“Why our Government Mistreats our Troops”
By: Wald Branehart
Quite possibly the U.S. Military is the world’s best, not only in capability but also in benevolence. It successfully saved South Korea from the ravages of communism, transformed the barbaric dictatorships of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan into two of the world’s wealthiest nations, and even stared down the Soviet Union. The federal government, however, treats the military with disdain if not outright disrespect. Secretary of State John Kerry has compared the actions of our soldiers to the atrocities of Mongolian Emperor Genghis Khan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has equated water boarding with torture. Prosecutors regularly fly-speck the actions of combat personnel, ready to prosecute them vigorously for even slight violations of unduly burdensome rules of engagement. And Veterans’ Administration bureaucrats have been accused of falsifying veterans’ medical records in VA hospitals, leading to several deaths. Why on earth does this grotesque injustice occur?The answer has to do with an inherent conflict of interest within the governments of free countries between the military and civilian sides of the government. Often, in countries without mandatory military service where people are free to choose the values they want and pursue their own happiness by right, those who enlist in the military appreciate this freedom and individual rights so much they are literally willing to give up their lives to defend them.Not so on the civilian side of government. By its nature governments must use force to protect people against violations of rights. This ability to use force, however, very often attracts the kind of people a government is supposed to protect everyone against: power lusters who want to live off others as bloodsuckers by assaulting, robbing or defrauding them. Positions in government bureaucracies give such people opportunities to do this under color of law, making it far easier to get away with it long term than if they had to resort to street thuggery. To these power lusters freedom and individual rights are not considered values but are regarded as threats, because they give their victims the ability and justification to resist and fight back against them.This conflict between the military and the civilian bureaucracy explains disgusting injustices such as the prosecution of Marine Lieutenant Ilario Pantano for shooting and killing two Iraqis who lunged at him while they were being detained during the Iraq War; the indifference shown by the federal government to the torture and abuse by Mexico of United States Marines Jon Hammar and Andrew Tahmooressi for accidentally bringing guns into Mexico; and of course the attitude of VA bureaucrats who denied medical care to veterans in a Phoenix VA hospital in 2014 resulting in 40 deaths. It also explains the leniency shown those military members against whom credible evidence of disloyalty exists, such as Bowe Bergdahl, accused of desertion; and the classification of the Fort Hood shooter’s acts as “workplace violence” rather than terrorism.Our military personnel obviously deserve far better than this. What they need are skilled and savvy advocates who, by recognizing this conflict of interest, are always ready to act on their behalf against those in the government who are out to do them harm. The need to protect our military personnel from those in government who oppose them is just another reason why, as Thomas Jefferson once stated, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”.