By Bradley Harrington
“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none …” — Thomas Jefferson, “First Inaugural Address,” 1801 —
Last week, I discussed the virtue of military service as it pertains to protecting and defending the values of the United States, and I said that such service was not a “sacrifice” but “a profoundly selfish act rooted in the desire to protect the ideas of our society and culture” instead.
Just because the idea of military service is honorable, however, does not guarantee that the men and women who sign up for it will be deployed for the proper purposes, or on sound principles of conduct.
And, sadly enough, neither has been happening in our military for quite some time now — and the impacts on our culture, both domestically and internationally, have been profound and far-reaching.
Let’s start at the beginning: When is it proper for a society to deploy its military? In self-defense, when it’s under attack or the threat of attack. As when the United States entered World War II against the Axis Powers after Pearl Harbor.
And when so attacked, our military is justified in taking whatever actions are necessary in order to wipe out the enemy. In World War II, we toppled three dictatorships: Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan. You mess with the bull and you get the horns. Sorry, end of story.
One of the tragic results of that war, however, was our alliance with Soviet Russia, for this ended up resulting — at Tehran, Potsdam and Yalta — in the legitimization of Russia’s takeover of Eastern Europe and its consequent subjugation of 300 million people into abject socialist slavery for nearly half a century.
The repercussions of such folly were immediate and far-ranging: Having committed such an act of treason against our own principles of liberty, individualism and self-determination, we were no longer free, internationally, to seek the obliteration of communism politically or militarily; we could only “contain” it instead.
And that folly, in turn, led us to first Korea then Vietnam, where we were at actual war in both engagements, but not free to prosecute either to successful conclusions (since that would have necessitated taking out the two communist powers, Soviet Russia and Red China, that were behind both conflicts).
Add in the role of “world military power” that the U.S. had thrust upon it after World War II, and the transformation of our military from a preservational force to an often-aggressive vehicle for interference in international affairs was complete. We have now come to view ourselves as global geopolitical engineers.
Such interventions, however, have always had disastrous and unintended consequences: When the CIA’s “Operation Ajax” solidified Shah Pahlavi’s rule in Iran back in 1953, for instance, what did we get out of it? The Iranian Revolution of 1979 … And a government that has fostered and sponsored terrorist activities against the United States ever since.
(Another example: While at war with Iran over our hostages, who did we then build up as our friend? None other than Saddam Hussein of Iraq, who chose to use our wealth to fund the chemical gassing of thousands of his own Kurd countrymen at Halabja in 1988.)
Now, let’s add in another factor as well: While we’re now out there, militarily, in about 150 countries, acting as the world’s (hated) policeman, we’ve altered our rules of engagement to the point where our military men and women now function as little more than defenseless, sitting ducks, with no clear goals of mission accomplishment to speak of, much less a clear definition of who the enemy is or what our purposes are in being there.
So, what has all of this got us? I’d hardly say, taking a look at the state of the world, that it’s been made any safer for liberty and individualism. To the contrary, such policies have made things far worse, and we’ve blown trillions upon trillions of dollars upon such empire-building efforts.
So, what’s the solution to all of this? To correct the original problems:
■ To return to a policy of strict self-defense as needed, thereby disengaging from the military tripwires we’ve set for ourselves all around the world;
■ To abandon the policy of “containment” and to declare that any enemy, communist or otherwise, is subject to annihilation should we suffer attack or the threat of attack.
Such actions would have the impact of greatly reducing our military expenditures, while actually providing us with better security and defense. Then, once again, our military can function as an honorable protective mechanism, with the full blessings from our society that it deserves.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on December 3, 2017.