War Is the Health of the State

update: see FReeper responses here.

…The more terrifying the occasion for defense, the closer will become the organization and the more coercive the influence upon each member of the herd.

War sends the current of purpose and activity flowing down to the lowest level of the herd, and to its most remote branches. All the activities of society are linked together as fast as possible to this central purpose of making a military offensive or a military defense, and the State becomes what in peacetimes it has vainly struggled to become—the inexorable arbiter and determinant of men’s business and attitudes and opinions…

Randolph Bourne

Dear readers,

I am a former member of the US military that has served time in the Persian Gulf and I have done counter narcotics operations in the Caribbean.  I am familiar with warfare and I’m not afraid to stand up in defense of the nation should the need arise.  However, I’m also not afraid to confront what psychologists call “cognitive dissonance.”  Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling one gets when holding two contradictory ideas at the same time. Wiki describes it thusly, “The anxiety that comes with the possibility of having made a bad decision can lead to rationalization, the tendency to create additional reasons or justifications to support one’s choices.”

I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently resolving the cognitive dissonance that arises from justifying the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with my strong limited government view points.  On this subject, I have reached the same conclusion the nation’s founding fathers reached centuries ago: War is the health of the State.  Ultimately, if one holds that government is a coercive and dangerous institution, one must reject all wars that are not defensive in nature and where national sovereignty is not at stake.

Washington had it right when he said, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! It is a dangerous servant and a terrible master.”  There is a reason why the Constitution does not establish a standing army.  In fact, the Constitution mandates that the Congress review the need to even have an army every two years if one should ever be created.  Congress has the power “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;”

A truly free people don’t even need a standing army.  Ladies and gentlemen we have over 65 million gun owners in this nation at last count.  China’s entire military only numbers around 3 million active and reserve troops.  It is impossible that any nation on this earth could ever invade and conquer us when so many of us own guns.  The Constitution says we should have a standing Navy to defend our trade routes and our shores, but an army is an entirely different matter.

The nations of Afghanistan and Iraq are not threatening our national sovereignty.  There is no invasion force of armed jihadists looking to land on our shores and conquer New York.  The hijackers that attacked us on 9/11 were Saudi and could easily have been trained or funded anywhere on this planet, even on our own shores.  The threat of terrorism can not be solved through warfare.

The nation has spent well over a trillion dollars fighting the multiple wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The results to-date have been somewhat disappointing.  While we can look at Afghanistan and Iraq and say we have created and installed governments favorable to us, we also must look at the damage we have done to ourselves if we are to be fair.

A trillion dollars taken from the public and spent on the machinery of the State is a trillion dollars less the public has in their pockets.  The government has no money.  It has your money.  The wars have massively expanded the State.  I find that it is irreconcilable to hold the view that government is an evil institution of force that must be limited, while at the same time holding the view we must wage war to install favorable governments in foreign nations.

The founding fathers felt that warfare should only be engaged in to save the nation from tyranny.  They felt that armies should only be created when absolutely necessary to defend against an invasion of such tyranny, and that standing armies are a direct threat to liberty.  Jefferson was quoted as saying, “Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.”  While this may indeed be true, the last part of the phrase is just as telling as the first.  Jefferson himself viewed a standing army as something to be feared.

I personally fear the government more than I fear terrorists.  I have a gun and I can defend myself from terrorists.  It is impossible to defend oneself from a coercive domineering government.  We should be looking at ourselves as the defenders of this nation, not government.  I do not need rough men standing ready in the night to protect me.  I need the freedom to protect myself.

Ultimately this cognitive dissonance must be faced by each and every one of you that support the tea party while also supporting the wars.  The tea party movement has grown from the basic distrust of government instilled in us by the natural rights of man and the founders of this nation.  If you support the tea party and what it represents, in order to be in agreement with your position, you must ultimately reject foreign wars where the sovereignty of the nation is not at stake.