03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Fighting a War With Someone Else's Children

We Americans are no strangers to hypocrisy, but we're currently in a fix that's beginning to smell bad. It's true that the open society of the Western world is in jeopardy from people who want a closed society and are willing to have their children commit suicide to get it. It's also true that we pretend we can deal with this threat by casual self-serving attitudes about who should fight our wars.

Fighting any war without the public sacrifice of a universal draft is an unjust misery for military personnel and their families. Really, if war is necessary, if you want war, risk yourself or your children and grandchildren in combat. Otherwise your war is an exercise in hypocrisy.

The war-hawks on the Right never want their own children to fight the wars they drum up -- they want their wars fought by the children in other parts of town.

But the Right is at the moment not in the White House, and I'm uneasy about what's in the minds of the White House people. Will we really continue to fight what they tell us is a needed war without public sacrifice? It's not only hypocrisy, it's a serious political mistake that may ultimately cause Obama to be a one-term president. Without the Left, Obama's base is weak, and with a weak base he may be finished in 2012.

What this country needs is a test of will about the war in Afghanistan, and the proper test of will is a push by the White House and Congress to institute a universal draft by lottery. The draft can be small. Let's find out if the American people are willing to put at risk 50,000 of their children a year to go to war in Afghanistan. Universal, across the board, rich and poor alike, no deferments. If the answer is yes, then fine, we're in a popular war and we will do our best to win it. If the answer is no, then as a democracy we should forget about Afghanistan and suffer the consequences, if any at all.

Our politicians, of course, do not want a replay of Viet Nam, the war with a draft that had millions of our children in protest that they could see no reason to risk their lives in a far-away jungle fighting against people who were really no direct threat to America. It turned out those kids were right -- Viet Nam was a useless bust and everyone knows it.

The sad fact is that politicians tend to be short-sighted imbeciles, and at the moment many of us are unfortunately getting the idea that the current crowd of politicians in the White House is not much different from what we've had before -- a gang who think there's no difference between governing the country and running an election campaign. Many of us supported Obama with all our hearts -- but now our hearts are being broken into pieces by the reality of what politicians are all about.

We need a draft, public sacrifice in all quarters. All else is hypocrisy.