The Power of Military Indoctrination

Jacob G. Hornberger – June 16, 2020

A sad article in the New York Times this week entitled “He Died at War. The Pandemic Gave Me Time to Grieve” by a young woman named Kelsey Baker is a testament to the success of the U.S. national-security establishment in indoctrinating soldiers and, well, lots of civilians as well.

The article details Baker’s deep grief over the loss of her boyfriend, 34-year-old Diego Pongo, a U.S. Marine gunnery sergeant from California who was recently killed in a firefight with ISIS insurgents in some isolated part of northern Iraq.

The couple met at a gym a couple of years ago and immediately hit it off. At the time, Baker herself was in the Marines and was preparing to deploy to Iraq. Soon after she returned, the military sent him to Iraq. Obviously wracked by grief, Baker writes:

“Before his final mission, Diego called me from his team site to tell me he loved me, just in case anything happened. We had been arguing more frequently, and he wanted to remind me that despite the friction he still loved me. I told him the same and teased that if anything happened, I would find a way to bring him back to earth because I wasn’t finished with him yet.”

What I find fascinating about the article is how there is no anger or rage expressed against President Trump or the U.S. government, especially the national-security branch of the government. After all, it was the Trump’s Pentagon that ordered Pongo to deploy to Iraq. If it hadn’t done that, he would still be alive today and the couple would likely be planning their wedding.

I am fairly certain that such a radical thought doesn’t even enter Baker’s mind. In her mind, a soldier being sent to Iraq is just as normal as being transferred to a domestic military base. It’s just part of the job description.

She writes:

I was thankful I had never lost any of my own Marines in my career, but Arlington reminded me that it was always a possibility. Now, my first trip to Arlington will be to bury Diego.

Not losing any her own Marines is what enters her mind, not whether she and her Marines should have been in Iraq killing people and dying at the hands of people who were opposing the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Iraq is about 6,000 miles away from the United States. There is no possibility — none — that ISIS is going to invade the United States. There never was such a possibility. The only possibility was that ISIS might oust the Iraqi regime that the U.S. invasion installed into power. But even if that happened, there would still be no possibility that an ISIS-ruled Iraq would or could invade the United States.

Moreover, it’s important to keep in mind that ISIS formed in response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and its subsequent 8-year brutal and deadly occupation of the country, which killed thousands of Iraqi people. It’s also important to keep in mind that the U.S. invasion was what the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal called a “war of aggression,” a criminal offense in which one nation-state attacks and invades another nation-state.

After many years of brutal and deadly occupation, the U.S.-installed Iraqi regime ordered U.S. forces to leave the country in 2011. In 2014, however, faced with the rise of ISIS, the Iraqi regime invited U.S. forces back into the country, an invitation accepted by President Obama.

Recently, the Iraqi parliament, in response to President Trump’s assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani on Iraqi soil, enacted a resolution demanding that U.S. forces again exit the country. President Trump has refused to comply with the resolution, which is why Pongo was over there and got killed.

Thus, the deployments of Baker and Pongo to Iraq were nothing more than fruits of the original rotten interventionist tree. They, along with other U.S. soldiers, had no more business in Iraq than U.S. soldiers did in Vietnam. A foreign nation’s civil war is no business of the U.S. government, especially when the civil war is the direct result of criminal activity on the part of the U.S. government.

Too bad that Baker can’t see any of this. Too bad she cannot see that while ISIS forces killed her boyfriend, President Trump and the Pentagon share responsibility for his death by sending him to a foreign land 6,000 miles away and putting him in the position of kill or be killed. Too bad she can’t see that neither she nor Pongo belonged in Iraq. Too bad she can’t see that her loved one has died for nothing. Too bad the same holds true for many American civilians. It’s all a testament to the power of military indoctrination.

Originally published at Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at and from Full Context. Send him email.  

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