As members of the Military, the idea granted to them is ‘service’ to the country. The Oath of Office states “I, [one’s name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” Being servants of the country, the military are lauded for protecting the country, and defending our freedom. However, what must be looked at is whether or not the assumed characteristics ‘protectors of the country’ and ‘defenders of freedom’ are correct.
According to the 2012 National Security Strategy, the  primary missions of the U.S. Armed Forces: 1) Counter Terrorism and Irregular Warfare. 2) Deter and Defeat Aggression. 3) Project Power Despite Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges. 4) Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction. 5) Operate Effectively in Cyberspace and Space. 6) Maintain a Safe, Secure, and Effective Nuclear Deterrent. 7) Defend the Homeland and Provide Support to Civil Authorities. 8) Provide a Stabilizing Presence. 9) Conduct Stability and Counterinsurgency Operations. 10) Conduct Humanitarian, Disaster Relief, and Other Operations.
Each of these missions is vague in itself, but The Department of Defense [DOD] provides details on each point. The essence of mission 1) keeping up military pressure against al-Qa’ida and other designated terrorist organizations, including “As U.S. forces draw down in Afghanistan, our global counter terrorism efforts will become more widely distributed… “ & ‘preventing from ever being a safe haven again’. 2) being able to deter an aggressor and this includes “…secure territory and populations and facilitate a transition to stable governance on a small scale for a limited period using standing forces and, if necessary, for an extended period…” (original emphasis). 3) ensure that there is an ability to project power in cyber warfare, undersea and space, as well as new and improved stealth and missile defenses (China and Iran specifically identified). 4) “…at preventing the proliferation and use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons” and “…planning and operations to locate, monitor, track, interdict and secure WMD and WMD-related components and the means and facilities to make them” as well as responding to actions should preventative measures fail (Iran specifically identified). 5) working with international and domestic allies to further capabilities. 6) have (through a potentially smaller, though still sufficient in size) nuclear arsenal, a deterrence effect from being attacked by one using nuclear weaponry. 7) starts with “…continue to defend U.S. territory from direct attack by state and non-state actors” but continues with assisting civil authorities in the case of failing to defend the homeland against an attack; if a catastrophic event occurs the armed forces can be relied to offer “…support to civil authorities [when they] require strong, steady–state force readiness.” 8) succinctly explained “U.S. forces will conduct a sustainable pace of presence operations abroad, including rotational deployments and bilateral and multilateral training exercises.” 9) though ‘no longer sized for large-scale operations’ the Armed Forces will still “…emphasize non-military means and military-to-military cooperation to address instability and reduce the demand for significant U.S. force commitments to stability operations” but “…will nevertheless be ready to conduct limited counterinsurgency and other stability operations if required” which will all be ready to have terms redefined. 10) succinctly explained “U.S. forces possess rapidly deployable capabilities, including airlift and sealift, surveillance, medical evacuation and care, and communications that can be invaluable in supplementing lead relief agencies, by extending aid to victims of natural or man-made disasters, both at home and abroad.”
In the Constitution, Article 1 Section 8 has a list of powers, including the role of the ‘militia’, raising and supporting armies and to provide and maintain a navy. Like many parts of the Constitution, there are not specifics relating to the abilities or limitations of a given line, but the lines are addressing general principles. For example, the Second Amendment states “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”. The amendment did not break the principle into the specifics of the time, detailing which weapons were acceptable: flintlock and/or matchlock, long rifles, short muzzle or pistols, bows or crossbows, sabres or tomahawks. The principle was set: there are weapons for defense, and the peoples’ ability to meet force with force, shall not be infringed. The Second Amendment equally did not just state defend against the Indians, the British or for hunting, but for the [general] security of the people against all threats. Similarly, the freedom of speech in the First Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” is not segmented into newspapers, brochures, pamphlets or campaign speeches, as the principle was set of free speech. (the two aforementioned amendments are principles, much to the chagrin of many a politician; much to the chagrin of free people, the amendments are being, or have been, segmented into specifics).
