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An Ex-Pat Officer's Notes on the Draft

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http://www.danablankenhorn.com/2006/11/rangeling_with_.html:Rangel-ing with responsibility

'A state exists not to build Paradise
It exists to prevent Hell'
-- V. Solovyov

'I have six honest serving men
They Taught me all I knew
Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who'
-- R. Kipling

Among many unfortunate events I had to go through when I was leaving Russia for good many years ago one was particularly hurtful. That was the surrendering of my military reserve certificate to the military district authority, the military commissariat.

That certificate stated that I was by training a senior lieutenant in the Russian combat anti-aircraft unit in reserve, ready for duty whenever my country calls me. By surrendering it I relinquished my obligations and detached myself from the sacred obligation my ancestors held so dear for generations-to defend my country from its enemies when requested and with no questions asked.

When I gave to them my certificate and left the building I felt uprooted for the first time; in case of danger my country would not rely on me -- I was the part of it no more. I was alone. That symbolic act disconnected me from the history of Russia full of victories and defeats, horrors and tragedies, full of unbelievable acts of courage and equally unbelievable shame, full of love, hate, death, hope and sacrifice beyond imagination.

I still loved my country but it did not need my love; it was my private business from that moment. And it hurt. It broke my heart.

I am much older now and I went through many unfortunate and fortunate events. There were suicides in the refugee settlements, girls sold for several dollars, vagrancy, poverty, shadow of hunger. There was a tough work and a series of disappointments, loss of the sense of happiness and profound melancholy. All of that made me wiser and also moved that moment into oblivion. But a man does not exist without a sense of duty and I live here now.

So I adopted a duty to this country through the same ways but different means. As such the issue of the draft or whatever mandatory service is important to me and also after many years of living here I have a right to voice my opinion with certain authority as a person of unique experience. I thus would like to approach it in all honesty using the Six Honest Serving Men who served Kipling so amicably.

What.
The draft is first and foremost an act of violence. It is an imposition of the will of the state upon the fate of the individual. It is profoundly unfair especially due to the fact that it is exercised upon the very young individuals, who, while experiencing the overwhelming power of the state directed towards them have a very limited way if any to resist it. I would characterize a draft as a historical unfairness, the weight of history being used to fortify and justify it over and over again.

That, of course, does not mean that draft is useless or stupid or some kind a malicious enterprise always. Of course, not. As any human endeavor it has been embedded into the practice of many nations and became a part of cultural inheritance. At the same time, while having certain different features from nation to nation, it retained a lot of common ones:

· It is a huge bureaucracy and is always wasteful.
· It makes sense only under a military doctrine involving the idea of the possibility of the country being attacked by an overwhelming enemy with the goal to take it over or destroy it totally.
· It is based on a nationalism- one nation, one army, one language.
· It presumes that an army is a part of the society and that it is customary among the people to respect it as an institution
· It presumes censorship and restriction of the media when it comes to the army and its duties.
· It retains an enormous core apparatus of mid level petty officers whose sole purpose is to train and handle the recruits.
· It presumes the preparation to the military service to start in Middle School through introductory courses.
· It requires the recruits to take an oath of allegiance to the nation and its government.

I have listed quite enough above to state that in its primary mission the draft or the mandatory service contradicts absolutely to the American Way of Life. It is not only because we here in the US are not threatened with an overwhelming force or the total annihilation. It is not only because we here hate waste although there are no bigger wasters than our power structures.

No, the draft undermines the first and foremost cornerstone of our the society- the Freedom of Choice. All our laws, all our customs, all our pros and cons are based on this premise and it makes this society unique. Changing of it, limiting it, abolishing it will makes us a different society, something essentially another, something what we are not and do not know if we want to be. That's what it is and that 's how we have to look at it. Maybe some people are ready to embrace such change. I am not.

Why.
As I have stated above the draft is instituted for only one purpose- to protect the country from an imminent danger. It is thus a tool chosen to address a specific problem. Not the problem of justice, not the problem of equal responsibility and not the problem of fairness in the duty. In short, it is not a tool of the people's policy; it is a tool of the national defense.

