How Death Brings Understanding

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Republican Senator Chuck Hagel thinks Iraq is serious enough that maybe we oughtta reinstate the military draft:

"Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?" Hagel said, arguing that restoring compulsory military service would force "our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face."

Link via Atrios.

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  1. Great idea.
    We certainly do need an unlimited supply of slaves, er, commited citizens for our glorious crusades. And while we’re at it, we can finally finish that Korea thing.

  2. Of course, it doesn’t matter if the people this fool wants to enslave may not want to fight and die for his notion of Americn. They must be MADE to as part of civic obligation they weren’t asked to take up; FREEDOM ISN”T FREE and all that country-western jingoistic bull shit.

    I find it ironic that yesterday there was a entry that pointed out that it was incorrect to label fundementalist islam as “fascism” because it lack the democractic institutions that people have lost faith in. Well, I don’t know about the middle east, but nonsense like this makes me think that WE are well on our way to become a jack-booted police state.

    Heinlein was right: A society that can’t get it’s citizens to volunteer to fight for it, doesn’t deserve to exist.

  3. Less Chuck for the buck.

  4. I think it’s a great idea. It’s not slavery, it’s a way to force the non-poor to understand the cost and the risk of war. How many middle-class or above people have kids risking their lives for this damned fool war in Iraq? Not many, that’s for goddamn sure.

  5. Relatives of politicians should be first in line for the draft. If a Congressman is willing to sacrifice his own children, then I might buy the necessity for this war.

    No bullshit college deferments, either.

  6. A society that can’t get it’s citizens to volunteer to fight for it, doesn’t deserve to exist.

    I would fight for my society as is. But the government can kiss my ass. To fight in Iraq is to fight for the credibility of the American government as an entity which will follow through with its intentions. The part of the fighting that had any relevance to ensuring the safety or continuity of our society has passed. Along the lines of nobody’s thought, Hagel is probing. Does anyone actually think they’d draft a few kids, send them through basic, then get them to Iraq in time to make a difference before a deadline that arrives in 10 weeks? Unless June 30 is toast, they have designs on somewhere else and they want the manpower for it. Yay, more opportunities for citizens to understand the intensity and depth of the bloodlust of our rich, old legislators.

  7. How bad of a read is this by Hagel?

    I will say that if military service were compulsory, we would be a lot more isolationist for the reasons glenn noted above. Maybe we would have a rarified understanding of the challenges faced, and would refuse to act.

    I don’t know that this says much about the justification for any given conflict, just that most people aren’t soldiers for a reason.

  8. I think it’s a great idea. It’s not slavery, it’s a way to force the non-poor to understand the cost and the risk of war.

    You idiot. Are you seriously proposing that the well-to-do cannot understand the cost of war unless their kids are killed?

    Stunning.

    Anyway, what is it about leftists that they love words like ‘force’ and ‘make’ and ‘punish’, yet you complain that rightwingers are fascist? And what part of ‘force’ing a law-abiding citizen to do something against their will do you consider *not* being slavery?

  9. Has anyone else noticed that the overwhelming majority of people proposing these bills have never worn a US Millitary uniform for a day in their lives, and that those that did either served in the National Guard or German durring Vietnam? How about we make every congressman that wants to reinstate the draft first join the Marine Corps for a tour of duty?

  10. I think the draft is a wonderful idea, so long as we limit it to those who supported the war and their children. Let’s start with Reason staffers (and don’t give me any of that “squish” nonsense): Matt Welch, Charles Paul Freund, John Hood, Ronald Bailey, Cathy Young, Jonathan Rauch, etc., etc., etc. Ready to ship out, soldiers?

  11. the military is more effective when it is a volunteer professional org.

    if the aim is something else … we should certainly discuss that.

    couple of observations:

    Chuck Hagel and Charlie Rengel – two peas in a pod:-)

    poverty is not the main reason people join in military – except may be for one segment.

    I am with Jennifer on this one – if there is a draft, there should be no deferments (everyone should go to the regular military OR prison)

    there won’t be a draft.