As the principles have been set forth, what must be looked at (for this is how we will see if the military is providing service to the country by protecting it) is do the acts of the military uphold the principles set forth in the Constitution? This is done in two steps: reviewing the pragmatic/practical steps being taken to see what principle is being implemented, and taking that principle to see how it matches the principles set forth in the Constitution. Upon reviewing the 10 Mission Statements from the Department of Defense, only one of them (7) is related to the actual defense of the country. The mission statements, though through their titles they sound like they are defense-oriented, through the art of newspeak what is actually subsumed in details under those titles are open-ended imperialism through ‘securing territories and populations’, ‘facilitate a transition’, ‘projecting power’ in multiple ways, by ‘preventing the proliferation’ of various types of weaponry, finding ways of furthering reach with international and domestic allies, civil authorities for major events that are man-caused or natural, maintain a ‘sustainable pace of presence’ throughout the world, be ready to act to stabilize (other areas) if needed, and help rebuild those suffering from man-made or natural disasters.
Any of that sound like protecting the country? It may be protecting the country in a modern-day Pax Romana – Roman peace, achieved by the Roman Empire through conquering. Imposition of a different cultures’ values will be resisted, and the more force is used to impose those new values, the quicker, stronger and more persistent will be the resistance against it. Even in ‘democratic’ nations (US is really a Republic – it’s in the Constitution), there is great strife amongst opposing sides between the winners and losers of legislation passed (most laws are not actually voted upon, but those passing the laws were mostly voted in) on subjects like possession of firearms, healthcare and abortion. When the imposition is from overt force (unlike the implicit force of voting) the resistance will vary, but be present. Voting leads to [democratic] class war where each class wants to impose rules/regulations on those outside of one’s own class – civil wars have erupted from class division lasting too long or too severely; examples for more similar cultures include Catholic versus Protestant adherents clashing in Ireland/Britain; crossing cultures to a greater extent and the result is the Indochina War where the French and British eventually saw it too costly to continue to their presence.
Losses are felt in a couple different ways, and one way is financial. In just one area [Egypt], according to the Congressional Research Service report July 2015 “Between 1948 and 2015, the United States provided Egypt with $76 billion in bilateral foreign aid (calculated in historical dollars—not adjusted for inflation), including $1.3 billion a year in military aid from 1987 to the present”. Brown University totaled the US expenditures (spent already or promised – mostly through borrowing) at 4.4 trillion dollars. War, of course, is not just financial loss, but lives as well. Brown University also found 370,000 people were killed from war violence; 210,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting; 7.6 million have been displaced. These each are conservative estimates; Huffington Post reports almost half-a-million deaths from war in Iraq alone.
Three consequences of these Pax-Americana actions: 1) spiraling debt, as aforementioned the estimated 4.4 trillion dollars spent is mostly borrowed and it will come with interest; paying the balance and the interest means less funds available for anything else in the country, including maintaining defense. This point of concern about the debt was made by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Admiral Mike Mullen, who both called the debt ‘the greatest threat to national security’. With the DOD’s mission statements, there is to be continuous and ever-present/ever-ready use of force when and where deemed needed, so the expenditure is not going to lessen substantially. Though there is a goal to reduce ‘overall capacity’ and the ‘cost of business’ as noted in the DOD report, there is also “We will resist the temptation to sacrifice readiness in order to retain force structure, and will in fact rebuild readiness in areas that, by necessity, were deemphasized over the past decade.”
The other two points are linked: 2) the financial costs of war are great, but debts can be paid back. What cannot be paid back is life; when it is taken, there is no return. September 11th was a rallying cry heard across the country and for a brief time, the normally contentious political divisions were lost; nearly everyone empathized with America. Nearly 3,000 civilians were killed during the attacks in America on 9/11; the conservative estimate of 210,000 civilians that have been killed since then in the Middle East equals SEVENTY 9/11s.
3) is the simple principle of ‘Reap what you sow’. A few examples: Saddam Hussein was strengthened (during the 1980s) through armaments sold by the US, because of a shared enemy: Iran. Iran was in the previous decade (1970s), on friendly terms with American until the Shah became a shared enemy when he joined the other members of OPEC to increase oil prices; where a Westernized (friendlier to the US) leader had been, he was replaced by the religious dogmatists of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Osama bin Laden and the Mujaheddin (1980s) were supplied and trained by the United States in order to fight against the Soviets – from Pakistan into Afghanistan. That should sound familiar to United States Armed Forces. This is not to say any of the leaders who were ousted (some were killed/murdered) were good men, but they were practical for their areas and removing them (Saddam Hussein or Moammar Qaddafi) removed their hard hand holding down the religious and militant zealots, and like when the Shah was gone, religious dogmatists took over either portions of or the entire country.
