Saturday, April 01, 2006

I Have A (Bad) Dream

I have a bad dream today. That one day, this militaristic administration will realize the dire conditions in which they have placed our armed forces, and try to find a premise to re-institute the draft, just as they found one to invade Iraq. Because of Secretary Rumsfeld's complete misjudgment about the forces needed to control Iraq, along with our soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and around the world, our military is stretched like a taut rubber band. Ask any member of the cabinet or the Congress and they will say that there is absolutely no popular support for a draft. Yet, they don't rule it out. And with our armed forces missing their volunteer goals month after month because war doesn't seem like much of a career choice for someone who is merely trying to raise money for college, we simply need more soldiers. This means that any provocation against the United States, be it along the Iranian border, or another attempt to strike at a major American city, can be used by experienced propagandists to stir up patriotic fervor to, by God, raise an Army large enough to crush our enemies.

Please don't think I am being paranoid about a draft. After all, the Selective Service system was never disassembled after the draft was ended by Congress in 1973, and it is still the law for young men to register with Selective Service on their 18th birthday. Though representatives from both parties continue to repeat that proposing a draft would be the political kiss of death, reported that on an obscure federal web site devoted to the war on terror, the Bush administration quietly began a public campaign to restaff and restart the regional draft boards that men from the Vietnam era remember so well. The announcement read, "If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2000 Local and Appeal Boards throughout America would decide which young men...receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service." The only thing that has changed about a potential draft are the rules.

Neither President Shemp, Deadeye Dick Cheney, or Karl "The Konquerer" Rove, ever had to worry about the draft during the Vietnam War. Cheney, the king of deferments, merely stayed in college until it was over, and Rove was likewise disqualified. President Shemp, of course, was in favor of the war in Vietnam and allowed the military to train him as a jet fighter pilot. Only, that was sufficient. He didn't really want to fight or nothin'. Now we see that the National Guard and the Army Reserve are no longer safe havens from combat and if required to confront North Korea or Iran, we don't have the manpower to do it. Under current law, if the Congress and the President agree that military forces are needed in the defense of this country, the President's signature re-activates the draft. Federal law then requires the Selective Service to immediately set up a lottery and begin to send out induction notices. And you can forget about that college silliness. New law states that students who's lottery numbers are picked would only be permitted to finish their current semester and then it's "grab your toothbrush and get on the bus."

In addition, a proposal from Selective Service director Lewis Brodsky to senior Pentagon officials, just released under the Freedom of Information Act in 2004, suggests for the first time, that women should also register for the military draft and that young Americans regularly inform the government if they have acquired any "niche specialties" needed in the armed services. If you think you are too old for the draft, Brodsky also proposed extending the age of draft registrants from the present 25, to 34 years old. If the war in Iraq continues to be, in Rumsfeld's words, "a long hard slog", where will the new soldiers be coming from? Just this week, the Supreme Court ruled that any University that accepts government funds must allow military recruitment on campus. This riles former Vietnam era students who rallied to prevent military recruiters on campus when their only purpose was to find warm bodies for the meat grinder in Southeast Asia.

We have been told by leaders of both parties that it's not a matter of "if" but "when" there is another attempt at a terrorist attack on this country. This administration is filled with master manipulators, and it would take very little to appeal to the sort of patriotism we saw after 9/11 to raise the forces necessary to fight Bush's wars. My observation is that young people, especially college students today, are on the whole a patriotic group and would be inclined to serve if their country called. They should remember the words of Mark Twain that "Patriotism is being loyal to your country all of the time, but to the government only when they deserve it." I try to emphasize to my 20 year old step-son that it's important to differentiate between the nation and what it stands for, and a regime, only temporarily in power, that uses jingoism and patriotism to achieve its political agenda.

This is my bad dream and greatest fear; that this government will attempt to rob young people of their plans and futures in order to fight in a rich man's war. Already, this new conversation about a "War on Christianity" has Karl Rove's fingerprints all over it. This is a blatant attempt to create an emotional wedge issue in time for the 2006 mid-term elections. Banging the drums of war hysteria accomplishes the same purpose, and what better issues for the Republicans to run on than God and War? Already, congressional leaders have proposed bills to introduce some sort of mandatory "national service" for young people, be it in the military where they are needed, or some quasi-altruistic program based on Peace Corps ideals that they haven't thought up yet, but will be impossible to join because of the waiting lists. Here's the most frightening part. Should President Shemp sign legislature re-instituting a lottery draft, federal law requires that the first group of conscripts be processed and ready for boot camp within 193 days of the program's start.

I can't tell my step-son what to do. The best I can tell him is how the draft affected every aspect of my young life, and put strain and anxiety on me and my family who were frustrated at my inability to resolve this personal crisis by appealing to the Draft Board. And I was one of the lucky ones. I avoided killing or being killed in an unjust war of choice, begun by a lie. We don't need another memorial wall on the Mall in Washington. This latest rumbling about a draft must be opposed at all costs. And if my step-son should come to me for advice about what to do should he find himself in such a situation, I will tell him to do the honorable thing and go to jail.


