In light of the recent Ferguson unrest, the debate over police militarization has reached an all time high, but the discussion brings the reader face to face with another and more frightening question: would US troops really open fire on the public? Image credit: The U.S. Army
The best place to begin a prediction of the future is in the past. Historical examples are often discounted for various reasons. A mention of Nazi Germany is immediately discounted because “those people were just evil.” Situations in Eastern Europe are discounted because of the communist or totalitarian regimes that existed there in the past. Bringing up the times militaries in the Far East, Africa, or Latin America opened fire on their citizens triggers the unconscious racist part of some brains that says “well those countries aren’t white.” Instances from US history are dismissed because they were “isolated incidents” or the patriotism gene kicks in and somehow “the citizens deserved it.”
This belief that some group or another “had it coming” is critical in the discussion because the order to fire on citizens has never been historically given without a wave of propaganda first occurring that convinces people those gunned down were the enemy.
Since almost all comparisons are off limits, the reader can only examine the country with the closest cultural ties to the United States; a country that shares a common language, a common economic system, a common dominant demographic, and a common culture. Of course, that means the United Kingdom.
The British Army staged an occupation of their own soil for almost forty years in Northern Ireland under the pretext of combating the Irish Republican Army. British troops conducted raids on homes, opened fire on unarmed civilians, conducted checkpoints that harassed the average citizens, assassinated undesirables, and supplied “loyalist paramilitaries.” The paramilitaries were conducting the same types of operations as the IRA, but were not labeled as terrorists by the media because it didn’t fit with the required propagandized narrative. It became important to the war effort of the British to cast their citizens of Irish heritage as terrorists. After all, it just wouldn’t do to have the BBC report that the Special Air Service was running around killing British citizens. This is despite the fact that the people in Northern Ireland are, in fact, British citizens. This isn’t ancient history; the occupation ended just seven years ago.
Now that it is established that even the most civilized and culturally-linked nations will turn its military against its own people, the reader can entertain the possibility a little better.
Historically, once the demonization of the targeted group has been successfully cast as ethnically inferior, invaders, criminals, or domestic terrorists (to use the modern buzzword), the military is deployed under the guise of keeping the peace or protecting the people from themselves. In many cases, the masses applaud or beg for the deployment. Once deployed, the military functions as it is intended. The enlisted rank and file take orders from the non-commissioned officers, who take orders from the field officers, who take orders from the generals, who take orders from the politicians. Once the forces are on the streets, it is rarely questioned either out of legitimate fear of the authorities or out of fear of seeming unpatriotic.
In almost all cases there is a tiny fraction of one percent of soldiers that dissent. Most simply fail to reenlist, some wander away into the ether of desertion, a smaller number steal weapons and join the resistance, and an almost negligible number stay and provide intelligence to the resistance. The vast majority of soldiers, however, stay on and do what they perceive as their duty.
This isn’t because they are evil or dumb. It is because they are simply “doing their jobs,” and the government has fed the propaganda to the public that allows the soldier to feel supported. They function as a cog in the wheel of eventual tyranny.
This journalist is aware of three separate groups in the US military whose members swear to break ranks if they are ever ordered to disobey the Constitution or use force on the American people. Two of those are clandestine in nature, and will be left out of the discussion. The other is a nationally-recognized group known as the Oath Keepers.
The Oath Keepers are primarily made up of current and former military and law enforcement. My personal opinion of the Oath Keepers is favorable to say the least; it is an organization that is at least attempting to establish a network of opposition to military rule. However, there exists a burning question. While there has been much condemnation on the Oath Keeper website of the government’s actions in Ferguson, where are the officers and National Guardsman that should have disobeyed their orders? It is impossible to believe an organization with tens of thousands of adherents do not have at least one member serving in an affected agency?
To expand on the question, there are dozens of other situations in which the Oath Keepers should have disobeyed orders. Are there no Oath Keepers in the TSA? Manning the checkpoints in the “Constitution-Free Zone?” Interrogating US citizens in the interest of “national security?” Exploiting NSA surveillance? Using Stingray surveillance devices? Piloting drone attacks on US citizens?
These are all situations in which an Oath Keeper should have followed through with his or her declaration and disobeyed orders, but there is no record of anyone doing so.
The reason is simple. These violations of the Constitution are against people the government has successfully painted as the bad guys. That will be the situation when US forces are deployed against US citizens. It will be viewed as OK by the populace because it isn’t happening to them, but to somebody the government has classified as a “domestic terrorist.”
A 2014 report from the U.S. Army regarding the use of deadly force against American citizens has recently been leaked to Public Intelligence. The report details when the use of deadly force could be used. (Figure 1)
The reader understands that this is not a topic in which one can adopt the patriotically misguided belief that “it can’t happen here.”
Before a deluge of hate mail arrives, I have a challenge to the would-be defender of the idea that the US military would never do such a thing. I can present hundreds of historical examples of soldiers following orders and attacking their own citizens, I ask you to present me with one example where even just 10% of a military disobeyed.
To answer the question directly; will the US military fire on US citizens? Of course; to believe anything else is simply naive.
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