Bourgeois Deviant

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Thinking About War

It has been a while since I posted anything terribly substantive here. This is partially because I have been pre-occupied with other things. Also, chewing on the topics of our time is sort of difficult when there are so many to digest and they change so rapidly. One thing that has been bouncing around in my head of late is something that my father threw out to a discussion we had some weeks ago. The subject was the Draft.

Let it be known and not misconstrued anywhere here forward that this piece does in no way endorse or condone the re-initiation of the Draft. Nor did the Bourgeois Deviant Dad politically or otherwise tacitly endorse it. To quote Juan Cole, “I am not exactly a pacifist but have a strong preference for peaceful social activism over violence…” Now, with that out of the way, allow me to textually wander here for a while.

I don’t know the history of the Draft, nor do I have a strong connection to a fear of being drafted into military service as a new adult citizen having just tuned 18 years of age back in 1993. The only thing I recall is a strong objection to registering for it and, philosophically acknowledging that being drafted and dying for one’s country was within the realm of possibility, though not likely, despite the fact that I wasn’t allowed to partake of alcohol. The incongruities bugged me and still do.

What came out in the conversation with dear old Bourgeois Deviant Dad is that reinstating the Draft would actually, over the long run, create greater insurances that this country would not go to war unless there was an undeniably just cause. On the surface it does make a degree of rational sense. If you think about it, look who is serving in the U.S. Military. The demographics are leaning toward minorities and lower income class individuals in terms of who is recruited. I am not basing this on hard fact verified anywhere. This is just what I have gleaned from watching and observing. I could be wrong, but I kind of doubt it.

Assuming that you agree with the idea that there is, in fact, a substantial and growing gap between the rich and the poor, you will probably be able to discern where I am going with this. Granted that it is still the case that one person equals one vote in the United States. However, votes aside, interests, for lack of a better term, have sway in the day to day decisions that are made in places of power. Those interests have money. They have a great deal of money and they wish to keep it.

One of the rules of commerce and capitalism is that you have to spend money to make money. So, they make campaign contributions. They donate to the favored charities of those who have power. They do favors, give help in kind to initiatives that are the pet projects of legislators. They fund think tanks that research topics of interest and provide information that lend aid and credence to agendas. It’s a system that is well established and has a smell of corruption. You need look no further than Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay. Also, though it will probably never be proven, that the Vice President of the United States shows favor to the contractor Halliburton is also a bolster to this argument.

I don’t want to go off on that tangent too much. Its not the point that I am trying to make. What is the point is that those people in power and with money don’t look to military careers to make their life better. Neither do their kids. Nor do the parents and/or children of many middle class families either. They want to get a good paying job and get a big house with a yard and live the American dream.

For many poor people, living the American dream means getting a good job with good pay. The United States Military promises that. Not only do they promise that, but they promise training and loan aid for further an education. It’s a good deal. That is, it’s a good deal until politicians make the cavalier and ideologically influenced decision to commit to a war that didn’t need to happen.

The question I am driving at is: Would these politicians and wealthy, influential people be so cavalier about marching off to war if their sons and daughters, those children of privilege and entitlement, had as much chance of being conscripted into a war whose cause was in some shade of doubt? Would people who make campaign contributions and actively participate in the political process by supporting a candidate that was comfortable with drafting their sons and daughters and sending them into harms way for something that was not certain be so supportive? My guess is that they would not.

Again, this piece is not to argue for the Draft. It is to argue for the consideration of the true weight of war. It is to argue for a re-evaluation of the consequences of decisions made. It is to argue for a re-defining of what it is to be a fair and equitable society. Reinstating the Draft would be one (bad) way of achieving that overhaul. However, I don’t think it will take that, nor should it be put back on the table as an option.

The concept of war is outdated” – H.H. Dalai Lama

Oh, and Mexico is legalizing drugs.

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