Troops can’t be separated from the crimes they commit. You can’t hate the senseless destruction and suffering created by war and the greed and hate that motivates it but “support the troops.” That’s like being against the Third Reich but supporting the Nazis because they were “just following orders” after all. Without the troops, there are no wars. They fly the planes, drop the bombs, and pull the pins and triggers. They terrorize vulnerable people and they make the decision to join. It is not the abstract concept of “war” that causes all of this senseless destruction. The sentiment that US troops are “brave” and “heroic” purported by statists is one of the most vile and putrid lies on Earth. US soldiers are simply hired killers in the largest, most advanced, best equipped, and most heavily funded military on Earth who terrorize mostly defenseless people for control of their resources and people. At best, soldiers are misguided, impressionable, opportunistic youth who think they’re making a difference. At worst they are trigger-happy, psychopathic, xenophobic, obsequious cowards fighting for American hegemony. The same is true of police but they prey on the American public. Along with the rest of government, they are a sick, twisted, perverted cult with its own leaders, propaganda, and system of indoctrination that makes new recruits out of children every year, wasting so many lives and ecosystems in the process. What truly does take courage is resisting these vile, ubiquitous machines and the military industrial complex and prison (slave) system more broadly.
Fortunately, there isn’t a draft in this country. No one in the state forces any one else to join, so there is simply no excuse for voluntarily joining. Military apologists justify individuals’ decisions to join with the deception of the propaganda. But we live in the age of information. Never has so much information been available with a simple internet connection, including information about the myriad of crimes against humanity the US government has committed and continues to commit every day in the name of “freedom,” “security,” “order,“ and “democracy” from droning innocent civilians in seven different countries to conventional bombing to use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium on civilians in Iraq, to arming the militaries of 172 different countries, and on and on. Propaganda is no excuse for joining.
Other apologists cite the military advertisements’ exploitation of young people’s interest in higher education. Signs promoting “free tuition” just for joining the cult of the military adorn areas with high traffic. But this again is no excuse. For the most part, schools teach obedience to authority, memorization through repetition, and the elimination of critical thinking. The desire for higher education is often driven by the lack of job opportunities in America (a condition which the government and its billion dollar corporations are also guilty of manufacturing) the potential utility of college degrees to convince employers of worthiness of employment. But there are a potentially infinite number of ways to earn the money for higher education, aside from killing people in foreign countries for their resources. (America is one of the only rich, modern nations in the world that only offers free education if you are willing to become a hired killer for the government. Education is otherwise not seen as a right here as it is in many other industrialized countries.) There are also scholarships awarded to those with very high grades, community service, and extracurricular activities on their record, along with public schools with much more affordable education. Furthermore, there are countless ways to survive or make a living without a job that requires a college degree. It is lazy, amoral, and self-serving to join the military for any reason. Democrats market themselves as the “anti-war party.” But both republicans and democrats in office unilaterally support wars for American hegemony. I often hear from establishment democrats the refrain “Support the troops. Bring them home.” But why support them at all? Again, there would be no wars without them. They have made a decision to kill people and impose American hegemony for their own selfish interests. They deserve no support and our support justifies what they are doing and encourages more to join. It furthers the myth that there is something honorable or noble about war and indiscriminate killing and that war is anything other than a despicable racket. The only time it is noble is when its directed against empires like America’s in self-defense.
The military and police are the gears and oil that keep this fascist, Orwellian machine running. Without them all that is left of the machine are lunatics in positions of enormous power and wealth conjuring up lies and propaganda for their wars for profit – lunatics who we outnumber and who thus can be easily defeated without their armies. The most heinous actions ever committed in history were performed by people “just following orders” like the pilots who dropped nuclear weapons over Nagasaki and Hiroshima or the officers of Japanese internment camps commanded by their “superiors.” Because they were just listening to their commanding officers, they were able to absolve themselves of all responsibility for their actions. Their commanding officers often did the same as they argued they only gave the commands but did not actually do anything beyond that. This hierarchy that allows for so much endless buck-passing exists so that no one has to feel responsible for the atrocites of war.
The “elite” 1%, the rulers of the pathocracies of the world only have so much power because we give them their monopoly on force. Without that they are mere peons like the rest of us like lone kings on a chess board. Their titles become meaningless when they are surrounded. They can’t defend themselves once their armies have disappeared or stopped fighting for them. If we can convince the foot “soldiers” of the 1% to come to our side, then the revolution doesn’t have to be so bloody. More common people don’t have to kill more common people by the orders of their “masters” for political or economic gain.
We must try to wake these people up, even though they are the hardest to wake up. The people with perhaps the most potential to do this are veterans and currently enlisted soldiers against war. Those who have been or are currently enlisted in the military generally have far more power to influence current and prospective soldiers than regular civilians. They must dissuade everyone they can from joining or staying in the military and instead encourage them to form totally voluntary, autonomous, community watch groups and militias and take other direct action against the state and corporate monopolies. They have to make their voices heard as loud as possible and use their platform as current soldiers or vets against war to promote their message. As community policing can replace these state thug police so to can community militias and solider councils that actually fight for the people and are the people.
Fundamental in people’s armies is there be no hierarchy and that the positions constantly shift, so that no one is merely a solider until death and no one is ordered to carry out some suicide mission by a general or marshal who never has to even get dirty, much less bloody. We are all capable of playing a myriad of roles, even at the same time. One could be a solider one year, a medic the next, a baker next, or all three at once. This way these positions don’t “go to people’s heads” and soldiers don’t feel removed from the rest of us as “better” than us or alienated such that they feel common people don’t understand their plight. When this psychology infects soldiers, they stop listening to civilians against war. In their minds, they just “don’t understand” because they “weren’t there.”
Community watch groups and community militias require all in the community to play a role. Even those who aren’t physically capable of defending others can keep watch and play an important role as witnesses. We must all be “potential soldiers,” as in a certain set of circumstances we may all be required to fight. As Mikhail Bakunin said, “All that a well-organized society can do is, first, to assist at the birth of a revolution by spreading among the masses ideas which give expression to their instincts, and to organize, not the army of the Revolution – the people alone should always be that army – but a sort of revolutionary general staff, composed of dedicated, energetic, intelligent individuals, sincere friends of the people above all, men neither vain nor ambitious, but capable of serving as intermediaries between the revolutionary idea and the instincts of the people.”
They’ll call us radical or “terrorists” but there’s no one and nothing more radical or terroristic than the state’s tyranny. Of course, there are dangers in the world but none greater than the American military. The greatest dangers in the world by far come from governments, which rule without consent and declare any attack on their borders to be an attack on everyone living within these arbitrary borders drawn up by conquest and genocide. We need a world with equity and justice for all forms of life. We need basic human rights to be upheld like clear air, clean water, healthy food, health-care, and voluntary education. The will for indiscriminate violence and non-state acts of terror would dissipate almost entirely if we upheld these basic rights. Justice and peace would then come. But there will be no peace without justice and equity. And peace without justice and equity is still tyranny as it is a negative or social peace that only exists due to coercion, state violence, hierarchy, and the subjugation of the working class, poor, and minorities. We must strive for equity and justice first by resisting the state and all forms of tyranny, hierarchy, environmental destruction, and capitalism.