An Endless Stream of Scary Official Enemies

by | Jun 17, 2022


Any government that is a national-security state needs big official enemies — scary ones, ones that will cause the citizenry to continue supporting not only the continued existence of a national-security state form of government but also ever-growing budgets for it and its army of voracious “defense” contractors.

That’s, of course, what the current brouhaha about Russia is all about. It’s really a replay of the Cold War decades, when Americans were made to believe that the Reds were coming to get them, take over the federal government and the public schools, and indoctrinate everyone into loving communism and socialism. 

In those Cold War years, Americans citizens were so scared of the Reds that they were willing to ignore — or even support — the dark-side powers that were being wielded and exercised by the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, which are the three principal components of the national-security establishment. The idea was that if the U..S. government failed to adopt the same dark-side totalitarian-type powers, such as assassination and torture, that the Soviet Union and Red China were wielding and exercising, the United States would end up falling to the Reds and becoming communist.

The Cold War notion was that there was an international communist conspiracy to take over the world that was supposedly based in Moscow — yes, the same Moscow that is now being used, once again, to scare the dickens out of the American people. 

Ironically, however, the American right wing, which was the leader of America’s anti-communist crusade during the Cold War, was teaching that socialism was an inherently defective paradigm. They would cite free-market economists like Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman to show that socialism was doomed to fail.

Alas, American conservatives were never able to see the contradiction in their position. On the one hand, they were claiming that socialism was an inherently defective system that was doomed to fail. On the other hand, they were claiming that America and the rest of the world was in grave danger of falling to the supposed international communist/socialist conspiracy to take over the world that was supposedly based in Moscow.

The fact is that there was never any danger whatsoever of a Soviet or Chinese invasion and takeover of the United States. It was always an overblown threat designed to keep Americans afraid — and to keep the national-security establishment and its voracious army of “defense” contractors in power and in “high cotton.”

Oh sure, there was always the possibility of nuclear war, but that was the last thing that China or Russia wanted, especially given the vast superiority of America’s nuclear arsenal. It’s worth mentioning though that the Pentagon and the CIA constantly claimed, falsely, that the Soviet nuclear arsenal was vastly superior to that of the United States. Again, they had to keep Americans afraid as a way to maintain their power and their budgets.

When the Cold War was suddenly over, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA freaked out. That was the last thing they expected or wanted. They needed the Cold War. How else could they keep Americans afraid? What if Americans began demanding the restoration of their founding governmental system of a limited-government republic, which would necessarily entail the dismantling of the national-security state form of governmental structure?

That’s when they turned on their old partner and ally, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Throughout the 1990s, Saddam became the new official enemy. Day after day, it was “Saddam! Saddam! Saddam! He is the new Hitler! He is coming to get us with his WMDs!” And the vast majority of Americans bought into the new official scaremongering, no matter how ridiculous it was.

Meanwhile, however, the Pentagon and the CIA were going into the Middle East with a campaign of death and destruction, one that would end up producing another big scary official enemy — terrorism — and, to a certain extent, Islam. Even though commentators continually warned the Pentagon and the CIA that their deadly and destructive interventionist campaign would produce terrorist blowback, the Pentagon and the CIA continued pressing forward, with the result being the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, the USS Cole, the US embassies in East Africa, the 9/11 attacks, and the post-9/11 attacks. Americans now had a new official enemy — possibly one than was scarier than communism — and the national-security state was off to the races with more power and more money.

Then came the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the Global War on Terrorism. They milked that for some 20 years, keeping Americans deathly afraid of the terrorists and the Muslims, who had supposedly been planning the takeover of America as part of a centuries-old conspiracy to establish a worldwide caliphate, one that would require every American citizen to live under Sharia law.

But throughout the entire war on terrorism and war on Islam, they never gave up on restoring China and Russia as big, scary official Cold War enemies. That’s what is going on today. The Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA know that Americans are losing some of their fear of the terrorists and the Muslims, especially now that the Pentagon and the CIA are no longer killing people in Afghanistan. 

Their big problem, however, is that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is proving that Russia is a second-rate military power, one that can’t even conquer a third-rate power like Ukraine. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, it’s hard to convince people that America is in grave danger of falling to the Reds — I mean, the Russians — when a crooked and corrupt third-rate regime in Ukraine isn’t even falling to the Russians. 

Where do the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA go from here? They will undoubtedly continue indoctrinating Americans into living in deep fear of the Russkies and the Chinese Reds. Don’t be surprised if they gin up another crisis with North Korea, which is always a good-standby official enemy. There is always Iran, of course, or Cuba, Venezuela, or Nicaragua — maybe even (communist) Vietnam again — given that fear of the Reds is always a good one on which to rely. And since they are still killing people in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, as well as in Africa, there is always the possibility of terrorist blowback that will reinvigorate the Global War on Terrorism and Islam.

The solution to all this official-enemy mayhem? Americans need to overcome the fear of official enemies that has been inculcated into them by the national-security establishment as part of their decades-old crooked and corrupt racket. Once that happens, it will be possible to restore America’s founding governmental system of a limited-government republic and get back on the road to liberty, peace, prosperity, and harmony with the people of the world. 

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.


  • Jacob G. Hornberger

    Jacob George Hornberger is an American attorney, author, and politician who was a Libertarian candidate for president in 2000 and 2020. He is the founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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