A brave nation fights because it must; a cowardly one fights because it can ~ ilana (2003)
It is the habit on the Memorial Day weekend to thank uniformed men for their sacrifice. My sympathies go out to Americans who fight phantoms in far-flung destinations. I’m sorry they’ve been snookered into living, dying and killing for a lie. But I cannot honor that lie, or those who give their lives for it, and take the lives of others in America’s many recreational wars. I mourn for them, as I have from day one, but I can’t honor them.
I am sorry for those who’ve enlisted thinking they’d fight for their countrymen and were subjected to one backdoor draft after another in the cause of illegal, unjust wars and assorted informal attacks. My heart hurts for you, but I won’t worship at Moloch’s feet to make you feel better.
I honor those sad, sad draftees to Vietnam and to WW II. The first valiant batch had no option; the same goes for the last, which fought a just war. I grew up in Israel, so I honor those men who stopped Arab armies from overrunning our homes. In 1973, we came especially close to annihilation.
I can legitimately claim to know of flesh-and-blood heroes who fought so that I could emerge from the bomb shelter (in the wars of 67 and 73) and proceed with my kid life. I always stood in their honor and wept when the sirens wailed once a year. Every Israeli stops on that day, wherever he is, and stands still in remembrance. We would have died or been overrun by Arabs if not for those brave men who defended the homeland, and not some far-away imperial project.
But can we Americans, in 2013, make such a claim? Can we truly claim that members of the American military killed Iraqis or Afghanis or Libyans so that we may … do what? Remind me?
Ultimately, it is “for the love of a brother-in-arms, and ‘Big Brother’ be damned,” explained Robert Glisson. This is why they of the “Patriot Guard Riders,” his band of brothers, truly fought. Men fight for one another and not for the causes imputed to them by the cowards who send them to battle.
The military is still a government job; a career path with huge risks. How fast the so-called small government types forget this immutable truth. From the appropriately titled “Your Government’s Jihadi Protection Program“ (which the military has become):
“When Republicans and conservatives cavil about the gargantuan growth of government, they target the state’s welfare apparatus and spare its war machine. Unbeknown to these factions, the military is government. The military works like government; is financed like government, and sports many of the same inherent malignancies of government. Like government, it must be kept small. Conservative can’t coherently preach against the evils of big government, while excluding the military mammoth.”—ILANA (“Your Government’s Jihadi Protection Program.“)
We have a solemn [negative] duty not to violate the rights of foreigners everywhere to life, liberty, and property. But we have no duty to uphold their rights. Why? Because (supposedly) upholding the negative rights of the world’s citizens involves compromising the negative liberties of Americans—their lives, liberties, and livelihoods. The classical liberal government’s duty is to its own citizens, first.
“philanthropic” wars are transfer programs—the quintessential big-government projects, if you will. The warfare state, like the welfare state, is thus inimical to the classical liberal creed. Therefore, government’s duties in the classical liberal tradition are negative, not positive; to protect freedoms, not to plan projects. As I’ve written, “In a free society, the ‘vision thing’ is left to private individuals; civil servants are kept on a tight leash, because free people understand that a ‘visionary’ bureaucrat is a voracious one and that the grander the government (‘great purposes’ in Bush Babble), the poorer and less free the people.”