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What Is It That Libertarians Don’t Get about the Military?

Summary:
I expect to get negative responses from conservatives when I write articles about the U.S. military. I don’t expect to get them from libertarians. In response to my recent article, “Should We Honor Military Personnel?,” I received e-mails from two libertarians. Perhaps there were others. I never assume that everyone who contacts me after I write an article for LewRockwell.com is a libertarian. One, not everyone who reads LRC is a libertarian. I myself, a libertarian, read many conservative and liberal websites. And two, many times my LRC articles are reposted by a variety of websites. I never know if someone read my article on LRC or some other website. Both libertarians who wrote me took issue with the basic premise of my

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I expect to get negative responses from conservatives when I write articles about the U.S. military. I don’t expect to get them from libertarians.

In response to my recent article, “Should We Honor Military Personnel?,” I received e-mails from two libertarians. Perhaps there were others. I never assume that everyone who contacts me after I write an article for LewRockwell.com is a libertarian. One, not everyone who reads LRC is a libertarian. I myself, a libertarian, read many conservative and liberal websites. And two, many times my LRC articles are reposted by a variety of websites. I never know if someone read my article on LRC or some other website.

Both libertarians who wrote me took issue with the basic premise of my article: military personnel who actually defend the country like they are supposed to shouldn’t be honored any more than a cook at Waffle House. I didn’t address the issue of honoring military personnel who don’t actually defend the country like they are supposed to. My position on that has been consistently and vehemently negative since I began writing about the warfare state after the United States invaded Iraq.

One libertarian writer termed my article “snarky” and a “huge EMBARRASSMENT” to him as a libertarian. We should “‘honor’ members of the military, current, honorably discharged, and retired, for their SERVICE, without having to agree where and why they served.” I am guilty of “committing the mistake of blaming the servant for the perceived misdeeds of the master.” I should be “thankful” that the U.S. Navy “has carrier groups and supporting craft, including the attack boats (submarines), and especially the nuclear missile boats.” He asks me if I am “one of those despicable cretins that spat on our servicemen returning from Vietnam.” For the record, I am not. And for the record, I don’t believe the canard about Vietnam vets being spit on.

Another libertarian writer, who has “been both an enlisted man for six years and a commissioned officer for about 21 years,” says that “most people who grow vegetables and work at waffle house, while certainly honorable and praiseworthy in their own right, do not take an oath to defend the Constitution, agree to be sent away from their families for extreme lengths of time and prepare themselves mentally, emotionally and spiritually to lay down their own lives if necessary.” People who approach military service like this “are usually fine folks and are worthy of general respect.” Although they are “flawed as anyone else,” most of them “really sacrificed and believed” they “were serving the Lord’s purposes while doing so.”

What is it that libertarians don’t get about the U.S. military?

Here are ten things about the U.S. military that I have mentioned scores of times over the years in my articles about the U.S. military:

  1. The U.S. military is the president’s personal attack force.
  2. The U.S. military doesn’t defend our freedoms.
  3. The U.S. military carries out a reckless, belligerent, and meddling U.S. foreign policy.
  4. The U.S. military goes places it has no business going.
  5. The U.S. military kills people it has no business killing.
  6. The U.S. military engages in offense, not defense.
  7. The U.S. military fights unjust and immoral wars.
  8. The U.S. military bombs countries that were no threat to the United States.
  9. The U.S. military creates terrorists, insurgents, and militants because of its actions.
  10.  The U.S. military is a global force for evil.

These ten things are more than enough.

No member of the military should be honored no matter where or why he “served.” Individual soldiers should be blamed for the misdeeds (and they are not perceived; they are real) of the military because (1) individual soldiers joined of their own freewill and (2) individual soldiers are the ones who commit the misdeeds. The fact that they took an oath to defend the Constitution means nothing if they don’t actually defend it. No soldier should have to be sent away from his family for extreme lengths of time or prepare himself mentally, emotionally and spiritually to lay down his life if necessary. Not if he was actually engaged in defending the country against real threats instead of fighting foreign wars.

The huge embarrassment to libertarianism is for anyone who calls himself a libertarian to honor U.S. military personnel just because they “served” when, even in their best state, they should not be honored any more than a cook at Waffle House.

Laurence M. Vance
Laurence M. Vance is an author, a publisher, a lecturer, a freelance writer, the editor of the Classic Reprints series, and the director of the Francis Wayland Institute. He holds degrees in history, theology, accounting, and economics. The author of twenty-four books, he has contributed over 700 articles and book reviews to both secular and religious periodicals.

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