I volunteered to serve in the United States Air Force and do not regret the decision. During my time as an Intelligence Analyst, my unit was involved in Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. I saw some extraordinary things and the DOD paid for college and grad school.
However, since I left active duty in 1997 I have come to a better understanding of what “Just War” involves, and our nation’s history of nearly non-stop war….for land, wealth and control. It began with our rebellion against a Christian monarch in England because 3% taxes were unreasonable. Today most of us pay several times that just in sales taxes…and 10 times that in income taxes in support of a anti-Christian state which persecutes us.
Rarely has the United States fought a defensive war, and even if that prerequisite is ignored, our means have almost always been unjust (such as with the intentional fire-bombing of German civilians or the atomic bombing of Japanese civilians).
Having abandoned our own constitutional republic for a corporatist mobocracy, today we seem to be fighting offensive actions designed to force secular democracy on others. This wouldn’t even satisfy the neo-conservative principles I once believed in, and that many on the right still cling to as if they were taught by Christ Himself. Trump’s recent bombing of Syria brought out the worst in the Right, most of whom applauded the decision, but none of whom could explain why it is good that we helped create, fund, arm and train ISIS, and bomb their enemies (who have a history of protecting Christians from Islamic persecution, and who, BTW, have done nothing to the United States).
When I explain to those who advocate for these offensive wars that we are actually guilty of far worse than what they claim the enemy has done to us, hysteria ensues. And yet it is undeniable (even the Pentagon admits this), we have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children since Muslim terrorists killed 2,977 people on 9/11.
None of these people did anything to us, and yet we killed them. They pose absolutely no threat to us at all. We killed them for a political objective. How then are we different from the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11? How are we not, in fact, far worse? And….we’re not done yet. There is no end in sight, in fact.
Another rarely discussed point is the cost to our own soldiers, and their families. Thousands have died, tens of thousands more suffer from grievous physical and mental wounds, and more than 100,000 have committed suicide since 9/11. For what? As a people we are less free than ever, bankrupt and the threat from Islamic terror remains (who can be surprised given the number of husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters we have killed).
As as consequence of my study of the question over the last 20 years, I have gradually discouraged my sons and other potential recruits from volunteering for military service. I have a long list of reasons, of which the likelihood of participating in immoral wars is just the first.
Readers may know that I dislike most of what the central government does, favor states’ rights and do not shy away from correcting widespread Yankee revisionist history about the origins and purposes of the Civil War War of Northern Aggression. That having been said, I am among those who look upon that pitiful history of our country and learn the lessons it offers us. Among them is this; neither peaceable or armed rebellion against this government has a reasonable chance of succeeding.
These are not the only considerations, of course. We can look to Thomas Aquinas for some guidance on the question of just war. It seems to me the motives could be just. For example, I find many of the policies of the central government to be immoral and dangerous. The fears of the founders have come true; the government they constructed is increasingly hostile towards the citizens it exists primarily to protect. This is the nature of governments. They understood it. Either we do not, or, as I think is more likely, we do, and we simply want it to be ‘our’ government that we wield against them. This is basically the argument of the Republicans now. The Democrats have long since stopped pretending they didn’t want a all-power state a la Mao or Stalin.
In theory there could be a peaceable secession. This would satisfy Thomas’ “means” question. However, it seems to me the War Between the States already proved that our central government will not tolerate secession. Instead of being seen as a bloodthirsty tyrant who would eagerly kill innocent women and children to protect the artificial political state voluntarily joined by the individual states, Lincoln is routinely seen as a hero. I suppose one day Obama will be lauded similarly. So dreaming of peaceable secession is out of the question.
We then have to ask, if we have both a legitimate cause, and acceptable means, whether the situation that would result would be better than the one we have now. I believe most of the rebels and revolutionaries today assume that it must be. They would be mistaken of course. Most everyone assumed Iraq would be better off without Saddam. Look how that turned out. For that matter, many of my associates couldn’t wait until Clinton left office. I wish we had him now. Sometimes you really are better with the devil you know.
But granting for now that any new government would be less hostile, we’re left with the all important question of whether or not the endeavor has a reasonable chance of succeeding.
Many on the right see themselves as latter-day Revolutionary War patriots. It’s a pleasant delusion. I often times see myself as a martyr. It’s a way to pleasure our egos while denying the reality of the situation. Those on the right will tell me they’re fighting for
God, or for the restoration of the Republic, or for liberty, or lower taxes, or whatever. They usually don’t really know and can’t define it well enough to sell it. After all, the founders weren’t establishing a government pledged to recognizing the sovereignty of God and to carry out His will; they explicitly created a government which denied that all-important truth. You know, the whole, ‘build your house on sand‘ approach. Presumably the southern and western WASPs who would lead this rebellion and form the new government would similarly embrace “religious liberty”, also known as, the ‘freedom to drown in my own error’.
These well meaning ‘patriots’ think that a little insurrection will, I guess, cause Washington to suddenly fear the citizens and just let all the states walk away from $100 trillion in liabilities. Presumably the remaining, oh, let’s say 35 states would happily pick up that tab, while the rebels start fresh.
Those tempted to write off the standoff at the Bundy Ranch as little more than a show of force by militia-minded citizens would do well to reconsider their easy dismissal of this brewing rebellion. This goes far beyond concerns about grazing rights or the tension between the state and the federal government.
Few conflicts are ever black and white, and the Bundy situation, with its abundance of gray areas, is no exception. Yet the question is not whether Cliven Bundy and his supporters are domestic terrorists, as Harry Reid claims, or patriots, or something in between. Nor is it a question of whether the Nevada rancher is illegally grazing his cattle on federal land or whether that land should rightfully belong to the government. Nor is it even a question of who’s winning the showdown because if such altercations end in bloodshed, everyone loses.
What we’re really faced with, and what we’ll see more of before long, is a growing dissatisfaction with the government and its heavy-handed tactics by people who are tired of being used and abused and are ready to say “enough is enough.” As I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, there’s a subtext to this incident that must not be ignored, and it is simply this: America is a pressure cooker with no steam valve, and things are about to blow.
The government has been anticipating and preparing for such an uprising for years. For example, in 2008, a U.S. Army War College report warned that the military must be prepared for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” which could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse,” “purposeful domestic resistance,” “pervasive public health emergencies” or “loss of functioning political and legal order”—all related to dissent and protests over America’s economic and political disarray.
It’s an interesting read. But consider the central government response to Clive Bundy, and put it in context. This was a disagreement over $1MM in taxes, some land and cattle. Not a big deal in their world. It went badly for reasons I’ve already explained, and which shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign of weakness. How would Washington respond if the new confederacy announced its intentions of separating? I think we know how Obama would react. It’s pretty simple to imagine how Chris Christie or Hillary/Biden would act. With Rand Paul, who knows.
Mr. Whitehead therefore challenges you and I to answer for ourselves as to whether or not we’re rebels, revolutionaries or slaves. I answer by saying, “Well, I plan on being an expat“.