The Worst Mistake In US History

Authored by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

The worst mistake in U.S. history was the conversion after World War II of the U.S. government from a constitutional, limited-government republic to a national-security state.

Nothing has done more to warp and distort the conscience, principles, and values of the American people, including those who serve in the U.S. military.

A good example of how the national-security state has adversely affected the thinking of U.S. soldiers was reflected in an op-ed entitled “What We’re Fighting For” that appeared in the February 10, 2017, issue of the New York Times. Authored by an Iraq War veteran named Phil Klay, the article demonstrates perfectly what the national-security state has done to soldiers and others and why it is so imperative for the American people to restore a constitutional republic to our land.

Klay begins his op-ed by extolling the exploits of another U.S. Marine, First Lt. Brian Chontosh, who, displaying great bravery, succeeded in killing approximately two dozen Iraqis in a fierce firefight during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Klay writes,

When I was a new Marine, just entering the Corps, this story from the Iraq invasion defined heroism for me. It’s a perfect image of war for inspiring new officer candidates, right in line with youthful notions of what war is and what kind of courage it takes — physical courage, full stop.

Klay then proceeds to tell a story about an event he witnessed when he was deployed to Iraq in 2007. After doctors failed to save the life of a Marine who had been shot by an Iraqi sniper, those same doctors proceeded to treat and save the life of the sniper, who himself had been shot by U.S. troops. Klay used the story to point out the virtuous manner in which U.S. forces carried out their military mission in Iraq.

Well, except perhaps, Klay observes, for Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison in which Saddam Hussein’s government had tortured and abused countless Iraqis and which the U.S. military turned into its own torture and abuse center for Iraqis captured during the 2003 U.S. invasion of the country. Klay tells the story of a defense contractor named Eric Fair, who tortured an Iraqi prisoner into divulging information about a car-bomb factory. Encouraged by that successful use of torture, Fair proceeded to employ it against many other Iraqis, none of whom had any incriminating evidence to provide.

Klay points out that both Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were major turning points in the Iraq War because prisoner abuse at both camps became a driving force for Iraqis to join the insurgency in Iraq. Thus, while Fair may have saved lives through his successful use of torture, he and other U.S. personnel who tortured and abused people at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay may well have cost the lives of many more U.S. soldiers in the long term.

Klay, however, suggests that none of that was really Fair’s fault. While he might have crossed some moral lines, everything he did, Klay suggests, was in accordance with legal rules and regulations. Klay writes,

And Eric did what our nation asked of him, used techniques that were vetted and approved and passed down to intelligence operatives and contractors like himself. Lawyers at the highest levels of government had been consulted, asked to bring us to the furthest edge of what the law might allow. To do what it takes, regardless of whether such actions will secure the “attachment of all good men,” or live up to that oath we swear to support and defend the Constitution.

Klay refers to the oath that U.S. soldiers take to support and defend the Constitution. Clearly patting himself and other members of the U.S. military on the back, he says U.S. soldiers fight with honor to defend a “set of principles” that are reflected in the Constitution and that define America.

It would be difficult to find a better example of a life of the lie than that of Phil Klay. He provides an absolutely perfect demonstration of what a national-security state does to soldiers’ minds and why the Founding Fathers were so opposed to that type of governmental structure.

The rights of invaders

Notice one big omission from Klay’s self-aggrandizing article: Iraq never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. Instead, it was the U.S government, operating through its troops, that was the aggressor nation in the Iraq War. Wars of aggression — i.e., attacking, invading, and occupying other countries — were among the crimes of which the defendants at Nuremburg were convicted.

It is absolutely fascinating that that critically important point seems to escape Klay so completely. It’s as if it just doesn’t exist or just doesn’t count. His mindset simply begins with the fact that U.S. troops are engaged in war and then it proceeds from there to focus on the courage and humanity of the troops, how their bravery in battle inspired him, and how they treated the enemy humanely. It never occurs to him to ask the vital question: Did U.S. troops have any legal or moral right to be in Iraq and to kill anyone there, including Iraqi soldiers, insurgents, civilians, and civil servants working for the Iraqi government?

Many years ago, I posed a question about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq to a libertarian friend of mine who was a Catholic priest. I asked him, If a U.S. soldier is placed in Iraq in a kill-or-be-killed situation, does he have a right to fire back at an Iraqi who is shooting at him?

