March 2, 2007
by Michael Boldin
If I have my facts straight, George W. Bush has never killed a single person in his life. All the torture and death that people attribute to him has been carried out by people who were "only following orders."
Psychologically, I find this quite interesting. As a person, it doesn't appear that Bush would or could hurt anyone, especially not innocent people. But, as "commander-in-chief," he can order and oversee actions that result in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocents without even batting an eye. A friend and critic of mine believes that leaders such as Bush assume full responsibility for the actions of a nation's military. I strongly disagree.
We've all heard the excuses over and over again. The soldiers aren't responsible because they're following orders. The military isn't responsible because they have to obey the civilian leadership. The President isn't responsible because he was given bad intelligence. The intelligence agencies aren't responsible because they had bad informants, and made the best call they could under the circumstances. And, of course, Congress isn't responsible either. Why not? I don't really know. Maybe it's because they're utterly incompetent.
Seriously, though, we have a major problem here.
So, who is responsible for the death and destruction in Iraq?
Who? The pilots who dropped the bombs? The commanding officers? The secretary of defense? The President? Or, as the war hawks would like us to believe, is it the people defending their homeland from invasion? If they'd just stop resisting...then our peace-loving, democracy-spreading military wouldn't have to defend themselves and kill these people, right?
Who is responsible might not even matter, because the truth is no one will be held accountable, and there will be no trials or prosecutions for the countless innocents that have been killed in America's foreign wars. The result is that the politicians are further emboldened to wage even more wars in the future.
STANDING ARMIES ARE DANGEROUS TO YOU
Historically, governments have misused standing armies in two main ways, both of which inevitably result in tyranny for the People. The first is to engage in foreign wars, which invariably result in massive spending, which enables the government to place a bigger and bigger tax burden on the people. This was well-stated by James Madison, the "father of the Constitution":
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.
Governments generally call for increased patriotism at home while these foreign wars are being waged. The politicians demand greater powers and reduced liberties for the people; claiming that these moves will help bring peace. Explaining this second way standing armies are misused, Madison continued:
In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.... [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and ... degeneracy of manners and of morals.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
The concept here is simple. Governments use their armies to stir up, or even produce, enemies by meddling in the affairs of people in different countries. Then, they attempt to scare their own people with cries that the "enemy" is ready to invade, and that war is absolutely necessary to stop these evil killers. Once war breaks out, the government then demands additional power over the people to supposedly "protect" them in time of war.
WHERE THE REAL DANGER LIES
American history is filled with politicians who used foreign adventures to boost their political standing at home. The war in Iraq, now lasting over 15 years and Presidents from both political parties, demonstrates why the Founding Fathers so vehemently opposed standing armies.
The use of our military to invade nations or do "police actions" in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Serbia, Vietnam, and elsewhere, is both unconstitutional and immoral. The death toll resulting from this aggressive foreign policy has become massive.
Ask yourself this. Is the Iraqi insurgent fighting in Baghdad more threatening to you than warrantless spying or massive war spending? Is al Qaeda more menacing than the suspension of Habeas Corpus? Is the "terrorist" in Iraq a greater danger to your freedom than all those politicians who signed the Patriot Act without even reading it? Just exactly who or what is the greatest threat your rights?
To those not blinded by interest, the answer is clear. It's not individuals like Clinton or Bush. It's not the military. It's not the NSA, the Supreme Court, or Congress. The greatest threat to your liberty is your own government; it's the system which has allowed all this to happen! And, sadly, it's been this way for many years.
But, the politicians couldn't get away with much if we didn't give them the tools. The government couldn't grow in power without the billions of dollars they take from us each year. The politicians wouldn't be able to wage war without the massive military machine which has become synonymous with American foreign policy.
I say to you, look at who your leaders are, and ask yourself if these people can be trusted with such power. Presidents such as Truman, Bush, Johnson, and Clinton have used the military in ways which have resulted in the deaths of millions. They used the same standing army that people like George Washington and Patrick Henry warned us against. Don't tell me that this country needs such a military force. A national militia would never have done such things.