Combine points 2 and 3 and the people who live in various countries have oppressive rulers, many with some form of American assistance which stoked resentment against the US for helping those oppressors. When those propped-up dictators were eventually removed (e.g. Hussein and Qaddafi, among others), their base and their resources remained to be picked up by the next tyrant-in-waiting; meet ISIS/ISIL. Sometimes, the devil you know is better than the god you don’t.
With these factors combined, it is little surprise that the favorable opinion found by PEW Research ranged from a high of 49% down to only 17% favorable rating of the United States, from various demographic groups in the Middle East. How could there be a positive image when the peoples’ direct exposure to the United States is through bombing for democracy, or indirectly through supporting the one who oppresses them? You may say ‘what about the aid we give them?’ If a group was using one hand to give you money, but another hand to shoot bullets at you, which would you focus upon? – would be more of a concern to you?
Even reviewing the DOD’s own mission statements, we can see they are not consistently applied; other countries have nuclear weapons, and not all of them are friendly to the United States – why is Iran denied the ability to use nuclear power, let alone get a bomb. China and Iran are singled out for cyber concerns, but they are not the only countries that have hackers/crackers and the potential to cause damage through the internet. The goal is selectivity for we may always be at war with 1984’s Eurasia or Eastasia, one or the other – it makes no difference, for the other will replace the one.
George Washington warned that government is not reason, but force. When reason is not used to convince another, and force is used, then the same method of persuasion is implemented as by any small-time thug to genocidal dictator; act as a tyrant and be seen (and treated) as one. Liberty by force is an oxymoron. Cultures are not equal, but those in their own cultures equally have an opinion regarding the value of their own and others. Whether another nation has a majority that votes in a manner the United States does not like, it does not take away that it was their vote or leader, and to support one group over another is to take a side in a foreign conflict, or even a civil war; taking sides will gain temporary allies in one area, but increase enemies even more. Such alliances are as lasting as they are pragmatic, and when no longer seen as valid one side is likely to be bitten by the other: see the United States first and ending relations with the Shah, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. To get rid of bad leaders, those cultures need to go through their respective growing pains – even their own revolutionary war – in order to set up a new system; if the US Armed Forces are involved, then it is just another example of a foreign power flexing its might over the indigenous people, propping up one tyrant.
Interference with other countries’ political affairs is reputational debt: there may be a boon for ‘helping’ in the short-term, but in the long-run that help gets paid back plus interest – the increasing negative views about the United States. This is why those who wrote and signed the Constitution warned against such actions. George Washington said in his farewell address in 1796 “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.” Benjamin Franklin is famous for "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." James Madison said “Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other…” Thomas Jefferson said in his inaugural address “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none…”
Foreign entanglements are not the only problems that Armed Forces are involved. The Oath of Office specifically states that the Oath-taker will defend the Constitution – not to any individual, elected or appointed – from enemies, both foreign and domestic. What is it to be an ‘enemy of the United States’? – the law has a definition of what constitutes an enemy of the United States and that is any individual or group that is engaged in hostilities with the United States. Treason is defined within the Constitution itself, and it states “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”
The last time Congress declared war [one of their Constitutional duties, as it is not to the President’s discretion] was in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor; however, there have been more than 80 actions since WWII that the armed forces have been part of, ranging from what would otherwise be police actions on United States soil, such as actions in Detroit and Wounded Knee, choosing sides in national conflicts such as with Indonesia and Guatemala, to the ever-present ‘War on Drugs’ with raids on cocaine regions in Bolivia, among many, many other actions. The PATRIOT Act has been deemed (in part) unconstitutional; President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in Ex Parte Merryman; the US Supreme Court upheld FDR’s internment of Japanese citizens in Korematsu v US; each of the aforementioned was at the time passed/ruled-upon by Congress, the President and the Supreme Court. The Constitution explicitly states in the Fourth Amendment “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The PATRIOT Act was passed with the Congress and President knowing that the Fourth would be violated, but passed the bill anyways. The Sixth Amendment specifically states that the accused has the right to confront his accusers, but the President Lincoln at the time did not believe the Sixth was valid. The majority opinion written by Hugo Black stated, in essence, concern about a potential crime outweighed individual rights – that is a suspicion (later to be found to be unsubstantiated) was enough to allow the imprisonment of free citizens. The principle of the amendments have been broken into segments according to political expediency. With the repeated support-of-tyrants script coming back to harm American interests, the US government continues to supply those deemed ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’, who is the friend that will stab the US in the back.