Anonymous said...

Agreed...war is an unspeakable horror. My question is: how do we respond to an aggressor who would destroy us when negotiations and other attempts at a peaceful solution fail? Weakness in the face of aggression results in either annihilation or enslavement...ask the Native Americans. It has been said, tongue-in-cheek, that if Florida were invaded by an enemy, liberals would immediately begin 'negotiations' to save Georgia. I'm sure that this would be the attitude of many, but my question is, what is a viable response to tyranny other than a military response? I'm not playing devil's advocate, I really want to know. I am a pacifist by nature, but I have learned through life experience that the best response to a tyrannical bully is a baseball bat across the chops...retreating and hand-wringing only fires the bully up for more aggression. Somebody illuminate me...

Anonymous said...

Illumination from "ME". We are NOT being attacked. We are butting in to other peoples problems, where we have no business. The justification that Saddam was a threat is crap. North Korea is much more of a threat to us. Why do we not attack them and make them a "democracy" like South Korea???
The reason is that Bush thought that we could subdue IraQ easily and that his buddies could them plunder the country at will. It didn't work out.
Think about what we would do if England attacked us and tried to impose their government on us. Oh yeah, that happened and with predictible results. Apparently Viet Nam did not teach the right wing biz-pigs anything (I'm talking about Bush-Cheney-Rove and their "ilk".
Now that the Iraq war has failed and it has, the Bush administration is just not accepting responsibility yet. History will show that this administration is pure evil and worse than the Nixon Administration. History will show that Bush is a clown-puppet having his strings pulled. History will show that we need to mind our own fucking business and stop trying to force our own warped viewpoints on the rest of the world.

So what about the draft? I am teaching my kids the attitude that I had in Viet Nam. Simply, "HELL NO WE WON'T GO"!!

So man the barracades! Awake America and get rid of this right-wing filth that is staining our beautiful land. Bush, Cheney, Rove, YOUR HEADS WILL BE ON MY PIKE!!

Anonymous said...

Granted, we threw a rock in a hornet's nest when we attacked Iraq and the whole thing will probably be shown to be a royal scew-up. But, the question that I proposed in regard to militarism vs. pacifism was a general, philosophical one. At what point would a liberal, like Howard Deam, etc. propose to use armed force? It is a question that I would sincerely like to hear about. Maybe there is some sort of cosmic sense to radical pacifism. Maybe if we laid down and allowed ourselves to be over-run, some cosmic force of justice would become operative and end all future aggression...sort of the birth of a new consciousness that is awaiting such a radical response to aggression.I don't know. What say the sages out there? What is the alternative to militarism in the face of aggression?

Anonymous said...

Why do you think they're so anti-abortion?
Let the babies be born, don't take care of them, and what choice do they have other than the military?
Cannon Fodder.
The plot is way more sinister than anyone can imagine.

Anonymous said...

There is a sinister plot against mankind and it is a very ancient one. It never changes regardless of politics or culture. In the Bible, it is referred to as 'the mystery of evil'. Like Mick said, 'please allow me to introduce myself...'. It has nothing to do with Rep./Dem., conservative/ is a completely different reality. It is currently eating America (and the world) alive.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment that we should mind our own business and quit trying to impose our values on the world. For years we should have been developing alternative fuel sources so that we would not have to be dependent upon Arab oil, but as I'm sure everyone knows big business has prevented that. We need to spend more time and resources on defending our own borders and internal security and quit screwing with the rest of the world. Rather than invade Iraq, we should have merely done surgical strikes from the air to destroy terrorist strongholds along with some covert operations. At least this wouldn't involve a wholescale invasion and all of the death and expense of an all out war. You can't impose democracy on a society...that society must want democracy for itself. Bush's idea was ill conceived.

Cliff Friedman said...

Randy, as your main premise is draft = bad, I assume you are in favor of an all volunteer military. But you are also “riled” that recruiters are recruiting young men and women on campus. I would think a good anti-draft strategy would be to encourage the voluntary nature of military service, including, you know, volunteering and recruiting.

You note, negatively, that Cheney and Rove did not do military service and that Bush was “only” in the Air National Guard. The majority of the military was not deployed to Viet Nam. Many joined the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard, as well as all the Guard/Reserve components, to lessen their chance to see combat. Bill Clinton did no different than Cheney or Rove. Al Gore, privileged son of a senator, had a cushy reporter’s job in the Army. They also didn’t seem to “really want to fight or nothin.” When you avoided military duty at the height of the Vietnam War, you considered such avoidance honorable, perhaps even heroic. So if you are a Born Again Hippie, or a Democratic president, avoiding Vietnam War service was right. If you are a Republican, or 35 years later are a war supporter, it wasn't?

