by Jacob G. Hornberger
After those 30 American soldiers were recently killed in Afghanistan when their Chinook helicopter was downed by Afghan insurgents, the commander of the international mission in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, stated, “All of those killed in this operation were true heroes who had already given so much in the defense of freedom.”
Freedom? Does Allen really believe such nonsense, or is it just the standard pabulum that the general feels he must express in order to assuage the feelings of the families and friends of the victims?
I suppose it wouldn’t be very politic for the general to simply state the truth — that those soldiers died for nothing. Or if he felt he needed to be more specific, he could have stated that they died to protect one of the most crooked, corrupt, tortuous, theocratic, dictatorial regimes in the world, one that is somewhat a friend to the U.S. Empire.
Of course, it’s not clear whether the general was referring to freedom in Afghanistan or freedom in the United States? He didn’t say. Maybe he meant both.
If he was referring to Afghanistan, that’s scary. Why? Well, because of the possibility that they might try to bring that sort of “freedom” back to the United States.
In Afghanistan, the cops, the military, and the intelligence forces, along with the U.S. military and CIA, have unfettered authority to stop people on the streets, break down doors and search people and their homes and businesses, and take people into custody, incarcerate them indefinitely without trial, torture them, and even execute them.
And it’s all justified in the name of keeping the people safe from the terrorists.
But is it freedom? If so, then it’s the same sort of “freedom” that exists in places like communist China and Burma. And it means that the Bill of Rights, which prohibits the government from doing those sorts of things here in the United States, isn’t about freedom after all.
But maybe Allen was claiming that those 30 guys died in the defense of freedom here in the United States.
If so, then that’s just as nonsensical. The Afghan insurgents aren’t trying to invade, conquer, and occupy our country and take over and run the IRS and the Interstate Highway System. They’re instead simply trying to oust an invader and occupier from their country, the same thing that insurgents were doing when it was the Soviet Union doing the occupying of Afghanistan.
In fact, as I have long pointed out, the military occupation of Afghanistan actually provides the excuse for U.S. officials to take away our freedom here at home. The military kills people over there on a weekly basis, and then the friends and relatives of the victims are motivated to retaliate with terrorist strikes here in the United States. The U.S. government then uses that threat of terrorism to enact Patriot acts, suspend civil liberties, spy on Americans, monitor the Internet, assassinate Americans, and incarcerate and torture Americans without trial.
Those things are not freedom. They are the opposite of freedom. That’s why the Constitution and the Bill of Rights prohibit them.
I heard the freedom pabulum issued by Gen. Allen from generals and presidents (i.e., Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon) back during the Vietnam War. Every time a soldier came back in a body bag, they’d say he died for “freedom.”
It was a lie then, just as it is a lie now, but officials obviously felt that it wouldn’t go over very well if they told people that the soldiers were dying for nothing, which was the truth.
One of the favorite pabulums during that time, in addition to the “freedom” one, was that if the troops weren’t killing and dying in Vietnam, the dominoes would fall until finally the communists would invade, conquer, and occupy the United States.
Back then, the boogeyman was the communists instead of the terrorists, but the justification for the deaths of U.S. soldiers was the essentially the same — that they died to keep us free and safe here at home.
The communist victory in Vietnam exposed what a crock it all had been. The dominoes didn’t fall. The IRS and the Interstate Highway System remained in the hands of U.S. bureaucrats rather than communist ones. And I vaguely recall that war even broken out between communist Vietnam and communist China.
After the U.S. military was forced out of Vietnam, that was the end of it as far as the United States was concerned. No terrorist strikes here in the United States by the communists. No more fear-mongering about the dominoes falling. And ultimately, friendly relations and free trade with Vietnam.
Maybe Gen. Allen believes that if he can create a false reality for people, everything will be okay after all. If everyone is made to believe that U.S. soldiers are dying for “freedom,” then that’s all that matters.
Two big problems arise, however. One is that libertarians know it’s a lie and aren’t going to remain silent. Two, clinging to a false reality only creates psychoses whose adverse consequences ultimately surface, in the form of such things as suicide, violence, guilt, alcoholism, and abuse.
No, General Allen, those 30 men, like the several thousand other U.S. soldiers who have died in Afghanistan, did not die for freedom. Like those 58,000 American men who died in Vietnam, those 30 guys died for nothing.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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