War is serious business, a machine that produces amputees, people
without faces, people with half their brains destroyed, and
corpses so macerated one needs metal dog tags to identify who
that was now lying in pieces on the ground at your feet.
It's time to understand the reality that America should never be
engaged in a war without the full understanding and cooperation
of all Americans -- all socioeconomic classes, all groups.
The only way to ensure such cooperation in a war is a lottery
draft that inducts combatants as needed from all classes --
including the class of legislators and government officials who
promoted the war in the first place. There's really no other way
to ensure that people in power do not use the children of other
people as mere cannon fodder to further their own purposes.
Our leaders have been telling us for years now that we're in a
war to save Western civilization. They now tell us the war in
Iraq is part of the greater war, the "War on Terror." And yet the
sons and daughters of these same leaders continue their parties,
their education, their privileged lives, while the sons and
daughters of ordinary Americans are overseas in a foreign land
getting their bodies chopped up in the meat-grinder of a nasty
Mitt Romney says his sons are not fighting in Iraq because
they're contributing to the war effort by helping him get elected
president. When pressed, he mumbles that we have a "volunteer"
army, so his sons don't need to serve.
Maybe Mitt Romney is too dense to understand that's precisely the
problem: history shows than an American volunteer army will
always be an army without full participation across the
socioeconomic board. In this country, such an army always
consists predominantly of lower middle class and poverty class
kids, never an equal spread of risk.
It's not fair. It's hypocrisy. It's shameful to tell the American
people this "War on Terror" is a war to save Western civilization
while your own children continue their safe lives.
If this war in Iraq is so serious, every American should
participate equally in its hazards.
But of course the war-mongers are not calling for a draft,
because then the American people will be forced to sit up and
take stock of whether they really want their children to go to
Iraq to get their faces blown off. And of course if there's a
draft, the children of the war-mongers might get drafted. Heaven
A draft to fight a just war will not ruin America. And if a war
is not just, there should be no war at all.
During the Korean War, I was drafted into the U.S. Army after I
finished college. I was lucky enough to come home alive and in
one piece and continue my ordinary life. We fought the Korean War
to contain expansionist Communism. The war lasted only a few
years and then it stopped. I thought it was a just war and I've
never regretted my service. There's no reason for anyone to fear
a draft -- unless you're afraid a draft will turn the American
people against a political policy that you know is self-serving and not in the interests of all Americans -- or unless you're
afraid your own children will face combat, or even afraid of
yourself in combat.
If we're afraid of war, let's not fight wars. And if we think we
need to fight a war, let's spread the risk evenly across our
When Dick Cheney was asked why he didn't serve in the Viet Nam
War, he said he had "other priorities."
What priorities were greater than serving his country in a just
war? And if the Viet Nam War was not just, why wasn't he out
there with the others protesting the war?
What priorities are greater for Mitt Romney's sons than serving
in a just war? And if the war in Iraq is not just, why doesn't he
call to end it now?
During the next few weeks, the generals will fly in to tell us
about the war in Iraq. The problem is generals are professional
warriors who achieve more medals and status in wartime than in
peacetime, and apparently too few of them understand that for
this country their mission is not to fight war but to prevent it.
Their bleat that they just follow orders is ridiculous. If a war
is unjust, generals should feel obligated to refuse to wage such
a war. And if they think this war is just, why aren't the
generals in Iraq calling for a draft?
Above all, a continuing unjust war may kill us as a civilized
people. Here are the words of Dave Grossman, a retired Lieutenant
Colonel and former Army Ranger and paratrooper:
"We cannot help but come away with an image of war as one of the
most horrifying and traumatic acts a human being can participate
in. War is an environment that will psychologically debilitate 98
percent of all who participate in it for any length of time. And
the 2 percent who are not driven insane by war appear to have
already been insane -- aggressive psychopaths -- before coming to
It's an obscene injustice for the likes of George Bush, Dick
Cheney, the rest of the gang in the White House, William Kristol,
Richard Perle, Mitt Romney and the other Republican candidate
mental dwarfs, Fox News, and all the other carnival barkers to
keep telling us we need this war when it's obvious they're
willing to sacrifice someone else's children but not their own.
Enough! If this war is to continue, we must institute a draft as
soon as possible.