Separated At Birth?

2 comments May 3rd, 2007at 06:02pm Posted by Eli

Liberal Bob Herbert:

[Veterans advocate Paul Rieckhoff] has very little tolerance for the negligence and incompetence the government has shown in equipping the troops and fighting the war in Iraq, and he is frustrated by the short shrift that he feels the troops get from the media and the vast majority of Americans.

There’s a gigantic and extremely disturbing disconnect, he says, between the experiences of the men and women in uniform and the perspective of people here at home. “We have a very diverse membership in I.A.V.A.,” he said. “We’ve got Republicans and Democrats and everything in between. But one of the key things we all have in common is this frustration with the detachment that we see all around us, this idea that we’re at war and everybody else is watching ‘American Idol.’ ”

(…)

“It’s tough to have such a serious sense of commitment,” Mr. Rieckhoff said, “and then come home and see so many people focused on such frivolous things. So I think that frustration is serious and growing. And I’ll tell you the truth: I blame the president for that. One of the biggest criticisms of the president, and I hear this across the board, is that he hasn’t asked the American people to do anything.”

(…)

“Asking somebody to die for their country might not be the biggest thing you can ask,” he said. “Asking my guys to kill, on my orders — as an officer, that’s difficult. I’m telling that kid to squeeze that round off and take a man’s life. And then he’s got that baggage for the rest of his life. That’s what you have to live with.”

I signaled for the check and we left the restaurant. It was a beautiful, sunlit afternoon. New Yorkers were smiling and enjoying the spring weather. There was no sign of a war anywhere.

Conservative Ben Stein:

Here’s how it goes: The nightly news grimly reports that the terrorists in Iraq or Afghanistan have detonated a bomb that has killed seven American soldiers. A few seconds later, the announcer says that the Dow closed at yet another record high, and we see men and women cheering at the rostrum of the New York Stock Exchange.

This combination of stories tells us exactly what’s wrong here in the U.S. of A. The nation is not fighting the war on terrorism. The nation is partying hearty and living it up — at least the high end of the nation, money wise.

The word “sacrifice” never even comes up. The grunts and jarhead Marines who don’t get a hot meal for days on end, and who sleep in their vehicles, and never get a night without being mortared or sniped at — they’re fighting the war. The women whose husbands come home in a box (or not at all), the kids who will never see mom or dad again, the parents who invested a lifetime in bringing up their kids right — they’re fighting the war.Our enemy is united against us. If we keep acting as if we can win this war just by sending over the other guy’s son or daughter, while we pay attention to our tax cuts and the stock market, we’re on a long, disastrous downhill slide.

Instead of all of that cheering on Wall Street for the already rich getting richer, let’s see some solidarity with the guys whose blood and lives defend our economic interests around the world, safeguard the oil supply, maintain Pax Americana… to at least some extent.

The military builds the wall Wall Street and the whole economy play games behind. Let’s start thinking about a draft where the children of the investment bankers might even have to go fight. This might concentrate our thinking about the war considerably and might make us a bit more cautious next time.

Right now, the frantic making of money here at home while the other guy’s kid gets his head blown off in Ramadi is not a pretty picture, or a winning picture.

Or, alternatively, we could just bring them all home.

I have mixed feelings about a draft. It’s probably the only way we would even have a chance of stabilizing Iraq, but it would be political suicide, it would take months or years before the draftees would be ready to start rotating in, and it’s a helluva price to pay for something that would probably have considerably less than a 1% chance of working.

I simply do not like the draft as a modern-day press gang, forcing people to fight in a war they don’t believe in. However, I also think that if we authorized a fair (i.e., scrupulously free of loopholes that would favor the children of the rich and powerful) draft to be used in times of war (and not just officially declared war, since we apparently don’t do that any more), it would be extremely valuable as a deterrent.

Unfortunately, the rich and powerful (who make up pretty much our entire government) would never allow a draft that their own kids couldn’t get out of, and the draft would just offer them a great big pool of Other People’s Kids to go to war with.

On the other hand, while their kids might survive the war, their jobs would not.

(h/t reader Bill for the Ben Stein piece)

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Iraq,Media,Republicans,War

2 Comments

  • 1. elmo  |  May 4th, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Unfortunately, the rich and powerful (who make up pretty much our entire government) would never allow a draft that their own kids couldnt get out of, and the draft would just offer them a great big pool of Other Peoples Kids to go to war with.

    I understand your concerns, so, lets write the law so the draft takes primarily from the richest among us first. This would end the undeclared war bullshit fast.

  • 2. Eli  |  May 4th, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Works for me. If we weighted the draft lottery by income/family net worth, we’d never go to war again.


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