The Cost of Being the USA
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
Why is the United States of America the target of terrorist threats? It seems that the threat to the USA is much greater than to Canada or Switzerland. The difference is in US foreign policy and power. The US is perceived to impose its imperial will on other countries.
Many examples can be cited. The US has overthrown governments, supported oppressive dictators, and taken sides in conflicts. US global intervention goes back to 1898, when the US fought an opportunist war with Spain and obtained overseas territories. The conquest mentality was inherited from Europeans who sought to conquer and settle other peoples' lands.
Europeans were bigger imperialists, but that is now seen as something in the past. The US is perceived by many Muslims as today's interventionist power. Terror is a response to that, but it is a pathetic and futile reaction. The terrorists have the US boxed in. The US government cannot be seen as giving in to the terrorist demands. The US response has been to exert even more power, as in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Nevertheless, the terrorists have not learned that lesson, because they also have a culture of violence and revenge, which become ends in themselves. How then can America cope with such an intractable threat?
The 13 American states under the Articles of Confederation adopted a more unifying constitution in order to provide a better defense against external enemies. But now the very membership of a state in the USA puts it in danger. If Hawaii, for example, were once again an independent country, it would no longer be such a target of terror.
The people of Hawaii would now be better off as an independent neutral country. They would not need to spend so much on costly security and they would also be free of federal regulations and taxation. Hawaii would have to assume its share of the US national debt and social security obligations, but that would not add any new burden.
Hawaii would provide for its defense by joining NATO. The Republic of Hawaii would have a treaty with the US, so that the US could maintain its military bases in Hawaii. An independent Hawaii would pay its current share of the military expenses of the US, and its citizens could serve in the military of the US, but Hawaii would have an independent foreign policy. Any intervention by the USA would not be Hawaii's fault.
Alaska too would be better off independent. Alaska has a large coastline that is expensive to patrol. Why should Alaskans have to suffer from the threat of terrorism? As an independent country, Alaskans would no longer be responsible for foreign meddling.
The independent states of Alaska and Hawaii could then form a Commonwealth of American States together with the USA. Within the CAS there would be free trade and passport-free travel, and if they wished, the non-US members could use the US dollar as their currency. But the non-US states would establish independent diplomatic relations with other countries.
With Alaska and Hawaii no longer being such terrorist targets, California could be the next state to secede. Eventually, all US states would become independent members of the Commonwealth of American States. The more states seceded, the greater would the terrorist threat be concentrated on the remaining states. There would be rush to secede until all that was left of the USA was the District of Columbia.
The terrorists would then have to focus their threats to Washington, DC. Congress would represent only the citizens of the District. The president would be elected only by voters in the District. Federal law would apply only to DC. Only the residents of Washington DC would be responsible for US foreign policy and military action.
The terrorist threat would thus be focused on the District. Some district residents would move out because of that, but this would be offset by the immigration of Americans who would oppose the dissolution of the USA and would want to remain US citizens.
We don't know when the terrorist threat will end, but someday, it too shall pass. Eventually, the futility of terror, the global revulsion of the mass death and destruction, and changing political conditions will diminish the zeal for mass murder. Then perhaps the states of the CAS could rejoin the USA. But it would not be the same old USA. Freed from federal regulations and taxation, the states would demand a new system. US federal taxation and regulation is not a planned system, but a hodge-podge that developed historically under various political pressures. The states would also demand a new, less interventionist, foreign policy. Perhaps the only way to eliminate the messes of the past is to dissolve the union and start again fresh.
I am not here advocating the secession of the US States, and of course it is extremely unlikely that it will take place. I am just presenting it as a counterfactual possibility. But the very existence of that possibility makes its rejection a foregone opportunity, and thus the status quo has a cost, the extra cost from not doing the other. The fact that it will not happen then shows us that we have greater priorities than reducing the threat of terror. Staying together as one country needs to be recognized as having an implicit but real cost, the cost of the terrorist threat that would not exist if the states seceded. Americans are willing to pay that cost, but they need to become aware that they are paying that cost in rejecting the alternative.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2003 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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