In October of 1995 I signed and made an oath of enlistment into the United States Marine Corps Reserve. I swore as follows:
”I, Casey Khan, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
As a part of the delayed entry program I spent my first months in inactive service until I went to boot camp at MCRD San Diego in May of 1996. Three months later on August the 16th, I was proud to earn the title of United States Marine and excited to perform my duties as a protector of the Constitution and People of the United States.
In my six years of active reserve service there were many things I enjoyed and respected: Time in the field. Weapons Company 2nd BN 24th Marines. 81mm Mortars. Good tough NCO's. Mustangs. Good Battalion Commanders. Call for fire missions. ALICE packs. CAX (combined arms exercise in 29 Palms). Playing spades. Platoon 3113. Quantico. Amphibious assaults. Forward Observation. Hovercraft. Sea stories. Former Drill Instructors. Helicopter assaults. Being an NCO. Dress Blues. Marine Corps History. PFT. Gun Drills. A good 1520 mile hump. Throwing grenades. Combat hits. Pugil Sticks. Bayonets. MRE Bombs. Marine Corps push-ups. Marine Corps Birthday Balls.
Of course no grunt spends time in the Marine Corps without complaints. I certainly had my share of gripes: Time in garrison. Bulk fuel operations. Inefficiency. Supply (something that never meets demand). Admin. Meaningless paperwork. Meaningless work. Many Staff NCO's. Officers who don't know land navigation. Officers who don't listen to their NCO's. WM's. Fort McCoy, WI. Wearing Alpha, Bravo, or Charlie uniforms. Digital cammies. M16A2 service rifles.
Despite these nuisances, I loved the Marine Corps and the spirit of its founding in 1775 as a defense against tyranny. As I began to understand the true nature of liberty, I began to question just what kind of "Teufelhunden" that this organization has really morphed into. No longer a shield against tyranny, it has become the abused tip of a spear to a racket for politicians and their special interests du jour. In approaching reenlistment there were two realizations that kept me from signing for a second term. First, was the realization that the U.S. Constitution is a dead and meaningless document. Second, was the realization of a heresy that has permeated modern American society for some time.
The Constitution Is Dead
I first enlisted as a patriot believing in liberty and the principles of limited republican government espoused by the Constitution. Unfortunately, US Constitution has gone the way of the USS Constitution, decommissioned and put away like a museum piece on display as a reminder of America's gloried past. Considered no longer useful to our modern times, the document is given some lip service but only in reverence and never in use. Like the cannon and sail in modern combat, the Bill of Rights and enumeration of Federal power are ineffective against the intentions of corrupt and ambitious men who seek power at the expense of liberty.
Presidents no longer even have to goad an enemy into striking first, like FDR or Lincoln, to get a Congressional war declaration. These days Presidents ask Congress for the power to decide whether war is appropriate. Rather than taking orders from Congress as the document enumerates, he seeks to have discretion to wage war when he feels like it. Actually, more often than not, modern Presidents assume they are automatically the Commander in Chief as soon as they take their oath. Forgotten is the fact that the enumerated and delegated power of declaring war lies with Congress and only Congress. Until such a declaration, officers should not be bound to orders of the President. Why? Orders given without the proper consent of Congress are unconstitutional and unlawful. Officers are not lawfully bound to unlawful orders. Looking to the spirit of liberty and the founding of this country, we know the founders did not want such force of power to lie in the hands of just one man. They knew if the threat was real and eminent, a proper declaration would come from the legislature. Today, however, the Congress has relinquished its delegated powers, giving the President license to do whatever he and his office determine that they can get away with. Consequentially, the presidential and legislative oaths to the Constitution have just turned into a great photo op on inauguration day.
If the President and Congress cannot honestly vow to uphold and protect the Constitution, how can one in good conscience, who understands the spirit and letter of the Constitution, enlist or take a commission in any branch of the United States military? This is a problem I had to wrestle with in my mind between 9/11/01 and the run up to the Iraq war. Would I go and support my buddies in the field, or would I stay and fight the good fight in the spirit of liberty against the usurpers of the Constitution? Fortunately, I finished my obligation to the active reserve before my unit was sent to the Persian Gulf, and I could be put to a great test. Even still, I was put to the test of continuing to take an oath that no longer had any meaning. I was put to the test of whether I wanted to support machinery used in the antithesis of freedom. I said, no more.
