Iraq vs. Vietnam
This columnist is saying “A generation ago, Vietnam blew up politics as we knew it. Why isn’t that happening now?” Then he answers his own question by saying the Democrats haven’t offered any solutions yet. He says “Democrats haven’t fashioned a compelling (even to themselves) alternative to George W. Bush’s world view. Unless they do, they could lose in 2008.”
Regardless of whether that’s true, there's another reason Iraq hasn’t blown up in our faces. We don’t have a draft any more. At least technically we don’t. (Although, with the same “volunteers” being herded back to Iraq again and again and again, even after their doctors have declared them medically unfit for battle — but I digress…)
The Vietnam War had its share of chickenhawks —Cheney, Wolfowitz and all the rest of those pathetic armchair warriors at Project For A New American Century. But they had to work for it. They had to constantly make sure their draft status didn’t change to 1A. The most reliable way to keep from getting drafted was to stay in college — even if it meant getting Ph.D.s in twelve different subjects. At one time being married would keep people from being drafted, but that changed sometime during the Vietnam war. After they changed it, you could be drafted even if you were married with children. And the number of occupations that were “draft-safe” kept on shrinking.
So it was a constant struggle if you wanted to be a chickenhawk, and it made for some awkward contradictions. “We need to keep fighting over there and do whatever it takes to keep the Communists from taking over uh oh I just got a letter from my Draft Board, I have to go straighten this out right away. Oh God…”
Today’s chickenhawks, on the other hand, only have to do one thing to stay out of the military: Don’t enlist. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
A tiny percentage of America’s population — service members and their families — is gravely affected by the Iraqi war. It’s the center of their lives; it’s turning their lives upside down. Meanwhile, the other 99% (just guessing at the number) can just go on about their routines, totally unaffected by the war. They might argue about it, but they aren’t contributing anything to it and they aren’t inconvenienced by it.
And THAT is why Iraq hasn’t “blown up American politics.”