Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bush & the draft?

Now that you've read the title, let me begin with a caveat. I don't think that another Bush administration would necessitate a draft. With that said, though, I've got a few things on my mind that worry me, in that regard.

Conservatives charge that it's only been liberals who have brought up the draft in this election year, and only as a cheap political trick. I'll admit that that's mostly true; the part that I disagree with is the implications behind the words "cheap political trick." I've been paying a hell of a lot of attention to everything going on in the election this year, as I haven't in years past, and what I've seen is this: Kerry has stated his plan to expand the Armed Forces so that we don't have to rely so much on reservists, and so that we can have reserve forces again, barring any kind of unforeseen necessity for them. I haven't heard the same type of plan from the Bush team. It's been commonly acknowledged, seems to me, that the troops are stretched pretty thin now, even though they have performed quite well. I've heard from Bush that he will not reinstate the draft, but I haven't heard his alternate plan.

I agree that the draft was brought up by Democrats, but I think that it's a legitimate thing to think about. In the absence of a clear alternative, and facing what seems like the possibility of an extended occupation of Iraq, what other thought are people supposed to have than that the draft is a possibility? Both candidates have charged that they are the best way to avoid a draft, but that's just posturing, trying to get the young vote. CNN's got an article on it here.

But there's bigger issues going on here. One is that Bush has long criticized Kerry's "strategy of retreat" in Iraq, but he recently said this: there will be no longtime troops in Iraq. That seems like the beginning of talking about withdrawl of troops, at least without having to "flip-flop" and say that it's part of his strategy. It's just his prediction at this point, but it gives Bush the added bonus of getting to seem like his administration is going to start getting out of Iraq. Especially as polls indicate increasing uneasiness about the war.

Here's the other thing I want to talk about, though. People haven't had to make any real sacrifice for this "war." I'm not talking about the troops, because we've lost over 1100 of them now. Of course that's a sacrifice. But beyond them, the average person in the United States hasn't had to give up anything. They get to express the righteous indignation of a nation at war, and then their taxes go down. Lord forbid we should have to surrender more of our money to support a cause which is so "right." I can't remember exactly where off the top of my head, but I recently read that support of the Iraq war goes down drastically, in the same poll, when the respondents are asked if they would feel the same way if their child were in the war, or if they had to make a personal sacrifice in any way.

People alive during World War II were all making sacrifices for their country. Everyone mobilized to help the war effort, and everyone had the right to feel good about themselves, because everyone was helping. But now we've got a whole class of people who feel good about themselves for just agreeing with the war. There is no sacrifice in our country. We are not a "nation at war." This has not come home to us, I think, and until it does, we've got a bunch of blowhards talking about the rightness of the liberation of Iraq without having to think about what they'd be willing to give to liberate the people of Iraq.