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14 May 2010

2 old fart superannuated US Army veterans rap about The Issue That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The other night, NBC-TV Nightly News anchor Brian Williams warned viewers to send their little kids out of the room before a horrible story about a murderous attack on schoolchildren in China.

So Vleeptron wants to warn you that if the subject of Bringing Back The Draft -- universal military conscription -- makes you go ballistic (or schoolyard, or postal), you might want to leave the room.

Vleeptron probably wins the Blogosphere Award for Courage & Bravery -- we'll post Anything if we find it interesting. We're not even scared to post about mathematics, despite how it sends 98 percent of the world into an Ennui Allergy Coma Fugue.

Controversy is Mother's Milk to Vleeptron.

But in 37 years of Blogging, the Hottest Button turns out to be The Draft, and bringing it back to the USA military.

And Vleeptron sincerely apologizes to those readers whom we've upset or offended by our call to Bring Back the Draft.

But I just can't wimp out about this topic for fear of pissing off or distressing nice people.

I'm convinced, more and more every year, that ending the Draft in 1972 was the worst, most dangerous, and most unjust mistake in American political life. America -- and the whole wide world -- are still paying for this catastrophic mistake, more and more every year.

We're not paying for it with money. The USA is the most prosperous nation on the planet. If it's just a question of bucks, we can keep affording the "All-Volunteer Military."

But instead of $$$, the USA is paying for this catastrophic mistake with the lives, the legs, the arms, and the lifelong psychiatric and neurological torment of my neighbors' kids.

We can always earn (or print) more money.

But a young man's life or a young woman's life -- we need to decide how important or how trivial the war death or maiming of an American soldier or Marine or sailor is, and make that importance, or that triviality, the First Principle of our national defense policy.

The USA body politic needs to face this issue, and not keep sweeping it under the rug because it's such a Hot Button political issue.

Fuck every Member of Congress who's such a whore that he or she will do anything to make sure he or she gets re-elected.

And the quickest way to make yourself vulnerable to losing your seat in Congress is to call for Bringing Back The Draft. We've let The Draft become the Poison Pill of elected politics, and no one in our national political life -- no senator, no member of Congress, no potential presidential candidate -- has the guts to even mention or whisper The Issue That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

We can't even objectively study or rationally analyze the effect the "All-Volunteer" policy has on our military effectiveness. Has it made the US military stronger?

Or has it crapped up and seriously weakened our military effectiveness?

We dare not even ask out loud: Did The Draft accomplish our military's mission better?

* * *

Okay, so I've been relapsing back to Internet Relay Chat.

Particularly to a chatroom that talks about USA politics 24/7/365, and most of the chatters are from a very right-wing superpatriotic Fox News Channel (and superbigotted) perspective. 

I get booted out regularly. The easiest way to get kicked out is to type:

{Droog4} I voted Obama, you betcha! and I'm gonna do it again in 2012

* Droog4 has been kicked from #usarightwingpolitics for being a traitor and a filthy drug-addict homo kike liberal who should leave the USA or die horribly of some loathsome disease

{insecti} is a regular on this very popular chatroom, but I'd never had much direct conversation or nasty fistfighting with him. He's an Old-Style Conservative gent -- his politics are 180° from mine, but in a decent, honorable sort of way, with no taint of bigotry, cruelty or Fox News Channel irrationality. When we notice one another at all, we politely "agree to disagree."

The other night he posted something quite surprising: 

He's a US Army veteran from the Korean War (1949-1952)!

And he also served during My War, the Vietnam War (finally ended 1974).

For obvious natural reasons, you don't run into a lot of Korean War vets on IRC ... or anywhere.

So I private-chatted him. What a very interesting chat that turned out to be.

~ ~ ~

{Droog4} sincerity: ON    thanks for serving

{insecti} Same to you.

{insecti} I understand that you must have volunteered for the draft, right?

["volunteering for the draft" was an option with certain advantages. Many guys who knew the draft was going to catch them inevitably anyway, and who got tired of waiting in limbo for it to happen, volunteered to be drafted, and received certain job-training benefits.]

