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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Oaths, War, And Liberty

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.

Patrick Henry

"Avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty".

George Washington, Farewell Address [1796]


  1. Because ONE individual included a neo-con link, and some neo-con sentiment in THEIR testimonial, Oathkeepers is therefore a neo-con organization? NOPE. It's not fair of you to imply so either.

    The only "requirement" for being an Oathkeepers is an affirmation that you meant what you said when you took your oath, and that you agree that you will NOT obey the "10 Orders We Will NOT Obey"

    There are no requirements or qualifications beyond this. Posted testimonials of individuals are exactly that - testimonials of INDIVIDUALS. They may contain opinions of those individuals.

    There is no "no neo-cons" rule there. Neither is there a "no anarchists" rule either. I know this, because I am both an Oathkeeper and an anarchist, and I posted my testimonial there some time ago too.

    It's also worth noting that the vast majority of people who post at , where the Oathkeepers temporary forums are being hosted, is populated primarily by anarchist libertarians, with a sprinkling of minarchists and constitutionalists. If you take a look around those forums, you will find that Neo-Con BS is called out EVERY time it gets spouted there, without exception.

  2. Oath Keepers stays neutral on the Iraq war. Should we announce that we are only interested in talking to antiwar active duty soldiers? Gathering of Eagles is very aware of where most core members of Oath Keepers are in regards to the war and have been very respectful. We're just trying to reach as many troops as possible. Asking every fed. and soldier to quit their jobs is not nearly as doable as creating a support group for those that honor the constitution. Like annon said we post testimonials from all political faiths. By the way, annon, the older I get the more I think the anarchists are right.

  3. I will just add to the two posts above that I too think that to label anyone who knows a neocon is the same as being a neocon is wa-a-ay too broad a brush.

    Do you not know anyone whom you have found out later had opposing views on some important, to you, subject ?
    Are you then tainted by that association?

    Please do a little actual direct research before tossing the baby out with the bath water. (?)

    And on the big A subject I'm convinced but still doubtful of a practical application.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thank you all for commenting, even if we disagree.

    This neocon business is a distraction. I posted a comment at their website in March on the real issue. Here it is:

    *****This is a nice start. Your journey will be complete when you realize that by serving in the military or police, while perhaps constitutional, you are violating people's rights. The state is by it's nature a criminal organization that always tramples liberty. It is incapable of protecting freedom.

    "The ostensible supporters of the Constitution, like the ostensible supporters of most other governments, are made up of three classes: 1. Knaves, a numerous and active class, who see in the government an instrument which they can use for their own aggrandizement or wealth. 2. Dupes --- a large class, no doubt --- each of whom, because he is allowed one voice out of millions in deciding what he may do with his own person and his own property, and because he is permitted to have the same voice in robbing, enslaving, and murdering others, that others have in robbing, enslaving, and murdering himself, is stupid enough to imagine that he is a "free man," a "sovereign"; that this is "a free government"; "a government of equal rights," "the best government on earth," and such like absurdities. 3. A class who have some appreciation of the evils of government, but either do not see how to get rid of them, or do not choose to so far sacrifice their private interests as to give themselves seriously and earnestly to the work of making a change."
    --Lysander Spooner

  6. Some reinforcement:

    Lt. Erin Watada and a Standing Army
    by Jacob G. Hornberger

    The case of Lt. Erin Watada provides a good example of why our American ancestors opposed a standing army.


  7. Below is a comment on this article posted at the Nolanchart:


    You misinterpret the Gathering of Eagles mission point 9. You infer that it refers solely to a victory in Iraq. It does not. The present conflict to which it refers is the war against Islamic supremicism in which Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and other actions are merely battles. Important and necessary battles, but battles all the same.

    It is an aggressive war, but the aggression has been, until recently, entirely on the part of the Islamic fundamentalists and imperialists who have waged war on western civilization for almost 1,400 years. You probably never heard of the Battle of Tours, or the Battle of Vienna, or even of the Fall of Constantinople. You might not even know that the very first entity to strike American citizens after our successful revolution were the Islamic pirates of North Africa.

    We had a period of peace, for the most part, after the defeat of the Barbary pirates because the advances in science and technology of the next period almost all took place in the west while the backward regimes of Islam became a backwater in the world.

    The advent of oil wealth has caused a rebirth of the Islamic fundamentalist ideology and its inherent imperial ambitions. If you look at conflicts around the world you will find most occur in regions adjacent to Islamic countries. Almost all are fomented by Islamic radicalism.

    This is not to say that every muslim is a radical or a terrorist. Most people in those countries would like nothing better than to live their lives, raise their families in peace and safety, and enjoy the fruits of human progress. Unfortunately they often do not get that chance. We are providing that opportunity in Afghanistan and in Iraq. It is not clean nor painless, but if they can hold onto the freedom we've fought to give them, they will be our allies in spreading freedom in the rest of the Islamic world.

    Dan Maloney
    NY State Coordinator
    Gathering of Eagles

    My reply:


    I often thank people for their comments, not this time. You're too condescending. Let me reply in kind.

    You've probably never heard of the Crusades nor of the European conquest of most of the Muslim world during the 19th century. You don't seem to know that the US supports Israel & many dictators in Muslim countries. (End retaliatory condescention.) To say that all the aggression lies with the other side is silly. The West has attacked & intervened in their part of the world as much as, if not more than, they have in ours.

    The "period of peace, for the most part" that you refer to was actually the period of greatest Western imperialism.

    Moving along to point 9. It doesn't say Iraq, nor did I take it to mean just Iraq. All the other places you mention are not "Important and necessary battles", they are imperial wars. The US is trying to maintain or extend its dominance. The sooner they end the better.

    This is not to be mistaken for support for Islamic fundamentalism or blindness to the repressive nature of the regimes in that part of the world. They are bad, they're also not our problem. What most supporters of the war, yourself included, are blind to is the nature of the US govt & its goals. The govt here isn't trying to free anybody, they want to control them. The "democracy" practiced here that we also export is a sham. Elections have become a means of duping people into supporting the govt rather than a means of people controlling it. The Founders warned us:

    "It is not because a part of the government is elective, that makes it less a despotism, if the persons so elected possess afterwards, as a parliament, unlimited powers. Election, in this case, becomes separated from representation, and the candidates are candidates for despotism."
    --Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man


    "An elective despotism was not the government we fought for,..."

    --Thomas Jefferson
    To conclude this comment, the points you're making are exactly the ones the neocons made to justify their aggressive wars, well, after the WMD lies were exposed, that is. They don't stand up to scrutiny.

    "Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions, and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own... She well knows that, by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the color and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlets upon her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished luster the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world; she would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit".

    President John Quincy Adams