US Troops Do Not Fight ‘To Keep Us Free’


In last night’s State of the Union speech, President Obama put the spotlight on one of his invited guests, Army Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg, a severely wounded veteran who was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Here’s Reason‘s Nick Gillespie in Time on why using the wounded vet as a political tool is “morally dubious.”

The most emotionally powerful moment in Barack Obama’s State of the Union address was also its most morally dubious. The nation’s commander in chief drew attention to a wounded warrior while eliding any responsibility for placing the young man in harm’s way.

A record number of Americans – 60 percent – think the government is too powerful, says Gallup, which also finds a near record low percentage trusts the government “to do what is right.” Who can blame us? The government under Republican and Democratic presidents has spent virtually the entire 21st century sending young men and women to fight in ill-defined and unsuccessful elective wars. That’s bad enough, but then to use them as props in political speeches? That’s positively obscene.

Gillespie is exactly right. As I tweeted at the time, praising Corey for almost getting killed in a war zone that Barack Obama ordered him into is a bit off.

Praising wounded soldiers who fight in the country’s wars is an old pastime, stretching back to tribal warfare and the ancient Greeks. It is mostly an attempt to gin up support for state violence.

So when Obama paid tribute to our warriors “who risk and lay down their lives to keep us free,” he was not being genuine. Does having 50,000 U.S. troops in Germany really have anything to do with keeping us free? Or is it what policymakers, in their less public moments, have said NATO is all about, namely ensuring the U.S. maintains dominance over the European continent? Are the approximately 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan really there to keep Americans “free”? Or are they there, as in Europe, to maintain Washington’s dominance and, more lately, contain a rising China? Did troops really invade Iraq in 2003 to secure the freedom of Americans? Isn’t it true that the presence of U.S. troops in the Middle East motivated al-Qaeda to attack us on 9/11, and thus made us less secure and less free?

And if the troops in Afghanistan are there to protect freedom all the way back here in America, why does it look like we’ll be pulling out with none of our major objectives accomplished and the Taliban as strong as ever? Might Americans have been just as free if we pulled out in 2009, when Obama took office and when Corey was nearly killed? Wouldn’t Afghanistan be in approximately the same position it is now, with a weak government that survives on foreign aid and systemic corruption and a Taliban insurgency that, despite the vaunted surge, looks like it can break up the country?

By 1965, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had privately admitted the war in Vietnam was unwinnable, but necessary in order to maintain American credibility and prestige. The war in Afghanistan is very much the same. Soldiers sent to fight and die in Afghanistan are sent for the international reputations of politicians in Washington, to save face, to prove to the world that America will use force even in lost wars.

The greatest threat to Americans’ freedom doesn’t come from Germany or Japan or Iraq or Afghanistan. It comes from Washington. That’s why people in the Founding generation like James Madison said, “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.” He also warned posterity that, “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Thomas Jefferson described “standing armies” as a “menace to the liberties of the people.”

If Obama said something like that, it would have been a hard truth put to the country. Hard, but at least it’d be true.

36 thoughts on “US Troops Do Not Fight ‘To Keep Us Free’”

  1. I keep waiting for the talking heads and pundits – the ones with microphones and pulpits to start a "Truth" campaign making clear statements repudiating all the lies and disinformation spread by the politicians and those with political and financial skin in the game (usually on the returns end, not the spend end)…and then I remember how Dr. Paul was shouted down and verbally abused when he succinctly and truthfully stated the reason 9/11 happened. As long as the egos and agendas of the Archons are primary, the truth will not be accepted – and therefore will find little if any light of day.

    But I keep waiting…

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    2. Never happen: networks are ultimately sponsored & funded by the war-making machine. It's in their best interests to promote this whole "protect-&-defend" scheme, as if an oath was the entire raison d'etre.

      That's why the debates on Iraq/Afghanistan have settled at the "legal/illegal" level: they wouldn't dare publicize that reps. of that war-making (& war-lobbying) machine were solely responsible for the failures in those countries. Even now, they still appear on the networks as "experts," when their expertise is in failure.

  2. Almost none – possibly none – of the wars America has ever fought in, had anything to do with making or keeping Americans free. What did the Spanish-American war have to do with preserving freedom in America? How was Spain threatening Americans' freedoms? Where is the historical or archival evidence that the Kaiser was trying to destroy America's freedom in 1917? What plan did the Vietcong have to eliminate freedom in the USA? There are many other examples that can be made. Nevertheless it remains a powerful myth that the military "protects" our freedom.

    1. Not "almost none"-not "possibly none", but absolutely all of American wars have been entirely offensive and entirely imperial. Begin with the War of 1812. The newly constituted US declared war on Britain ostensibly for the British naval practice of "impressing" (abducting merchant sailors at sea into British naval service) American sailors. This was an obvious violation of our young nation's sovereignty. And a great excuse for a declaration of war. A good question to ask might be; how did the USA intend to prosecute this war against Britain? Did Madison intend to invade the British Isles? The puny US Navy wouldn't have gotten the invading force far outside American ports before they would have been engaged by the far superior British Navy. What were the US aims? Simple! They intended to invade and annex Canada while Britain was fully engaged in the Napoleonic Wars. The Mexican- American War……et cetera, et cetera

      1. You began with the War of 1812, James, but neglected the Revolutionary War. I see that as the one war that was completely justified. What say you?

