Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

War is Too Easy for Most Americans

What better way to wrap up this wild and crazy decade than to dredge up this explosive polarizing subject that basically defines the Aughts (or the Oh Ohs, Uh Ohs, whatever you want to call them).

This column by Bob Herbert brings up the issue that’s surely caused more online shouting matches than any other subject. He reiterates what’s been said jillions of times already: Our Iraqistan Quagmire™ is having absolutely no effect on the vast vast majority of Americans. Because of this, it’s much too easy for millions of sheltered Americans to sit all snuggled up in their living rooms and blither endlessly about “We need to get in there and fight!” “Failure is not an option!” Etc.

Bob Herbert’s column is low key and politely worded, so I won’t go into one of my rants about trustfunded safety-netted chickenhawk fucks who’d probably shit their pants if somebody even glared at them, but these same dickwads are perfectly happy to — oops, I did it again.

His column starts with:

“I spoke recently with a student at Columbia who was enthusiastic about the escalation of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He argued that a full-blown counterinsurgency effort, which would likely take many years and cost many lives, was the only way to truly win the war. He was a very bright young man: thoughtful and eager and polite. I asked him if he had any plans to join the military and help make this grand mission a success. He said no.”

Multiply the above-mentioned F#$%!#%$&! by a few million — or tens of millions — and you have our predicament. America is willing to fight those commie terrorist Muslims to the last drop of somebody else’s blood.

For the future, the obvious answer is no more elective “pre-emptive” invasions. But meanwhile, tens of millions of Americans think it’s just hunky dory to have 1% of the population doing all the fighting, dying, and coming home disabled.

Military personnel and their families are suffering more and more while the rest of the country goes its merry way. Herbert also says:

“The reason it is so easy for the U.S. to declare wars, and to continue fighting year after year after year, is because so few Americans feel the actual pain of those wars. We’ve been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan longer than we fought in World Wars I and II combined. If voters had to choose right now between instituting a draft or exiting Afghanistan and Iraq, the troops would be out of those two countries in a heartbeat.”

So — bring back the draft? Or maybe establish some sort of mandatory service that wouldn’t have to involve combat. At the very least, we need a huge gargantuan agonizing excruciating surtax to pay for any future invasions. And this tax would be established and collected BEFORE the first soldier leaves American soil. That’s sort of the opposite approach from a certain unnamed dimwitted president who gave trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans while simultaneously spending trillions of dollars to topple a certain dictator, like his daddy didn’t, so his mommy would smile and glow and beckon him back into her bed. But I digress…

Herbert’s column ends with:

“What we are doing is indefensible and will ultimately exact a fearful price, and there will be absolutely no way for the U.S. to avoid paying it.”

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25 Comments:

Blogger Holte Ender said...

With decent paying jobs and the chance of further education diminishing for many young people, the US Military will look like an attractive option, as it has proven to be for Green Card holders, who have been promised citizenship in return for military service. This tack started in 2003 and at one time soon after, there were 40,000 non-citizens in the US Military.

Only the men and women who are serving, and their families and friends, experience the pain and longing and sadly, sometimes heartbreak. I agree, a draft would end this crap in a heartbeat.

December 30, 2009 at 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

At one time, I would have argued with this.

No more. And I speak as a man with 2 sons who would be eligible.

December 30, 2009 at 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

A draft would definitely take the wind out of the war-hawks sails quickly, that's for sure. Fighting wars, though, has always been for the poor in this country, so I'm sure that any draft would have a "pay out" loophole, where the haves would be able to pay to keep their own kids out of harms way. Hell, they were doing that during the Civil War.

December 31, 2009 at 5:39 AM  
Blogger Miss Kitty said...

Very well said, Tom. A draft would end the chickenhawk stuff very quickly.

Happy New Year to you & your loved ones.

