Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Independence Day, all these holidays prompt the honoring US Military members, living and deceased. As an anti-war libertarian, I tend to struggle with my emotions during these state holidays. On one hand, it is the politicians that begin the wars. They decide which world events warrant sending young men and women into harms way knowing death and destruction will ensue. On the other hand, if people weren’t willing to go overseas and fight, then the US politicians could not wage wars of aggression. I don’t particularly feel like I should honor people for fighting in wars that I deem inappropriate.
Is there a just war? I have my doubts. However, we are all brought up to believe that the Revolutionary War was just. If there ever was a just war, we think that was it. Clearly the Crown was wrong to impose such taxes on the colonies without them having any say in the matter. Clearly the British were wrong to come in and try to confiscate weapons and ammunition. Based on these events a National Myth has come into being.
The National Myth is very obvious. The National Myth says that we are only free because are military is out fighting on our behalf. Is this myth true? It is obvious it is not when you look at all the wars in retrospect. There is a lot of denial of the obvious, though. For instance, I still hear people say things like if we hadn’t joined in WWII and defeated the Germans, we would all be speaking German right now. Is that not the most ridiculous claim? Germany was able to sweep across Europe, but there is a big difference between a blitzkrieg rolling into Poland and dealing with the formidable strength of the US that is an ocean away. It blows me away that people recite that kind of thing like it is the truth.
I am somewhat open to the idea that helping defeat Germany was the right thing to do because of all the atrocities committed by her. At the same time, we joined with the USSR to do so! The Soviets were committing their own amount of atrocities, which, we just let that slide, and this exposes the hypocrisy of atrocity being a reason to go to war.
Whether or not joining in WWII was just or not, it can be safely said that it was not about protecting US freedom, because the US was never in danger of being conquered during that war. Yet the myths persist. We would all be speaking German….
If we want peace, we need to break down this National Myth and expose it as the lie it is. None of the wars or time-limited, scope-limited, kinetic military actions of this or the 20th century were about protecting the homeland, and thus our freedom, in any other than the most contrived and convoluted sense. To break down this myth, we need to become knowledgeable about these wars, their causes, and their outcomes. Knowledge and discussion and making people think is key to overcoming these oft repeated untruths.
Will it work? Who knows? The state has the benefit of having created holidays that encourage everyone to venerate soldiers as heroes. All the anti-war people have is the power of reason and persuasion. It’s a tough gig. No one likes to be disparaged as un-American or ungrateful to men who fought bravely for a cause they believed in. The emotions around the myth are strong. Shouldn’t promoting peace be worth coming out of your comfort zone?