It has been proven through all the draft institutions from Spartans to Chinese that only for the national defense you can institute it. Thus the idealistic dreams of some i liberals about a ' Mandatory Peace Corps' are naïve and very American if I may say. Americans, unlike other nations keep an illusion that the world needs their benevolence, their idealism and them as people. That is not true; in fact it is very arrogant.

Americans are the same as everyone else and as such the world puts on them the same obligation it puts on all: take care of your own house first and politely ask if anyone else wants your help. There is also no such thing as organized goodness, there is only an organized force. Thus we make a full circle and return to the truth: mandatory service is only viable if there is such thing as a permanent threat. I hope all the readers of this article will agree that as for now the US is not under the permanent threat. That makes a call for the draft what it is a political posturing.

When.
Most of the nations who have the draft have it for generations. It changed, evolved but it was always there. In some cases the draft was instituted temporarily, like in the US during WWII ( I am not even considering the Vietnam atrocity) due to the absolute necessity to raise a standing army when attacked. Temporary drafts, though, proved themselves extremely wasteful and were, especially here, in the US the primary drivers for the development of the Army of the Professional Volunteers recruited among the nation and based on the Freedom of Choice.

Such army, whatever its activities was had proven itself as a successful capitalistic enterprise and other nations are turning to it as an example. But I digress. The question is when and compared to all the other times the draft had been imposed, this particular period in our history is certainly the worst to even think about such endeavor. Not only our country is in a terrible financial condition; it is being lead by criminals in power.

We all know that power is their game, that they grab power whenever they can and by all means at their disposal, that they are essentially our domestic enemies and that they have no soul. Knowing all that it is inconceivable to me that someone could even consider to give those individuals an utmost power over the fates of our children, literally to deliver our children as hostages.

At this moment I imagine the face of a liberal reader, the Rangelite who would argue that the US armed forces disproportionably use the poor people to fight the wars of the rich and that fairness requires all the nation to have a stake in the war. To that I will respond that our society as well as any other human society on Earth is not based on fairness. It is based on Freedom of Choice. We here in the US declare this.

Whatever Americans we are, our goal now is not to install fairness or even equality. Our goal is to get rid of the evil government. Per this goal the draft as a tool is not useful. It is harmful to the cause. Thus everyone who in this time mingles with the idea of the draft is either an irresponsible fool or a demagogue of the worst kind.

How much.
I am always wondering about a strange feature of our draftmongers- in their quest for fairness and equality they want to use the exact unfair and deeply unequal tools they resent so much. Really, folks, strictly speaking the only group of people which has the stake in that directly are the young adults. It should be only fair and logical to first ask their opinion through say, referendum of some sort or maybe through organizing a special youth conference with the participation of the young people from other countries with the draft.

Let them tell us what they think. Maybe we should exercise the tools of our democracy and conduct a series of polls? Say we ask the young people, 'Rangel thinks you all are to be in one pair of shoes. What do you think?'

Nothing of the kind is even sought. Instead, as we did before in the issues of abortions, immigraion, war in Iraq, etc. we want to impose the new order on the vulnerable group of population covertly, secretly, through Congress so corrupt and hopeless that it exceeds in those fine qualities even the Ukrainian Rada. We are cowards; we want to make harm to our young but we are afraid even to ask for their opinion! Practically speaking, the draftmongers want to sell our young to the war machine. How much are they getting for that, I wonder?

Where.
As I have said above this country is anything but the draft materiel. But there is also a matter of specifics. In the nations with the traditional draft the inhabitants of different provinces were used for different occupations. Like in the old Iran the Mazanderan people were the best cavalrymen. In the Tzar's Army of Imperial Russia Cossacks constituted a 'military population' and had privileges and their own regiments. In the Hilter's Army SS- divisions were separate and there were also Bavarian regiments.

