posted on Apr, 6 2005 @ 05:08 AM
OK, well I know I might draw all sorts of fire for this, but I'm going to say it anyway.
The idea that a soldier fights for freedom is largely fallacious as far as military history in general is concerned. A soldier could be considered
fortunate if he is even fighting for the national interest (as opposed to private ones). Even then, a soldier will fight for advantage just as often
as he will fight for freedom.
My point certainly is not to say that our troops (many of whom are close personal friends of mine) are not deserving of respect. My point is simply
that there is a tendency to romanticize and exaggerate the motives and the facts of a war, and this is bad for the troops. I think the "fighting for
our freedom" cliché gets people killed in wars that would not be tolerated if they were discussed in a more objective light. How would you like to
be one of the people who lost their a son in the Philippine-American war, trying to oppress people in a country that our own President admitted he
couldn't find on the map at the time that he had given the order to take it from Spain!?
Historically, armies are the last refuge of the poor and the desperate. They have often been treated with little pretense as disposable heroes- paid
to die. If that's not what we want our army to be, then we must accept that as the end to which an army will naturally gravitate if we do not
consider our wars carefully in an honest light, and consider the pay, treatment, and preparation of our troops carefully as well.
In short I attack the cliché of troops necessarily fighting "for our freedoms" because I hope the result will be that we take care to see that they
do. I would not want to see them wasted on less worthy causes.
So, let's look at the history of the United States, shall we?
Revolution: Fought for Freedom.
Northwest Indian War: Fought for Expansionism.
Quasi-War with France: Fought to protect American shipping.
War of 1812: Fought for Western Expansion and to re-open agricultural trade overseas.
First Seminole War: Fought to quell Indians and stop them from accepting run-away slaves, as well as to gain control of Spanish-held Eastern
The Second Barbary War: Fought to protect American shipping.
Second and Third Seminole Wars: Fought to displace Seminoles after Spain left Florida.
Black Hawk War: Fought for Expansionism
Mexican-American War: Fought for Expansionism.
Civil War: Arguably fought for freedom (both sides).
Spanish American War: Fought for Colonialism
Philippine-American War: Fought for Colonialism
Boxer Rebellion: Fought for Economic Advantages in China
Then you have the banana wars from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, Panama, even Hawaii etc etc which lead Marine legend Smedley Butler to write his book "War
is a Racket" and refer to himself as "A gangster for capitalism" and "High-class muscle for the Dole Corporation". All of those fought for
WWI, WWII, and Korea you could call "the good wars" if such a thing could ever be said without being oxymoronic. They were all fought not only for
Freedom but in some cases arguably for the freedom of others. I think we should underscore that for about 50 years, America didn't really fight any
purely expansionist or economic wars. That's really not bad at all for a major power which almost constantly has a problem somewhere in the world
that could be solved by shooting someone.
I would argue that WWI changed the way we viewed and the way we treated our armed forces. The men who brought down the Kaiser couldn't be viewed as
assets to be loaned out to corporate interests, and the Marine Corps which distinguished itself so highly in France was more than an imperial police
force. So things changed until Vietnam.
Vietnam set us back 50 years. Vietnam proved just how political war could be and made our men disposable again. Vietnam paved the way for every
half-hearted knee-jerk operation of the Clinton years and if not for the War in Iraq itself then surely for the way it is being handled. If we had
retained the lessons of the world wars and not bought the mistakes of Vietnam there is no way we would be doing this kid-gloves routine in Iraq that
is leading to an inflated casualty rate.
Our soldiers don't always fight for freedom. We say they do, but we don't always support them as if we believed it. This is the root of a great many
problems. We'd better keep it where we believe in what we're fighting for just as much as we believe in fighting for freedom, and we'd better mean
it. If that's not your attitude, all wars become Vietnam.
[edit on 6-4-2005 by The Vagabond]