The occupation of West Virginia is going to be a sight to see.
Following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, some pundits and members of the national security state have been demanding a new war on terror. This time, however, the targets will be Americans. To take a representative example, Kevin Carroll writes in the Washington Examiner, “We ruthlessly hunted down foreign terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and must do the same to their domestic equivalents.”
But the Capitol riot was not equivalent to the horror of 9/11, except to those eager for an excuse to unleash the national security apparatus on their fellow Americans.
Those who broke into the Capitol and attacked the police guarding it were largely a disorganized rabble, sprinkled with a few instigators who planned for violence. Their behavior was deluded and wicked, but it was not the equivalent of al-Qaida bringing down the Twin Towers, blowing a hole in the Pentagon, and murdering nearly 3,000 Americans. Frankly, it’s nothing short of grotesque to pretend the situations are equivalent.
Furthermore, even if the situations were similar, launching a War on Terror 2.0 against American citizens would be unnecessary. Law enforcement has been diligently tracking down and arresting those who participated in the rioting.
Washington D.C. has been occupied by thousands of National Guard troops and a multitude of physical security barriers have been erected. Donald Trump has been impeached (again), left the White House as scheduled, and will soon be on trial in the Senate, to potentially be banned from ever returning to office. Thankfully, the predicted follow-up violence has not occurred.
In short, the problem is being solved. But solved problems don’t expand budgets, increase power and provide opportunities to punish one’s enemies. Those require a continued threat of insurgency, sedition, and terrorism. Thus, Carroll concludes, “We defeated al Qaeda and can do the same to the fascist thugs who attacked our democracy last month. But only if we take similar hard measures against the enemy within.”
Setting aside the dubious claim that al-Qaida is defeated (rather than merely diminished), it is would be tyrannical insanity to bring the aggressive, Constitution-bereft, oft-blundering tactics of the War on Terror to American soil. Yet that is the logical conclusion of Carroll’s argument — invading West Virginia, waterboarding good old boys in Alabama, and drone-striking weddings in Oklahoma.
Carroll is unwilling, at least in print, to draw out the obvious conclusions of his calls for launching a new, domestic war on terror. Indeed, there is a striking gap between his apocalyptic rhetoric about the supposed threat and his actual proposals to address it.
He mostly pushes for expansions of the national security apparatus into American life and local government. For instance, he suggests the government “make fire and police departments that receive federal grants have their members sign commitments not to engage in acts to overthrow the government. Prosecute any who subsequently violate their oaths.”
This is superfluous, insofar as it is already illegal to try to overthrow the government. The purpose of such a proposal is not to stop or punish domestic terrorists but to further subsume state and local authorities into the national security state.
If Carroll is serious about ferreting out threats to the constitutional order, he could start with himself. He urges the government to “use the supremacy of federal law to ban ‘militias’ beyond the National Guard” even though the federal government is constitutionally prohibited from doing so. Carroll does not seem to have taken his oath to “support and defend” the Constitution very seriously.
Indeed, he and those who share his views do not respect the Constitution. As far as they are concerned, enumerated powers and the Bill of Rights are obstacles to be overcome, not limits to be observed. Spying on Americans, and then lying about it to Congress, is routine for them.
As for democratic government, they enthusiastically subvert efforts by elected officials to direct our nation’s foreign policy. Toward the end of Trump’s presidency, for instance, they openly bragged about lying to the president in order to keep troops in Syria.
They don’t believe in democracy or the rule of law, they believe in their power. The permanent security state that has been setting American policy in Iraq and Afghanistan and Yemen and Syria and all the rest have already wrested huge amounts of control from the elected branches of government. Giving more power, especially over American citizens, to such people is a greater threat to our constitutional government than the idiot rioters who attacked the Capitol.
If the War on Terror 2.0 gets to the “arming the moderates on the ground” stage, however, please ignore these criticisms and put me down as one of the “moderates.” I promise to make good use of the pallets of cash and guns.
Nathanael Blake is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist. He has a PhD in political theory. He lives in Missouri.