Jade Helm 15 and the Conspiracy Theories
A Reality Check on Military Exercises
“Nothing is so contagious as opinion, especially on questions which … beget in the mind a distrust of itself.” —James Madison (1790)
Have you heard about Jade Helm 15? If the answer is “no,” then you don’t get your “news” from the paranoid purveyors of conspiracy theories at websites such as Infowars and World Net Daily. They gin up concern about non-issues in order to drive traffic to their websites — and to thereby sell advertising, products and services.
Jade Helm 15 is the name of a major military exercise scheduled to run between 15 July and 15 September. The exercise is coordinated by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and involves special forces units of the Army and other service branches.
According to the Army SpecOps Command: “While multi-state training exercises such as these are not unique to the military, the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart. To stay ahead of the environmental challenges faced overseas, Jade Helm will take place across seven states. However, Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) will only train in five states: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The diverse terrain in these states replicates areas Special Operations Soldiers regularly find themselves operating in overseas. The training exercise will be conducted on private and public land with the permission of the private landowners, and from state and local authorities.”
An unclassified power point lays out the exercise in some detail. It involves about 1,200 military personnel, primarily Army Green Berets and infantry, but also some Navy SEALS and Air Force special operators.
Compared to other recent domestic military exercises, Jade Helm is large for peacetime practice (if you consider these to be “peacetimes”) and it’s the “the size and scope” that has all the conspiracy conscripts concerned that its real purpose is to prepare for an imminent declaration of martial law.
In Texas, home to almost two million active duty military personnel and veterans, the king of charismatic conspiracy kooks, Alex Jones, has generated a lot of heartburn among his unwitting lemmings.
Jones says he stopped using marijuana because “it made me paranoid,” then dropped out of Austin Community College before launching his Austin-based conspiracy enterprises, Infowars and his populist radio programs. Over the last few months, he has alerted his two million listeners that Jade Helm is “way worse than you realize,” claiming it was really about “military, police working together toward population control,” and “the U.S. Army’s plan to wage war on the American people.” According to Jones, “They’re going to practice breaking into things and stuff. This is going to be hellish. Now this is just a cover for deploying the military on the streets… This is an invasion … in preparation for the financial collapse and maybe even Obama not leaving office.”
Jones has ginned up concern with headlines like “Beyond Denial: Preparations for Martial Law in America,” warning that the “U.S. military is positioning itself to take over the states and declare martial law.”
This is the same Alex Jones who insists the federal government staged the Oklahoma City bombing and that George Bush organized the 9/11 attack.
He has stirred up so many Lone Star folks that Gov. Greg Abbott is having the State Guard monitor Jade Helm in an effort to quell the discontent. According to Abbott, “It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.”
Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert says his office “has been inundated with calls,” and adds, “Certainly, I can understand these concerns. When leaders within the current administration believe that major threats to the country include those who support the Constitution, are military veterans, or even ‘cling to guns or religion,’ patriotic Americans have reason to be concerned.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mack Thornberry (R-TX) says that the idea of our military acting as Obama’s “private army” was “just silly.” And of course it is.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said he had “no reason to doubt” the nature and purpose of this exercise, and offered a rational explanation for the Jade Helm concerns: “I think part of the reason is we have seen, for six years, a federal government disrespecting the liberty of the citizens. And that produces fear. When you see a federal government that is attacking our free speech rights, or religious liberty rights, [and] our Second Amendment rights, that produces distrust as to government.”
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter assured those concerned that the DoD has been “very open and upfront about our training activities” and “very responsive” to citizen inquiries — and they have.
Unfortunately, otherwise rational grassroots folks get swept up by conspiracy charismatics.
So, reality check — should folks be concerned about “the size and scope” of the Jade Helm exercise?
The short answer is “no,” but I admit that my perspective on such exercises is somewhat biased.
Having held for almost 25 years an executive-level appointment in a reserve national security capacity (one of those so-called “shadow government” folks assigned to FEMA/DHS), I have been involved in more than a few training exercises for senior military personnel.
Thus, I can assure you that the number of conservative Patriots in uniform is much higher than in any other profession. May I remind you that, according to reputable annual surveys conducted by The Military Times, Barack Obama’s approval rating among military personnel has fallen from a paltry 35% in 2009 to just 15% now, while his disapproval ratings have increased to 55%.
