Freedoms I Wish the Military Were Defending

Posted: September 12th, 2011 by Militant Libertarian

by Laurence M. Vance, LRC

“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.” George W. Bush, September 11, 2001

We have heard it repeated loudly and continuously since 9/11 – the troops are defending our freedoms. This claim is made so often and by so many different segments of society that it has become another meaningless national dictum – like “God Bless America” or “In God We Trust.”

This cliché is actually quite insidious. It is used as a mantra to justify or excuse anything the U.S. military does.

U.S. troops are engaged in unconstitutional, undeclared wars – but the troops are defending our freedoms. U.S. drone strikes killed civilians in Pakistan – but the troops are defending our freedoms. U.S. bombs landed on a wedding party in Afghanistan – but the troops are defending our freedoms. U.S. soldiers murdered Afghan civilians and kept some of their body parts – but the troops are defending our freedoms. U.S. helicopter pilots gunned down Iraqi civilians – but the troops are defending our freedoms. U.S. soldiers killed civilians for sport – but the troops are defending our freedoms. U.S. troops carelessly killed civilians and then covered it up – but the troops are defending our freedoms.

But as I have pointed out many times in my articles on the military, and others like Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation have been arguing for years (see hereand here), the troops are doing everything but defending our freedoms. In fact, the more the troops defend our freedoms by bombing, invading, and occupying other countries, the more enemies they make of the United States and the more our freedoms get taken away in the name of “fighting terrorism” or “national security.”

Not in any particular order, and in varying degrees of significance, here are some freedoms I wish the military were defending:

Certainly there are hundreds of things that could be added. We no longer live in a free country. We are increasingly living in a police state, a warfare state, and a national security state. Our freedom is not absolute. The only reason the United States is still considered “the land of the free and the home of the brave” is because we are relatively free, with the degree of freedom varying depending on which country America is compared to.

Would I rather live somewhere else? No, I wouldn’t, but that is a ridiculous question. First of all, if the typical German, Italian, Swede, Korean, Australian, or Spaniard were asked if he would rather live somewhere else you would probably get the same answer. And second, although a prisoner would rather live in a clean prison than a dirty prison and a safe prison rather than a violent prison, he would prefer to not be a prisoner in the first place.

I conclude with three brief thoughts. One, I want the military to defend our freedoms. But fighting foreign wars only reduces our freedoms. After all, it is still true that war is the health of the state. Two, if the military is going to defend our freedoms, then we need freedoms to defend. Our freedoms must be restored before the military can defend them. And three, the greatest threat to our freedoms is the U.S. government, not the governments of China, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, or Iran.

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