I should have known better, or at least more. My grandfather was a supporter of Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan, and passed that down to me. However, in 2002, in my first fall of law school in Wyoming, I realized I probably wasn’t going to be the next great lawyer. I saw a sign that said “Join the Wyoming National Guard and we’ll pay for the rest of your schooling”. I thought about it, but that was during the run-up to a war of which I was highly skeptical. After the “easy” win for the US in March 2003, I figured the debt avoidance scheme of joining the National Guard probably wasn’t that bad of an idea, even if my more natural instincts said don’t trust US foreign policy. But hey, in the Wyoming Guard, I would be protecting the Cowboy State from the heathens in Colorado, right?
Money won over morals, and I joined three weeks after Bush announced “Mission Accomplished”. The next summer I was in Officer Candidate School, where we learned a little about Sun Tzu and the idea that you must know your enemies. Eventually in June 2009 I was deployed (military vernacular) to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Orwellian irony is too great here. I felt lucky that the paying off of the Sunni tribes (the “surge”) had worked (temporarily) in Iraq, and I was going to the place the US “liberated” in 1991. Plus, my personal balance sheet was much better off by joining the Guard–like the Sunni tribes of Anbar. I assumed I’d be able to mix with the people of Kuwait and enjoy the local culture; after all, at least there we were the great liberators and not the ‘Great Satan’. However, after the long flight, we received our country in-brief by military intelligence (insert joke here) about Kuwait. We were told we were not to leave post in Kuwait, unless for a military mission. Specifically, the lieutenant said: “After so many years here in Kuwait, the local populace is tired of our presence. Therefore, we do not want to further antagonize our ‘hosts’.” Like the scales falling from the eyes of St. Paul, everything I had ever read by Buchanan or Ron Paul suddenly actually made sense. Why did it take me that long to really figure out? They don’t hate “us” for our freedoms, but for our mere presence. I became a daily reader of LewRockwell.com while deployed; interestingly, it wasn’t banned. I read a book at the post library that actually said many of the grievances of Saddam Hussein against Kuwait in 1990 were not that far-fetched.
Finally, I did learn from Sun Tzu, and actually read about Osama bin Laden. Despite many years of officer training, I had never read what specifically motivated him to desire people to attack the US. It’s almost like the military doesn’t want officers to know the truth, until you have already landed in-country. As readers of this site know, bin Laden had declared war TWICE against the US in the late 1990s because the US stayed in Saudi Arabia after “liberating” my “host” country, continued bombing Iraq, and supported Israel over the Palestinians. The more I learned, I learned who the enemy is, and the enemy was me in a place that no longer wanted me, Kuwait, much less Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, South Korea, Germany, England …
When my eight years were up, I resigned and became a Veteran for Peace. Now I do my small part trying to celebrate the actual purpose of Armistice Day, “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace”. If people are actually willing to listen to me, I let them know the easiest analogy of why US foreign policy reduces your freedom and safety is if the French stayed in America after the war of secession, the Marquis de Lafayette wouldn’t have enjoyed such a Grand Tour in America in 1824. Peace through strength is state propaganda. Peace through trade is real. “Don’t tread on me” is a favorite saying; the shoes I am wearing say Made in Vietnam. I think treading on rubber shoes made there is much better than unloading rubber body bags over here. We’re trading with them there, so we don’t have to fight them anywhere.