It is a sad and hard realization for a grunt who loves the Marine Corps to admit that the organization is not used in the preservation of liberty, and has not been used toward that end for a very long time. In fact, although the U.S. is a wealthy country, it is not the free country it once was. Marines need to understand that with every act of war since 1860, the country has seen overt actions by the Federal government against freedom. The Civil War brought the Morrill Act, Legal Tender, and the Secret Service. In World War I, along with the introduction of the "Teufelhunden," came the income tax and the Federal Reserve. In World War II, with the great island hopping campaign, came a seven-headed monster known as the WPA, SEC, FBI, FCC, CIA, FDA, and social security. In Vietnam, with the patrols of Hue City, came Medicare, Medicaid, and military micro-management from the Pentagon. In Beirut, while Marines were killed, an unconstitutional war on drug commodities was ratcheted up. Finally, while Marines called a fire for effect on Iraqi forces, came the final nail in the coffin of the Constitution. Known as the Patriot Act, a piece of legislation approved so diametrically opposed to the Constitution, tyrants like Napoleon and George III would be covetous. Each time Marines have come home from each of these fronts, politicians at home sought powers irreconcilable to any of the principles defined in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or the basic ideals of classical liberalism. The founding Marine, Samuel Nicholas, would have nothing to do with the Marine Corps as it is used today to the detriment of the liberty he held dear. Unlike Samuel Nicholas, modern Marines come home to tyranny rather than the liberty they hoped to protect.
Which leads us to the heresy, which permeates the modern American mind. The heresy is the contention that liberty is provided for by the soldier. No longer protectors in service with deference to the sovereign civilians, soldiers are now the masters who give license to the "freedoms" Americans have. The heresy is best summed up by Marine, Father Davis O'Brien when he iterated:
It is the Soldier not the reporter, who has given us Freedom of the press. It is the Soldier not the poet, who has given us Freedom of speech. It is the Soldier not the campus organizer, who has given us the Freedom to demonstrate. It is the Soldier not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the soldier, who salutes the Flag, who serves beneath the Flag and whose coffin is draped by the Flag, who allows the protester to burn the Flag.
Without thinking about the ramifications of such a statement, many Americans would nod agreement to such an assertion. Do I hear a damn right out there? From Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" to Toby Keith's "American Soldier," the thesis remains that the rights and freedoms in America are given by soldiers. This thesis is reinforced when civilians approach soldiers with a "thank you." Soldiers of society, now ration out rights like MRE's at chow time in a garrison state. The free exercise of individuals and in particular the endowment by God is not considered. Without soldiers and their actions, there is no freedom to speak, organize, transact, or exercise property rights. All deference should be given to soldiers; their will be done.
Tyranny is the necessary result when individuals in society subvert their freedom to the will of other men, in particular the will of the soldier. It is interesting to hear a Catholic priest who speaks so eloquently about inalienable rights and absolutely fails to attribute their endowment to God. As such this is a heresy in failing to recognize God's dominion over man ruled absolutely by a mechanism of natural rights. To assume that rights are given by soldiers is to assume that soldiers predicate God. To assume such is to assume Godhead, a violation of the Commandments.
Let me correct Father O'Brien by saying: It is God, not the soldier Who has given us the freedom of speech. It is God, not the soldier Who has given us the right to demonstrate. It is God, not the soldier Who has given us the right to due process. It is God the Father, Who has given us the Commandments, Who forgives us for breaking the Commandments
Whether one believes in God or not, all men instinctively know of their rights and their thirst for freedom. They exercise it every day, in all countries, regardless of what soldiers and states do. Freedom knows no bounds or political party. Freedom is endowed in the spirit of man. Right now someone in China is starting a business. Someone in Iran is praying to the Christian God. Someone in Iceland is speaking truth. Are these people able to do these things because of soldier's actions? They do these things because they are exercising the freedom that God has given them, the freedom to choose what to do with their lives.
I choose to no longer take part in this heresy. I'm trading in my 11 General Orders for Seven Sacraments and my pocket Constitution for a Catechism. Semper Fidelis in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
February 14, 2004