Monday, July 05, 2004

A Draft for Some
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Whose lives, whose fortunes, whose sacred honor are now on the line for our country?

Our Founders were unequivocal. They didn't count on others to take the risks for them. They didn't call for sacrifice from all except their favored constituencies. The Founders came in large part from privileged backgrounds and were willing to lose it all.

It is thus disconcerting that a country that is unwilling to impose conscription is in effect imposing a draft on that small minority of citizens who were good enough to volunteer to serve our nation in the first place.
The possibility of getting caught up in one of those stop-loss orders -- where tours of duty are extended -- is written into the fine print when volunteers enlist, so they are not illegal. But in the current circumstances, they are outrageous. Back home, those being held on duty have neighbors and friends who never thought to serve and could thus enjoy a lovely July Fourth weekend at the beach or in the mountains with their families. But God help those already serving.

Volunteers are told suddenly that they are not free to go after their period of duty is up. They are in this position because our political leaders ignored the counsel of military leaders who knew the occupation of Iraq would require more troops than the politicians were willing to commit. When they were selling the war, those politicians did not want to admit how hard things might get. Nor were they willing to be candid about how their expansive foreign policy requires more troops than the administration is willing to pay for.

God forbid that Americans earning, say, more than $1 million a year be asked to pony up a little more in taxes to support a larger military at a time when, we are told over and over, the country is in the middle of a war on terrorism. Millionaires can't be asked to sacrifice even a little bit. No, they deserve to have their taxes cut while others fight and die. And anyone who speaks up in opposition to this injustice risks being called unpatriotic by those who give up absolutely nothing themselves. Patriotism is defined as a solicitude for tidy incomes, a belief in anything Rush Limbaugh says on the radio and a demand that those in charge of the country never be held accountable for their mistakes.
If our current leaders are unwilling to ask themselves and other privileged Americans to risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, they at least owe us some candor about the costs of their grand enterprises and greater justice in how those burdens are apportioned.
When saw the title of Mr. Dionne's article, I thought we were of one mind. Which,as it turned out, we were -just not in the way I had been thinking. Since what was evident from the start to many (that Iraq and Saddam posed no threat, immediate, imminent, grave or otherwise to the U.S.) finally became apparent to several who voted in favor of BushCo crusade, I think steps should be taken to ensure that in the future a thorough examination of 'cause' is performed prior to our young pledging their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. I propose that a draft be initiated for each and every such adventure with the lowest lottery numbers reserved for the progeny of those involved in making the determination of whether or not to commit our troops. Further, that if such a situation exists as it does now with one party holding Congress, as well as the courts, that we begin with their offspring. Perhaps that would give them pause. If not, at least we'd spread the sacrifice.


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