My friend’s answer was unequivocal: Absolutely not, he responded. Since he has no legitimate right to be in Iraq, given that he is part of the aggressor force that initiated the war, under God’s laws he cannot kill anyone, not even by convincing himself that he is only acting in “self-defense.”

I responded, “Are you saying that his only choice is to run away or permit himself to be killed”? He responded, “That is precisely what I am saying. Under the laws of God, he cannot kill anyone in Iraq because he has no right to be there.”

Suppose a burglar enters a person’s home in the dead of night. The homeowner wakes up, discovers the intruder, and begins firing at him. The burglar fires back and kills the homeowner.

The burglar appears in court and explains that he never had any intention of killing the homeowner and that he was simply firing back in self-defense. He might even explain to the judge how bravely he reacted under fire and detail the clever manner in which he outmaneuvered and shot the homeowner.

The judge, however, would reject any claim of self-defense on the part of the burglar. Why? Because the burglar had no right to be in the homeowner’s house. Like the U.S. soldier in Iraq, when the homeowner began firing the burglar had only two legal and moral options: run away or be killed.

That’s what my Catholic priest friend was pointing out about U.S. soldiers in Iraq. They had no right to be there. They invaded a poor, Third World country whose government had never attacked the United States and they were killing, torturing, and abusing people whom they had no right to kill, torture, or abuse.

That’s what Klay as well as most other members of the U.S. military and, for that matter, many Americans still don’t get: that the Iraqi people were the ones who wielded the right of self-defense against an illegal invasion by a foreign power and that U.S. forces, as the aggressor power in the war, had no legal or moral right to kill any Iraqi, not even in “self-defense.”

Klay waxes eloquent about the U.S. Constitution and the oath that soldiers take to support and defend it, but it’s really just another perfect demonstration of the life of the lie that he and so many other U.S. soldiers live. The reality is that when U.S. soldiers vow to support and defend the Constitution, as a practical matter they are vowing to loyally obey the orders and commands of the president, who is their military commander in chief.

There is no better example of this phenomenon than what happened in Iraq. The U.S. Constitution is clear: The president is prohibited from waging war without a declaration of war from Congress. No declaration, no war. Every U.S. soldier ordered to invade Iraq knew that or should have known that.

Everyone, including the troops, also knew that Congress had not declared war on Iraq. Yet, not a single soldier supported or defended the Constitution by refusing George Bush’s order to attack and invade Iraq. Every one of them loyally obeyed his order to attack and invade, knowing full well that it would mean killing people in Iraq — killing people who had never attacked the United States. And they all convinced themselves that by following the president’s orders to invade Iraq and kill Iraqis, they were supporting and defending the Constitution.

How do U.S. soldiers reconcile that? They convince themselves that they are supporting and defending the Constitution by obeying the orders of the president, who has been democratically elected by the citizenry. It’s not their job, they tell themselves, to determine what is constitutional and what isn’t. Their job, they believe, is simply to do what the president, operating through his subordinates, orders them to do. In their minds, they are supporting and defending the Constitution whenever they loyally and obediently carry out the orders of the president.

That means, then, that the standing army is nothing more than the president’s private army. As a practical matter, soldiers are going to do whatever they are ordered to do. If they don’t, they are quickly shot or simply replaced, which provides a good incentive for others to do as they are told. That’s why soldiers invaded Iraq, which had never attacked the United States, and killed people who were defending their country against an unlawful invasion. That’s also why soldiers and defense contractors tortured and abused people at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere. They all believed they were carrying out the orders of their superiors, from the president on down, and that they were supporting and defending the Constitution in the process.

As people throughout history have learned, that is also why a standing army constitutes such a grave threat to the freedom and well-being of the citizenry. It is the means by which a tyrant imposes and enforces his will on the citizenry. Just ask the people of Chile, where the troops of a military regime installed into power by the U.S. national-security establishment rounded up tens of thousands of innocent people and incarcerated, tortured, raped, abused, or executed them, all without due process of law and with the support of the U.S. government.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, I read that some Catholic soldiers were deeply troubled by the prospect of killing people in a war that the U.S. government was initiating. I was stunned to read that a U.S. military chaplain told them that they had the right under God’s laws to obey the president’s order to invade Iraq and kill Iraqis. God would not hold it against them, he said, if they killed people in the process of following orders.

