Saturday, March 18, 2006

Should Defending Freedom be a Voluntary Burden?

Michael Friedman of Santa Ana, California is a self-labeled left-leaning-moderate, but in this letter he wrote to the editors of The Orange County Register I find myself in agreement with much of what he has to say. Our all volunteer military is the best military we have ever had. The men and women of WWII have been called the Greatest Generation and they may well have been. It's hard to say; there were so many in that generation willing to defend the nation after it was attacked and there was a draft.

Today, we have a professional military of volunteer each of whom are dedicated to their chosen task - warrior. Michael Friedman wonders if it is fair to the country that only the pro-war stance is represented. Because liberals tend not to volunteer, is it fair for liberals to criticize, claiming their sons and daughters are being sacrificed when, in fact, their sons and daughters are safe at home.

Letters to the editor for Saturday, March 18, 2006
The Orange County Register

U.S. is dodging the draft

We call them the sons and daughters of our country - the proud and brave who volunteer and enlist in our military and put their lives on the line for our freedom. And yet, I wonder how much is our society truly engaged in their plight?

I consider myself a moderate who leans a bit to the left. During the Vietnam War, it was the liberals who chanted, "End the draft!" It seemed like a great righteous cause. But let me be one of the first to admit that ending the draft was one of the greatest disservices liberal causes ever did to this country.

When the draft ended, we disengaged ourselves from our military. It's wrong to say that on the one hand we need a strong military and on the other not be willing to share in the burden. By disengaging ourselves, we've allowed our government to use our military in just about any way it pleases. Because they volunteered, they are expected to do what they are told without much social ramification. So if our military seems like a mercenary force to you, or if it appears to be fighting for big corporate profits, we liberals screwed ourselves into this mess.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., when asked about what he would tell a young person considering enlistment, he honestly said he wouldn't advise it. With the military having more and more difficulty getting recruits, the representative's opinion was labeled by some as unpatriotic.

I have two sons, 14 years old and 7. If either were of age right now, and were to ask me how I felt about joining the armed forces, I would advise them the same way. In fact, I would do everything I could to dissuade them from joining. On the other hand, if they were drafted, I would support them going into the military.

That may sound a bit strange. However, if we had a draft, the philosophical attitude of our society would be greatly different than it is right now. When we'd talk about "our sons and daughters," we wouldn't be kidding. The government would be a whole lot more careful in putting these precious children in harm's way unless society was largely in support of the cause.

Were we so blind to have missed out on one of the great lessons of the Vietnam War? I think we grew up. I can almost guarantee that we would not be in Iraq today if we had retained the draft. The worst nightmare for neo-conservatives who enthusiastically supported and created this conflict in Iraq would be a draft. While the polls continue to show weakening support for our presence there, society is still somewhat removed from the sacrifice.

The protection of our freedom shouldn't be a voluntary burden. How can anyone argue with that? And yet we're afraid to talk about it. It would be the kiss of death for a politician to even hint at bringing back the draft.

What is wrong with our young people serving some time for our country? It doesn't have to be all about carrying guns. It could involve social services or disaster relief, especially in a country that can't afford to turn its back on Mother Nature any longer. For a large host of reasons, our society needs the draft. And we need it now.

At present, I think a draft is neither necessary nor advisable. I do agree with Mr. Friedman that it is a subject which must be dicussed without partisan rancor and the specter of VietNam. Many countries, even those the liberals hold out as models, have compulsory military service with acceptable alternatives for consciencious objectors and those physically unfit for armed service. And we need to talk about it soon.

Defending freedom shouldn't be a choice, but the wars we fight should be. Liberty comes with many options and opting out is not one of them. There were many of the Greatest Generation who did not agree with the war effort. They took up the burden anyway for the good of the whole country. That is what made them great, not that they fought on multiple fronts and defeated multiple enemies. They were great because they sacrificed selfishness for the greater good in an emergency. They didn't run to hide in a neutral country, they stood their ground and did what was right. A draft may be the right thing for us to do again.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Don said...

I'm not sure that the all volunteer military is not already pretty representative of our nation. There are many sons and daughters of liberals who are proudly serving. We wouldn't want a little pissant coward like dcat's little steve to begin with. I think that Casey the son of Cindy Shehag is a good example.

Mike H. said...

We're together on that thought Don. When my brother and I were in during 'Nam, there were a lot of draftees that screwed things up worse than the enemy. Fragging was almost a weekly occurrence and classical mutiny was a common activity toward the end of the 'police action'. Sullen distain was another mark of many draftees at the end of the conflict and afterwards. Not a good thing.

I question his commitment to his principles if he wouldn't support freely entering the service, but would support being involuntarily dragged in. Surely he doesn't believe in slavery, does he? The draft is involuntary servitude ((slavery) albeit for a good cause), something that every good liberal is against, right? I have had it up to my eyeballs with people who masquerade as the opposite of what they believe, "Really, I was a republican until Bush got in the race, and then I was forced to change parties." What a lie.