Until 1947, the United States military operated under the name Department of War. At that time, it split into the Department of the Army, the Department of the Air Force and the Department of the Navy. Then, in 1949, the service branches were brought together under a new name – the Department of Defense (DoD). Tired of war, our representative government apparently intended the new name to reflect a change of philosophy; one that would prioritize the defense of our homelands so that we would never again experience a Pearl Harbor.
If that truly was the case, the name has long since become a misnomer;
Since the name change, the US has been involved in dozens of wars on foreign soil (Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador, Libya, Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and more). Not one of these wars involved military actions in defense of our homeland. Indeed, the Department of Defense is no longer tasked with defending our borders. Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002, that task has been left to DHS, the Border Patrol, US Customs, the US Coast Guard and the National Guard.
The Department of Defense has, instead, been given the task of projecting our military power to lands far from our shores in support of our corporations and allies. The DoD currently has more than 700 bases of operations in 59 nations around the world. Most are merely anachronistic reminders of World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War. So, too, is the name.
Why does the name matter?
It’s not merely a matter of accuracy. Calling the War Department a Defense Department is a form of propaganda. It engenders blind loyalty. After all, which would you more likely support? A military devoted to defense? Or a military devoted to war? Are you more likely to thank a soldier who is serving in defense of our country? Or a mercenary who is waging war in another land on behalf of greedy corporations?
Names matter. Truth matters.
If we are ever going to end our endless participation in wars, we must first be honest with ourselves. We must understand exactly who and what we are fighting for. We must be certain that our military has the right assets for the defense of our nation and its citizens. We must be certain that our military budget is well-spent. We must be certain that we are fighting for the ideals our nation was founded upon. We must be certain that we are fighting for personal freedom and liberty.
Not merely imposing our will on other people.