One of the most common cries of the Statist is “Who would provide defense without the State?” The idea that the State somehow provides protection is observably false. If one examines military campaigns throughout history they will find that armies always defend the capital of the State as its top priority. It defends government facilities and officials first, and civilians are low on the priority list.
Let’s examine the Russian defense of Stalingrad, and the Chinese defense of Manchuria during World War II, and just so you know it can happen here too, the battle known as “First Bull Run” to the Union and “First Manassas” to the Confederates, and the Battle of Gettysburg, both during the American Civil War.
In 1942 Germany launched an offensive to capture the Russian city of Stalingrad which was considered a key city to hold to maintain the psychological health of the Soviet Union. The city had strategic importance due to it’s location at the confluence of the Volga and Tsaritsa rivers.
Russia threw massive resources into its defense. They even sacrificed civilians, throwing them into the battle unarmed and shooting those who attempted to run away. The battle of Stalingrad was marked by a blatant disregard for civilian casualties. Russia placed priority on the industrial centers of the city as these were key to the war effort.
German tactics called for close coordination of armor, air, infantry, and engineers. The Soviets knowing this developed a strategy which they dubbed “hugging,” making sure to place their lines so close to the Germans that it nullified German air support and hindered artillery support. It worked. The German infantry so used to fighting with armor, air, and artillery support was totally unprepared for the vicious close quarters combat they faced in Stalingrad.
All this while Russia conscripted it’s own citizens and sent them to their death. When Russia fought bitterly for residential zones it wasn’t for the civilians. It was because they wanted the Germans to suffer for every foot. During the siege the factories kept rolling out tanks because the Soviets defended the industrial zones over the residential zones. The priority was not defending the civilians.
In 1931 Japanese forces invaded the Chinese city of Manchuria in direct violation of orders from the Emperor. The order came from the Imperial General Headquarters’ general Jiro Tamon. The goal was to seize the South Manchurian Railway.
The civilian government of Japan was thrown into chaos due to the massive insubordination of its generals and armed forces. The Chinese army was unable to repel the Japanese forces and when news of Japan’s victories reached Tokyo, the civilian government of Japan was no longer able to control it’s own army. This shows that governments can’t reliably command their own military, regardless of their stated intentions. As each Chinese province fell the Japanese setup occupational governments and spearheaded the creation of secessionist movements. These governments declared their independence from China, and remained under Japanese control until the end of the war.
Troops loyal to China resisted Japan at the Nen River bridge. Chinese propagandists spread news of the resistance across China, increasing recruits in the volunteer armies. Seeing defeat on the horizon, the Chinese general defected to the Japanese, leaving the Chinese people to fend for themselves. They were massacred by the Japanese forces, showing that governments will allow foreign armies to murder their people, provided it is strategically advantageous. There are reports that Japanese officer’s had local women raped and then cannibalized them.
The Manchurian and Russian campaigns demonstrate two things. First, there is no guarantee that a military will listen to it’s government. In fact a military coup is always a risk. Second, the military has its own priorities. If those priorities overlap with protecting civilians it is a coincidence, not an objective.
The defection of the Chinese general also shows us that military personnel don’t necessarily uphold their oaths if it doesn’t suit them. In fact, upholding an oath to the US Constitution could land a soldier the brigg. It also shows that the military is not subject to the desire of the government it “serves.” The military possess superior force, and when push comes to shove it can do whatever it wants.
What is normally claimed in the United States is that the State can control the military because Congress controls the budget. Therefore Congress can decide what the President has the power to do, by either funding it or not. This is false. Organizations like the CIA are capable of self funding through gun running, drug dealing and other illegal enterprise. Congress technically has the power to defund the Unconstitutional wars of the president, but to exercise this power is political suicide, due to the perception of the troops as heroes, who “defend freedom and democracy”.
Perhaps you think these are only the actions of foreign States, despotic governments, and it’s different in America. Not so. The US military has had fewer opportunities to show its true colors, but when it does it behaves no differently.
Early in the American Civil War a battle took place that became known as “First Bull Run” to the Union, and “First Manassas” to the Confederates. It was the first major land skirmish of the war. Both sides were eager to end the war quickly by taking the other’s capital.
Union forces marched South to assault the Confederate capital in Richmond, Virginia. Confederate forces marched North, pressing toward the Union capital of Washington DC. The battle took place near the city of Manassas. Both sides had green troops, meaning they lacked experience, which made their commanders hesitant to engage. Lincoln pressured Union General, McDowell saying “You are green, it is true, but they are green also. You are all green alike.” McDowell reluctantly attacked.
The battle was a victory for the Confederates. Northern civilians and soldiers alike were terrified that nothing stood in the way of the rebels reaching Washington, but they caused enough damage that the Confederates couldn’t march on to the capital. The battle of First Manassas demonstrates that both States were unconcerned with civilians. The civilian territories were something to be trampled on their way to other objectives, and protected only when it happened to overlap with the primary strategy. Perhaps civilians resources were seized if it served a military function. Attack the capital. Defend the capital. Those are the primary objectives.
The Gettysburg Campaign was a series of Civil War battles fought in 1863. The Confederate State wanted General Robert E. Lee to defend the Vicksburg Garrison, but Lee decided to move North into Union territory. He thought being aggressive in the North could force a defensive withdrawal from the South. The Battle of Gettysburg coincided with the Union victory at Vicksburg, and is generally considered the turning point in the war.
The Battle of Gettysburg occurred because the Confederate army was in need of supplies and went to Gettysburg to seize them. A chance meeting between the Northern and Southern armies lead to battle. Gettysburg was a key city to hold for both sides due to the civilian supplies there. The supplies were not Union property. They were civilian property, and the Confederates were there to steal them. But the Northern Army wasn’t there to protect the property of Northern civilians. It was also there to steal the supplies. The armies met there by chance because they both had similar plans to expropriate the property they claimed to protect.
The military “defends” a civilian population in the same way that a wolf defends a calf, by consuming it. When an army moves into an area it expropriates all it needs. If its logistics cannot support it, it takes what it wants, and needs, from the population. It is of no consequence whether that population is its own citizenry or if they are foreign. The atrocities are brutal in either case. This is what the Statist who cries, “Defense! Defense!” either doesn’t realize or chooses to ignore. Even when the State does defend a civilian area, after it has prioritized its own facilities and those necessary to win the conflict, before any of that happened the civilians were already aggressed against to pay for everything the army does.
It doesn’t matter whether the priority of the military is truly to defend its civilian ward or not. Because of what it is, and how it runs, the military simply cannot defend the civilians! The claim that it does so is entirely fallacious, even if we naively assume that the military is there for us, to protect us, and its members are loyal and trustworthy. And because the nature of the State is consistent across time and distance, there is no reason to believe the US and its military will not eventually behave like other foreign, despotic governments.
As we can see from all these examples, State armies don’t defend their civilians when it doesn’t suit them. Armies always prioritize securing strategic positions and supplies, even at the expense of civilians, and States always prioritize conquest and the protection of their own centers of power. When States aren’t murdering their own people they are failing to defend them, as they prioritize defending themselves.