Keith Boyea's Blog

Notes & Commentary on National Security, Current Affairs and Bourbon

Betraying American Soldiers

Thesis: Militarism is a betrayal of American soldiers.

I joined the Air Force 13 years ago for a bunch of different reasons: It was a chance to play division I football, the Air Force Academy didn’t cost me or my parents anything, and the Academy is a good school.  But underpinning all those reasons was a desire to serve my country.  I was and am proud of my service; I’m glad that I got the opportunity.  (I’m no longer in the Air Force–I got out in 2006.)

Of course, others join the military for all sorts of reasons, maybe they want job training or access to college, or maybe they just want to see the world. But every single soldier, airman, marine, and sailor I served with was at least partially motivated by love of country.   It makes sense because Americans are uniquely blessed with the gifts of liberty, freedom, and representative government passed down to us from our Founding Fathers (and Mothers!).  We’re also taught, from a young age, to respect and honor the things that make the United States great.

From the beginning of our school days, we are taught to love the country.  We recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we learn about “We the people,” and those beautiful words of the Declaration, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”  These are the ideas of America, and they are worth defending with vigor and pride.

These ideas are what drove me to consider joining the military.  These are the ideas, I would posit, motivate many to consider joining the military.  These are the ideas worthy of defense.

That’s why contemporary politicians wrap empire building militarism in the rhetoric of protecting those American ideas.  The sacrifice of our soldiers is always in defense of freedom, the enemy is always a tyrant, and American is always noble and selfless in intention.

But for any clear thinking person, our wars, the ones years old in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our newest ones in Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, are not about the ideas that compel men and women to join the U.S. Military.  This is an abomination; a betrayal of the Americans that serve.

Americans motivated to protect freedom and liberty at home are sent to “spread freedom” in Iraq, ” protect the population” in Afghanistan, and fulfill a “responsibility to protect” in Libya.  War isn’t even called war; it is called “hostilities” or “counterinsurgency.”  Our soldiers deserve better.

The men and women in uniform should not be asked to sacrifice their lives to protect foreign populations or fulfill a “responsibility” dreamed up by International Relations “thinkers” headquartered in the faculty lounges of the Ivy League.  This is not what they signed up for–their willingness to serve the country they love has been manipulated in the worst way.  Their lives are on the line every time they step outside of an Afghan or Iraqi FOB and every time they fly a combat sortie over Libya.  These actions have nothing to do with status of American freedom or liberty.

The wars go on (and multiply) without regard for the people tasked with fighting them.  Evidence doesn’t matter–Can anyone explain how the status of voting rights in Afghanistan impacts America’s liberty or freedom?  How does the training levels of Iraqi police officers relate to the freedom exercised in Omaha?  How much longer must we keep up the charade? 

I’ve written about my feelings of betrayal before, and I come to this conclusion with a heavy heart–I want our soldiers’ sacrifices to be meaningful, but ten years into a war with no foreseeable end or terms of victory, I don’t know how to conclude otherwise.

Update:  I wanted to give a hat tip to Jason Fritz for getting me started on this line of inquiry by writing this post.

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Written by keithboyea

October 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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