Friday, March 30, 2007

Reinstate the Draft?

Well, I made it back from Florida. Had a great trip and made some new friends from Puerto Rico, one a one-legged giant baskteball player and the other a dwarf who must live in a twisted body, but does not believe in handi-caps. They were partners in an International Tennis Federation tournament. Some of the twelve year olds strutting their way through the second tournament I worked should have been required to attend the first as a means of developing their character and teaching a little humility, but more on that later perhaps.

For now, a comment on today's news that Mr. Bush is trying to find a "war czar". He wants to hire a retired general to manage the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hopefully he will have to look a long way before he finds one that is also willing to handle a new war with Iran. BUT - Isn't he supposed to be the commander-in-chief??! What exactly did we elect (or should I say what exactly did the Supreme Court appoint) him to do? I guess, though, given that he has screwed up everything he's tried to do in his life outside of weaseling his way into public office, we should be thankful that he is hiring folks to do his job for him.

Given that it is getting harder and harder to recruit new fodder for his wars and that 80% of the officers in the ready reserves have resigned, I have a suggestion for the new faux commander-in-chief, whoever he may be:

Please reinstate the draft.

There is no future in starting wars, but we need a standing army to shield us from invasion, and the world needs to know that we stand ready in case they need protection.

Undoubtedly my regular readers are at this juncture thinking that I’ve gone off the deep end. Maybe I’d better explain.

I was drafted into the Army in 1965 in the first push to bolster the U.S. presence in Vietnam. Though I was on orders to go to Nam three different times in the course of my two years of service, I thankfully never had to do it. I’d never claim to have been a model soldier. A true history of my military service would read more like Catch 22 than On the Beach, but the bottom line is that the experience did add some maturity to my development and was, largely due to not having to go to Nam, a positive thing for me. Most people 19 to 25 or so don’t have their feet firmly enough planted on the ground to know who they are or where they want to end up. A service experience can help them to center themselves and become more valuable to society than they would otherwise have been.

That said, please understand that when I say we should have a draft I don’t mean that everybody drafted should spend time in the military. I just think that everyone should be required to give two years of their time in service to their country – and through that to the world community – during their youth. We could set up a draft that allowed people to choose the nature of their assignment. For instance, a young person who might want to teach as a career could serve as a teacher’s aid in a public school. Someone thinking of going into nursing could serve in a public hospital, military or otherwise. The Peace Corps, Americorps and other organizations designed to provide public service could be among the choices available to draftees. International agencies could be formed in alliance with other nations and non-profit organizations to provide service in developing countries. As a result, the U.S. could begin, once again, to legitimately call itself benign and maybe even achieve that designation in the eyes of the world.

I have long believed that the world has outgrown the value of nation-states and that we should see ourselves more as citizens of the world than as citizens of a nation separate from the rest of the world. This kind of effort could help citizens of all countries to understand their relationship to one another. The more we identify with one another, the less likely we are to consider each other enemies. I believe the ultimate result of this kind of effort would be beneficial to all of us.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix

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