More From Colonel Cooper
From the December 2004 edition of Jeff Cooper's Commentaries:
We emphasize again that the terms liberty and freedom are not equivalent. Freedom is a physical condition denoting the absence of bonds or bondage. Liberty, on the other hand, is a political condition certified by the social right to do whatever does not infringe upon the liberty of your neighbor. You are free once you have jumped over the fence, but liberty is not a characteristic of the nanny state in which the government tells you what you must or must not do in all aspects of your life. A man may live a quite satisfactory life without either freedom or liberty, if he is that sort of man. Such a man manifests the slave personality, and may be kept happy as long as he is sure of "bread and games." Men - some men - may be willing to fight for liberty, but they will not do so until they understand exactly what is involved. This is how it is possible for us to see catastrophic wars fought gallantly by men who do not know what they are fighting about. It has been my extraordinary good fortune to be involved in various sorts of wars, and I have discovered both good men and bad on both sides.
I was fully exposed to the theory of government at a very good university, and for this I am grateful. I have fought without restraint alongside and against both good men and bad, and it has been possible to observe the triumph of the human spirit for both good cause and bad. In much of the 20th century, the Communists established a system of political commissars in their armies, but this system worked only to a modest degree, for it is very difficult to recruit and train a man to handle the job of political commissar effectively. George Washington faced a formidable task in trying to explain to the colonists that they should risk their lives to get a king off their backs. Lincoln had an equally bitter task, and was on at least one occasion required to turn his weapons against his own side. Today it is not easy to explain to the troops that the political consideration of liberty is worth the sacrifice of one's life. It can be done and it has been done, but it is never easy.
Most men will fight well for hearth and home, as long as they fully understand the threat. Beyond that, Clausewiz says, war is the continuation of politics by other means. This sort of discussion is essential to military morale, but certainly it is easier said than done.