December 31, 2009 at 6:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Draft used to be the great equalizer in the country. Just about everyman served and shared a common bond and knew they have served their country. Obscure groups all served together and learned to work together (except during Segregation). Even in Politics – the Hawks weren’t as Hawkish back then – most of them had either served and/or had Sons in the Military as well. During Desert Storm it was revealed that out of all of Congress only two had children serving during that and both were Democrats. Another Study revealed those who identified as Hawks were less likely to have served then those who were portrayed as Doves (yellow liberals you get the idea). I remember Conservatives screaming over Liberal Congressman Ron Dellums becoming Chair of the Armed Forces Committee – they thought it was the end of the Military. They also forget to note that as a former Marine, he was the first Armed Forces Chairperson that actually served.

Colin Powell was asked about Bill Clinton being a draftdodger and he replied. “It really disturbs me that I have had to work under men who were of draft age, never served and yet are now making the decisions about Military Action”

Vietnam ruined the draft by making sure only the poor, rural, and of color went. If was after the war that I found out where I was in the Bay Area was mostly a protected zone, which explains why so few of my friends went.

This fact gave rise to the modern batch of Conservatives as so many of my friends turned Conservative ONCE Vietnam was over and they wouldn’t be drafted. Turns out they were only in it for themselves. They faked, lied, protested, got lawyers, wore bras and lipstick – did everything they could to get out of it, while upset the Government would lie to them. Now they support these wars, they call everybody who won’t go irresponsible (and Clinton a draft dodger). They believe that Government is the problem (sound familiar) yet now refuse to believe the Government would lie (oh boy).

What’s worse they are running things and manage to get elected over people who have served. They take out true solders like Max Clelland and John Kerry. Like Powell implied that being right wing is a Military Credential. They have a point, they do believe they are in a war (with Liberals, Gays, People of Color etc.,) and they do follow orders in almost a frightening manner and march in precisionary unison to the same drummer.

I would agree to the draft if I wasn’t sure it would be the same class separator as Vietnam.

Happy New Year

Erik

December 31, 2009 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Holte: If the economy improves, it'll be a nightmare for recruiters.

JR: I don't know if I'm ready yet to reinstate the draft. But at the very least, some sort of mandatory 2-year service that doesn't have to include the military. And there would be absolutely no exemptions or deferments.

Bee: I'm old enough to remember the draft. Things got very ugly. I enlisted in the Navy in 1969; I'll never know whether I would've enlisted or not if there hadn't been a draft. If they reinstate it they'll need to close all possible loopholes and deferments, so that CEOs' sons will have to fight in the wars that benefit their fathers.

Miss Kitty: Thanks. Happy New Year to you too and to your loved ones.

You're right, a draft would shut those chickenhawks up in a hurry.

Erik: The draft certainly brought all these different races and socioeconomic groups together. I think that would be the biggest benefit of having some sort of mandatory universal service that doesn't have to include combat.

When I was in the Navy, whenever somebody brought up the subject of abolishing the draft, some lifer would chime in with "If somebody can't give 2 years of service to his country, he should get the fuck out!" Now, all these years later, their conservative counterparts probably think any kind of mandatory service would be "comminism!"

It's funny looking back on all the ways people tried to get out of the draft. One of my favorite '60s moves (came out in 1970) was Getting Straight with Elliot Gould and Candace Bergen. There was one guy in the movie who kept trying all these gimmicks to avoid the draft. He became a priest, he wore a dress and lipstick and talked with a lisp; nothing worked.

And somebody tattooed "Fuck You" on the edge of his hand so that any officer he saluted would see it. (Presumably an urban legend.)

December 31, 2009 at 2:37 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Tom, a truly universal draft is probably the best way to spread the burden more evenly and fairly. Alternative forms of service for those who are truly conscientious objectors, constrained by their religion, etc., might be OK, but not for the able bodied and sound of mind who just have other priorities.

On one hand, the fact a president would be committing everyone's sons and daughters to war, those of the wealthy and well-connected along with those of average Joes and Janes, might cause a president to be more cautious about going to war. Alas, the fact a president would have a much larger standing military at any given time, with ready access to lots of additional draftees, could serve to encourage some presidents to be all the more adventurous.

