So what about the draft? What about reconnecting the Army with the nation it serves? I know, easy for me to say -- ain't no one gonna draft me -- but, seriously, what about it? Already there is serious inequity -- the president, knowing that the draft is unpopular, instead uses reservists in ways never contemplated by military planners, bringing untold hardship to innocent families.
Also, the Vietnam experience suggests that a universal draft would focus attention on our continuing problems in Iraq and the woeful way they are being managed. It would invest the rest of the nation in the plight of the military, and it would make the Bush administration's 'move along nothing to see here how about those Ten Commandments?' position untenable.
I don't want anyone to die pursuing this hubristic dream of exported democracy. On the other hand, since people are still dying, I'd love to focus the attention of the nation on the dying. The draft would be an excellent way to do that, and it would be equitable public policy.
and I respond by email:
Dear Jon Carroll,
I agree with you wholeheartedly that the burden of the Iraq war has fallen unfairly on the poorer and more naively patriotic members of our society, and I think your suspicions that most Americans are rather detached from the realities of war might be entirely accurate. But I do not feel the draft is a way to really address these problems.
The thing is, it is far too easy for someone like me -- 25, from an upper middle class family, master's degree, working on a Ph.D -- to avoid the draft, whether legally (educational exemption) or otherwise (my dad buys me a plane ticket to Germany). Many of today's chickenhawks, such as Rush Limbaugh, avoided the draft in Viet Nam by reporting medical problems. Should there be a draft, it is certainly the case that many more young Americans will see war. But it is also certainly the case that many of those young Americans will be the sisters, brothers, and neighbors of those who already serve, not scions of the wealthy and powerful.