For those that don't know me, I am the family black sheep--a conservative, Texas Republican (although I may well be voting for a Jewish cowboy for governor come election time). As such, let me assure you no one wants a draft. No one. Not the military. Not Congress. Not the president. No one. And there are no rumblings about a draft either, except only by those that are saying they don’t want one. And no one is disagreeing with them.

The main reason that I am commenting is that I want to point out a factually incorrect assertion. You state that the armed forces are missing their volunteer goals month after month. I checked. For the 9 month period from June, 2005 through February, 2006, active duty recruiting for each of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force met or exceeded goals each month. For the same period, of the reserve/guard components, only the Air National Guard and Navy Reserve (interestingly, they probably have the least possibility of Iraq duty) were at less than 97%. For the 8 months from Oct, 2004 through May, 2005, the Army did miss its recruiting goals for the period. They were around 83%. The National Guard and Army Reserve for that period were slightly worse. I believe this was the only period in a very long time that recruiting goals were not met. That period ended about a year ago and occured while fighting a war that is not universally popular. There is another mitigating factor as well. Reenlistments are up, especially from those that were deployed to war zones. Fewer people leaving means fewer recruits are needed.
(The recruiting statistics were obtained from the Department of Defense:

So should we be concerned that a draft is even a remote possibility? No.

One final thought. You would tell your stepson to do the honorable thing and go to jail rather than be drafted. Over the last 3 years, we have lost some 800 men and women per year in Iraq, out of a deployed population of between 100,000 and 150,000 men and women. This translates to between 533 and 800 deaths per 100,000. I would estimate that in prison the chances of being killed, brutalized, raped, bought and sold as a sex slave, or conscripted into a prison gang are much greater than 1%. I would tell my step son, “go to war son, its safer.”

Lastly, one point on which we can all agree is that you neither need to be a hippie nor be born again to love your cousin.

Anonymous said...

Vote Kinky! I read recruiting standards have had to be lowered to meet numerical goals.

Pacifism has its uses and shortcomings. True self-defense is morally justified; and if it is apparent that an attack was staged and/or are being staged in another country, say, Afghanistan, and that country's government is unwilling or unable to stop those activities and bring the perps to justice, or is in fact complicit, a targeted armed response is also justified. I am beginning to think the emphasis even there should now be on devloping intelligence networks capable of spotting future training camps than in continued occupation, to give the miscreants a chance to surface.

Anonymous said...

This country's initial response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 was justified and supported by most of the world: we invaded Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, Al Qeada's stronghold.
Then, instead of capturing or killing Bin Laden and finishing the job of routing those responsible for the attacks, Bush diverts the nation's focus and resourses to the unilatteral invasion of an unrelated country, risking American power and prestige to advance a neo-con agenda because his "gut" told him to do it! He rolls the dice and squanders our storehouse of international goodwill, despite the warnings of potential disaster from most foreign policy experts, including his own Seretary of State!
The issue at hand is not a debate between pacifism and militarism; it's between reason and faith, wisdom and foolhardiness. With the "evangeli-cons" in power, policy-making and governance need not involve intellectual rigor or thoughtful deliberation; messages received from a "higher power" will suffice.
Faith cannot be substituted for reason, because reason is the only common denominator we have, and until we stop electing these "faith-based" fools to high office, the madness will continue. After all, someone said recently, 9/11 was a faith-based initiative.

Wildflower said...

Does anybody else out there feel like we need a cultural renaissance? The American scene is worse than it was in the late 50's.Maybe this is what happens when everyone quits doing psychedelics. What's the we wait for a new wave or create one?

Alan said...

I want to congratulate Cousin Friedman. Nice to see someone actually have some facts. Wish you were related to Kinky. There are alot of things wrong with this administration, but that is the case with all administrations. We still don't know if what we are doing in Iraq will work or not. If you think we are not in a war with Radical Islam than you refuse to see the real threat out there. All warfare in the world today involves Islam. The US is not involved in most of these. There were even some where Islam was in the right, i.e. Bosnia. What you have is a Religious group that wants to control ever aspect of life under it's rule. There is no tolerance for other thought. As much as some in this country want to say that is what is happening here, get real. Your Blog is the argument that this is not the case here. If things are so great in France, why the violent riots there. Why are people flocking to the US and not the other direction. The biggest threat to the US is the lack of political science knowledge among our citizens. Low voter turnout and lack of knowledge of who our politicians are is appalling. We are not just talking about the uneducated. Go onto a college campus and ask basic questions.

Anonymous said...

All civilizations go through the same basic stages...they rise (on the strength of the character of the pioneers), they crest, they decline, and then they crash (again, due to the character of the people). We are somewhere between decline and crash. It's going to be a real freak-out somewhere down the line...and it can't be stopped, just wait and see.The heart of the problem is related to the human spirit and not to politics, economics, or education. We wring our hands about whichever asshole politicians are in power...while 'Rome' burns.