Saturday, September 14, 2019

An open letter to my fellow U.S. citizens

I'm sitting in the dark house on a pre-dawn Saturday morning, sipping my coffee and watching Newcastle United look like boys against men in Liverpool, but - seeing how piss-poor the Lads are playing - I'm also parsing my Facebook feed and reading comments about the ill-advised recruiting stunt the Portland MEPs guys and the Thorns Front Office pulled last Wednesday (you can read about it here).

One of the comments is from another GI who talks about how emotional an occasion it is to swear to defend the people of the United States.

And it occurs to me that the Oath of Enlistment says nothing about "defending the people".

The exact wording is: " and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

Domestic enemies?

That would be..."the people" sometimes, right?


Which is why past presidents have used us GIs to do things like shoot and kill striking workers, and ol' Dugout Doug MacArthur could use us to attack the Bonus Army of our fellow GIs and their families. If the Constitution in the form of the president or Congress tells us that some portion of We the People are a "domestic enemy"?

We as soldiers are obligated by that oath to use whatever means we are ordered to use to "defend the Constitution".

Kinda scary, innit?

Think about that next time you see one of those "Land of the Free Because of the Brave" bumper stickers, hmmm..?

As GIs you, my fellow citizens, give us a lot of tongue-bathing. You're constantly told to "support the troops". You get a crap-ton of military PR shoved at you, like the recruiting stunt at the Thorns match. And in general that's lovely. We all like to get some love.

But maybe - just maybe - as "citizens" you might want to be a trifle less credulous about all this "support the troops" stuff.

Because it usually takes troops to make "citizens" into "subjects".

Maybe I'm just being a cynical old sergeant. Sergeants are notorious pessimists, the Eeyores of the Army. We always look for the flaws in the officers' plans so we can head them off. And I'm certainly not telling you that my fellow GIs would agree to do that, or would blindly follow orders to herd you into a camp, or shoot you down when you take to the streets if, say, a President were to refuse to accept the result of an election and not yield his power to his elected sucessor. might want to think about what you're being told.
Just sayin'.


  1. Those enlistees are younger than my youngest grandchildren. I hope they do not get fed into the latest shoot-em-up that Pom-Pom and #LapdogLindsey appear to be aiming for today. Hopefully Lindsey's rage will pass and we won't bomb the IRGC in Mashhad for supplying drone parts and knowledge to their Yemeni allies to attack Aramco with.

    But tomorrow there is always the worry about DonnieDementia's pushing us into a Mutual Defense Treaty with Israel. Let them defend themselves I say. They are a nuclear power. Nobody in that neighborhood is going to push them into the sea.

    1. What ELSE are they going to do? I mean...since 1945 we've been Imperial Grunts; we carry out the "national interests" as defined by our government. Keeping the dominoes from falling in Vietnam, propping up our friendly dictators in places like Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, and Panama, playing Great Power games in Iraq and Kuwait and in the South China Sea and the Strait of Hormuz.

      IMO there's a huge problem in our national myopia about what U.S. military force does, and that stems from our unwillingness to see ourselves as the Great Power we are. We're not, and never have been, some sort of impartial Global Force for Good. We were on the side of the angels in 1941 (with one very fallen angel in Stalin's USSR...) but that's been pretty much it.

      Particularly since 1945, when we could have chosen to work with and help the colonized peoples of the old imperial powers find ways to emerge from their colonial eras as...perhaps not "democracies" but at least less of the shitshows that often developed.

      I mean, just look at the one post-45 example I can think of that wasn't pure imperial fuckery; Korea.

      Kim's Norks were (and are) bastards, and we did a good thing keeping them out of the ROK. But Syngman Rhee was another bastard, just less of one than Kim, and we did nothing to try and help his own people pry his greedy hands off the ROK.

      It's very likely we couldn't have done anything positive - foreign powers don't usually make good weapons to break up domestic dictatorships (Rochambeau's French forces a notable exception...) - but we could have at least tried to work with his opposition to take the SOB down. Hell, he owed his entire ass to us - without the GIs he'd have been sleeping in a ditch somewhere outside Pusan. We couldn't be bothered.

      So every single one of these kids is gonna end up doing some sort of imperial dirty work. And that's what we are; one of the imperials powers of the 21st Century. And if We the People would accept that and think hard about it, as I'm talking about in the post, we could then decide if we WANT to be that, and either elect people to stop it, or be clear-eyed about what we're doing and why.

      Instead we keep pretending that these kids are going to be defending Fort McHenry or storming ashore at Normandy. Which is something our armed forces haven't done for over half a century...

  2. PS - Eeyore as a sergeant? I think not. He is "generally characterized as a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, anhedonic, old grey stuffed donkey."

    Now I grant you to be definitely pessimistic, and you may be old and grey. But it seems to me that Eeyore more closely resembles the distinguishing attributes of draftee Pvt back during the American war in Viet-Nam.

    1. I wish I could remember the novel - I want to say it's a George McDonald Fraser (possibly his Quartered Safe Out Here memoir - where the one grunt responds to every operations order with a burst of over-the-top pessimism: "Aye, sure an we're a' gonna get kilt." or words to that effect.

  3. Of all US interventions since VJ Day, roughly 20 percent took place in the 45 years between 1946 and 1991. The other 80 percent have taken place in the 28 years after 1991.

    About time to put the brakes on.

    1. Well, that's unipolarity. Thete was no obvious-enough check to intervention ideas.

      Backlash that happens mostly provoked even more interventions because "hammer".