In contrast to this bloody mess, the founders envisioned a society that would be protected by militias on the state level. A national defense would only be put together when the nation itself was directly threatened by invasion.
What's my suggestion? Well, I'm sure many of you won't like it, but that's the way things go. I say let's get rid of the whole damn military. Stop spending countless billions and billions to maintain a global presence. Bring all the troops home once and for all!
Just think, if the military was disbanded then there would be no more overseas bases. There would be no more bombings of faraway nations. There would be no more terrorists created by a meddling foreign policy. There would be no more regime changes. There would be no more foreign wars. There would be no more war funding bills to debate. There would be no more use of weapons like agent orange and depleted uranium. There would be no more enemy combatants. There would be no more military prisons. There would be no more collateral damage. And, most importantly, the root of the problem would finally be smashed into pieces; the treacherous policy of American interventionism.
Thus, there is only one solution to this grave danger to our freedom and prosperity. We the People must act on the warnings of the Founding Fathers against standing armies and foreign entanglements. We must shut down the American military empire, close every single overseas base, and bring all the troops home. The troops would then be released into the private sector, where they would be quite effective in leading local militias to defend the nation in the highly unlikely event of a foreign invasion.
REAL NATIONAL DEFENSE
Do I want a defenseless country? Absolutely not - I want a defenseless government! I want a government that doesn't have the power or the tools to wage anymore foreign wars, and thus, one that doesn't have the excuse to take away your liberty to "protect" you.
There is an alternative that one would call a real national defense. This is one where the people themselves are responsible for the defense of their country. The individual American was considered to be so effective and important to the defense of America that the Constitution specifically mentioned it in the 2nd Amendment.
Those in power, and their followers, of course, would never want this to become reality, though. They'll try to scare you away from such a strong system of defense. They'll warn you of all the great dangers that will "surely" come. But, don't believe such things, for they are the lies of tyrants!
Here's one I've heard time and time again. "If we didn't have the military, you'd be speaking German or Japanese right now!" Don't make me laugh! The Japanese were able to pull off one surprise attack by air, and the Germans weren't even able to cross the English Channel, much less the Atlantic Ocean!
So what would happen if another country ever began preparing masses of ships and planes, and millions of soldiers to invade the United States? The Founding Fathers gave us the answer. Such an invading force would be met by the power of tens of millions of free, well-armed American citizens who would quickly rise to resist and defeat any such invasion.
Think it can't work? Think again. Invading and successfully occupying nations with an armed population is a feat rarely accomplished. The people of Afghanistan were able to drive out the mighty Soviets, and just a small percentage of the Iraqi people are currently making occupation untenable for the mightiest military in the history of the world.
A NEW DIRECTION
What would we do about murderous foreign dictators? Yes, you got it. The Founding Fathers gave us an answer to that as well. First of all, the government would no longer force you to give them any money. And more importantly, the government would no longer have the ability to go around looking for tyrants to destroy, and populations to "save" through war. Instead of endless foreign entanglements, we'd build the freest and most prosperous nation in history.
Of course, those Americans who would want to leave their families and jobs to support revolutionary movements in other parts of the world would always have the freedom to do so.
Thus, in determining our future, we have a clear choice. Should we continue down the path we are on today? Should we continue on this path of empire, with massive standing armies, hundreds of overseas bases, foreign wars and sanctions? Should we continue our foreign policy which creates hatred in millions and millions of people; thus making you a target of their retaliation? Should we continue down the path of ever-growing taxes and regulations, as well as the endless loss of liberty that always comes with empire?
Or, should we change direction? Should we take our nation down the path that the Founder Fathers envisioned? Should we create a society where government is strictly limited and forbidden from invading foreign nations? Should we build a society where freedom and prosperity reigns; a nation that would serve as a model for the rest of the world? If we choose this path, every person on earth would always know that there would be at least one refuge for the oppressed, the United States of America.
We can have something different, and I, for one, choose the path of liberty.
Michael Boldin [firstname.lastname@example.org], an outspoken critic of the American political system, is a senior editor and contributing writer for http://www.populistamerica.com.