Monday, July 25, 2005

Uniform Sacrifice

In an NYTimes op-ed very much related to my previous post, David Douglas Duncan, a WWII Marine combat photographer, who also covered the Korean and Vietnam wars for Life magazine, weighs in.

Today - I have no idea whether he survived or perished - I find him wrong. His "tomorrow" is dead, whether he is or not. His tomorrow and mine were born in an America that has now almost vanished. During our widely separated but shared wartime years, we were led by presidents of Olympian eloquence (Roosevelt during World War II) and almost brutal bluntness (Truman during the Korean War), yet, on their own terms, they spoke with clarity, conviction and honesty about our national threats, challenges, sacrifices. And the price of peace was high.
Today, in Iraq, where nearly every dawn is lacerated by mounting carnage - local and foreign - American troops are hemorrhaging among the wounded and the dead, pawns in an unspeakable farce, for the United States of America is not at war.

Only 135,000 men and women in American uniform are fighting - volunteers, members of the National Guard, reservists. There is no draft. No threat of a uniform hangs over the citizens of a nation of nearly 300 million who, in polls, support the invasion of a remote country upon whom our government would pin guilt of 9/11 ... and then attack. An invasion that was ordered by an expertly trained but combat-innocent fighter pilot and a draft-deferred character with "other priorities" during the Vietnam War.

Meanwhile, perhaps one crucial question was omitted from those polls: "Is any member of your family uniformed and in Baghdad?"

In case you missed my point in these two posts, I'll spell it out: A draft might not have prevented this fucking war, but if Americans saw the possibility of themselves or their sons and daughters having to fight and die for our imperialist criminal regime and their grandiose plans for oil and hegemony, it just might have.

When (not "if") I am elected President For Life And Grand Poobah Of All He Surveys, Americans will have no concerns about whether or not they will serve. They will most definitely serve in one fashion or another, and our Nation will be a better place for it. "How did you serve?" will be the introductory question, and we will be a real community of citizens.

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