A pre-emptive tax just wouldn't be workable. A law calling for a war tax to kick in automatically a certain number of months after troops are sent off to fight might serve the same purpose, though.

Holte wrote: "With decent paying jobs and the chance of further education diminishing for many young people, the US Military will look like an attractive option, as it has proven to be for Green Card holders . . ."

The military has been attracting increasingly large numbers of young men and women seeking better opportunities than are open to them in civilian life for the past 25 years, at least. This has intensified with our economy in the tank, but it's not a new wrinkle.

December 31, 2009 at 4:28 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Erik, a tip of the cap for an excellent comment.

Half my teachers in junior high and high school were WW II veterans. They had a savvy and bearing about them that commanded respect and cooperation. It's not that they were all stern disciplinarians or anything like that. It was more a case of them knowing, and us students knowing almost instinctively, that they were serious people there to do an important job, and any high school kid unwilling to go along with that was going to learn the difference between men and snot-nose kids in one hell of a hurry. As you might expect, one or two — there's always one or two — asked for that lesson and learned it the hard way. I think the rest of us benefited greatly from being taught by them.

I think veterans who had measured up to the harsh test of war added greatly to American society and to our economy in many ways, some of them subtle, for many years. Even those who never saw combat learned a lot about life, about the things that really matter, plus a good measure of self discipline for having served. When the draft ended we lost a good bit of that. I think ending the draft helped create a society of people all too open to the notion "It's each man for himself, devil take the hindmost." And of course, that fits so well with conservatives' appeal to greed and selfishness.

December 31, 2009 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: I'm in between about mandatory military service. It would have to be completely without exceptions or deferments of any kind (other than physical disability). Or maybe mandatory service that can include nonmilitary assignments, but with a built-in trigger to impose a military draft in case of war or emergency.

December 31, 2009 at 5:35 PM  
Blogger Miss Kitty said...

A quick additinal comment: my longtime boyfriend, who is a retired Army colonel and Vietnam veteran, is of the opinion that a draft might do more harm than good--because of how (as Erik & others observe) it can be a class separator. His other point is that he commanded soldiers in Vietnam who didn't want to be there, and therefore didn't care what happened to their comrades, so The Colonel says all-volunteer is the best. I haven't yet asked him about a WW2-type draft (all-encompassing, everybody gets called & goes, etc.), which I think would be MUCh more fair than the current system we have of asking 1% of our countrymen to fight/kill/die for the other 99%. But I also won't hold my breath waiting on that to happen.

Funny, but people are always amazed when I tell them of my draft support. "That's unusual for a lib-rul!" they say. Wonder why they think that? Maybe because we hear so few right-leaning pundits calling for the equalizer of a nationwide WW2-style draft?

Where's "Lisa" to freak out over this post and start "her" very own Bonfire of the Non-Sequiturs? :-P

January 1, 2010 at 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

"America is willing to fight those commie terrorist Muslims to the last drop of somebody else’s blood."

And these same pansies probably shit themselves when they get a paper cut or other like boo-boo.

Our citizenry has such a glossy, unrealistic, fucked-up outlook on war. They've been hopelessly desensitized by restricted media coverage of the wars; faux-patriotism; Right wing fear-mongering; and our media’s despicable, inexcusable use of euphemisms for death, dismemberment, and maiming.

Happy new year motherfuckers - Now put your money where your big, fat mouths are and sign the fuck up. I did. Tom did. So can you.

Hope your holidays have been grand, Tom.

January 1, 2010 at 2:18 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Miss Kitty wrote: "His other point is that he commanded soldiers in Vietnam who didn't want to be there, and therefore didn't care what happened to their comrades, so The Colonel says all-volunteer is the best."

Things got dysfunctional all around in the latter years of the Vietnam War. That conflict became extremely unpopular at home and among a sizable number of service people from late 1968 on. But the war was dragged out for another five or six years, which created a toxic situation. It was a worst-case scenario.

