I was pretty thrilled the other day when I received an invitation from Angela Keaton to become a contributor here at Coming Home America. I’ve been reading AntiWar.com for a number of years now, and in the age of media as spokesperson for the current administration, whoever it may be, I think the work she and her team do over there is nothing short of heroic. So to make a short story long, I of course accepted.
I guess I should start by telling you a little about myself. I’m married, I’m a father, and I’m a veteran. Like so many, I got caught up in the post 9/11 patriotic fever, and so in 2003 I joined the Army. It wasn’t that I had a thirst for blood. My reasoning at the time was that I didn’t feel right sitting at home while thousands of men and women went overseas to fight. I thought that maybe my age and maturity and intellect might help me to help some poor dumb kid not get himself killed. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you find that reasoning ridiculous, but there it is. That’s how I felt at the time.
So, off to the Army I went. I didn’t actually end up getting deployed to a war zone until 2006. That deployment, to a large base on the northern outskirts of Baghdad ended up lasting for fifteen months, and it was an eye opening experience to say the least. I witnessed endless security patrols, which were little more than a bunch of humvees going out, driving around and waiting for someone to shoot at them or blow them up. I saw masses of cheap Pilipino labor brought in to work the chow halls and the laundry facilities to support lucrative KBR contracts.
I saw my unit drop thousands of artillery rounds on farmers’ fields under the guise of maintaining readiness. I could go on and on.
I’m one of those stubborn people who often only learn things the hard way. So for many of you, this next sentence is going to sound rather thick headed. It began to occur to me that this war was really stupid.
There was a particular three-month period where I was assigned to work the night shift at my artillery battery’s command post. It was a quiet three months. I would come in, do some work for an hour or two, and spend the next ten or eleven hours surfing the internet. I began to see a lot of stories and articles that mentioned some guy named Ron Paul. I had never heard of him. So I started reading more about him. In the course of that reading, I started seeing the name Mises pop up a lot, and of course, I had no idea who that was either, so my reading drifted in that direction. Eventually, I happened upon the Mises Institute website, where I discovered Murray Rothbard. I read “For A New Liberty” and my life was forever changed. It turns out that being assigned to boring night shift duty in the CP was one of the best things to ever happen to me.
Discovering the literature of freedom and liberty gave me a context to understand the absolute ridiculousness of the war going on around me. This of course didn’t happen until after I had reenlisted, so I would continue to be property of Uncle Sam until early 2011.
I’ll write in greater detail about some of these issues in the future. What I am most concerned about now is the futility and destructiveness of the whole enterprise of war. The United States sends its young adults to the other side of the world to get shot and blown up, or to shoot and blow up the young adults of some other country, or some other color, or some other religion. At what cost? Who benefits? How many future creators, innovators, builders, and educators have had their lives cut short in this futile enterprise? How many generals, politicians, CEOs, stockholders, and other assorted merchants of death have benefitted? This is by no means a comprehensive list, but more of a sample of the kinds of issues I would like to write about here in the future. I hope you’ll come back for more.
Finally, I want to thank Angela for reaching out and inviting me to contribute to Come Home America.