        1. That depends on the perspective one takes, though. One man's patriot is another man's criminal. To Americans, of course to maintain our good ole boy credentials we have to say the revolution was necessary- but to Britain, it was a criminal uprising to be crushed by force. Certainly the Crown wasn't mulling over the maps with the generals saying, "You, know, they have a point and we can't really blame them for wanting to rebel against us…". No, they looked at the maps and the social and political situation and saw the revolution for what it was- the breaking of their colonies in the Americas- and reacted accordingly.

          The same principle was at work during our own Civil War as well- who was right and who was wrong depends entirely on one's point of view.

          Was either war justified or not justified, and on what grounds? Perspective.

        2. Let's see now? That was the one led by America's slave owners, wasn't it? They were worried that the British Empire would make slavery illegal.

  3. It is a warped version of ancient Greek tribalism, instead of the powerful fighting the wage slaves are. I think the plutocrats should be conscripted and be the ones to fight their own wars. Imperialism is dressed up in the garbs that appeal to the people such as Christianity and liberalism. The troops according to Washington are missionaries on the part of liberalism to make people like us. They are really flesh and blood toys for the politically connected. There are western winners of the 21st century wars and they are the war profiteers. The very scum that should have been on the front lines in these wars. We have a whole industry of liars that try to brainwash the country into supporting the next profitable adventure.

  4. "Might Americans have been just as free if we pulled out in 2009…?"

    Obama was still working on pushing through (via US-installed Karzai) the oil pipeline deal that the US had been working on with the US-installed and backed Taliban until 2001. The US was, until 2001, also trying to get the Tablian to expand its government over all of Afghanistan.

    The whole reason the US assembled, in 1979 (before the Soviet invasion, which was in response) an Islamic fundamentalist jihadist army to take over Afghanistan (and in the process bring women's rights back to the Middle Ages) was for control of resources in the area. It wasn't because they thought Sharia law was better than rights for women, which women in Afghanistan had before the US-proxy-jihadist takeover.

    Sources and details:

    USA doesn't want people free. It wants them to comply and provide resources and labor for nothing or next to nothing.

  5. Here is one of Osama Bin Laden's quotes. "Free men do not forfeit their security, contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom. If so, then let him explain to us why we don't strike Sweden, for example." It was never about our freedom, it was about foolish foreign policies and lies to appease our so- called allies.

  6. It's hard to comprehend anyone would believe that Madison and Jefferson would make the same statements in today's world. During the last century, we have had Hitler, Staling, Mao, Hussein and Bin Laden and many others, all mad men who have killed vast numbers of people for their own purposes. The author and all of the other posters so far think it would be better now had we not had a standing army during the last century? And that our lives in this country would be the same or better? Our that many of us would even be alive now? I'm pretty certain I'm just wasting pixels even writing this post; you people are hopeless. While our government and its use of the military are far from moral, not having a standing army is a prescription for someone who does to completely end any hope that our world will ever have peace.

    1. Regular A. You will find more "mad men," in a democratic society who have slaughtered millions just as much as those you have mention, but because there is no "ISM" in the word "democracy," it is widely accepted by the general public as good versus evil.

    2. I believe Madison and Jeffersons statements stand the test of time. The way we are using our standing army ensures that our world will never have peace. We are in a state on continual warfare. Are we winning hearts and minds with our misplaced drone strikes in Pakistan? How about the use of our standing army in Iraq & Afganistan? Tell me how these countries were a threat to our freedoms? How many total lives were lost in these conflicts. Was it worth it? You call Hussein & Bin Laden mad men, how about us? Have we learned nothing from Viet Nam? Total waste of our soldiers lives, not to mention the financial cost. There are times when defense is necessary. These instances do not rise to that level.

    3. Being full of it, how many ExLax a day do you take to stay regular? Oh, and how many did madman Lincoln kill for his own (and Northern bankers') purposes?

    4. Guess you're not aware that the USA helped Saddam commit his worst crimes, waging war of aggression against Iran, and gassing Iranians and Kurds.

      Looks like in that case, at least, the USA's officials were also "mad men".

      Any words for them? Or is Saddam okay now that you know his worst crimes had massive US support?

  7. Or as SunTzu once said in "The Art of War", "no nation has ever survived a protracted war."

  8. We need to understand the fact when and how USG or others advertise for militarism, while young man and women from working class are slaughtered, while thousands upon thousands young solders have lost their life to the system to "safe and secure the country", yet, USG been at war for last 70 years or so, if they haven't been able to secure the nation than there is something wrong with the system. This is part of the systematic social propaganda where system lies to the people for these man and women's to be sent to war of governmental choice, to be killed or injured for the economic value that system works for, vulture capitalism.

