You don’t fight for your country, you fight for your government.
The Golden Pinnacle, by Robert Gore
On Memorial Day, America remembers and honors those who died while serving in the military. It is altogether fitting and proper to ask: for what did they die? Do the rationales offered by the military and government officials who decide when and how the US will go to war, and embraced by the public, particularly those who lose loved ones, stand up to scrutiny and analysis? Some will recoil, claiming it inappropriate on a day devoted to honoring the dead. However, it is because war is a matter of life and death, for members of the military and, inevitably, civilians, that its putative justifications be subject to the strictest tests of truth and the most probing of analyses.
Millions have marched off to war believing they were defending the US, which implies the US was under attack. Yet, setting aside for a moment Pearl Harbor and 9/11, US territory hasn’t been invaded by a foreign power since the Mexican-American War (arguably—Mexico claimed the territory it “invaded” was part of Mexico), or, if the Confederacy is considered a foreign power, the Civil War. That war ended a century-and-a-half ago, yet every US military involvement since has been justified as a defense of the US. That has gradually attenuated, in a little noted slide, to a defense of US “interests,” which is something far different.
Only one of those involvements could, arguably, have been said to have forestalled not an invasion, but a possible threat of invasion: World War II. Watching newsreel graphics of Germany’s drives across Europe, Northern Africa, and the USSR, and Japan’s across Asia and the Pacific, it was perhaps understandable that Americans believed the Axis powers would eventually come for them, especially after Pearl Harbor. However, that was a one-off attack by the Japanese to disable the US’s Pacific Fleet. To launch an invasion of the US, Japan, a smaller, less populated nation whose economy depended on imports of vital raw materials, including oil, would have had to cross the Pacific and fight the US, and undoubtedly Canada, on their home territories. The Pearl Harbor attack, provoking America’s entry into the war, proved a strategic blunder for the Japanese. An invasion would have been ludicrous. Similarly, Germany, up to its eyeballs in a two-front war, couldn’t conquer Russian winters or Great Britain across the English Channel. How was it supposed to either cross the Atlantic, or the USSR and hostile guerrillas, then the Pacific, and attack the US? That, too, would have been ludicrous.
The 9/11 attack was also a one-off. A majority of the attackers came not from a US enemy but rather a supposed ally, Saudi Arabia. They received funding and other support from people in that country and perhaps its government. A conventional war against a “state sponsor of terrorism” might have required war against Saudi Arabia; it is still not clear how involved its government was. That option was never considered. Rather, the Bush administration performed metaphysical gymnastics and launched the first war in history against a tactic: terrorism. Although the jihadists who perpetrated 9/11 were self-evidently not the vanguard of an invasion, the terrorism they employed was deemed a threat to US interests in the Middle East, and to life and property in the US. However, none of our subsequent involvements in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen have been necessary to maintain US citizens’ freedoms, the nation’s territorial integrity, or its lives and property.
There are undoubtedly many epitaphs on tombstones in this country to the effect: Here lies the deceased, who died defending America, and not one that reads: Here lies the deceased, who died defending American interests. However, the latter is in most cases more accurate than the former. Who decides the interests for which members of America’s military will die? Those considering entering the military today must look beyond the slogans, contemplate the risks of being killed, wounded, dismembered, paralyzed, or psychologically traumatized, and ask themselves: why and for whom are these risks being borne? “You don’t fight for your country, you fight for your government.” Is it worth risking one’s life for the US government?
In 1821, John Quincy Adams said America had not gone “abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” and while we wished those seeking liberty well, theirs was not our fight (see “In Search of Monsters,” SLL, 4/11/15). Since then, America has searched for monsters, found, and in some cases, destroyed them. However, as the poison of power has worked its evil on the minds and souls of those who possess it, the monsters have become more ethereal, apparitions conjured like creatures in the closet by children when they go to bed. The war on terrorism creates more terrorists, the monsters of choice since 9/11. The government still pays occasional lip service to “democratic values” and “civil liberties,” but allies itself with regimes which have no more fealty to those values and liberties than the “tyrants” the government opposes. “Defending America” and “Promoting Our Way of Life” have become transparent pretexts for American power and domination unbounded. As Adams so presciently warned, the search for monsters has turned the government itself into a monster, the biggest threat to Americans’ “inextinguishable rights of human nature.”
Those who have fought and died to defend America and its freedoms are noble beyond measure. Those who pay self-serving tribute to their valor, but make war and expend lives as means to corrupt ends are evil beyond redemption. Honor the former; expose and oppose the latter.
“YOU DON’T FIGHT FOR YOUR COUNTRY, YOU FIGHT FOR YOUR GOVERNMENT,” from:
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Please accept a minor but important correction; 911 was an inside job to continue a war from outside and inside to destroy our great nation.
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“…or, if the Confederacy is considered a foreign power, the Civil War. That war ended a century-and-a-half ago, yet every US military involvement since has been justified as a defense of the US. …”
It should be pointed out that the CW was the first mech war and it has affected American military policy ever since which can be put simply as — “Modern war is a damn destructive business and is best played as an away game.” The Euros did not figure that out till the latter stages of WWI.
“Only one of those involvements could, arguably, have been said to have forestalled not an invasion, but a possible threat of invasion: World War II. …”
One must go further back to a dumb move the US pulled — steel embargo. Nor was America interested in another war. Fact FDR had run his first campaign with the promise of not getting the US into another war — http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/fdr-churchill/. There was a sizable peace movement in the country at the time and FDR intended to get those votes.
Had the President possessed the goods on the Sauds (and they might) seems to me a more appropriate course of action would have been to nuke Mecca then declare us `even`. The impact would have been profound. A cornerstone of Islam is place as in Mecca a holy of the holies, where as Christianity is not. The loss of Mecca while it might stir the Muslims would so bring into question the strength of their religion for without the presence of Mecca what is it?
They would still have the Koran and hadith, such action would lead to a conflict that would please only those seeking depopulation of the world. That future conflict may take place anyhow, with or without Mecca.
My thoughts, eloquently written. Why? That is the probing question to be asked. It does not diminish ones’ patriotism to question the motives of politicians knowing the scoundrels they are. And I certainly do not mean to dishonor the bravery and sacrifice of those who have paid the full measure. Our government is out of control.
Your statement about fighting for your country…your government should be on the Uncle Sugar military recruitment poster. There are those that fight for the “cause” and those that control and rule over the “cause”. This seems to be consistent with the “Iron Law of Bureaucracy” by Jerry Pournelle.
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Let us not forget that the Japanese DID actually invade and hold US soil – Both Attu and Kiska Islands. The Battle of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands was kept a secret from the American population and remains relatively forgotten to this day. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleutian_Islands_Campaign
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