Standing Armies / by kevin murray

In our grievances as listed in our Declaration of Independence it was stated that King George had in the American colonies: "… kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures."  The colonies were right to be concerned and to feel imperiled by Great Britain's standing armies that answered not to our own domestic legislatures but to the King and its parliament instead; and when war came between us, those standing armies were loyal to the crown and not to the coloniesAfter our independence, the importance and the fear of standing armies lead to important debates between the federalists and anti-federalists during the constitutional convention, in which ultimately the funding of a standing army in America was vested to Congress and not to the President or to the Executive branch. 


A standing army is a mighty instrument that inappropriately applied can be used for all sorts of nefarious purposes.  First, it is important to understand that the military indoctrinates its soldiers to believe that they are part of a greater whole, that while there is room for individual heroism it is also a given that the individual soldier is subservient to the unit, that the overriding objective of soldiers is to be obedient to their superior officers, to follow orders promptly, and to implement them without hesitation.  While it is written in military manuals that soldiers need: "obey only lawful orders", in times of crisis, of exigency circumstances, there will be few soldiers, if any, that will have the courage or effrontery to confront their superior with their viewpoint that a particular order is, in fact, "unlawful". 


The history of standing armies is hardly comforting to us.  James Madison in 1787 stated: “The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home." For every great leader and general such as George Washington or Cincinnatus, history demonstrates that they are hundreds more of tinhorn dictators, tyrants, despots, cabals, and the like that wreak havoc both domestic and foreign, and use their military power as a blunt instrument to effect their desires and beliefs, whatever the cost, and whatever the consequences. 


The mission creep of standing armies can easily morph from protecting the homeland, to generic peacekeeping overseas, to promoting foreign democracy, to attacking our enemies both foreign and domestic, to outright war, and finally to enslaving our people themselves in order to best protect and provide for them from enemies yet unknown. 


A standing army should best be looked upon as a permanent and dangerous threat to liberty.  Justice comes in many forms and many guises and one of those forms is when you are looking down the barrel of a gun.  When the guns or the army that you thought was there to serve and protect you is in fact turned against you, where then will you find your freedom, your liberty, your happiness, your livelihood, your country, except in the lost pages of history, or in a declaration of independence now forgotten, or a constitution effectively overridden and dismissed