Really? Are God’s laws really nullified by the orders of a government’s military commander? If that were the case, don’t you think God’s commandment would have read: “Thou shalt not kill, unless your ruler orders you to do so in a war of aggression against another nation”?

To this day, there are those who claim that George W. Bush simply made an honest mistake in claiming that Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s dictator, was maintaining weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that U.S. soldiers were justified in trusting him by loyally obeying his orders to invade and occupy Iraq to “disarm Saddam.”

They ignore three important points:

it was a distinct possibility that Bush and his people were simply lying. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a president had lied in order to garner support for a war. Lyndon Johnson’s lies regarding a supposed North Vietnamese attack on U.S. warships in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam come to mind.


Two, Bush didn’t secure the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, most likely because he knew that congressional hearings on the issue would expose his WMD scare for the lie it was.


And three, only the UN, not the U.S. government, was entitled to enforce its resolutions regarding Iraq’s WMDs.

Moreover, the circumstantial evidence establishes that Bush was lying and that the WMD scare was entirely bogus. Many people forget that throughout the 1990s the U.S. government was hell-bent on regime change in Iraq. That’s what the brutal sanctions were all about, which contributed to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children. When U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright was asked on Sixty Minutes whether the deaths of half a million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it,” she responded that such deaths were “worth it.” By “it,” she was referring to regime change.

That desire for regime change in Iraq grew with each passing year in the 1990s, both among liberals and conservatives. Demands were ever growing to get rid of Saddam. Therefore, when Bush started coming up with his WMD scare after the 9/11 attacks, everyone should have been wary because it had all the earmarks of an excuse to invade Iraq after more than 10 years of sanctions had failed to achieve the job.

The best circumstantial evidence that Bush lied about the WMD scare appeared after it was determined that there were no WMDs in Iraq. At that point, if Bush had been telling the truth, he could have said, “I’m very sorry. I have made a grave mistake and my army has killed multitudes of people as a consequence of my mistake. I am hereby ordering all U.S. troops home and I hereby announce my resignation as president.”

Bush didn’t do that. In fact, he expressed not one iota of remorse or regret over the loss of life for what supposedly had been the result of a mistake. He knew that he had achieved what the U.S. national-security state had been trying to achieve for more than a decade with its brutal sanctions — regime change in Iraq — and he had used the bogus WMD scare to garner support for his invasion. And significantly, the troops were kept occupying Iraq for several more years, during which they killed more tens of thousands of Iraqis.

One thing is for sure: By the time Phil Klay arrived in Iraq in 2007, he knew full well that there had been no WMDs in Iraq. He also knew that Iraq had never attacked the United States. By that time, he knew full well that the U.S. government had invaded a country under false or, at the very least, mistaken pretenses. He knew there had been no congressional declaration of war. He knew that there was no legal or moral foundation for a military occupation that was continuing to kill people in an impoverished Third World country whose worst “crime” was simply trying to rid their country of an illegal occupier.

Yet, reinforced by people who were thanking them for “their service in Iraq,” Klay, like other U.S. troops, convinced himself that their “service” in Iraq was a grand and glorious sacrifice for his nation, that they were defending Americans’ rights and freedoms, and that they were keeping us safe. It was a classic life of the lie because our nation, our rights and freedoms, and our safety were never threatened by anyone in Iraq, including the millions of Iraqis who were killed, maimed, injured, tortured, abused, or exiled, or whose homes, businesses, or infrastructure were destroyed by bombs, missiles, bullets, and tanks.

In fact, the entity that actually threatened the rights and freedoms of the American people was the U.S. government, given the totalitarian-like powers that it assumed as part of its effort to keep us safe from the enemies its interventionist policies were producing. Coming to mind are the totalitarian-like power to assassinate Americans, secret mass surveillance, and the incarceration and torture of American citizens as suspected terrorists — all without due process of law and without trial by jury.

This is what a national-security state does to people - it warps, damages, or destroys their conscience, principles, and values; induces them to subscribe to false bromides; and nurtures all sorts of mental contortions to enable people to avoid confronting reality.