What is in place are a series of bills that many who passed them into law, admit they did not read the bill before voting on it. There are non-defense related acts, such as land-grab deals in the NDAA (taking land from private owners to give to foreign investors), to go along with all the other unconstitutional aspects of the laws being passed. On top of all these various facets of unconstitutional behavior, there is the already set justification by the DOD “Our global responsibilities are significant; we cannot afford to fail.” Manipulators use vague terms to justify prevarication as context sees fit. As Orwell warned in 1984, regardless of whether the enemy is Eurasia or Eastasia “…victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous.” It is to be continuous with those comprising the State ensuring there is always the perception that they are needed to protect us, even though their actions direct the instigations and responses against us.
When Rome expanded, taking over vast lands and different cultures, it spread its military too thin, trying to enforce its rule over too many cultures (who didn’t want to be ruled) over too vast an empire, losing resources and going in debt. The Republic changed to an Empire and the Empire fell. People do not want to be ruled, have their culture and society influenced/dictated by outside groups, and to impose such controls requires vast amounts of resources in both men and money; the loss of lives are felt on both sides (US Armed Forces/Rome and members of various countries). There is no practical reason to use the Armed Forces as the policeman of the world, and there are many reasons to not take that role. Simply flip the roles to see how you would respond: Iran or Israel were working on getting a member elected who would seek to help that country, even at the cost of the American electorate – they might even use force to remove opposition, or if Iraq had a base in an American National Park and began bombing Chicago to get rid of gang members there, and while doing so, killed civilians as well? Or again, looking at the conservative estimates from Brown University, how many people who would not have picked up armaments, will do so because of the seventy 9/11 strikes over a period of years?
When there are two or more warring parties, and one is supported which angers those who were not supported (and are oppressed with the extra power), and even the supported power turns and aggresses against the original supporter, and that pattern is continued numerous times with numerous groups over decades, would continuing that behavior be deemed a threat to the supporter? When someone takes out loans in your name, indebting you to years of payments that you have no choice to pay (otherwise face jail), would you consider that a treat to your freedom? When those who are supposed to protect individual rights by passing just laws, pass laws that they have not read, or mix in pet projects to benefit some third party, would that be considered a threat to the people under those laws? When people intentionally violate the rights listed in the document that forms the foundation of the American Republic, what would you call that?
What recourse do free people have when the defenders of the Constitution – those who took the oath to defend it – violate it? It is to the citizenry, and others who have taken the Oath of Office to ensure that those who also took the oath remain true to it – and to prosecute/punish those who do not honor, and especially violate, the Oath of Office. It is a simple choice: will you follow your oath to the Constitution or to an elected (or non-elected) member of the government? As a member of the military, you may ask: how am I supposed to act when there is a chain of command that tells me to follow orders? Remember your oath and follow the Constitution and the principles it sets forth. Question authority, for that is why your oath is to the Constitution and not to a member of the State.
Failing this, and you will be following Tennyson’s ‘Theirs not to reason why; Theirs but to do and die’ which may be a needed tactic in the heat of battle, but outside of that, it is the rallying cry of one directing suicide bombers and the Gestapo. Will you follow the principles set forth in the Constitution, or be an extension of a tyrannical State whose members oppress the citizens who are to be protected under the Constitution you swore to protect?
Whether you like it or not members of the Armed Forces, this is the situation you are in: follow an official who directs you to act in ways that in ways that ultimately, and inevitably, bring harm back upon the country you are trying to protect. Wanting to defend freedom does not mean anything if in action, you work to oppress or put at risk those who the Constitution is set to protect.
Will you choose to honor the orders of those who violate the Constitution you swore an oath upon, or will you protect the Constitution against those who would violate it?