---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 13:20:07 -0700
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Feel the Draft
Marc Cooper is an A-1 flaming a**hole, but on occasion he can say something
October 12 - 18, 2001
Feel the Draft
We need a universal military call-up to start the real debate on this war
by Marc Cooper
The war against Osama bin Laden has finally begun, and homebound Americans
have been issued their marching orders: Patriotically swarm the malls and
charge, charge, charge, sparing no expense in the twilight struggle for
positive corporate-earnings reports.
I have a different suggestion. Instead of piling into Neiman's to pick up
an extra Prada, now is the perfect moment for Americans to report to their
local Selective Service office.
Once there, get ready to be "injected, detected, infected, neglected and
selected," in the immortal phrasing of Arlo Guthrie. That's right. I want
to bring back the draft. Now. Today. By the close of business.
If we are actually spending $25 million per year to register our
18-year-olds for possible military service, when's a better time to start
suiting them up and shipping them off?
Some 94 percent of the American people say they support the current
military attacks on Afghanistan. Better than 60 percent claim they are
ready to support this campaign for years, if necessary. Who's supposed to
do all this fighting? An all-volunteer military seems faintly un-patriotic
at this juncture. It robs ordinary Americans of the chance to serve their
country. Or do you think someone else should do the fighting?
And that's the wonderfully clarifying nature of a draft. It keeps everyone
honest. By escalating the stakes, the draft calls the bluff on hawks and
doves alike. Those who argue for war must be ready to give their own
bodies. And those who want peace must be ready for jail or exile, if
necessary. No more cheap, empty theatrics by either side. Planting a flag
on your Lexus or walking in circles in front of the Federal Building just
won't cut it any longer. Under a draft, you either raise your right hand
and step across the line, or you face the consequences.
This time around, I propose we improve the system. There will be no student
deferments from military service. You want to finish UCLA and open your
dental practice in Brentwood? No problem, darling. We'll hold your place
until you get back from Kabul, or Baghdad. No more exemptions for rich
kids. As it is, combat troops in the U.S. volunteer Army are
disproportionately poor and non-white. During the Gulf War, blacks made up
30 percent of the front-line troops, but only 14 percent of the general
population. A congressional study found that in Beverly Hills, and in
similarly privileged communities, the recruitment rate is only about
one-fifth the national average. And some of those are probably the children
of live-in servants.
So, stow your Beemers and fire up your Humvees. Unless, that is, you think
that in time of national emergency the top wealthy 1 percent should get a
tax cut and get their wars fought by their maid's kids too.
The same goes for women. You've come a long way, baby, since 1969, and all
I have to say is pack up your gear, you're goin' away. Feminists were the
first to denounce the Taliban. Now, they'll have their chance to get even.
I write from both political conviction and personal experience. For three
years, in the late '60s, I actively and successfully resisted the draft
without ever securing a student deferment. I spent two summers working as a
volunteer "counselor," advising my peers how to similarly dodge the call-up
for Vietnam. But as I and millions of others resisted, our call was
clear: Stop the draft. Stop the war. I can't recall anyone demanding the
draft be ended but the war continued.
The draft became the ultimate, popular and democratic governor on the war
policies of the state. When a consensus among the American people prevailed
that the Vietnam War was a noble and honorable endeavor, the draft
functioned without a glitch. When that consensus collapsed, so did the
system of military call-up. And with American youth in rebellion, inside
and outside the armed forces, the butchery in Vietnam was called to a halt.
That's the precise mechanism of check and balance that's missing in the
current conflict. Like most other Americans, I was sickened by the mass
murder of 6,000 a monumental crime against humanity. I read of the anthrax
scare in Florida, and I cannot but shudder. Taking out bin Laden's network
and the religious fascists known as the Taliban are worthy and necessary
goals that I support. But no blank check should be handed Bush and
Rumsfeld. The just response desired by the American people, and demanded by
our own security, should not be used to herd us into any sort of open-ended
The Democrats and Congress have so far proved useless to audit and
scrutinize the initiatives pouring forth from the White House and the
Pentagon. In such cases, Congress always trails behind real popular
sentiment and acts only after excruciatingly long periods of wind-sniffing.
The only real guarantee the American people have is themselves. And the
draft is the only reliable barometer of public sentiment. If this is truly
a fight in the interests of the American people, then let the people fight.
And let them decide what level of sacrifice they are willing to make. Given
the opportunity to fight a just war, they will stream into service. And
when and if they sense that the fighting no longer makes sense, they will
not hesitate to shout, "Hell no, we won't go."
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