  9. It is extremely manipulative to display the great sacrifice of this injured young man, but it works. No one with a human heart could deny this young man but behind this display of compassion/pity there is the fact that once you support the troops you are already more than halfway to supporting the war/s that the troops are involved in. It comes along with the territory. This is why after the Vietnam war all the propaganda was churned up blaming the 'hippies and anti-war activists' for the breakdown of Vietnam war vets. 'If only the people would have appreciated their sacrifice they would have been okay'. As if the war itself and all the atrocities committed in it had no effect whatsoever.

    1. Silber "No I do not support the troops":

      But as for the SOTU, and it's manipulating: really no need to subject oneself to this manipulation. No reason to watch it. Read the text afterward you think you have to (it often details future policy, most if it bad of course, so that's the reason to if you have the tolerance). I doubt bringing on a troop to manipulate pulls the strings so well in plain text.

      1. jrs – I quit watching the SOTU years ago – It's much better for my sanity. The SOTU address is nothing but propaganda, lies, and political theater. Also, I don't see why GOP Speaker Boehner agrees to sit there uncomfortably with his sad mug in constant view, since he doesn't agree with Obama on anything. He should sit in the floor like everyone else. To hell with that dumb tradition. Presidents used to just send a letter to Congress advising them of the SOTU. Too bad we can't go back to that.

  10. The 2 + minute applause this wounded soldier received from both houses of congress was a lot more than the servicemen aboard the U.S.S. Liberty ever received after being brutally attacked by the Israelis on June 8, 1967 (wounding 173 and killing 34 Americans). These democratic and republican politicians only pretend to care for our soldiers at these televised events and in their campaign speeches. Then they use protecting our soldiers as their excuses for expanding the budget of our military (and the pockets of their campaign contributors). If these political parties really cared about our soldiers, they would not send them into worthless wars, and they would have at least investigated the attack on the USS Liberty – if not totally annihilated Israel for their brutal execution of our soldiers in International waters – by now. Instead, Obama – just like most of our national politicians – makes it a point in his SOTU speech to mention how we will always support Israel (without mentioning how we will always support any other country on Earth). By the way, what special skills did this wounded soldier have to offer the people of Afghanistan that they couldn't perform themselves?

    1. What special skills does this guy have? He's making a half-a***d Vulcan "Live Long And Prosper" salute. Beyond that I have no clue.

  11. Regular American… How many people did Osama Bin Laden kill compared to say Johnson and Nixon? The US killed millions in SE Asia and Iraq(a 20+ year war that had nothing to do with 9/11). The US federal government is much closer to Hitler, Mao, and Stalin. Ever read Milton Mayer? He wrote a book called “They Thought They Were Free”. Read it. You might learn something past your public school indoctrination.

  12. Worthless wars based on lies and fought for a powerful minority[AIPAC].i'm so damn sick of it I could makes me want to spit on the ground[or in their selfish faces] when I see a politian GOP or Dem.Just two wings on the same bird of prey.Did any of them shoulder a weapon ..dig a fighting hole?eat c ration[or MRE'S]? Did any of them send their kids off to a foreign country to fight a war?I have done all of this but I bet very few of the whores in our goverment have!Do they realize how much some of us loathe them!

  13. Its important to stop using the Big Lie about 9/11. While it is impossible to be sure of the details the evidence is overwhelming that 9/11 was a false flag run by US and Israeli intelligence and if you want to know who, start with the article “The Lie Factory” at Mother Jones. Then poke around wikispooks dot com.

    Al Qaeda is CIA and/or a facile label for mercenaries any old billionaire or sheik can hire. Let’s hope the next false flag to start the Iran war doesn’t kill too many.

    Could Ukraine be next? Look at who runs their central bank, largest central bank, and a lot of the largest tv and newspapers. Same tribe that’s 3 out of 4 of their billionaires. Similar outsized power in Russia and Hungary and the US and France and Australia and the UK and South Africa most of all…. where 0.2% of the population is 25/100 richest people, excluding cryptos.

    You still think Henry Ford and Lindbergh and Pound and Patton were wrong, or are people too brainwashed to see what is right in front of their eyes.

    Most wars are bankers wars. But who are the largest bankers, in myriad countries where they are a minority.

    You think there’s no coordination?

    No, its not right or sensible to “hate” the innocent, but it is not right or sensible to deny inconvenient truths to appear politically correct.

    Break that spell.

    Many lives depend on it.

  14. So many members of the military are brainwashed by the government, media and their families into thinking the USA & Israel do no wrong and that non-westerners especially Muslims, South Asians and Middle Easterners are subhuman & deserve to be mistreated. That's why Abu Ghraib happened & why troops got away with urinating on Afghan corpses.

  15. Do you think that Japan would have bombed Pearl Harbour if we had had not supplied China with weapons?

  16. We supplied both the British and Germans with supplies and weapons until the British declared they would sink every American going to the Germans.

  17. My Grandfather was in world war I. I started asking him queations about the war when I was about 11 years old. The things he told me were almost opposite from what I was taught in school so I dismissed them until years later. He said that if we had not entered the war the Germans would have won and therefore Hitler would not have come to power and there would not have been a WWII or a korean war. He died in 1961 or I'm sure he would have included vietnam.

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