The military does not make freedom free, the people do

Chris Kok

A lot of people seem to think that Americans have as much freedom as they do because of the existence of the U.S. military. Each war that the United States has been involved in is seen as a way of protecting our freedom. Though this mentality makes for good propaganda, it does not however reflect reality.

Vietnam was not about stopping communist dominoes, but rather about not allowing a colony to have autonomy. The current Iraq war is not about freedom or democracy. Those ideas were used as propaganda to build support for the war after the first propaganda line of weapons of mass destruction failed.

So, what is freedom? Freedom is the ability to do as one pleases without hurting other people. Freedom also means having an equal say in the government.

Bush would like people to believe that the war on terrorism is about protecting freedom. He tries to say that we were attacked because we are free. If that were the case, Europe would have been the primary target of al-Qaida. Many European governments are more representative of the will of their citizens than the two-party monopoly of the United States. Nude beaches and pot cafes are another sign of the freedom that Europeans have, and a sign of the freedom that Americans are lacking.

In fact, looking at the attacks on a woman’s right to abortion and gay marriage, you would think that al-Qaida would ally with the United States. The fact that al-Qaida’s primary target is the United States shows that its motivation is not attacking freedom.

In America, the main threat to freedom is not al-Qaida; it is from social conservatives. The same people who love to wave the flag and proclaim freedom also want to restrict people’s personal lives. Burning flags, drug usage, gay marriage and abortions are not things they want to give people a choice over.

The saying, “freedom isn’t free” is perhaps the most ironic out there. It implies that there is a cost to freedom; it’s defense. This is used to support American imperialism around the globe, which has no relation to freedom. The most ironic part of it though is that those people who say it tend to support the Patriot Act, which is perhaps one of the largest threats to freedom in America. So maybe freedom really isn’t free anymore.

Sadly, freedom makes great propaganda. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles talked about the “Free World,” even as blacks were subjected to legalized segregation and denied their rights to vote. This term was used throughout the Vietnam War as people were forced into the military. Freedom definitely is not a way to cook thin-sliced potatoes.

If the military was used to protect America from invasion, rather than to advance an imperialist mission, then it could help protect freedom. I thank soldiers for being willing to protect freedom, but unfortunately that is not the mission they are given.

Freedom doesn’t come from the military or the government but from inside people. To finish with a quote from a Utah Phillips album, “freedom is something you assume. Then you wait for someone to take it away from you. The amount to which you resist is the amount to which you are free.”

Chris Kok is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].