Let’s Rid America of Veterans
by Jacob G. Hornberger
The reason there is a large contingent of veterans in the United States is twofold: (1) because of the many foreign wars waged by the U.S. government in this century and the last and (2) the radical restructuring of America’s governmental system into a national-security state, one that consists of an enormous permanent standing army, a vast empire of overseas and domestic military bases, a military-industrial complex, a CIA, and a NSA.
Our 19th-century American ancestors didn’t have a Veteran’s Day. That’s because they didn’t have many veterans to honor. That’s because they didn’t have an enormous standing army, an overseas military empire, and a national-security state, thousands of domestic military bases, a vast military-industrial complex, a CIA, and a NSA. That’s because of the deep antipathy that America’s Founding Fathers and 19th-century Americans had toward that type of governmental structure and to involving the United States in foreign wars.
Sure, there were soldiers who periodically got killed in battle against Indians and there was, of course, the Civil War, but those things were a far cry from the type of permanent national-security state, military-intelligence, imperialist system that Americans live under today.
The shift began in 1898, which, interestingly enough, was also when the first inklings of a shift from a free-market economy to a welfare-state/regulated-economy way of life took place. That was the year the U.S. government embroiled itself in the Spanish American War, under the pretense of helping the Cubans and Filipinos gain their independence from the Spanish Empire.
It was a lie, as the Cubans and Filipinos discovered as soon as Spain capitulated. The U.S. demanded control over both Cuba and the Philippines. The Cubans acceded to the demand while the Filipinos waged a brutal rebellion against U.S. forces, with the United States ultimately prevailing in the conflict.
World War I was the watershed, one that produced lots of veterans, especially maimed ones. It was the type of foreign European war that our ancestors would have shunned. But U.S. statists said that the U.S. had the industrial and military capability of finally bringing an end to Europe’s endless conflicts. U.S. soldiers, many of them conscripted, were sent to fight and die thousands of miles away in “the war to end all wars” and “the war to make the world safe for democracy.”
It was all for naught. All those U.S. veterans fought, killed, died, and were maimed for nothing, just as U.S. soldiers would do several years later in the Vietnam War. World War I ended up with communist control over Russia and Nazi control over Germany and World War II.
Did you know that Veteran’s Day started out as Armistice Day, which commemorated the end World War I? My hunch is that the reason they changed it during the 1950s was in the hopes of having the horrific consequences of World War I forever blocked out of the collective memory of the American people.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Americans wanted no part of World War II. But President Franklin Roosevelt did, despite his false assurances to the American people that he was doing everything he could to keep America out of the war. Actually, Roosevelt was doing everything he could to provoke both the Germans and the Japanese into “firing the first shot” so that Roosevelt could secure a congressional declaration of war on the grounds of self-defense. The discomforting truth is that a U.S. president — Franklin D. Roosevelt — used U.S. troops in Hawaii, the Philippines (Gen. MacArthur and the troops where there because of the U.S. conquest of the Philippines in the Spanish American War), and elsewhere in the Pacific as “bait” to secure a Japanese attack on them. FDR was willing to sacrifice a certain number of troops for what he considered a greater good — i.e., involving America in another European war that Americans wanted nothing to do with.
FDR’s scheme, of course, succeeded, which ensured an enormous supply of veterans in the second half of the 20th century, including lots of maimed ones.
The results of World War II were communist control over Eastern Europe and East Germany, the Cold War, the Korean War, confrontation over Berlin (a city which, ironically, U.S. forces had tried to bomb to smithereens during WWII), the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War.
Equally important, World War II gave us a totally different governmental structure — the national-security state, a governmental system that is inherent to totalitarian regimes.
Don’t believe me?
Yesterday, the New York Times published, perhaps inadvertently, one of the most startling admissions ever to appear in the mainstream press. Quoting former high U.S. official Christopher Hill, the Times reported: “In a national security state like North Korea….”
Imagine that. North Korea, which has long been a brutal communist, totalitarian regime, is actually described in public as “a national security state.”
What does that term mean? It means that a governmental system consisting of a vast permanent standing army, a military industrial complex, a secret intelligence force, a vast system of surveillance over the citizenry, and a militarized society.
Of course, Hill and the Times would undoubtedly try to explain away that pointed observation about North Korea’s system by saying something like: “The U.S. national-security state is different from the North Korean national-security state in the level of degree. For example, North Korea conducts much more surveillance on the North Korean people than the NSA conducts on the American people.”