In the Red Army the majority of the petty officers were Ukrainians. In our army now there is a high percentage of black sergeants and sergeants from Texas but there is not many black officers in the rank of a captain, say. I am not engaging myself in some racial statistics: I am making an observation that there is such thing as army culture, something which we have on a limited level and what other nations had cultivated through generations. There arenumerous small but extremely significant things associated with mandatory services and until we here understand all those, project those on us and make our own conclusions imposing such institution on our nation would be a criminal stupidity to say the least.

Who.
Congressman Rangel the primary draftmonger represents the 15th Congressional District. The district constituents are about 40% Hispanics and 37% Blacks. On his site Mr. Rangel promotes the draft as a tool of 'fairness'. How fair is the draft I discussed above. But I wonder how does the draft effort benefit the people of the 15h District. How does that thing help them to overcome their problems, to live better, to raise children, etc?

I suspect that the draft has nothing to do with all those issues. Mr. Rangel plays a 'fair ness' card deliberately and with malice to instigate the darkest emotions among his constituents and thus doing them a great disservice. But at least his demagoguery is understandable. The position of many respected liberals is not understandable at all.
Through my tenure on opednews I read many pieces dedicated to the issue of the draft and all of them were very emotional without much substance. I myself got emotional too several times. But how can a normal person not get emotional when reading the following bizarre perceptions:

1. Let Bush girls enlist ( what they have to do with that? - MS)
2. Let all the children of members of Congress enlist every time the proclaim war ( again, what do the children have to do with that? - MS)
3. If we have a draft we will have a fair stake of anyone in the war (nonsense, historically unproven statement MS).
4. JFK was right ( right in what? That dangerous and unstable man was a compulsive womanizer and totally useless. He was catapulted to power by his father's money. Why do people admire him her, for goodness sake? He was killed, that is very unfortunate, but that is mainly what he is famous for - MS).
5. Draft will push the people to be involved and not to let politicians go nuts ( Notice that ' push' thing -MS).
6. Our young people owe the country ( Wow, that's a big one. Tell that to the young people).
7. Not everyone will have to serve in the military ( who decides?- MS) but men and women are to be enlisted ( Hooray, we have reached the Israeli type of the society, what an achievement! - MS).

I could proceed but the message is clear: the arguments for the draft presented in the articles by various liberals ( funny, but conservatives do not entertain an idea of a draft and some of them like the folks from www.antiwar.com vehemently oppose it- MS) are emotional, hysterical, bizarre. They have nothing to do with logical thinking and are in fact malicious in nature. Lack of clear thinking on the part of an adult is malice, sorry.

The 'Horrible' Conclusions
The progressive community I have an honor to belong to is full of people who are desperate to do good. Desperation is a very right word here. Whenever they see injustice, lack of fairness or a blatant violation of human rights, they are eager to go there guns a blazing and restore, change, fix and liberate. That is why they openly and honestly hate Bush because he and his cronies are criminals and abusers. And that is why many of them openly and honestly support an idea of a draft or a some kind of mandatory service as a tool to make things fair. And that is why they easily fall into the Devil's trap.

I am not here to judge. But I would like to remind to my fellow-progressives that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I would also like to remind that we are here not to make everyone happy and not to make the world a fair place. We are here to get rid of a malignant parasite which is Bush and the last thing you could do in that fight is to supply the parasite with the more nourishment by delivering our children to him.

I would like to remind that we are not idealists or socialists. We are the people who fight for our own selfish interests. And as such I do not think that mandatory service in any form serves those interests. It certainly does not serve mine. I could never support any endeavor which increases the odds for my only son to die young also violates his Freedom of Choice.

It is my hope that I made my case for any reader to appreciate. And now, when I return in my memory to that moment when I surrendered my military certificate, I do not feel hurt. I did the right thing. I am doing the right thing now too. That's where I stand.

 

The writer is 57 years old, semi- retired engineer, PhD, PE, CEM. I write fiction on a regular basis and I am also 10 years on OEN.


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I was not feeling very well and was in a hurry... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Nov 29, 2006 at 9:10:36 AM