{Droog4} nah, a clean grab by the Selective Service ... i'd dropped out of college and got tired of fighting it

{Droog4} i hated the war, i hated the draft, i hated the Army -- but I wish they'd bring the Draft back immediately

{insecti} LOL.  Same deal since you gave up

{Droog4} oh yes, i guess i could have done the Canadian Plan B

{insecti} I have mixed feelings about the draft.  It allows SO much graft

{Droog4} but i wasn't letting psychos chase me out of the land of my birth

{insecti} not good, Canadian plan

{insecti} right

{insecti} Lots of people avoid the draft

{Droog4} for me, it's all about sharing the risk, all classes, all ethnicities, every American

{Droog4} otherwise we play War Poker with somebody else's chips

{insecti} I agree and it should be leakproof, mandatory training at least for everyone

{Droog4} and during WW2, NOBODY wanted to dodge the draft ... it was a kind of suicide for the rest of your life to spend the war at home in civvies

{Droog4} you design the new leakproof draft, i will sign off on it

{insecti} When I returned from Vietnam, I was a USAR [United States Army Reserve] unit advisor in WV [West Virginia].  Damned waiting list to get into Reserve and avoid was corrupt.

{insecti} I started the list over, bound ledgers, numbered pages, all entries in  indelible ink.  no changes except with one line thru the prior entry.

{Droog4} well (and I'm speaking about my Air Force Reserve firefighter brother) ... if the Reserves and NG would take you, it was a form of serving and sacrifice -- and any Reserve unit can be sent to the war zone with the stroke of a pen

{insecti} Same with my brother.  He was in Infantry Reserve for six years, and some of those units were activated to do training for the Army at Fort Polk [Louisiana]

{insecti} Right on WWII. 

{Droog4} at Benning, the XO of a National Guard battallion called up for active duty hanged himself with his bootlaces

{insecti} not surprised.  I liked Benning.  Good old historic post

{Droog4} well the WWII thing is instructive -- when you have a draft, and every man is vulnerable to it, presidents and Congress tend to make wiser choices of our wars

{insecti} 194 Brigade deployed from there

{insecti} sure do.

{Droog4} i was 197th [Infantry Brigade], it was changing to Air Mobile [helicopters], and deployed for Desert Storm

{insecti} 197.  at Benning?

{Droog4} yes, in my Vietnam era, 197th was the largest brigade in the Army, but then it just did training missions

{insecti} where was it?   Benning?

{Droog4} yes, Benning, not Main Post, the area called Kelley Hill -- a long drive from Main Post

{Droog4} one of 197th training missions was to be "the enemy" against the OCS cadets {Droog5} yes, Benning, not Main Post, the area called Kelley Hill -- a long drive from Main Post

{insecti} Kelley Hill? 

{insecti} Harmony Church area?

{Droog4} no ... Harmony Church was also 197th Brigade -- but even loster lonelier deeper in the godforsaken woods

{insecti} It must have come back to Benning after Vietnam

{insecti} Been to those. 

{insecti} When I was in basic there, 1955 and early 56, we were all over those areas.  Lived in barracks near [parachute training] jump towers

{Droog4} i felt sorry for myself on Kelley Hill, but I REALLY pitied anybody who ended up (without wheels) in Harmony Church -- a lot of those guys walked around with concealed firearms, it was the Wild West

{insecti} I know.

{Droog4} hahaha Main Post had 2 movie theaters, and the smaller one would show "art cinema" flix, that was a fun crowd

{insecti} bet so

{Droog4} that's another thing about the draft -- the Army finds itself with some really goofy very highly educated talented guys it doesn't get with the All-Volunteer

{insecti} I was there again about 1963 for a school. I liked Benning except the outlying areas.

{Droog4} the A-bomb scientist Serber, one of his jobs at Los Alamos was to teach ordinary drafted soldiers with Big IQs about A-bomb science

{insecti} That is the part of the draft I loved.  We got lots of smart guys to do work requiring some smarts

{Droog4} oh yes, Columbus [Georgia, the town adjacent to Fort Benning] -- when i had bucks and wanted to celebrate, the finest restaurant was I-HOP [International House of Pancakes]

{insecti} That was where we got training clerks, electronics guys etc

{Droog4} but Phenix City [Alabama] was worse -- our sergeant strenuously warned us to keep away

{insecti} what was that one near the traffic circle?  black steer or something

{insecti} good idea.

{Droog4} oh yeah the steakhouse -- you remind me there WAS gourmet dining in Columbus

{insecti} was the Chickimauga (sp) Club in Columbus then?  Prolly already closed

{insecti} LOL

{insecti} Right uptown

{Droog4} no recollection of the Chickimauga Club

{insecti} Right uptown.  Mighta been a different name.  Wild place. 

