Two years ago you ran a letter I wrote advocating a universal military draft without exemptions, and I want to reiterate the call for a citizen army in the face of recent news that our government has been employing private mercenaries to race through the streets of Baghdad with utter impunity, shooting people who are in the way of diplomatic vehicles. Some diplomacy.
The Iraq war has strained the U.S. Army to its limits – all effort is concentrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our rivals and enemies around the world revel in American impotence and global unpopularity. Our soldiers are strained too, and too often beyond, their limits. The re-enlistment statistics are extremely misleading if you follow the “sop-loss” policy that gives soldiers no real choice but to go for the re-enlistment bonuses The 15-month deployments with 12-month home stays are draconian schedules that wreck families.
Our elected representatives have voted to extend this war indefinitely, which means in a democracy that this is our war. The truth is that we do not “stand united” in our country, and we are not “supporting the troops” properly. What is cynical is to insist that saying this truth is unpatriotic. We should be united and we should all be sacrificing. A democratic draft that took the best we have to offer without exemption for class privileges would relieve our overtaxed soldiers without significantly lowering “professionalism.”
Obviously, the real reason for not instituting such a draft is the political unrest with the war that quite likely would occur, similar to the interest generated by the shift to the lottery system during the Vietnam War.