Stephen Baker

The Numerati
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Who threatens our "freedom?"

May 29, 2012General

One cliche, endlessly repeated, is that the military "protects our freedom." This simply is not true. The military defends our economy, and by killing people who are out to kill us, you could make a case that they defend our lives. (Admittedly, there's a bit of a chicken/egg issue there...)

But our freedoms? If we find ourselves tomorrow or next year without habeas corpus or the presumption of innocence, who will have taken it away? Al Queda? North Korea? No, they won't be over here rewriting our laws or issuing executive orders. The greatest threat to our freedom comes from ourselves. It's our own political leaders, stoking fears generated by such enemies, who can move us toward a security state. This has already been happening since 2001.

This isn't just a matter of words. By associating the military with freedom, we feed the idea that more military equals more freedom, and that the more active and well-equipped our military is, the stronger our freedoms will be. This leads to a war mentality, to a focus on enemies, and on killing them, and to a war economy, which finances political campaigns, media coverage and scientific research--in short, the military-industrial complex President Dwight Eisenhower warned of.

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