussion in the House today would resemble the tone and level of the debate on the Gulf War in 1991. But behind the scenes, he circulated a memo to his caucus. It said, link Iraq to terrorism; link 9-11 as often as you can. In other words, ignore the reality about how we ended up in Iraq and don't discuss how it's going.
And his caucus went one step further and saw to it that no Amendments could be made to this silly resolution.
It seems apparent, our efforts, no matter how well-intentioned, have resulted in more insurgents and terrorists, not less. Sure we've killed and captured some. But like Greek mythology, we cut off one head, and two or three spring up its place. And who knows how many of those too young to hold a weapon, are becoming hardened anti-Americans, even future terrorists.
If Harry Browne were here, he would be reminding us that the War on Terror is a War on Straw Men.
That the War on Iraq has virtually nothing to do with a war against terrorism, is clear from the record I've just recounted. But the real news
is that War on Terror is a political convenience that allows this administration to swell the growth of government, contract the existence of your civil liberties, and scare the American people into voting for them.
The truth is the Republicans understood full-well they were vulnerable on this issue. Public support for our efforts in Iraq is faltering, badly. This morning, we crossed 2,500 dead.
The Progressive Left, including groups like MoveOn.org, were seeking to exploit this opportunity. The thinking was, link the GOP to the failures in Iraq and the American people will turn to the Democrats.
I could've told them it wouldn't work. I'll get to why in a moment.
But first, the Republicans knew that they were vulnerable, except for one thing - the Democrats are divided. And therefore, they are NOT the alternative if you oppose this war.
The Washington Post reported
, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton was booed by anti-war Democrats at a recent speech. By actually having this debate, the Democrats were doubly-damned.
1) Their intra-party fracturing on this issue would be revealed and the anti-war crowd would see they couldn't turn to the Democrats, despite their rhetoric.
2) And they would be stuck with only bad options: voting against a resolution that was the metaphorical equivalent of God, country, motherhood, and apple pie, or voting for the war.
It's been said, be careful what you ask for, you just might get it - you might get it real hard.
So why won't the efforts of Progressive Democrats work? The folks they've elected have too much confidence in Big Government. They just cannot grasp the notion of an immediate withdrawal. Chaos would ensue. Everything requires an orderly, government plan - even re-deploying troops back to the States.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is hurting her own caucus. Her base is motivated to end the war. And they'll be demoralized when they see that her caucus has no plan to get out of Iraq. The public might well discover the truth during today's debate and Pelosi either can't or won't unite the Democrats in her caucus on the issue that matters the most.
Now Pelosi would disagree with this assessment. But when you visit HouseDemocrats.gov (a government-funded political campaign site) you find a six point agenda that doesn't mention Iraq. Under a heading labeled, The Big Picture, you can click on a link labeled, National Security
. Go ahead, click on it. You'll see that Iraq gets no permanent mention or link on that page either.
The Democratic front-runner is pro-war. Nearly all of the Democrats running for President oppose withdrawal that's attached to any specific timetable.
One could say that the Progressives are marching in front of their party, were it not for the fact that the Democratic leadership isn't willing to join them.
A bold withdrawal plan combined with a demonstration of insistence that the Democrats will not delegate their Constitutional authority to oversee this, or any other war, will bring them all kinds of support.
Fewer people want to vote Republican than did both two and four years ago. The problem for the Democrats is, these folks don't want the alternative either. The reason? The votes they need want to Downsize, not switch the management.