This piece written by blogger and philosopher Joe Jarvis.
Unfortunately the most important issues become controversial, which makes them difficult to discuss with a level head. I am not trying to offend anyone, though I am sure some will be offended. The subject however is too important to shy away from, so I hope you will give it some rational thought.
The problem with thanking the military relentlessly for protecting our freedom is that people might start to believe it is true. If anything the military is ordered to do becomes “protecting freedom”, than if you disagree with American military deployments you are against freedom. This strategy equates any military action with protecting our freedom, which is clearly a fallacy.
Our freedoms have been disappearing one by one. So even if the military does protect our freedom, they aren’t doing a great job. “We owe our freedom to the military,” is essentially a propaganda statement that allows our government to be aggressive at home and abroad, while shifting focus from the very real threat to our freedom from Washington DC, to a much less potent threat thousands of miles away, across an ocean.
First off, most founders of this country warned against a standing army, and pointed out that a standing army is actually a threat to liberty. But today we equate any action by that army to freedom. Coming from the right, I have seen pretty much everyone who worships the military also complain about big government, and correctly claim that we cannot trust a single politician. Do they realize it is the politicians who send the troops off to war? Do they realize that the military and police have always been what big governments use to oppress the people?
Secondly, I care about people in general, and I hate seeing anyone die or be maimed. Blindly repeating that we owe our freedom to the troops encourages more people to make a bad decision–joining the military. It is not safe to join the military, the pay is not worth the risk, the cause is not noble (remember, the scumbag politicians decide the cause), and the USA will forget about each soldier soon as he comes home.
Over 20 veterans a day kill themselves, many are homeless, and many are battling mental illness brought on by their time in the military. The best thing we can do if we care about the troops is stop sending them off to die in stupid wars and operations. But how are we going to stop that when we keep pretending these wars are protecting our freedom… we don’t want to give up on freedom, do we?
Which brings me to my third point: acting like the troops are protecting our freedom prevents proper scrutiny of troop deployments. Lots of people say, “I may not agree with the war, but I support the troops.” Yet when a veteran comes back from the middle east, many thank him or her for protecting our freedom. But the wars in the middle east are not protecting our freedom. So this attitude again makes people assume any act of war by the USA is to protect our freedom, which is pretty much never true. The more people who realize the troops are not protecting freedom, the harder it will be to frenzy the public into another war.
Fourth, in a sense, we are all shirking our own responsibility of defense, and praising young men and women for allowing themselves to be thrown into situations which could kill them or debilitate them in the prime of their lives. Many encourage these young men and women to join the military because they will attain glory, and be held in higher esteem than they could achieve in another field. Or people claim they will gain skills needed for work, without mentioning it is more likely that PTSD will prevent them from holding meaningful employment.
Really, America is lying to a bunch of naive young people in order to get them to join the military, and “protect our freedom.” Artificial fear, manufactured by the government, is making Americans throw their fellow human beings under the bus in the misplaced hope that it will keep them safe and free.
Fifth, I take issue with the oft repeated phrase, “Well, someone’s gotta do it!” No, no one has to do it. We would all be more free and safer if there was no military. But instead there would need to be top of the line, fully automatic firearms beside a cache of ammunition in every single home on this continent where the inhabitants claim to care about freedom. How is any hostile going to invade a land where every house has a machine gun? Ask Switzerland: they’re not!
We cannot outsource the defense of our freedom. People must care about their region, their friends, their family enough to take steps to defend them in an emergency. Regions could absolutely voluntarily team up to defeat a larger threat. But this means we will not be able to conquer; we will not be able to invade. And that is what defense means. That is what needs to happen for us to defend (or take back) our freedom.
I realize a lot of people join the military hoping to protect the Bill of Rights, and the freedoms mentioned there-in. But this is not reason enough to perpetuate the false claim that the military is what guards our freedoms, especially as we have fewer and fewer freedoms in this country every day.
Joe Jarvis is the author of Anarchy in New England, now available in paperback on Amazon.
For more essays and opinions by Joe Jarvis, please visit his blog.