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  • Lance Mannion
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Kevin Wolf

Good for you (and good for us), Lance, that you ask the tough questions.

I'm all for an across the board draft in times of war - real war, like we get invaded - and I think most people would agree and sign up to help in whatever capacity they can.

When we aren't at (real) war, we should have no standing army and a helluva lot less bombs, Pentagon bureacracy, defense contractors, no bid contracts, etc, etc - the military-industrial complex we were warned about but which is here and out of control. (And costs far more than it should for the help it actually gives to our unarmored troops.)

The disconnect today: Those who can afford not to serve don't because we engage is misguided military adventures - not wars. Bush is not a wartime President - not with 50% or more now opposed to what he's trying to do. Not to say that our troops aren't facing death - but I wonder if this can truly be called "war."

BTW, love the list of "truisms."

mac macgillicuddy

"7. It's hip to be square."

I still subscribe to this and am convinced it's true.

Meanwhile, regarding the draft -- I'm not saying I'm for it, but -- if there were a draft, with no deferrments for ANYBODY, similar to the drafts they hold in other countries, we would, I am certain, get in a whole lot less (fewer) military misadventures.


You might have added one of those insta-polls to this post, with the questions "have you served in the military?" and "do you count among your friends people who have served?"

I can answer yes to both.

I agree that there is an (I think) unhealthy separation between the military and the civilian population in this country, even in places where military work (like Portsmouth Naval Shipyard) is done. To many in places like Portsmouth the military equals jobs for the community, but I wonder how many active-duty personnel the average machinist there ever sees.

Exiled in NJ

US52 808404, Sept 66-68 and never left Ft Jaxson SC. To be educated and drafted meant you had buzzard's luck, knew no one with an 'in' with the Reserves or Guard, and weren't familiar with I87, the road to Montreal. If we ever go down that path again, a better way must be found.

The rubric went 'all Uncle Sam wants is two years of your time.' Volunteers [RA was the prefix to their serial number] were thought to be crazy. Sam stuck a gun in their back and asked for two, so to make sure he did not get violent, these guys gave him three years.

We'd gather round the television every Sunday night and watch Tom & Dickie Smothers and a bunch of other anarchists say all sorts of anti-authoritarian things, and cheer them on and then go out the next day and bitch at the Reserves on 6-months active duty, positively hating them for their term was too short to be levied to Nam. Next on the hatred list was the Army, LBJ, MacNamara and their fellow honchoes. In the Number One slot for contempt were the Lifers, the effing lifers. Like H.G Wells in France, many of us feared to drive on base lest the temptation to run one over seized us.

Ask anyone who drafted in that period what the phrase 'FTA' meant. Graffiti would pop up on walls, to be erased by lifers leading trainees that same day, but it would be back.

As I said, you don't want to go down that path, but had our fearless TANG officer asked for a draft after 9-11 in order to find bin Laden, I think it would have been a splendid idea, but would have been corrupted when the adventure turned to Iraq.

The Heretik

If Meryl Streep had been in Lost in Translation, maybe the big thing that that movie bit would have been less big, but with very studied accent.

It is mourning in America. The next generation will get around to being hip to being square. When That's hot is not kewl.

Shakespeare's Sister

Romney was asked if he was encouraging his own sons to join the military and go fight. Apparently, he found the question in poor taste.

For the record, I don't think the question is in poor taste, but I think it's kind of stupid. War-supporters' kids aren't necessarily war-supporters themselves, and for those of us who argue that Cindy Sheehan has a right to do what she's doing even if (a big if) her son wouldn't have wanted her to, it's hypocritical to suggest that conservative parents and their children are somehow not equally autonomous. (And frankly, I don't give a rat's patoot if the Bush twins party until their heads fall off; I'm more concerned about the partying their dad did when it was his turn to serve.)

You're totally spot-on, though, that Dems need to get asked tough questions, too. Perhaps a better question for Hillary would be: "Senator Clinton, is your continued refusal to firmly condemn the current administration for involving the nation in a war of choice based on manipulated intelligence an indication that you yourself will be just as likely to misuse our military and mislead the American people?"

Sure it doesn't have quite the zing of "Will you encourage Chelsea to enlist?" but then again, I'd love the hear her try to answer it without either making herself look like an arse, or without defending the Bush administration. Good luck.


re: Iraq: Let's blame Tony Blair too. It's just so much fun!


I support a draft. Aside from a mechanism to provide troops (war or not), it is a focussing mechanism. It provides leveling. I am not going to write a treatise, but the prospect of military service was one of the ways an 18 year old came to grips with the future. It establishes equality (theoretically). It does not allow a president to blithely go to war. It puts grandchildren of Senators in the military, giving them a good reason to object to folly. As long as Rumsfeld and Bush have their private Army of the (is it non-..or unfortunate?) no one with power will have personal reasons to intercede.

Would Hilary Clinton have been so uncritical if Chelsea had been in the military or subject to it? I think not.

Anne Laurie

Heck, I think a mandatory 18 months or 2 years of "National Service" for all 17/18/19-year-olds would be an excellent thing! Now more than ever, too many kids of all incomes and political persuasions are growing up in hermetically sealed boxes... whether they're home-schooled suburban darlings (paging Rick Santorum!) or inner-city survivors. The 'advantaged' haven't been exposed to even the most elementary manual labor, like finding out where hot meals & clean laundry come from; the 'disadvantaged' have as little idea of what an 18-year-old might actually be able to achieve, given some basic assistance & a little careful planning. Throwing everyone together & making them all contribute one or another variety of labor, in return for basic support & college or other training assistance, would have all sorts of benefits for the teenagers as well as society as a whole. Set the stint for military service as one year instead of two, and military experience would be a whole lot more evenly spread across the socioeconomic ranges. And, yes, if ANYONE's kid were liable to end up on the wrong end of an IED, then EVERY politician would be a lot less ready to "experiment" with grand nation-building theories that put American soldiers in harm's way...

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