"I don’t support the troops.”
These words are rarely uttered in American society. Most citizens of the United States support the military with a religious zeal that would make even God jealous.
This blind support is not a good thing — people should set a limit to their support of the military and know if the military crosses it, then there is no reason for more support.
Historically, standing armies are absent from much of America’s history as represented in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Even up until World War II, America’s military capability was negligible.
Only after U.S. victory in World War II did the country establish the enormous, permanent military apparatus that President Dwight Eisenhower labeled “the military-industrial complex.”
The continued existence of this enormous military apparatus was justified by the Cold War. Then the collapse of the Soviet Union solidified in the minds of many the notion military strength was necessary for peace.
A decade later, the attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred, thus soldifying the need for a standing military.
For today’s generation, it is unthinkable to question the support of an institution that is believed to be defending America’s existence and the American way of life.
One of the reasons for this unflinching support is that, unlike the Vietnam generation, current Americans have mentally separated those who carry out policy from those who make policy, leading to adoration for a military fighting unjust wars and contempt for the political leaders who made the decision to fight them.
After all, how can one blame the military when troops are just following orders and doing their job, right?
Wrong — following orders does not excuse immoral behavior, and the U.S. government acknowledged this truth shortly after World War II during the Nuremberg trials.
When preparing to try Nazi war criminals in court, the U.S. set forth rules and procedures to govern the Nuremberg trials, In a document known as the London Charter or Nuremberg Charter, the U.S. set precedent stating that following or obeying orders is not a defense for war crimes.
Every soldier was responsible for his own actions and had to decide for himself whether or not an order was moral.
Another reason for unflinching support of the military is due to people genuinely believing the military makes freedom possible. This is what is implied when people utter phrases such as “those who died for our freedom,” and, “Thank you for protecting our freedom.”
However, when one moves beyond catchy phrases, pledges and patriotic fervor, and begins to ponder whether there is any truth or substance behind the words, valid questions begin to emerge.
For example, why is American freedom contingent upon costly and never-ending wars, death and destruction, but Canadian and Swiss freedom is not? How has New Zealand, Australia, Iceland and countless other countries managed to remain free, even though they do not occupy 150 countries with 900 military bases?
The reality is freedom and liberty are not contingent upon foreign bases, occupations and wars.
As the Founding Fathers recognized, true threats to individual rights and personal liberty come not from foreign populations, but from one’s own government.
As Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh stated during his 2010 Republican congressional run for office, “I had to find out the hard way that the greatest enemies to the Constitution of the Unites States of America, are not to be found in the sands of some far off land, but rather right here at home.”
If the military was really concerned with protecting freedom and liberty, it would cease prosecuting foreign wars of aggression, and choose instead to protect American civilians from domestic law enforcement agents who enforce unconstitutional, illegal and immoral laws.
Every day, more troops are waking up to the fact their own government poses the greatest threat to the liberty of American citizens. Many retired and active duty military have joined Oath Keepers, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights enshrined in the Constitution, which they swore an oath to uphold and protect.
According to Oath Keeper’s website, there are a number of unlawful orders their members have sworn to disobey, should they ever be asked to carry them out.
Unfortunately, there will always be those who “just follow orders,” and it doesn’t appear Americans are about to question their blind devotion and support of the military.
This dangerous combination has been the formula behind evert tyrant and war criminal in history and it is naive to think America is somehow immune.
Avoiding atrocities in the future will only be possible if people establish, in their own minds, what line the military would have to cross for it to no longer deserve their support.
Americans should reflect on their own morals and values to determine just what it would take for them to utter the words, “I don’t support the troops.”