What it reveals is not that a draft is always a bad thing that will inevitably undermine esprit de corps. It shows that presidents must be more careful about committing troops to war in the first place. Presidents must be prepared to put a stop to wars when it's become clear they're unwinnable and/or unacceptable to the people.

Saying, "I'm not going to be the first president to preside over a defeat in war," or something similar is the worst thing a president can do.

There was never a problem recruiting troops in World War II. The problem was catching 16- and 17-year-olds, and older guys with disqualifying conditions, when they were trying to get in. That was a just and popular war.

The Vietnam War was, and Iraq occupation is, quite the opposite, with Afghanistan somewhere in between.

January 1, 2010 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Miss Kitty: Yup, that's the trouble with a draft; it's a class separator. Mandatory service that doesn't require military combat, on the other hand, would bring all races and socioeconomic groups together.

In any case I don't think either one has a chance of becoming law.

Carlos: Good point. War coverage is so sanitized, everyone can just tune it out. I first noticed that in the 1991 war with Iraq. Every time I turned on the TV news, it looked like a Fourth of July celebration in Baghdad, with totally meaningless announcements that said nothing. I guess they learned their "lesson" from the Vietnam War when every gory detail came into America's living rooms.

And happy holidays to you too Carlos.

January 1, 2010 at 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Kvatch said...

Hey Tom...totally off topic, but I just wanted to pop in and wish you and yours,
"Feliz Año Nuevo!"

January 2, 2010 at 4:32 AM  
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January 2, 2010 at 4:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Group,

How do you think women would figure into a draft this time?

Erik

January 2, 2010 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

I'm for drafting the military to repair our infrastructure, rebuild communities, plant trees, patrol and maintain national parks, and, if needed, protect our borders from invasion.

What? Not enough explosions and blood? How un-American.

January 2, 2010 at 1:09 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

How about not invading any more foreign countries and starting illegal wars. I think that would be a good solution. Instead use our troops to provide "homeland" security, where it is needed most.

January 2, 2010 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Suzan said...

I'm with you on that mandatory service, Tom.

I told my business class in 2002 that if they weren't willing to sign up and fight the wars, they had no business being so gung-ho over killing al-qaedas.

I've always thought that everyone owes some kind of service to this country. I would have military service being one of the lesser choices normally, but in light of these warlike times, I think they should serve just like those drafted in Vietnam did.

That would end the madness quickly.

Thanks for your reporting.

May I blogroll you?

S

January 2, 2010 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Kvatch: Thank you, and Feliz Año Nuevo to you too.

Nivetha: Thanks for stopping by.

Erik: Interesting question. Since I'm in favor of mandatory service that wouldn't have to include combat, this mandatory service would include men and women equally. I don't think a military draft would ever have a chance of passing; drafting women would be even more impossible.

Dave: Sorry, I want blood and guts, damn it :)

You're right, repairing the infrastructure would be a much better use for the military than killing Iraqis and Afghanis.

Kate: That would work for me. No more invasions or "pre-emptive" attacks. Maybe then we'd have the manpower to catch terrorists who bring explosives onto planes.

Suzan: You're right, a draft would sure end the warmongering in a hurry. I'd be honored to be added to your blogroll. I'll link to your site as well.

January 2, 2010 at 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

January 3, 2010 at 5:28 AM  
Anonymous Chris Radulich said...

not only someone else's blood but, also the last dime of someone else's money.

January 3, 2010 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Chris: Right you are, both of those things. Long time no see, after the demise of "Bring It On!"

January 4, 2010 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger Distributorcap said...

tom

first happy new year a week late

second i love bob herbert - we need more bob herberts and less charles krauthammers.

third - start a draft and watch things change overnight. the state of this nation is pitiful - and sadly in the one year he has been in office - obama has done a few things, but has not changed the state of the nation - it has gotten worse.

January 9, 2010 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Distributorcap: Thanks, and Happy New Year to you too.

Yes, definitely more Bob Herberts and fewer Charles Krauthammers. I still don't know what to think about bringing back the draft, but it sure would snap millions of people out of their complacency.

January 9, 2010 at 11:37 AM  

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