Be Unconditional Obedience
by Laurence M. Vance: Christianity
all members of the military profession I never had an original thought
until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended
animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical
with everyone in the military service." ~ Major General
soldiers were to begin to think, not one of them would remain in
the army." ~ Frederick the Great
find in existence a . . . dangerous concept that the members of
the armed forces owe their primary allegiance and loyalty to those
who temporarily exercise the authority of the executive branch of
the Government, rather than to the country and its Constitution
they are sworn to defend. No proposition could be more dangerous."
~ General Douglas MacArthur
is one thing in the world more wicked than the desire to command,
and that is the will to obey." ~ W. K. Clifford, mathematician
ten years of fighting in Afghanistan, the deadliest day for U.S.
forces was just a few weeks ago on Saturday, August 6. On that day
thirty U.S. military personnel were killed when their helicopter
was shot down. The majority of those killed were said to be elite
Navy Seals from the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden.
that was never asked about this event by any major news media outlet
is a question that I (and a few others) have been asking since the
war in Afghanistan began: What is the U.S. military doing in Afghanistan?
The ones who
bear the most responsibility for the 9/11 attacks are the pilots
who flew the planes, none of whom were from Afghanistan. No American
was ever harmed by anyone in Afghanistan until the U.S. military
invaded and occupied that country. The United States even supported
the Muslim insurgents and Afghan militants when they were freedom-fighting
Mujahideen fighting against the Soviets when they invaded Afghanistan.
Tens of thousands
of Afghans are now dead who had never threatened America and had
nothing to do with 9/11. Over 1,700 American soldiers are also dead,
and many thousands more have life-altering injuries.
So, what is
the U.S. military doing in Afghanistan?
of the U.S. military should be limited to defending the United States,
securing its borders, guarding its shores, patrolling its coasts,
and enforcing a no-fly zone over its skies. Period. To do otherwise
is to pervert the purpose of the military.
the purpose of the U.S. military should never be to defend other
countries, secure their borders, guard their shores, patrol their
coasts, and enforce no-fly zones over their skies.
This also means
that the purpose of the U.S. military should never be to provide
disaster relief, dispense humanitarian aid, supply peacekeepers,
enforce UN resolutions, spread goodwill, rebuild infrastructure,
establish democracy, nation build, change regimes, eradicate drugs,
contain communism, open markets, keep oil pipelines flowing, revive
public services, build schools, or train armies in any foreign country.
This also means
that the purpose of the U.S. military should never be to remedy
oppression, human rights violations, sectarian violence, ill treatment
of women, forced labor, child labor, religious or political persecution,
poverty, genocide, famine, or injustice in any foreign country.
it certainly also means that the purpose of the U.S. military should
never be to launch preemptive strikes in foreign countries, fight
wars in foreign countries, drop bombs on foreign countries, assassinate
people in foreign countries, torture people in foreign countries,
takes sides in a civil war in foreign countries, station troops
in foreign countries, maintain bases in foreign countries, attack
foreign countries, invade foreign countries, occupy foreign countries,
or unleash civil unrest in foreign countries.
U.S. soldier, sailor, or marine had any business stepping foot in
Afghanistan in 2001 or flying a helicopter there in 2011. Those
who returned in a coffin (if enough of their body parts could be
found) died unnecessarily,
So again I
ask: What is the U.S. military doing in Afghanistan?
The only answer
is unconditional obedience. Although some U.S. soldiers, because
of misguided zeal, may have wanted to go to Afghanistan after 9/11,
few would choose to go now if it were their decision to make. But
soldiers were told to go and they went, and soldiers are still being
told to go.
consider the history of Afghanistan. They didnít consider the purpose
of the military. They didnít consider U.S. foreign policy. They
didnít consider Chalmers Johnson. They didnít consider the wisdom
of the Founding Fathers. They didnít consider the Constitution.
They didnít consider the Soviet Unionís failed attempt to subdue
Afghanistan. They didnít consider their families. They didnít consider
the cost to U.S. taxpayers. They didnít consider their own mental
and physical health. They didnít consider the thousands of dead
or maimed Afghan civilians.
those that did consider some or all of these things went to Afghanistan
anyway. They may not have even bought in the baloney about fighting
for our freedoms or fighting them "over there" so we donít
have to fight them "over here," but they went anyway.
If you want
to see a perfect example of unconditional obedience on display,
then just look at the recent interview on the Diane Rehm show about
Seals and U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan."
that U.S. forces were continuing their investigation into the shooting
down of the helicopter in Afghanistan, Diane introduced her guests
in the studio, Thom Shanker, the Pentagon correspondent for the
New York Times and Paul Pillar of the Center for Peace and
Security Studies at Georgetown University, and by phone from Plymouth,
Massachusetts, former Navy SEAL lieutenant commander Anthony OíBrien.
Joining the panel later by phone was Lawrence Korb, senior fellow
at the Center for American Progress and former assistant secretary
of defense in the Reagan administration.
caller to the show was someone named Don, who made this comment:
I just wanted
to comment real quick. Any time you have generals on the air and
theyíre pressured to give some reasons why weíre in this war in
Afghanistan, they always fall back to a main reason being womenís
rights, so girls can go to school, you know, for all the Taliban
oppression. And I was just wondering if your panelists thought
that that was really a legitimate reason, that we should have
our military spending billions of dollars a year in this country
to fight for womenís rights.
the caller to Anthony OíBrien, who gave this reply:
I agree with
the callerís premise. The primary reason why you engage the military
at the strategic level is for the national security interest of
the United States of America. And as much as Iím a fighter for
the rights of women, it is Ė itís not our duty in the military,
primarily, to protect the women or stop drug trades, et cetera.
However, the president is the boss, and he calls the shots. And
if Ė whether it be President Bush or President Obama, when they
tell us where to go and when, we give a snappy salute, and we
do what weíre told.
sought a comment from Thom Shanker.
Well, I just
want to give Anthony a snappy salute ícause his answer is perfect.
I mean, we hear so often these conversations among civilians:
why are we there, I donít want us there or the opposite, we should
be there. The military does not assign itself these missions.
They follow the orders of the elected civilian leadership who
are representing, Diane, your caller and everybody else. So that
is where the responsibility for these decisions resides at the
end of the day.
My only comment
is simply this: Only God deserves unconditional obedience.
obedience is why Nazis killed Jews in concentration camps, Japanese
pilots bombed Pearl Harbor, East German border guards killed their
fellow citizens fleeing over the Berlin Wall to the West, and Soviet
soldiers invaded Afghanistan before U.S. soldiers did.
Cursed be unconditional
M. Vance [send him mail]
writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity
and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The
Revolution that Wasn't, and Rethinking
the Good War. His latest book is The
Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. Visit his
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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