On Aug. 24, 1814, British troops burned the White House and most of Washington, D.C. to the ground.
It’s been over 200 years since this happened, yet America is still so scared it might happen again that it spent $598.5 billion on the military budget in 2015 alone.
You probably hear it all the time: “Our soldiers are protecting our freedom” or are “overseas fighting for our rights.” Who exactly is threatening these rights and freedoms?
Last I checked, there isn’t an army in the world willing to take up arms against the good old U-S-of-A on our home soil. Save for 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, no country has managed an attack on American soil in the last century. Even Pearl Harbor was an American military base located in Hawaii, which wasn’t even a state at the time.
According to a 2010 Pentagon report, America has 662 official military bases around the world. 70 years after World War II, we still have 174 base sites in Germany and 113 in Japan. Any Republican will tell you that every single soldier there is serving to protect our rights and freedoms.
There’s no doubt that soldiers make sacrifices. They leave their families, their homes and their country to go into an unfamiliar place in the name of freedom.
At least, that’s what they’re told.
The reality is that American freedom hasn’t been truly threatened since 1814. To Americans, war is always fought on foreign soil. That’s because America is always either joining wars or starting them.
With the exception of both World Wars – which we joined as retaliation for American lives lost in foreign territory – America’s main reason for entering wars in the last century has been to “protect democracy.”
The wars in the Middle East are claimed to be retaliation for 9/11. What most history books fail to recognize is that 9/11 was retaliation for the Gulf War. Terrorists didn’t just wake up and decide to attack America. Their home countries had been the victims of American war for over a decade.
American foreign policy has taken a full interventionist stance, a 180 degree turn-around from the wishes of George Washington. We’ve been going to war for so long that people have stopped questioning why we’re really there. When questions do arise, it’s always the same two answers.
The first is that we’re stepping in against an oppressive regime or terrorist group. The problem with this answer is that if America really cared how foreign citizens were being treated, why haven’t we stepped in against Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea?
The second answer usually involves some variation of the word “democracy.” Obviously, American government is so great that we have to make sure everyone has it. It’s just a coincidence that of the 69 countries without democracy, America is always at war with the ones that contain oil.
It’s also interesting to point out that African American soldiers in Germany during World War II were fighting against a government that had isolated one race as inferior, yet those same soldiers returned to a country where they and their families were still considered second-class citizens. They fought to protect freedoms they didn’t even have.
America has about 1,492,200 active military personnel. If no other country is threatening our rights and freedoms, what exactly are they doing?
When I was five years old, my brother enlisted with the Marines. He was, and still is, my hero for serving our country. It’s okay to recognize soldiers for their service, but it’s also okay to disagree with the real reasons we are at war.