By Alex Epstein
This Veterans Day, we will once again pay tribute to our fellow Americans who have served in the military. Americans should be very proud of our heroic veterans. But we must also acknowledge that our government has repeatedly failed our men in uniform.
It is proper to send soldiers to war only when their and our freedom is truly threatened, and only if we make every effort to protect their lives during war.
Shamefully, America has repeatedly failed to meet this obligation. It has repeatedly placed soldiers in harm’s way when no threat to America existede.g., to quell tribal conflicts in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. America entered World War I, in which 115,000 soldiers died, with no clear self-defense purpose but rather on the vague, self-sacrificial grounds that ‘The world must be made safe for democracy.’ America’s involvement in Vietnam, in which 56,000 Americans died in a fiasco that American officials openly declared a ‘no-win’ war, was justified primarily in the name of service to the South Vietnamese. And the current war in Iraqwhich could have had a valid purpose as a first step in ousting the terrorist-sponsoring, anti-American regimes of the Middle Eastis responsible for thousands of unnecessary American deaths in pursuit of the sacrificial goal of ‘civilizing’ Iraq by enabling Iraqis to select any government they wish, no matter how anti-American.
In addition to being sent on ill-conceived, ‘humanitarian’ missions, our soldiers have been compromised with crippling rules of engagement that place the lives of civilians in enemy territory above their own. To send soldiers into war without a clear self-defense purpose, and without providing them every possible protection, is a betrayal of their valor and a violation of their rights.
This Veterans Day, we must call for a stop to the sacrifice of our soldiers and condemn all those who demand it.”
Mr. Epstein is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.