War and Freedom

Alexis de Tocqueville once said:

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country. . . . War does not always give over democratic communities to military government, but it must invariably and immeasurably increase the powers of civil government; it must almost compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management of all things in the hands of the administration. If it does not lead to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it. This is the first axiom of the science.

This quote is so relevant for the present situation.  The U.S. has been engaged in multiple protracted wars for a decade, and now there is talk of war with Iran. Having a strong military force is very important, but we should defend ourselves by having a strong national defense not a provocative offense stationed all over the world.  Setting aside the disastrous effect that war has on the economy, the even worse effect is the change that must occur in government. Tocqueville says it best, “No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom.”

Freedom has undeniably been endangered and taken away due to the War on Terror.  Bills like the PATRIOT Act and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)’s indefinite detention provision are perfect examples of the loss of freedom due to war. This is what Ben Swann, main co-anchor at WXIX Fox 19 in Cincinnati, has to say about the PATRIOT Act:

It is a nice idea that U.S. citizens are still protected and measures in the Patriot Act that step on the 4th amendments protection against unlawful search and seizure, won’t be used unless its against terrorists. But the facts don’t support it. According to a 2009 report from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, in 2008 the Feds used 763 warrant-less wiretaps, a direct violation of the 4th amendment to the Constitution, which protects against unlawful search and seizure. It is a power granted to law enforcement under the Patriot Act.  But here is the kicker, 763 warrant-less wiretaps were used and only 3 of those cases involved suspected terrorism.  Only 3.  Furthermore, 65% of those cases were drug cases.

Also, under the NDAA, the Commander-in-Chief’s authority to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens with out due process is solidified.  Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, but they do not add powers to the government or give the authority to enact unconstitutional measures.

Clearly, it is difficult to draw the line between criminal law and The War on Terror.  Clearly, our freedoms are diminished as long as these unconstitutional laws are in place.  There are many other examples of the loss of freedom occurring in the U.S.  The TSA and their absurd “security measures,” the militarized police departments around the nation, the video surveillance on street corners, etc.

It is obviously vital to have a secure and protected nation.  It is obviously vital to have a strong national defense.  What is not obvious is the question of when and how to use force.  We should be extremely cautious when analyzing the situation and make sure to never get involved in protracted wars we can’t win. Ronald Reagan said, “History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.”

Recent history of U.S. foreign policy has proven that statement correct. The price of aggression is almost always high so we should always use force as the last possible option.  Many wars have not been worth the loss of freedom, loss of lives, the creation of new enemies, and the monetary cost.  It is crucial to take the time to figure out if our national security truly is at risk.  Only then should our military step in and deter the eminent threat.

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