Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Some Thoughts on the Oath of Enlistment


When I joined the US Marine Corps in 1984, I swore the following oath:

I, Thomas L. Knapp, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

While I was a member of the Marine Corps, I don't ever remember being called upon to defend the Constitution of the United States.

I remember being called upon to defend the prerogatives of the Kuwaiti and Saudi monarchies.

I remember being called upon to facilitate the unconstitutional depredations of the US regime's "drug warriors," in one particular case being given an order that violated the Fourth Amendment, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1868, and the rules of engagement I had been instructed in at the start of the overall mission.*

But the Constitution of the United States? Nope. To the best of my recollection, I was never used in its support or defense.

So there's that.

Additionally, once I was discharged from the Marine Corps, any obligation I had under that oath presumably expired. And I'd consider that true even if I had retired (rather than getting out at the end of a hitch), and even if I received e.g. a pension or other benefits. If I quit or retire from a job at a factory, I don't have to continue working for the company, right?

Nor do I consider the Constitution to be inherently sacred, such that anyone who has not personally, voluntarily, and explicitly agreed to obey it or defend it owes it any particular allegiance.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not intent on overthrowing the Constitution for the moment. As long as it continues to trundle along, albeit with four flat tires, a steaming radiator, and backfiring continuously, I'm content to use it where I can and work around rather than against it where possible. But my goal is human freedom, not just "constitutional" governance. And I'm mindful of Spooner's dictum:

But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain -- that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

If this be sedition, make the most of it.

* I was ordered to lead a team in surveillance of a particular person's residence on behalf of the US Forest Service Police. The Marine Corps is covered (by order of the Secretary of the Navy), by the Posse Comitatus Act, which that kind of thing would have violated, a point which had been specifically covered in the mission's rules of engagement. It also, IMO, constituted a search without warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. I used the "request mast" process to appeal the order all the way up the chain of command to the commanding general of Joint Task Force Six, US Special Operations Command, but the order was affirmed. So I let my troops know to bring their alcoholic beverages of choice on the operation. We hunkered down in the bush for three days and, as detailed in my after-action report, "saw nothing."


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