Amidst all the hub-hub over San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem, hardly anyone is noticing how wrong-headed his views are on the military. Explaining that his protest is intended to call attention only to police abuse of African-Americans, Kaepernick clarified that he was not protesting the military. He stated:
I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up.
That’s about as wrong-headed as a person can get. Kaepernick is suffering from the standard Cold War-Era bromide that is still inculcated into the minds of every child from the first grade on up and that oftentimes remains part of his mindset until the day he dies — that the troops are fighting and dying for their country, to protect our freedoms, and to keep us safe.
Did the troops who fought, killed, and died in Iraq do so in the protection of our freedoms here at home or to keep us safe? Of course not. Our freedoms and safety were never at risk. Neither the Iraqi government nor the Iraqi people ever initiated a war against the United States or even a terrorist attack. In the Iraq war, it was always the U.S. troops who were the aggressors. It was the Iraqi people who were defending themselves from foreign aggression.
Afghanistan? The situation in principle was no different. The Afghan (Taliban) government never threatened the freedom or security of the American people, either through an act of war or a terrorist attack. The only reason that the U.S. government decided to wage war on Afghanistan was because the Afghan government refused to comply with President Bush’s unconditional extradition demand for Osama bin Laden, who U.S. officials were accusing of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.
Since there was no extradition treaty between Afghanistan and the United States, the Afghan government had the legitimate authority under international law to refuse to comply with Bush’s extradition demand. When Bush ordered his troops to attack the Afghan government and effect regime change in that country, he and his troops were the illegal aggressors and Afghanistan was the defending power. Keep in mind, after all, that just because the U.S. government was seeking to bring bin Laden to justice, that didn’t necessarily mean that it had to wage war against the Afghan government. It chose to do that, again, because of Afghanistan’s refusal to comply with Bush’s unconditional extradition demand.
Syria? Syria has never attacked the United States, either through an act of war or terrorism. Troops who fight and die in Syria are not doing so for their country, to protect our rights and freedoms, or to keep us safe.
Vietnam? The North Vietnam government never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. Thus, once again, the freedom and security of the American people were never threatened. The U.S. government was the invader — the meddler — the intervener who embroiled itself in a civil war that was none of its business.
Korea? Again, a civil war, one in which North Korea never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. The troops who fought and died in Korea were not doing so for their country, our freedom, or our security.
It should be pointed out that the president and his troops waged all of these wars without the congressional declaration of war mandated by the U.S. Constitution. That means that that the troops were not only not defending our rights, freedoms, and safety, but also that they were engaged in illegal wars under our form of government.
World War II? President Roosevelt was hell-bent on getting America into the European war, notwithstanding the fact that the vast majority of the American people were opposed to entering another world war. The Germans refused to take FDR’s bait because the last thing they wanted was for the United States to enter the war against them.
The Japanese were no different. Tied down in a brutal military occupation of China, the last thing they wanted was a war with the United States. But with his oil embargo, seizure of Japanese assets, and humiliating terms for a settlement, FDR successfully maneuvered Japan into “firing the first shot,” thereby gaining the “back door” to war in Europe that he was striving for.
Let’s not forget something else that was important about “victory” in World War II: It gave the communists control over all of Eastern Europe, East Germany, and China. And it gave America the Cold War, the national-security establishment, and hot wars in Korea and Vietnam that killed over 100,000 troops.
World War I? It did not save the world for democracy, and it was not the war that ended all wars. It was a total waste of American life, which is precisely why the American people were opposed to entering World War II.
The discomforting fact is that the troops don’t fight and die for their country or for our rights and freedoms or to keep us safe. They fight and die for nothing, with many of them subscribing to false bromides, just like Colin Kaepernick.