States Visited

Saturday, May 23, 2009


After a lazy Saturday morning of reading and relaxing we turned on the television for something to watch during lunch. Band of Brothers was on History Channel. I watched the entire series when it was first shown on HBO and have seen it multiple times since. In fact, I bought the box set about six months ago and watched the entire series in a matter of days.

All my life I have had a certain respect for the men and women that serve in the military. I can remember spending many days and nights playing war and sitting in the floor at my grandparents looking up the various military ranks in a set of impossibly old encyclopedias. My father was drafted into the Army and served in Vietnam, but rarely discussed it unless asked and never spent any time discussing his duty or the military in glowing terms. As far as I can tell, it was just something he was asked to do and did. Yet, I have always held a certain respect for the military.

As I grew older and began to gain a deeper understanding of what is asked of those that serve my appreciation grew. As someone who has spent his entire life in the comfort and safety of the United States and never served in the armed forces, I can only glimpse a small piece of the psychological toll that combat takes on both those that serve and those that live through it.

I am fully aware and acknowledge the fact that freedom is not free. It is fought for and earned, never given. Millions have died and millions more have served so that I can live in peace and comfort. It is with all respect that I tip my hat to those who have served and protected, some because they volunteered, some because they had no choice. I will always remember what others have done so that I might not be asked to do the same.

As the years have passed, however, I have come to question so much of what I once held so dear. It is not the soldier I question but those who send him to fight and their motives for doing so. Americans are taught from birth to respect and revere our men and women in service, and history has taught us that this respect is justified and deserved. The soldiers are taught to follow orders and the power of duty, honor and country. They do what is asked, generally without fail and without question - and they get it done. Always. The combination of the two has produced the finest, most powerful military in the history of the world.

But, there is a problem.

The men and women of the armed forces are living and functioning under a gigantic lie. Everyday they train and put themselves in danger believing in their hearts that they do it so that those of us back home can sleep in peace with the knowledge that the greatest fighting force in the world is doing its job protecting our freedoms. Yet, every day we lose more and more of those freedoms they are fighting to protect.

As far back as we can find, people in power have understood that having an enemy to fight is one of the most effective ways to maintain that power. If the people are frightened they will surrender their rights for protection and security in return - even the threat of attack or invasion is usually enough. The mafia has spent decades perfecting the art of the protection racket. What we have seen here, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union, is a fairly dramatic increase in the use of our military around the world and, culminating in the days following September 11, 2001, a dramatic increase in U.S. nationalism that should (and probably does) scare the bejesus out of the rest of the world. History makes it pretty clear that when a well-armed country is that certain in its righteousness and loves itself that much, war is coming.

I do not believe that 9/11 was an inside job, nor do I believe there is some grand conspiracy or shadow government pulling the strings, but I am convinced that it has become the policy of our government to never let a crisis go to waste (in fact, Rahm Emanuel stated this explicitly) in its efforts to grow itself and the media is only happy to play along because sensationalism drives ratings. For decades we had the specter of Communism and the evil Soviet Union for the government to use as justification for any action it took, however, the Soviet Union actually functioned as a control mechanism for U.S. global interference because, for most of its existence, it had the military power to act as a deterrent. We risked a full-scale, potentially nuclear, assault from an enemy capable of reaching our shores if we were too aggressive in our overseas manuevers.

After the fall of Communism the U.S. appetite for global hegemony exploded but it needed a new enemy to justify its expansion - and Muslim extremists gave us one, but it wasn't enough. The problem is that the American people, if left to their own devices, aren't likely to support such actions without justification. So, our government finds every conceivable reason to justify its expansion and if one isn't forthcoming, it will create one. We are under an almost constant barrage of crises, both real and imagined - global warming, avian/bird flu, Hurricane Katrina, North Korea, Iraq, Muslim terrorists, Venezuela, Mexican drug lords and open borders, tsunamis, Iran, swine flu, financial collapse, nuclear Pakistan, global climate change, African pirates, etc. Almost all of which require action by an arm of the U.S. military and all of which directly or indirectly encroach upon the freedom of U.S. citizens either through changes in the laws or the trillions in U.S. dollars spent in dealing with the crisis. Without ever meaning to do so, the men and women who thought they were signing up to secure our freedom have been tricked into serving our government's ability to exert its influence around the world and to protect it when it engages in activities that would land any other nation under international sanctions.

Do not misunderstand, some of these threats are very real and do pose a potential threat to the people of this country, but we have been hammered by so much propaganda that it is becoming impossible to separate the real from the imagined and all of it is being used to justify the taking of our rights and freedoms.

I realize this is a lot to swallow all at once and that it is so hard to see our government in this light. For so long we have believed the propaganda - we are different, this is the greatest country on earth, things aren't like that here. But, they are, and it will become completely obvious as our economic and financial crisis continues to unwind. We are borrowing trillions of dollars from around the world and printing even more. We are never going to repay what we have borrowed. We may return the same amount of dollars but it will be an almost worthless currency carrying just a fraction of the value of what we stole from the rest of the world. We have become a government of liars and thieves that uses the military to protect itself, for it is only the threat of our military that will keep the rest of the world at bay once they realize what we've done.

All my life I have operated with the knowledge that, if called to do so, I would put on the uniform and serve my country because this is the greatest country in the world and it is worth fighting for. Now...I'm not so sure. As the decades have rolled by it is increasingly clear that our government uses the military to protect itself and its interests and not the interests of the people. Please don't misunderstand, I will fight to the last to protect our freedoms, but why would I ever fight to protect this government - a government that is becoming everything I despise and would never tolerate from another person? As I sit here this morning it is our government that has become the greatest threat to my freedom, more so than any other force in the world. Why should I fight to protect an organization that seems hell-bent on taking everything I have and hold dear?

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