by Ed Garvey
Only Way to Peace: Bring Back the Draft
Mon Nov 20, 2006 18:36

Only Way to Peace: Bring Back the Draft.
by Ed Garvey. How could it be that a majority of American people believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for ...


Published on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 by the Capital Times / Madison, Wisconsin
Only Way to Peace: Bring Back the Draft
by Ed Garvey

How could it be that a majority of American people believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks?

How could it be that a majority of those polled still believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when all the evidence shows there were none?

After the books by Paul O'Neill, John Dean, Bob Woodward, Richard Clarke and Kevin Phillips exposing this administration as the most dishonest and incompetent group to ever occupy the White House, how could President Bush be ahead of Sen. John Kerry in the polls when it comes to the question of handling terrorism?

Indeed, after we found out that Saudi Arabia was briefed on the war plans before Secretary of State Colin Powell, and that a deal was struck with the Saudis - we turn Saddam into "toast," you cut oil prices in October - could anyone seriously trust the Bush/Cheney team?

With 700 dead soldiers and thousands wounded, plus thousands of dead and wounded noncombatants - or as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld calls them, "collateral damage" - how can a majority of Americans trust Bush more than Kerry on anything?

The answer is that most Americans are not paying close attention because it doesn't directly affect them, their children or their grandchildren. In "You Back the Attack," Micah Ian Wright points out that in 1956, 400 of 750 Princeton graduates went on to serve in the military and last year three out of 1,000 Princeton grads signed up. I suspect the same is true at the universities of Wisconsin, Michigan, Chicago and at Harvard. With a volunteer army, we can fight a war or invade a country without bothering to get permission at home because those with influence are not affected.

The Bush advisers did not see action in Vietnam or the first Gulf War. Verbal combat at the Cato Institute would be as close as Paul Wolfowitz got to real action. Karl Rove avoided the draft.

Cheney, who according to Powell was "in a fever" to invade Iraq, did not serve during Vietnam. He has never seen young men die in combat. "No," he told the Washington Post, "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service." Disdain for those who did serve drips from his lips. He had "other priorities," as if the 58,000 men and women listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall did not!

Oh yes, there was USA Patriot John Ashcroft. He got a teaching deferment. And how about members of Congress who remain silent?

Our armed forces are not made up of a cross-section of our society. Those National Guard members aren't in on the upcoming Google stock offering. The death of an NFL player, Pat Tillman, brings that message home because he was someone of means and was therefore different. He was the only NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball or NBA player we know of who enlisted in the service after 9/11. Celebrities, athletes, actors and bankers don't have to fight. Nor do their kids.

Will the president attend Tillman's funeral? Will photos be permitted?

World War II and Korea were not like that. The wealthy and well-connected Kennedys fought, as did hundreds of athletes and hundreds of thousands of wealthy and middle-class sons and daughters. World War II and Korea, and even Vietnam, were "our" wars.

Our Army now is disproportionately black, Hispanic and poor white. It is not made up of children of privilege who worry more about their portfolios than a possible assault on Fallujah. This, or any other war, won't disrupt the well-off. Their families will not join with the families of our current troops at food pantries. And so they are not paying attention.

But Fallujah exposed something equally sinister. We have more than 20,000 "hired guns" working for us in Iraq. Mercenaries. The very word sends chills. Coalition administrator Paul Bremer is guarded in Iraq not by Marines but by mercenaries from a shadowy outfit in North Carolina. And these soldiers of fortune are paid up to $1,500 per day while our soldiers take in $16,000 per year.

What does it mean in our "war without end" if we take the next step and truly "outsource" our fighting? Will anyone care if 10 or 1,000 mercenaries are killed near Basra or Kabul or Caracas? I don't think so.

Why would our president refuse to permit photos of flag-draped coffins of our dead soldiers and refuse to attend even one funeral of one soldier killed in his war?

You know why. It would bring the war home. They want the middle class and the wealthy elites to think about something else, like the all-important NFL draft, the NBA playoffs or the start of the baseball season, while others fight and die.

The Bush formula is intriguing. Cut taxes, borrow the money to pay for the war, send the poor to fight, hire mercenaries. Make the invasion as comfortable as possible at home through November.

So, friends, there is but one way I know of to get the attention of the American people and stop the madness. It is called the draft. We need one and we need it now. No exceptions, no student deferments, no excuses. Married, single, gay or straight, male or female - everyone between ages 18 and 30 should be subject to the draft. Our sons and daughters should fight our wars or force the country to seek peace. It is that simple.

Would there have been an invasion of Iraq if we had had a draft in place? No way. Period.

Time to return to the public good. Time to assert that all of us, poor, middle class and rich, have a stake in our country's future. It is time for the draft because it is time for peace.

Ed Garvey, a Madison lawyer and former Democratic nominee for governor, is editor of the Web magazine.

Copyright 2003 The Capital Times




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