May 25, 2020
Author: Chilton Williamson
No humane and spiritually generous person would deny the reality of the sacrifice made by American troops from the beginning of the Republic down to the present day, nor the bravery they showed in making it—and whether or no they returned home from the battlefield alive, or died upon it and left their bones there. By pointing out, however, that civic boosters and patriotic boomers who go a step—or rather ten—further by claiming that our armed forces have fought for and won or preserved the freedom of generations of the American people from the forces of tyranny are simply talking rubbish.
The United States has never in her history fought a war in which national survival and the liberties of her people were at stake, or even endangered. We were not yet a country in the years during which the misnamed American Revolution was fought. It is true the British invaded Washington, D.C. in the War of 1812, but the conflict was essentially a comic opera affair and there is a good case to be made that the White House should have stayed burnt. The Mexican-American War risked nothing but the lives of American soldiers themselves, as Mexico and the Mexicans offered no possible threat at the time to the United States. (That came a century later, as a direct and ironic—indeed deserved–result of our having won the war and annexed the northern half of the country and with it its population, thus guaranteeing for ourselves endless troubles that ought at the time to have been foreseeable, even by the incompetent politicians in the Washington of the pre-Civil War era. In the War Between the States, the victorious North was not fighting for its territorial and social integrity, let alone its liberties; it was the defeated South, which was also the morally wronged party, that was doing that. The Spanish-American War was another opéra-bouffe, fought to acquire new territories we didn’t need, had no right to, and whose acquisition (as in the case of Mexico) has caused us trouble and expenditure ever since. The Great War was none of our business, none of our direct interests being at cause, unless one considers the preservation of our highly inflated sense of moral superiority a national interest. The same goes for the Second World War in Europe and even for the war with Japan, which our near senile and probably criminal Chief Executive seems deliberately to have provoked. And for the Korean War. And for the Vietnamese War. (No truer sentiment was ever uttered than Cassius Clay’s, when he said, “Them Vietmanese never did me any harm.”) And–of course–for the Gulf War and the Iraq one. The proof of this statement is that all of these imperial-ideological rough-and tumbles since 1945 were lost by us—with no harm of any sort, either in blood or treasure, suffered on the home front; only by our soldiers in the field.
While brave, honorable, and self-sacrificing warriors ought always to be honored and revered, more should not be claimed for them than they could possibly have achieved, even were they willing and actually eager to do so. It is the difference between the true patriotism of good and honest men, and the sentimental, dishonest, false, and indeed preposterous patriotism of scoundrels, the large majority of whom never served their country on the field of battle in the first place.