Lew Rockwell, well-known libertarian leader, recently published an open letter to the troops on his site authored by Jacob Hornberger:
"Dear Troops: Yesterday – Memorial Day – some people asserted, once again, that you are 'defending our freedoms' overseas. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those people are just repeating tired old mantras. The reality is that you are not defending our freedoms with your actions overseas. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Your actions overseas are placing our freedoms here at home in ever-greater jeopardy."
The letter repeats a tired old mantra itself, that military action overseas makes us more vulnerable at home by creating just as many enemies for America as it destroys and troops who take up arms for the country should lay them down in the name of peace. We’ve heard this argument often over the last century, especially during the Vietnam era.
Some of what Hornberger writes is arguable. One can certainly hold the Iraq War was a war of choice based upon false intelligence. While the Afghan War is more justifiable, it is true it was not the only possible response to the 9/11 attacks. These points can be supported by convincing arguments and evidence.
Maybe our troops don’t fight for freedom, but his argument is still a false one. Why and what our troops fight for is as varied and individual as each of them. Many fight and many die anonymously on some desperate square foot of ground in a faraway land for a purpose or an idea only they know. Most come home to pursue a quiet life in which no one knows of their acts of heroism, bravery, pity, or cruelty. But it is their conviction that there are things in this world worth fighting for and worth dying for.
Whatever compels our troops, their willingness to volunteer and commitment to duty has meant over the last decade, despite fighting our longest war yet, we still don’t have a draft, we are constantly discussing cutting taxes rather than raising them, we still pay much less for electricity and gasoline than the rest of the world, and no commodity was ever rationed to support the effort.
In the round, our troops do fight for our freedom. Our military is the reason for our continuing dominance. Our opponents know no act of aggression against America, whether perceived or real, will go unanswered. With our looming specter of military power, most of those who would challenge us directly never will. They turn to terrorism and insurgency. Attacks that we may have suffered without a strong military can never be quantified. This strength overshadows and stabilizes the strength of our economy, our democracy, and our society.
The average American, the 99% who never served, sleep peaceably in their beds at night because our military stands ready to do violence on their behalf. Most Americans will never know violence because our veterans have stared it in the face so often. Bringing our soldiers home may bring them out of harm’s way, but the harm will never go away. To believe that soldiers cause war is the same as believing skimpy clothes causes rape or guns kill people instead of other people.
I personally believe the Iraq War was fought for false reasons based on falsified intelligence. But I fought there twice and fought my hardest every day I was there. That might make me a walking contradiction. But I’ll take my problems with the Iraq War up with George W. Bush and the Congress, not the troops. I lost 14 brothers there who I remember every day, not just on Memorial Day. I don’t know what they fought for, but I fought for your freedom.