Obama loathes our military Patriots, as most of them do him. Frankly, he has far more concern about military loyalties than the good people of Texas need have. The notion that somehow our military Patriots will follow a pathological narcissist like Obama down a path to tyranny is patently absurd.
This is not to say that Americans should not be vigilant against the mischief that can infiltrate standing armies when a Socialist Democrat occupies the Executive Branch.
In 2010, we were alerted by some of our readers within the military that the designer of an Army security exercise listed the grassroots Tea Party among the terrorist groups that might assault Ft. Knox — “in order to make it more realistic.” We exposed this exercise in a column titled “Army Preps for Tea Party ‘Terrorists’,” and within hours of publication we heard from the commanding officer at Ft. Knox that the exercise was scrapped and the individual who drafted that scenario was being disciplined.
But there is a wide gulf between rational vigilance and the conspiracy hysterics currently associated with Jade Helm.
Rational vigilance has its origins with our Founders.
In 1783, George Washington wrote, “A large standing Army in time of Peace hath ever been considered dangerous to the liberties of a Country, yet a few Troops, under certain circumstances, are not only safe, but indispensably necessary.”
In 1787, in a speech before the Constitutional Convention, James Madison argued, “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.”
Consequently, Article I, Section 8, Clause 12 of our Constitution reads, “The Congress shall have Power To … raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years…”
In other words, our Founders understood that the size of our military should comport with the exigencies of the time. Unfortunately, the current CINC does not understand those exigencies.
Our Founders also understood that American security against a standing army whose leaders disregarded their solemn oaths to defend our Constitution was contained in the plain language of that venerable document’s Second Amendment as the first assurance of the unalienable Rights of Man.
In 1787 Noah Webster observed, “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.”
Madison, who was the principal author of our Constitution, noted, “The ultimate authority … resides in the people alone. … [T]he advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition.”
Our Founders uniformly understood that the individual right to self-defense constituted the best defense of Liberty for the whole people. Madison’s Supreme Court appointee, Justice Joseph Story, best summed up the Second Amendment: “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
A century after the American Revolution, Congress enacted a specific prohibition, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, greatly limiting the use of military forces by federal authorities in a domestic law enforcement capacity. The primary exception is the use of National Guard and state defense forces under the authority of the governor of a state.
So what to do with the conspiracy propagandists on the Left and Right?
First, it’s worth understanding the nature of such theories and those who buy into these deceptions.
Every conspiracy theory is a combination of a foundational fact plus a lot of fiction heaped upon it — and each depends on a basic maxim, “You can’t prove a negative.” Pop conspiracy theories are all constructed on this predictable formula: 10% substance and 90% fragrance.
Most of these conspiracies assert the existence of a global political or economic “star chamber,” often puppet masters who are members of the Bilderberg Group or the Council on Foreign Relations.
Most disciples of such nonsense are not inherently ignorant or bad, but they harbor basic insecurities that compel them to grasp “straw man” explanations when their insecurities are triggered. The sense of order out of chaos derived from a conspiracy theory tends to satiate their insecurity. Notably, they are often most vulnerable to Internet conspiracy gurus, who decode events with greatly simplified theories. The most ardent adherents within these cults — the 9/11 “Truthers,” for example — have surrendered their willingness to discern fact from fiction in order to sustain their sense of security.
Beyond understanding the psychology behind this phenomenon, conspiracy theorists should be boldly called out for the pathetic frauds they are, and we should encourage anyone who subscribes to their folly to stop drinking their toxic Kool-Aid.
Jones, et al., are doing an enormous disservice to the conservative movement in Texas, dragging a lot of otherwise rational folks down a rat hole and creating unwarranted tension between civilian and military Patriots. Jones has never taken an oath “to Support and Defend” our Constitution, nor has he served a day in uniform. He has no understanding of the sense of duty, honor and sacrifice that forms the foundational drive among our military personnel.
Former Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a Republican who served under Rick Perry, published a Dallas Morning News op-ed calling out the travesty of the Jade Helm conspiracy clowns. Dewhurst wrote, “Unfortunately, some Texans have projected their legitimate concerns about the competence and trustworthiness of President Barack Obama onto these noble warriors. This must stop.”
Indeed it must.
Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis