How often does the military really defend our freedom?

I ran across the following quote the other day:

My first thought was “B.S.; most threats to our freedom are internal (McCarthy and Jim Crow, anyone?) and are fought by the reporter, the campus organizer, etc., not by the military.” My second thought was, “How often does our military engage in conflicts where our freedoms as US citizens are really at stake?”

So the second thought is my question for the thread: How strong of a role does the military play in defending US freedoms?

A couple of comments to head this thread off from disaster (if that’s possible):

  1. I am not asking how often our military defends *other * people’s freedoms. I imagine the French would have to admit that this happens sometimes, at least.

  2. I am not anti-military, a pacifist, or a troll. I have a genuine question which I would like to see debated.

In the quote you mention, I think the idea is that it is the very existence of the military that defends freedom - in the sense that people know they can’t attack the USA without opening that proverbial can of whoop-ass. Is that a proverb? It should be :stuck_out_tongue:

But yeah, I think the point is that soldiers (Marines, Navy people, Air Force) protect the USA by the mere fact of their existence. It doesn’t much matter what they actually do.

Of course, others might argue that there would be fewer threats to freedom in the USA if there were fewer American service personnel. Or more competent leadership. Or both. I dunno.

WWII, obviously. I don’t think it can be debated that our way of life was threatened there.

National guard troops were federalized and used to integrate Southern schools during the Civil Rights era.

This statement will be slightly more controversial than the last two, but the various engagements of the Cold War were essential in this defense. Communism as an aggressive and expansionist ideology had to be defeated - and in this the American military was an essential tool.

The easiest way to approach the question is to ask, “What would happen if we had no military (and no way to produce one in a short period of time)?” The answer is, we’d either be gobbled up pretty quickly, or become reliant on a more powerful ally, who will have considerable leverage. So, while finding instances of active defenses of freedom may be difficult, it’s hard to deny that the military does protect the freedom of the US.

I think the quote is BS. The reason we have our freedoms in the first place is because a long line of people demanded them–Locke (philosopher), Adam Smith (economist), Thoreau (poet), Harriet Beecher Stowe (writer), Lincoln (lawyer and politician), Dr. King (preacher and civil rights leader), the list goes on and on. The reason we keep our freedoms is because all of us, collectively, continue to demand them.

The military is an institution which we use to secure our freedoms. So is the police force. So is the press, and any number of institutions which I could list here. If the people who make up an institution don’t believe in freedom, than that institution can easily be used to deny people their freedom. Countless democracies have fallen at the hands of their own militaries, and there are plenty of countries in the world in which the military is used as a tool of opression, rather than a tool of freedom.

So, does the military defend our freedoms? Of course it does. But the military isn’t what gave us our freedoms–we are the ones who did that. And since the military is made up of our fellow citizens who demand freedom, the military serves that purpose.

I don’t think that protecting our way of life in other countries applies as an answer to the OP - he clearly was aware of France in WWII and discounted it. So that would nix the first and third points.

The second one sounds good.

I’m gonna agree with BrightNShiny - I think the sense of the quote is a load of claptrap. In my earlier post I was merely trying to figure out what it might mean.

But to say the military protects our freedom - well, to an extent they do. That’s what we pay them for, after all. Ultimately, though, we protect our own freedoms. Some of us use guns, some of us use words, some of us even burn flags. In the end, it would be meaningless to deploy a military force to protect non-existent freedom.

The view expressed in the quote assumes that the only threats to freedom are external. Not so. Not so at all.

Imagine if we had lost the Revolutionary War. Can you imagine the horror? We’d have ended up more like Australia or, god forbid, Canada.

We have two staunch allies who don’t seem to receive much credit. They have done much to protect us from outside threats throughout our long history. You may know them as the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

All the armed services did a good job during the Cold War to make sure we weren’t turned into a burned out wasteland filled with hordes of radioactive zombies. I wish we hadn’t had needlessly smashed several helpless countries while pretending they were massive threats (OMG! Nicaraguan troops could invade us any second!) but them’s the breaks. Oh yeah, that Civil War dealio was mighty swell too.

What, the OP has the last word on that?

A world where the only big powers were Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union and the U.S., had the Allies not prevailed, would be a world hostile to democracy where the U.S. would quickly have had to either fight or make vast changes to its way of life.

If the military, by itself, was enough to protect freedom then China would be freer than the United States - they have a bigger military after all. But in China the military is not a force for defending freedom and that is also the case in many other countries. So the difference between free countries and non-free countries must lie somewhere other than in whether or not they have a military force.

It’s been a long, long time since we had to actually defend our freedom on this continent.

Yah. The Netherlands seem free enough, and I can’t imagine it’s because they scared their neighbours into submission with their awesome military power.

Indeed. 1812, maybe? Or maybe not, since there was no pressing need to invade Canada.

Pearl Harbor would be the best candidate, perhaps. But I struggle to see any real threat to the territory of the USA in WW2.

Military forces are at their core about providing security, not freedom. I’m not saying that a military force cannot be used to guard freedoms, for democratic ideals and freedom to see the light of day, you need to have a society which is secure from threats external and threats internal–usually dealt with by police since the mid-19th century.

But look at say, the Roman Legions. Were they dealing with protection of freedom? No, they were protecting the holdings of Rome. The relative “freedom” of the Roman citizens who might live in said areas certainly factored in to a degree, but the legions were about security and force projection first and foremost. The armies of most nobles during the middle ages existed to protect the interests of those nobles. Since it was in the interests of nobles to have living serfs (because serfs killed by brigands and other military forces can’t work lands for said noble), or at least enough living serfs to keep the noble’s manor/holding functioning these armies also protected the commoners. However, that was sort of an afterthought, these middle age military forces employed by the nobility existed first and foremost to serve the interests of the noble to whom they had sworn fealty.

So it’s fairly certain, at least to me, that military forces provide security. Sometimes this security fosters the development of personal liberties. Sometimes it allows wealthy nobles to rule like tyrants and amass huge personal holdings. Sometimes said security keeps brutal dictators in power.

And who’s gonna stop me from running my thread like I damn well please? You? And what army? :wink:

Don’t you mean “You and what journalists?” :stuck_out_tongue:

Would it be fair to say that the military does not give you your freedoms but allows you the luxury of being able to exercise your rights without fear that they will be taken away by somebody else?

Speaking broadly (because I know someone will be here with the exceptions shortly), the mere existence of our military acts as a deterrent and allows you to be an anonymous citizen or the Ugly American with virtual impunity. That is security that citizens of most countries could only dream of.

Aside from all of Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

As a NATO member, the Netherlands can scare any potential aggressor with the awesome military power of the U.S.

I agree that a strong military can create national security. And national security is one of the building blocks of a free country. But as I pointed out, there are numerous countries that have a strong military and national security but have very little freedom.

If I were to speculate on some of the other factors that make a country free, I’d say rule of law, democratic government, civil liberties, economic strength and stability, property rights, open opportunity for advancement, institutional infrastructure, and a good public education system.