{Droog4} BUT ... Atlanta was pretty close and a lot of fun ... and i had a motorcycle and Benning was actually near Andersonville and the biggest Civil War cemetery I ever saw, through gorgeous countryside

{insecti} Later met the guy and his wife in Florida.  She owned it.  She was married to a General at Benning.  My friend was a GS-11 [high rank job in federal civil service] in Florida

{insecti} He took her away from the General and was riffed out for it and retired in grade of MSG [Master Sergeant], with captain rank in his hip pocket

[rif = RIF = Reduction In Force, buzzword for a mass forced retirement of career soldiers]

{insecti} Those were the days.

{Droog4} okay, here's the kind of jerk the draft drags in -- apparently i held the Third Army high-score on the D-LAT, the Esperanto language talent test

{insecti} I know that.  Smart people needed by the Army and that is now lost

{Droog4} yeah, my office boss at Benning was an SSG {Staff Sergeant], the day he retired he showed up in his Korea-era Major's uniform

{insecti} Plus we got lots of immigrants working out citizenship for military and some of those people were really smart too

{insecti} Right.  There was a lot of that.  Guy like that got riffed and held his reserve commission, got promoted right along and retired in the officer rank

{Droog4} well ... the immigrants, and the Caribbean island volunteers ... it just troubles me that with the Volunteer Army, we're contracting-out our risk and national defense

{insecti} we are

{insecti} and our citizens miss the experience and the great lifelong feelings of service

{Droog4} Israel, love it or hate it, has put together a fearsomely respected and effective military with universal conscription of both genders

{Droog4} no Israeli can enter political life who hasn't served in the IDF

{insecti} People who made this country after WWII were those who served

{Droog4} they can, but nobody will vote for them

{insecti} that is a good idea

{Droog4} yes, there is the question of Shared National Experience. Just serving in peacetime Cold War Germany made Americans love Elvis, thrust him over the top

{insecti} Really nice chatting with you.  I see you here all the time.  I have to do some stuff.  Couple of wife's little rental houses are vacant and she is having work done

{insecti} right.

{Droog4} have a great day, c u laterz!

{insecti} Those WWII guys here, I knew in their HS

{insecti} later.


patfromch said...

Funny that, the Swiss are currently considering a change from Mandatory Draft (meaning that I have served ONE DAY in the Swiss Army during evaluation day) to volunteering.
Back then when I were a lad (late 80s) you were considered a traitor if you opted for civil service and you were not considered as a real tough bloke or a real man if you had not achieved your basic training and you had to for annual service till you were 45 or fifty.
These days you get released from duty at 35 or even earlier.
The people who are responsible for recruitng are complaining about the fact that draftees are getting fatter and dumber. And since it has become easier to choose between mandatory service and civil service more and more opt for the second option. At least now they let women do service, but without arms. The good ol' times when we could brag that we could mobilize a qoarter of a million men in 12 hrs are definetly over and to be honest I am not very sad about that fact.

During the Bush era Vleeptron questioned the possibilty of re-introducing the draft, what has caused that change of opinion ?

ozzie said...

What a novel idea it is these days to agree to disagree. Bush years polarized the hell out of this country - I get so excited when I see a Republican in the media that seems to be of this galaxy even if I don't agree with a single thing s/he is saying.

I could have never seen it coming but my opinion on the draft has changed radically with the Iraq war. I spent most of my twenty-something years dodging the mandatory military service back home in Turkey. I was not given a choice of doing civil service and a complete 18 month interruption of my life to play soldier was not something I was going to accept. Especially with the risk of partaking in an undeclared civil war that I didn't believe in. I was willing to give up my citizenship or go to jail if I hadn't been able to qualify for the 3 week symbolic service for the diaspora.

Anyway, I wholeheartedly support your point. Bringing back the draft should be the centerpiece of a much needed realignment of the American foreign policy (and spine). Provided that there is always a civil service option for the objecters, I am all for it - just like I would have been up for teaching at a remote Turkish village for 36 months in lieu of 18 months in the military.

The term "volunteer army" doesn't come close to describing the full picture. For many in the service, it is the last resort and the only legal (or feasible) choice. Provided that the majority of the armed forces are made up of the disenfranchised have-nots, we will be in many more unnecessary wars started by those who need not worry about their own kids. I am sure that we would still have gone to Afgahanistan but that we would also have come up with either clear objectives or an exit strategy by now. Instead we are locked into 2 vague wars conducted without the screaming urgency of a nation on its feet.

Like I said, I would have never in a million years seen this coming, especially with 2 kids of my own, but bringing back the draft is the deterrence factor, the nuclear option, the surgical axe we need to prevent these wars of political convenience.