By Jacob G. Hornberger
For the life of me, I just can’t figure out why the American people do not rise up en masse against the forever wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan in which the United States has been embroiled for more than 15 years.
After all, by now everyone must surely realize, despite the superficial rhetoric to the contrary, that U.S. soldiers are not over there killing and dying to defend our country or protect our freedoms here at home. They are over there killing and dying to protect the regimes the U.S. invasions and occupations put into power. That’s killing and dying for the sake of empire and interventionism, which, to belabor the obvious, is different from killing and dying for our country or to defend our freedoms.
By now, everyone must also surely realize the enormous costs that have come with U.S. interventionism in those two areas of the world. Both countries are totally destroyed and wracked with deadly and destructive civil wars. The violence unleashed by the U.S. invasion of Iraq gave rise to ISIS. The regime-change operations in Libya and Syria have spread the fire unleashed by the Iraq invasion. The entire conflagration brought about the massive refugee crisis in Europe.
There are the enormous financial costs. Federal spending and debt are out of control, in large part because of the enormous, ever-increasing costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The ever-mounting federal debt threatens to do the same thing that massive debt has done to places like Greece, Puerto Rico, the American Virgin Islands, and many American cities.
The destruction of American liberty at the hands of our own government must be factored into all this. The authority to incarcerate Americans, torture them, and assassinate them, all without trial by jury and due process of law. Massive secret surveillance of the American people by the NSA. That’s what totalitarian regimes do their citizens.
Is there anything positive that can be said about the Pentagon’s and the CIA’s forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East?
Nope. There is nothing positive about them. It’s all negative. The only ones who are benefitting from these forever wars are the fat-cat contractors who are making a killing in what President Eisenhower called “the military-industrial complex.” In the words of Gen. Smedley Butler, it’s all just one great big racket.
So, where are the protestors?
Indeed, where are all those 60s’s protestors who succeeded in finally bringing an end to the U.S. government’s forever war in Vietnam?
It seems like most of them have grown up to become like their parents — totally deferential to the national-security state and trusting in its judgment about what’s right for America. Moreover, given that they’re now in their 60s, many of them are undoubtedly scared to death that if they openly protest against the federal government, as they did when they were young, it might retaliate by taking away their Social Security and Medicare.
What about American CEOs of big comporations? Surely there are at least a few of them who can recognize the destructiveness of these forever interventions. Why aren’t they taking a public stand against the interventions?
My hunch is that they are too scared that the feds will retaliate against them with regulatory inspections, income-tax audits, or insider-trader prosecutions, as they did to former QUEST CEO Joseph Nacchio after he said no to the secret federal request that was made of him to sell his clients’ interests down the river after the 9/11 attacks.
Where are the liberals?
After spending 8 years supporting President Obama’s continuation of President Bush’s program of death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, my hunch is that they feel too sheepish to suddenly turn around and oppose President Trump’s continuation of the Bush-Obama program in those two countries.
Where are the conservatives? Where they always are — enthusiastically supporting these forever wars, regardless of who is president, even while uttering their favorite mantra, “individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.”
Let’s face it: with a few exceptions, it is only us libertarians who openly and ardently oppose these forever wars and demand that all the troops be brought home, once and for all. Clearly, however, the libertarian movement is not sufficient to galvanize a large portion of the nation into action.
So, with all this silent acquiescence to what is surely a road to national destruction, is there no one who can lead us out of this morass?
Actually, there is: the spouses of U.S. soldiers.
Imagine if 100 of those spouses were to show up in Washington with signs saying: “It’s time to bring my husband home.” “It’s time to bring my wife home.” “Enough is enough.” “Not one more death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan.” “No casket for my Bill.” “No body bag for my Mary.”
And then suppose 100 liberals were to join those spouses. And then 100 conservatives. And 100 libertarians. And 100 millennials. And 100 CEOs. And then 100 children of soldiers serving overseas. And 100 brothers and sisters of such soldiers. And then 100 parents and grandparents.
How could something like that be ignored? It would scare the dickens out of all those fat cats who are making a killing in this racket.
By participating in such a protest, would a military spouse be damaging the military career of his wife or her husband? Probably yes. The Pentagon might stick some notation in the soldier’s 201 file saying, “This man’s wife is out of control.” Or “Her husband could be a terrorist sympathizer.” Or “His spouse is un-American.”
But you military spouses need to ask yourselves: What’s more important to you: Your spouse’s military career or that he or she come home to your family alive and intact?
The thing every military spouse needs to finally come to grips with is this discomforting fact: If your husband or wife comes home in a body bag, no matter what they tell you he will not have died for his country or his freedom because no foreigner is invading our country or threatening to take away our freedom. And before anyone says, “Jacob, don’t forget the terrorists,” let me remind you that anti-American terrorism is rooted in U.S. interventionism abroad. Bring the troops home and the anti-American terrorism disappears.
There are better things to die for than defending foreign regimes that the U.S. interventionist state has installed into power. That’s just something that not one more U.S. soldier should be sacrificed for.
How about it, military spouses? How about leading us out of this deadly and destructive morass? Your spouses might be upset for a while with your protest, but I’ll bet that he or she will ultimately thank you for it. Your kids will undoubtedly be grateful. So will your country.
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.