Who Hijacked Our Country

Friday, March 16, 2007

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.”

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Blogger Mile High Pixie said...

I also think there's a bit of media tameness in this, Tom. There seems to be a sense of "whut-evuh" from the media when lefties attempt to take the war to task. The media has found it easier to follow Laci Peterson and Anna Nicole Smith than to dig into the travesty of an unjust war and $7+ billion in lost rebuilding funds.

Combine this with scared-ass Democrats and, as you say, no draft, and there's not a peep about things that really matter.

My AP U.S. History teacher used to say with tongue planted in cheek, "Those who fail history are doomed to repeat it." But we already knew that Bush's favorite classes were lunch and PE.

March 16, 2007 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mile High Pixie: Yeah, I think it's a combination of no draft, lack of focus among the Democrats and a "media" that's more interested in Anna Nicole Smith than Iraqmire and a trillion dollar deficit.

I think your history teacher had it right; that quote seems even more accurate than the original one. And don't forget Study Hall; that was also one of Bush's favorite classes.

March 17, 2007 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

You're absolutely right, Tom. The NeoCons love the all-volunteer military because it's basically like hiring mercenaries but you can still use them for propaganda purposes.

March 17, 2007 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

J. Marquis: Since all the soldiers are "volunteers," war supporters can just wash their hands of any responsibility or any connection to the war. "They all volunteered," "they're professional soldiers, they knew what they were getting into."

March 17, 2007 at 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I tend to agree, being as there is no draft no one seems as concerned when there was. Plus the attitude in Vietnam changed when middle America (now called the red states) got involved and I don't see that to such a large degree. Not to mention we weren't threatened by terrorism in Vietnam as we "seem" to be in Iraq (of course in both cases, they just wanted to be left alone).

As a Democrat and against the war - I am hesitant to support a antiwar candidate because I still believe the issues are larger then that and if push came to shove, I think we can still clean up some sorely ignored problems at home while still fighting this "war"

My Suggestion would be for the Democrats outfox the Hawks and push for Better, Longer and More Efficient (including lifetime Psychiatric help) Veteran's care. Hardship pay and Counseling for their families, Bringing back the FULL GI bill our fathers (and grandfathers) enjoyed, and better pay for solders and making it tough to approve more money unless it insures all the troops are finally properly equipped before going into battle.

Not only can no one really argue with this, but it would embarrass the conservatives who always refuse to do these things themselves.

I may not sound like the anti war activist I am, but I believe I am being practical and I don't believe an anti war candidate can win.


March 17, 2007 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: That's true, the Democrats should get out in front on veterans'care. Increased GI Bill payments (since that was the original intention), higher pay for soldiers -- all the things you're talking about -- it'll be hard for conservatives to vote against these things while they're spouting "Support Our Troops!"

As far as anti-war candidates go, I'm still too burned out on the 2006 election campaigning and mudslinging to even think about '08 yet. I think every Democrat who "voted for the war before I voted against it" is vulnerable because they can be smeared as a flipflopper. A veteran who's against the Iraq war would have the most credibility -- Murtha, Clark. Jim Webb would be great but he just got elected to the Senate.

March 17, 2007 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

Politicians make no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:


Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:


April 18, 2007 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Rosecovered Glasses: Thanks for stopping by (this post is over a month old; I'm glad you found it).

I think you're right that "politicians make no difference." The older I get (I'm also a Vietnam veteran -- Navy, '69-'73) the more true this seems. New slogans, threats, promises, party platforms -- they come and go but the song remains the same. I agree that a systemic problem rather than a conspiracy is the root of our problems. I don't know if this will ever change or not. From several alternative/unauthorized history books I've read, this seems to be the case throughout our history (and that of most countries). It might be just a permanent condition that we can't change, but I still think we should all at least be aware of it.

Check out Lies My Teacher Told Me. If that doesn't crank your cynicism up into the red zone, nothing will.

April 18, 2007 at 11:43 PM  

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