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Why Progressives Should Support the Draft

By Frank Shaeffer  Posted by Brian Wolf (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   8 comments
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If he becomes president Senator McCain has promised he will:

* Further weaken the military by continuing the Iraq war indefinitely against the advice members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders of the Army and Marine Corps who are stating our military is overstretched to breaking point

* Bankrupt our country with a war costing United States 3 billion a week

* Make us a debtor nation in hock to the Chinese and other governments

* Jeopardize the economic future of the United States

* Continue the Bush administration policies based on the misinformation and outright lies which McCain has embraced, in his words; "now [that we can] look ahead to the genuine prospect of success [in Iraq]..."

* Do nothing as America's international credibility slides into oblivion

* Empower the Iranians who are the only actual winners in the Iraq war

* Fail to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and put us at risk from more terror attacks.

Why don't people protest McCain's lack of patriotism? Because, the all-volunteer military means that civilians have to play the game of military hero worship. Most civilians never volunteer, and so they are hesitant to be critical of military policy articulated by military heroes like McCain. (Of course that didn't stop Bush/Cheney from ignoring the best advice of our military leaders when it didn't suit them.)

Since my son joined the Marines (in 1999) I have written books and articles about and supporting the military. Since the publication of these books I have gained a backhanded insight into how the military community feels about the civilian world. I keep hearing from military and former military personnel who compliment me on "getting it," or on "not being like most civilians."

One of the books I wrote, this one with a co-author, Kathy Roth Douquet, who formerly worked in the Clinton administration, was AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of the Upper Classes From Military Service and How It Hurts Our Country. In that book Kathy and I wrote about, and agreed about despite our different politics, the need for military service to be broadly spread throughout our society. Ultimately, however, we disagreed about bringing back the draft: I was pro, she was con.

Kathy and I never did resolve our argument, but I have continued to learn more about the military family. What I didn't know when I started to write on the subject of the military was that I would find that some people in the military perceive themselves as having been forgotten, underrated or disparaged by the larger society, even while at the same time there is a sense of superiority. I can't help noticing a real "we" against "them" edge, even a chip on the shoulder. For instance, in the midst of an email to me in response to one of my Washington Post pieces, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel wrote this to me:

"Problems [in the military] are only exacerbated by the propensity of Congress to micromanage and meddle, by media and academia seething with overt, relentless hostility, by political correctness, and by an irresistible tendency to treat the military as no more than a playpen for social engineering experiments."

The growing disconnect between the military and the rest of society has increasingly caught the attention of sociologists, political scientists and others who study contemporary society. Samuel Huntington, in his study, The Soldier and the State, said the armed services have "the outlook of an estranged minority." More ominously retired Admiral Stanley Arthur has suggested that, "The armed forces are no longer representative of the people they serve. More and more, enlisted as well as officers are beginning to feel that they are special, better than the society they serve." Thomas Ricks echoes this concern in Making the Corps, asserting that "U.S. military personnel of all ranks are feeling increasingly alienated from their own country, and are becoming more conservative and more politically active than ever before."

A recent poll found that two-thirds of armed service members think they as a group have higher moral standards than the nation they serve. The unintended consequences of the all-volunteer force also includes:

* Wars of choice have become easier

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