THE BLOG

America's War?

01/06/2008 03:25 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Before and after the omnibus war funding bill passed both houses of Congress, I expressed my frustration to many Democrats in Congress regarding their inevitable decision to back down again to Bush and his Republican allies. I did not ask them to cut off funding for the war. I only asked them not to succumb to Bush's veto threat -- that's all -- plain and simple. I didn't think it was a "tall order" being that Democrats threatened not to give Bush any war-funding if he did not accept a withdrawal date for our troops. Most Democrats replied to my request with the usual "we just don't have the votes" or "I can't cut off funding for the troops in harm's way." As if by standing up to Bush would somehow cause the troops to run out of food and bullets. My member of Congress sat down with me one-on-one for 40 minutes and listened to me vent. However, when it was over I left feeling just as unequipped to defend the Democrats' war funding votes as I did prior to the meeting. A couple weeks ago I received a letter from a Democratic Congressman advising me that this is "not George Bush's war" it is "America's War."

OK, fine. If that that is the case I will finally accept that we will be in Iraq at least until the next president is elected and takes office. But if the Congressman is right, and this is in fact America's War, does that mean that we will finally ask the American people as whole to share the sacrifice? Or will we simply just rely on volunteers to fight the war while politicians hide behind them for political cover?

I never advocated for a military draft because there are many people out there who don't agree with the war who would be forced against their will to go over and fight it. The Dick Cheneys of the world would get there 5 deferments, while the less fortunate young men and women of America would be pushed into the grinder.

Not give anyone a history lesson, but during World War II there was not a very high population of self-respecting males of military age who did not enlist for military service.

Even the women joined the war effort by working in the factories that produced the equipment necessary to fight the war. (Now women are giving their lives on the battlefield.)

Since I completed military service I have attended numerous town hall meetings, rallies, marches, and protests against the war in Iraq. I have been confronted entirely too often by pro-war counter-demonstrators who tell me to leave the country because they perceive me to be a traitor or a terrorist sympathizer. Eight out of ten times it is usually by people who have never been near the war in Iraq, but are more than capable of fighting over there -- and even though I fought the war they encourage and support they detest me because I have a difference of opinion.

If we have a military draft or a call to national service, I would bet everything I have that every single one of those cowards would be on my side of street calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq.

Now that it is finally been established that we have a bipartisan majority of Congress with a crystal clear intent to keep the U.S. military in Iraq, we need to come together as a nation and join the volunteers by putting our necks on the line as well.

(I can only assume that there is a bipartisan majority of Congress supporting a continuation of the war because of the number of blank checks they have written for it. Actions speak louder than words.)

It should start with President Bush abandoning his previous ideology that people should "go shopping" instead of serving their country -- our country. If that doesn't work Congress should immediately call Americans to action. I'm sure Congress could at least get this idea passed in the Senate, like they did with the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, that takes us a little closer into another war (with Iran). I'm sure a "non-binding sense of the Senate" calling on Americans to serve their country in some capacity should get the ball rolling. If that does not flood the Army and Marine Corps recruiting offices with volunteers to enlist my hope is that Congressman Rangel will reconsider his previous plan to initiate legislation for a military draft. Furthermore, I would expect that a new version of the military draft would not allow people to receive college deferments. It would ultimately be in the best interest of our country not to produce another generation of draft-dodgers, chicken-hawks, and war-mongers -- please see hyperlink.

If America, as a whole, is truly at war, we should all be sharing in the sacrifice -- because it appears to me right now that it is only our troops who are at war. If we as Americans are not willing to do our own individual share of the "grunt work," we should immediately end the war in Iraq, bring our troops home, and give that country back to it's people.

John Bruhns
Iraq Veteran