Recently, it’s been announced that the U.S. Military expects to have at least 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011, which according to Anna Christensen of the ACLU, may be “the first example of a series of expansions in presidential and military authority.”
I had no intention of commenting on that trend, until I noticed that someone found my blog with the following queries, which dovetail nicely with the expansion of military powers:
- under what circumstances would an individual quarter troops in time of peace
- do u have to quarter troops in time of peace
My post, Provide No Quarter is the #1 and #3 result, respectively, for those queries.
First, some background: Quartering is generally defined as providing basic needs including but not limited to food and shelter, in-kind.
Historically, in the case of King George III’s Merry Olde England, prior to the American insurgency/Revolution, the Crown ordered colonists to quarter British Soldiers. The quartered troops would, e.g., eat at a colonist’s table, from his food-stock, and sleep in his beds. This was rightly viewed as a form of involuntary servitude, and was among the several complaints levied against the Crown in the Declaration of Independence
[King George III] has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures…
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States…
When soldiers are quartered among civilians, they are usually at war (or preparing for war) with those same civilians. Quartering troops among allegedly free people serves to emasculate their senses of freedom and sovereignty, while simultaneously encroaching their ability to raise defense against their usurpers.
I have previously argued that the difference between indirect quarter (taxes used to finance the provision of food, shelter, munitions, etc.) and direct quarter (in-kind, servitude) is essentially only one of degree, the latter being slightly more oppressive than the former.
In a free society, and in a time of peace soldiers are never quartered involuntarily by civilians. Installing active-duty soldiers among us — regardless of whether they live in our houses and eat our food — is and ought to be viewed as an act of war.