Many years after Brian Chontosh’s exploits in Iraq, Phil Klay was surprised to learn that Chontosh was experiencing some ambivalence about what he had done. “It’s ugly, it’s violent, it’s disgusting. I wish it wasn’t part of what we had to do,” Chontosh later wrote.

Perhaps that’s because conscience was beginning to stir within him. That’s a good sign. Maybe it will begin to stir in Phil Klay too. And other members of the military as well.


nmewn TeamDepends Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:56 Permalink

To my mind, I believe it was Wilson who really started mixing the ideals of a republic with a democracy. A populist ploy he used that we are still having to deal with to this day...but but but...Kalifornia! No, ignorant snowflake tards...sovereign STATES and the operating principles of Constitutional republican law that we all agreed on.Or...we can have no federal law at all...which I'm perfectly fine with too ;-)

In reply to by TeamDepends

mkkby nmewn Thu, 09/21/2017 - 23:45 Permalink

No exit clause in the constitution. A book called "the real lincoln" makes the case that if states could threaten to leave, most of the abuses of the central go would have been avoided.

Lincoln did not free the slaves in the north, and he wanted blacks sent back to africa. The war was about states rights vs central authority. That's when it all went to hell.

In reply to by nmewn

The Alarmist mkkby Fri, 09/22/2017 - 09:41 Permalink

If you have to get s legal opinion whether or not something you are doing is legal, you are dancing on the edge at best. If it involves making human beings uncomfotable under duress, you're probably across the line. You can bet the Nazis who were hanged for following orders had a legal opinion that what they were doing was legal.

In reply to by mkkby

detached.amusement mkkby Fri, 09/22/2017 - 10:24 Permalink

There doesnt need to be an exit clause, any of this bullshit about it supposedly being illegal for a state to band together and give the middle finger to the captured central fedgov is merely rewritten and usurped history.History that almost every single attorney upholds.Gotta be rough only knowing false history.

In reply to by mkkby

Sweet Cheeks Creepy_Azz_Crackaah Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:57 Permalink

I have to agree with your assessment of many women voters. I don’t question how women vote as much as their reasoning for their decision.

Aclose friend of mine, just last week, said women would vote for Secretary of State Tillerson for president just because he has a deep voice. I replied that I could not believe anyone would be that shallow and she responded that she was just that shallow.

Another female friend opposes tariffs on imports simply because it would, in her words, “make Chinese imported shit” cost more at Walmart and she didn’t care if it costs jobs for Americans.

Yet another proclaimed she was a Hillary supporter because Hillary is a woman. It does not matter what she has done -selling uranium to Russia or lies about Benghazi or deleting emails on her server or any other past decision.

Still another admits she knows nothing about the issues but says she has to vote for Democrats because that is how she is registered.

I fear for my country.

In reply to by Creepy_Azz_Crackaah

TeamDepends Sweet Cheeks Thu, 09/21/2017 - 22:02 Permalink

"I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of "Women's Rights", with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to "unsex" themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection. I love peace and quiet, I hate politics and turmoil. We women are not made for governing, and if we are good women, we must dislike these masculine occupations." - Queen Victoria, 1870

In reply to by Sweet Cheeks

wisehiney Sweet Cheeks Thu, 09/21/2017 - 22:32 Permalink

Don't you just love the way some of the most admirable, strong women you meet, know that they are the exception rather than the rule."One of the guys" type bad ass chicks.And they completely agree with me.For example, I think HonestAnn was inspired from my late reading of Hedgeless Horsemans most excellent contribution yesterday.Not that I would/could speak for her.Sorry to be tardy for that one.

In reply to by Sweet Cheeks

Barney Fife Creepy_Azz_Crackaah Fri, 09/22/2017 - 19:18 Permalink

It truly was one of the biggest mistakes this nation ever made, objectively speaking. Yes, there are competent women who can think unemotionally and analytically. But for every 1 there are 200 bimbos with tons of feels. And they "want to matter". So they vote....and in the process have gone a long way towards ruining this nation with their goofy feel-good idealism. 

In reply to by Creepy_Azz_Crackaah

buzzardsluck FinMin Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:45 Permalink

Inducing the start of the USA into WW2 I would say (leaving out the civil war of course).  Who am I kidding    I meant provoking an attack and ignoring that it was coming for two weeks. Worst mistake was believing a piece of paper would fix things (the ink was barely dry before those that fought/argued for it  began breaking what was written). No /S here   women should never get a vote.

In reply to by FinMin

e_goldstein Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:33 Permalink

No, central banking was the worst mistake.Without a central bank and bullshit promisory debt coupons they wouldn't be able to afford the warfare/welfare state.

HopefulCynical Oliver Klozoff Fri, 09/22/2017 - 13:58 Permalink

The two things we need to repeat, over and over, to everyone we know, even casually:

1. The true origins of the Bolshevik Revolution, and the actual murder toll of communism.2. The endless warfare regime of America cannot exist without the bottomless blank checkbook provided by private central banking, aka The Federal Reserve system. (If they're fiscally conservative/libertarian, also point out that the welfare state is also funded by The Fed. That's not a flaw to brainwashed leftists, though.)

As more and more people are "redpilled" to these two issues, the power of the Marxist globalists is weakened. It's already happening, but we see the globalists accelerating their timetable. It's now a flat-out race, to see whether humanity is permanently captured by globalist parasites, or expels them from the body politic.The most effective message is the most efficient, streamlined one. The truth of Marxism, and of banksterism, is THE CRUX OF THE BISCUIT.

In reply to by Oliver Klozoff

wisehiney Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:37 Permalink

It was all so predictable and inevitable.This was the last place for us to run to.And we have had a great time.But there is nowhere else.What do you do with that is the only choice left.

DrData02 Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:38 Permalink

They justify it by being paid to follow orders and kill.  That is what mercenaries do.  Anyone volunteering for the US armed forces, at least in the last ten years, fits this description. 

shinobi-7 Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:40 Permalink

This is why devolution of power is so important. How many countries have been attacked by Switzerland? Why are we supposed to learn from the best run companies but not from the best run countries?

nmewn Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:43 Permalink

Prolly just me but I notice things like this and it bugs the hell out of me..."Many years ago, I posed a question about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq to a libertarian friend of mine who was a Catholic priest.""That’s what my Catholic priest friend was pointing out..." the first instance its present, in the other its past.The first should be "is".Unless no longer a Catholic priest, which makes the second more disingenuous than the first. 

PGR88 Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:48 Permalink

Sorry, the Federal Reserve is still the worst mistakeIt is the debt-creating and currency devaluating method by which all other mistakes are paid for.

Cabreado Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:53 Permalink

The biggest mistake was letting Congress go rogue.That is on the People.ETA: and I'll remind... a Congress that could shut down the Fed in a relative instant.

exartizo Thu, 09/21/2017 - 22:08 Permalink

Catholic priests are usually good men.

But unfortunately, most of them have never ever read the Bible. Ever.

So, it's understandable that the gentleman was uninformed about what the Bible actually says about war.

Fighting under a genuine heartfelt real sense of patriotism for your country is a Godly act.

So, under that real and seriously biblical definition, YES, any American Soldier who was in Iraq was within his Godly right to shoot and kill the enemy while he believed he was defending his country and acting honestly as an American Patriot.

End Of Story.

By the way Jacob, the only thing that matters today is "Did you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and believe that God his Father raised him from the dead?" (Romans 10:9, 10). That's the only way ANYONE ever gets out of this life with eternal life, according to scripture.

The "so called Jews" of 2017 (the good folks who live in a country they aptly named "Israel") have ABSOLUTELY NO BIBLICAL REFERENCES OR BIBLICAL CREDIBILITY WHATSOVER.

Because, today, God's chosen people are Christians.

And Christians ONLY.

So it just doesn't matter if you call yourself a "Jew" or not from the Bible's point of view.

Gee, I do hope that clarifies things for you.

One other thing:

Christians DO NOT LIVE UNDER THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW which was completely fulfilled by our Lord and Savior when Jesus Christ died and then rose again from the dead three days later.

There were no Christians living on this planet until The Day Of Pentecost in Acts 2.

The day that Jesus Christ returns for Christians is the day that the Age of Grace that was started on The Day of Pentecost ends.

Yep. That will be the last day to get holy spirit, become born again, become a Son Of The Most High God, and, oh yeah, receive eternal life, for all men.