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Oaths, War, And Liberty

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On this beautiful Mother's Day an email from the HispanicLibertarians Yahoo Group landed in my inbox. It was a post titled "Troops and Law enforcement officers say not on my watch!". The entire post was this link,, the Oath Keepers website. At first glance I thought good for them; this is a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, further examination quickly revealed another side of this organization. While they advocate liberty and respect for the Constitution they also support the US government's imperial wars. It is not possible to be pro war and empire, on the one hand, and pro liberty at the same time. One must choose one or the other.

The pro war and pro empire side is revealed when one clicks on the links in the blog post, "Shout Our Oaths In The Tyrant's Face- Washington D.C., June 13, 2009", a call to celebrate an alleged victory in Iraq. The first link is to Gathering of Eagles. On their page titled Our Mission point number 9 states, "We will accept nothing less than total, unqualified victory in the current conflict. Surrender is not an option, nor is defeat." The freedom hating Neoconservatives couldn't have said it better. The truth is that ending an aggressive war overseas isn't surrender or defeat, it is good sense. It is the only way to live in peace with the world.

(I will give them credit for one thing, point number 7 which reads, "We vehemently oppose the notion that it is possible to 'support the troops but not the war.' We are opposed to those groups who would claim support for the troops yet engage in behavior that is demeaning and abusive to the men and women who wear our nation's uniform." This is quite true. It is the height of moral cowardice to proclaim support for the troops but oppose their mission. Those who oppose the war should do so completely and openly.)

Oath Keepers is missing a key point. The problem isn't that the military and police are being given the wrong orders, that's merely the symptom. The real problem is the fact that these organizations exist allows such orders to be issued in the first place. I make this point about police powers in, "Drug Prohibition: Law Enforcement Is The Problem".

The answer is not to take this oath, the answer is to resign from government service. I would remind readers that this would be emulating George Washington's resignation from and disbanding of the Army after the fighting in the Revolutionary War ended. He knew better than to have a standing army.

Let me conclude with some words of wisdom on the subject from the Founders:

"It is certain, that all parts of Europe which are enslaved, have been enslaved by armies; and it is absolutely impossible, that any nation which keeps them amongst themselves can long preserve their liberties; nor can any nation perfectly lose their liberties who are without such guests: And yet, though all men see this, and at times confess it, yet all have joined in their turns, to bring this heavy evil upon themselves and their country."

Cato's Letters, No. 95: Further Reasonings against Standing Armies [September 22, 1722]

"A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people."

--James Madison

"What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty .... Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."

-- Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts,
Floor debate over the Second Amendment [1789]

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies."

Thomas Jefferson

"If we admit this consolidated government, it will be because we like a great splendid one. Some way or other we must be a great and mighty empire; we must have an army, a navy, and a number of things: When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, Sir, was then the primary objectBut now, Sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country to a powerful and mighty empire."

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Darren Wolfe is the former Eastern Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania. He presently blogs as the International Libertarian His articles have also appeared in, (more...)

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