That’s not the point, at least not with respect to the concept of freedom. A free society does not turn on the size and degree of control exercised by a national-security state apparatus. A free society is one in which there is no national security state, which is precisely why our American ancestors rejected fully and completely that type of government when they called the federal government into existence with the Constitution.
In his Farewell Address, President Eisenhower pointed out that the vast military industrial complex was new to the American way of life. Suggesting that the Cold War had made this revolutionary change to America’s governmental system necessary (which he was wrong about), IKE said that nonetheless it posed a grave threat to America’s democratic processes.
Thirty days after the John Kennedy assassination, the Washington Post published an op-ed by President Harry Truman stating that it was never his intention, when he brought the CIA into existence as part of the national-security state, to have it be involved in anything more than intelligence-gathering. Truman suggested that the CIA, which also was brand new to America’s governmental structure, had become a sinister force in American life.
The advent of the national-security state to America brought us the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the war on terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, and official policies endorsing invasions, wars of aggression, occupations, torture, assassination, surveillance, coups, partnerships with dictators, rendition, sanctions, embargoes, hiring of Nazi holocaust killers, MKUltra experiments, CIA support of drug dealers, and other evil, dark-side actions that one would ordinarily expect from communist and other totalitarian regimes.
It was all justified under the rationale that in order to fight communism and terrorism, it was necessary for the United States to embrace communist and terrorist tactics.
Nothing could be further from the truth. When the United States began embracing dark-side practices, all sorts of alarms should have gone off for the American people.
The alarms did go off but Americans refused to hear them. That’s because modern-day Americans have been taught to subordinate their consciences in deference to the national-security state. To the American of today, “national security” is everything. Whatever must be done in the name of protecting “national security” must never be questioned.
The citizen’s job in the process? To thanks the troops. To praise the troops. “Thank you for your service.”
“Thank you for defending my freedom.” “Thank you for keeping me safe.”
In all the heaps of thanks and praise, there is not even the hint of asking what the troops are doing or have done or whether the governmental structure they’re working for is morally legitimate. Those issues simply do not enter into the equation.
You witness this phenomenon especially large sporting events but especially in Christian churches, where ministers introduce into their sacred church services an exhortation that parishioners “pray for the brave troops who are serving our nation.”
What exactly are the troops doing to “serve our nation”? That doesn’t matter to the minister. All that matters is that the troops are “serving our nation.”
Sometimes I wonder what those ministers would do if the troops were overseas committing abortions. Would those ministers still exhort their parishioners to “pray for the brave troops who are serving our nation”?
One would hope not but one certainly can’t be sure, given the fact that many of the ministers have, without even realizing it, raised the national-security state to the level of an idol, one whose troops can do no wrong ever.
The best proof is Iraq, which involved a war of aggression by the U.S. national-security establishment against the Iraqi people.
In Iraq, the troops weren’t committing abortions but they were killing, maiming, and torturing lots of born people, people who never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.
What is a “war of aggression”? It is a type of war condemned as a war crime at Nuremberg. It is committed when one nation attacks another nation.
In the Iraq War, the United States was the aggressor. It was the violator of the Nuremberg principle against wars of aggression.
In the process, the troops killed, maimed, and tortured countless Iraqi people, which they had no moral or legal right to do.
Perhaps I should also mention that this war of aggression under the Nuremberg principles was illegal under the U.S. form of constitutional government. The U.S. Constitution requires a congressional declaration of war before the president is authorized to send the troops into war. That’s why Roosevelt had to maneuver the Japanese into firing the first shot — so that he could get the congressional declaration of war that the Constitution requires. The troops waged war against the Iraqi people and killed, maimed, and tortured them without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war.
So, are we supposed to thank the troops for killing, maiming, and torturing people as part of an immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional war of aggression against a nation that has never attacked the United States? Are we supposed to praise them for “serving the nation” and for “protecting our freedom” as they killed, maimed, and tortured all those Iraqi people who never threatened the United States with an attack?
According to U.S. officials and many U.S. church officials, that is precisely what we are expected to do. It’s not our job, they say, to question what the troops did in Iraq or why they did it. When it comes to “national security,” individual conscience goes out the window. All that matters is that we blindly continue to “thank the troops” for “their service” by killing, maiming, and torturing people who never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.
What’s the best way to honor veterans? To rid our nation of veterans by dismantling the totalitarian-like apparatus known as the national-security state, dismantling the standing army and military-industrial complex, ending U.S. foreign interventionism, and limiting the U.S. government to genuine national defense, as, say, Switzerland does.
In sum, we should rid our nation of veterans by restoring the principles in the Declaration of Independence to America.