Taste freedom? How about its loss?

If freedom’s sweet, what does this war taste like?

Mark Drolette is a Sacramento expat who contributes occasionally to SN&R.

While in Washington state recently, I espied the following bumper sticker on a big 4x4 (what else?): “Freedom Has a Taste Those Who Haven’t Fought For It Will Never Know.” I had to guess: Butterscotch? Chocolate? Banana?

OK, so maybe the guy knows better, considering his he-man vehicle also sported military insignia. I am a lowly peace lover who should have been thankful just to occupy the same world he and his military kin have helped make safe for, you know, virulent anti-Americanism.

Don’t misread me. While I’m not keen on the military, I am keen on the Constitution, and one thing it says (or said, before it was cut into iddy-widdy pieces) is that it was, in part, “ordain[ed] and establish[ed]” to “provide for the common defense.” However, with neoimperialism all the rage, America’s $1.4 trillion military outlay (for fiscal year 2009, per War Resisters League) isn’t about common defense; rather, it’s uncommonly offensive.

Ditto the bumper sticker, with its smug implication that only soldier types truly understand what liberty means, thereby leaving us oblivious civilians to wonder what the fightin’s about. The least we can do, then, in our wimpy naiveté, is—all together now!—“support the troops.”

Here’s an idea: How about supporting them by not senselessly sending them a-warring to begin with? One couldn’t have found a larger group pleading that very case than we millions who desperately protested the Iraq disaster before it commenced. Every assertion of ours has been proven true. Yet we’re the ones who don’t get it?

Contrast this with the 85 percent of U.S. troops in Iraq who, when polled in February 2006 (Zogby International), still believed Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11, and tell me who knows what. Funny how the so-in-tune military, possessing the unique skinny on the flavor of freedom, makes no effort to dissuade its very own from “fighting for it” under utterly false pretenses.

Then again, why would the military—or the Halliburtons, Lockheed Martins and Exxons of the world—want soldiers to know what they’re fighting for? What’s prosecuting one gigantic war crime when it means continued bazillions for your own never-ending expansion, especially when all that’s required to placate your corporate masters is to gleefully blow shit up just so they can rebuild it? Or better yet, get no-bid contracts to not rebuild it?

And if you can also perpetuate the surefire glorious warrior shtick, well, carry on, pilgrim. Only Commies (yawn) would dare denigrate the sacred U.S. military.

Still, for argument’s sake, let’s say the bumper-sticker owner and his uniformed buddies are solely qualified to know the taste of freedom. In light of a military servile to a coterie of neocon whack-jobs obsessed with increasing corporate profits and implementing more anti-constitutional horrors like the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (goodbye, habeas corpus!) and the pending Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act (hello, thoughtcrime!), I can certainly tell you how the lack of freedom is flavored.

It’s bitter—and extremely hard to swallow.