Monday, August 09, 2010

Bring back the draft?

Veteran/Author Matt Gallagher thinks so.
Nearly nine years after our war in Afghanistan kicked off, and more than seven years after Iraq was, uhh, liberated, a warrior caste entirely separate and distinct from the nation that produced it has evolved into being. The burden of many is being carried by very few. Soldiers deploy two, three, even four times, while combat zones become their definition of normality. Meanwhile ... American society does not comprehend. Let me reiterate that. They. Do. Not. Comprehend.

I do believe that most Americans care. They support the troops, in the classic "I don't know what to say to war vets or do for war vets" kind of way. When people shake my hand and thank me for serving, it does means a lot, and is appreciated. On a personal, micro level, that's often all anyone can do. If particularly connected, devoted, or understanding, a person works with soldier/veteran organizations and gives back in a practical, direct fashion. But that's not something many people do, for a variety of reasons. So the question raises itself - what can be done on a macro level?

In the initial months after my return from Iraq, I busted out my soapbox of self-righteousness, often blaming individuals for this disconnect between warrior and civilian. But as I've transitioned gradually back into the role of a citizen, I've come to
understand there's a grander failure to blame for the stated societal gap. People have their own lives, the economy sucks, and day-to-day life drains. As Plato once said, "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." And yet ... We have young men and women in hellholes around the globe fighting in our name, regardless of our politics and beliefs. We all own these wars, and are all responsible for them, whether we like it or not. Simply asking people to care and be engaged is not enough. They - and by they, I mean society in general - won't care unless they are engaged themselves, directly. It's depressing, but a reality, nonetheless. For a country steeped in the merits of representing all facets of the population, at least in theory, something clearly has gone awry in terms of who's fighting the wars. There is a class element to all this, though it's not as pronounced or as clear as it was during Vietnam. But it's still there, and why nearly every one of my soldiers came from the south or the midwest.

Of course if this were to happen Canada would be overrun with College and Young Republicans.



At 10 August, 2010 08:32, Blogger just john said...

I've grudgingly come to agree with the notion of reviving the draft, because war shouldn't be painless to the upper classes.

But reintroducing it is complicated by the question of drafting girls. (Me, I say we should draft females exclusively, until their numbers match the number of boys drafted through our history. I suspect rich people would be less likely to go to war if their daughters were on the line.)


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