American parents might well rue the day that they refused to listen to us libertarians about the importance of dismantling the Cold War-era, dinosaur-like national-security establishment, or what President Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex.” That’s because they might well see their daughters seized by the federal government, taken involuntarily to military boot camp, taught how to unconditionally obey orders barked at them, and killed or maimed in the defense of South Korea, Montenegro, Poland, or some other nation that the United States is automatically committed to defending as part of its many collective-defense treaties.
Two members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley have now publicly stated that American women should be forced to register for the draft. Their reasoning? If young men can be forced to fight for the government, why not young women as well, especially given that women are now being permitted to join the combat branches within the military.
But Americans just keep praising the troops, going gaga over the flyovers, and supporting the ever-growing expansion of the U.S. military all over the world, including its never-ending acts of provocation that produce crises to justify its ever-growing budgets. Americans just keep innocently believing that there just isn’t any way that the U.S. national-security establishment would get America into a major war, one that would require cannon fodder in the form of conscripted young men and women.
But if it happens — if hostilities suddenly break out in Korea — or if the situation with Russia suddenly gets out of control in Syria or Ukraine — or if war breaks out with China in the South China Sea — there might well be lots of American parents bidding their daughters (and sons) goodbye as they load them onto military buses to go fight and die for the sake of South Korea, the Syrian insurgents, the people of Crimea, or Japan.
That will be the day when at least some parents are going to be saying: What a crock. We should have listened to the libertarians when we had the chance. Now it’s too late. Now we’re about to lose our children to another worthless cause brought on by the Cold War-era, dinosaur-like national-security establishment.
No, there will be no congressional debates. U.S. entry into the war will be automatic. When it comes to war, nobody follows the Constitution anymore. They just follow the Pentagon and the CIA and the wars and crises they engender with their interventionist and provocative actions.
How in the world can conscription be reconciled with a free society? It can’t be. In a free society, the citizen is sovereign and the government is the servant. Not here in America: Here, the Pentagon and the CIA are the sovereigns. When it comes to war, they’re the boss and the citizens are the serfs or servants.
Would you like to know how our American ancestors viewed conscription? Read this essay by Daniel Webster, which we reprinted in the November 1990 issue of our monthly journal Future of Freedom,which was then called Freedom Daily: https://fff.org/explore-freedom/article/conscription. (Yes, we’ve been warning about interventionism, empire, militarism, and conscription for 26 years!)
Here is Webster said in part:
This bill [for conscription] indeed is less undisguised in its object, and less direct in its means, than some of the measures proposed. It is an attempt to exercise the power of forcing the free men of this country into the ranks of an army, for the general purposes of war, under color of a military service. It is a distinct system, introduced for new purposes, and not connected with any power, which the Constitution has conferred on Congress….
The question is nothing less, than whether the most essential rights of personal liberty shall be surrendered, and despotism embraced in its worst form….
Is this, Sir, consistent with the character of a free Government? Is this civil liberty? Is this the real character of our Constitution? No, Sir, indeed it is not. The Constitution is libeled, foully libeled. The people of this country have not established for themselves such a fabric of despotism. They have not purchased at a vast expense of their own treasure and their own blood a Magna Charta to be slaves. Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war, in which the folly or the wickedness of Government may engage it? Under what concealment has this power lain hidden, which now for the first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest rights of personal liberty? Who will show me any constitutional injunction, which makes it the duty of the American people to surrender every thing valuable in life, and even life itself, not when the safety of their country and its liberties may demand the sacrifice, but whenever the purposes of an ambitious and mischievous Government may require it?…
Ever since the totalitarian structure known as the national-security state was grafted onto our original governmental system, America has been besieged by endless crises, chaos, and war. That’s not a coincidence. How else could the national-security establishment justify its ever-increasing budgets? The Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Berlin, Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Guatemala, Panama, Chile, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, the drug war, the war on terrorism, Syria, ISIS. The list is endless.
Through it all, Americans have just passively accepted all this, deferring to the higher authority of the military and the CIA, entrusting this totalitarian-like structure with the future of our nation.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter recently announced that the Pentagon’s $583 billion budget, which provides largess for tens of thousands of warfare-welfare recipients in the military-industrial complex, was oriented toward a possible war with Russia and China as well as continued actions in the Middle East, where the national-security state has been killing large numbers people ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Founding Fathers bequeathed to us a certain type of government — a limited-government republic, one that did not have a standing army, an intelligence agency, an assassination program, and a regime-change program attached to it. It was in 1947 that U.S. officials altered our form of government by converting the federal government into a national-security state.
What was the justification for this permanent, fundamental change that was pulled off without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment? They said we needed a national-security establishment to oppose the national-security establishment of the Soviet Union, which had been America’s WWII partner and ally.
The American people can enjoy the circus of the current presidential campaign if they wish. But they would be wise to think at a higher level, like our American ancestors did, a level that entails restoring the founding principles of liberty and a limited-government republic to our country. Their daughters (and sons and grandchildren) would be the greatest beneficiaries.