I am a soldier. After September 11, 2001 I joined the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division as an infantryman. I served in both Afghanistan and Iraq in varying capacities and ended with an Honorable Discharge in the fall of 2005.
I am an anarchist. I believe that it is morally wrong to use violence against a peaceful person and monopolizing violence into the hands of only a few does not minimize the harm from a moral perspective or a practical one.
These two identities are not contradictory and I think it is harmful for the liberty movement to demonize and verbally attack soldiers and police officers. They are individuals who can be talked to, reasoned with, and shown that the best way to protect family and friends is to end aggression. That is what most soldiers want, to protect those they care about. Unfortunately protecting from threats and joining the monopoly of force has become so linked that it is difficult for most people to conceive of defense without a centrally planned, tax-based military.
There will always be a need for protectors, people to step up and tell an aggressive force that they shall advance no further. Something I have learned since my time in the military is that I can still protect those I care about, and even be part of an organization dedicated to that, without the government. In fact, the government acts as a bureaucratic mess that prevents soldiers from protecting as efficiently as possible. The government entrenches us in unnecessary wars, puts soldiers in positions where violence is necessary to save their lives but does nothing to protect their family, and provides them with equipment that is often years behind what is actually available. The best way a soldier can protect his family and friends is to leave the military and come home.
I understand the more vocal anarchists criticisms of the military and soldiers. It is true, individuals are responsible for their actions. It is true that many soldiers have committed crimes and should be held responsible. It is not true that every soldier should be categorized and demonized for the actions of a few.
Even if it is intellectually consistent to demonize the military it is very simply a bad tactic. Soldiers will protect their own and are trained to view the world in very stark “us versus them” terms, it isn’t ideal but it is the reality. If liberty activists really do want to shift the world towards a more peaceful place they need to convince soldiers, as individuals, that the best way to protect the lives of those they love is to opt out of the military and honor their oath to “defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic”. Their oath is not to a president, a commander, a war, or a corporation, it is to the Constitution and they can be made aware of that.
Peace will come faster by convincing the military to put down its weapons than to call them murderers and make enemies of them. Ron Paul realized this and the military supported him financially, and they will support the liberty movement all the way to anarchy if we treat them as individuals.