  12. Well, two of the executive directors where I work have sons in Iraq right now. How’s that for a start?

    I’m sick of the assumption that our military is composed entirely of poor minorities. In some of the circles I travel in, it’s still considered respectable for middle and even upper-class youth to join the service. Most of them are officers rather than grunts, but they “understand the cost and risk of war” as well as anyone.

    The flip side of glenn’s comment is that it’s OK for poor people to join the military during peacetime, draw a paycheck, college aid, pension, etc…But it’s not fair to make them actually do what they voluntarily trained to do. *Then* it somehow becomes a rich Republican scheme. To repeat that: it’s not OK to make volunteers fulfill their obligations, but it is OK to force people.

    You are either for the draft, or you’re not–regardless of the state of war. You can’t pick and choose and still remain on a moral highground.

  13. MB — I didn’t support the Iraq war, and I don’t have children.

  14. Pay some price? Five days ago I did pay a price and it was very high. Why do I have to put my life or my children’s lives at sake also? Are not enough people volunteering for the armed forces? (Not last I heard.)

    And lay off the “they’re poor so they have no choice” crap. Anyone so severely incompetent or impaired they cannot get a job anywhere in this country is so impaired or incompetent they won’t be accepted into the military.

    Cops get killed in the line of duty also. Does that mean we should muster all able-bodied citizens into police duty?

  15. Military drafts are horrible ideas. A conscript army is less disciplined, less professional, and more transitory in nature.

  16. rst,

    Something is fairly likely to happen in Iraq on June 30, but it won’t be the removal of our troops, that’s for sure!

  17. MB,

    “I think the draft is a wonderful idea, so long as we limit it to those who supported the war and their children”

    how about the same logic for taxes and government regulations? Do you support either of them, MB?

  18. There is merit to the idea of compulsory military service. People who build things have the responsibility to defend them from those who would destroy them.

    When the republic was founded, the idea of a well-armed citizenry was to have a citizen militia defense capability to keep foreign invaders out of the republic. The Swiss have a similar system where all able adult males are required to keep and maintain a certain amount of military hardware and serve in training for one month out of every three years in a citizens’ militia.

    If such a system was instituted on the local (state) level in the U.S., I would probably support and participate in it.

    The problem with the American political system as its currently structured is that compulsory military service would be used to fight foreign wars for political agendas having nothing to do with defending our liberties at home and maintaining a limited federal government.

    For this reason, I oppose any attempt on the part of the federal government to implement compulsory military service.

  19. There is merit to the idea of compulsory military service. People who build things have the responsibility to defend them from those who would destroy them.

    When the republic was founded, the idea of a well-armed citizenry was to have a citizen militia defense capability to keep foreign invaders out of the republic. The Swiss have a similar system where all able adult males are required to keep and maintain a certain amount of military hardware and serve in training for one month out of every three years in a citizens’ militia.

    If such a system was instituted on the local (state) level in the U.S., I would probably support and participate in it.

    The problem with the American political system as its currently structured is that compulsory military service would be used to fight foreign wars for political agendas having nothing to do with defending our liberties at home and maintaining a limited federal government.

    For this reason, I oppose any attempt on the part of the federal government to implement compulsory military service.

  20. Hagel said “”Why shouldn’t we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?”

    What exactly has he or any of the other blowhards in Congress and the White House sacrificed?
    They repeatedly vote themselves raises and we are looking at record amounts of pork being passed through.

  21. Hagel said “”Why shouldn’t we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?”

    What exactly has he or any of the other blowhards in Congress and the White House sacrificed?
    They repeatedly vote themselves raises and we are looking at record amounts of pork being passed through.

  22. Give me a break, Welch. You may be too careerist to take much of a stand on the war one way or the other, but you have been an ardent defender of the sanctions regime that killed at least–at least– 30 times as many Iraqis.

  23. Zorel:

    “how about the same logic for taxes and government regulations? Do you support either of them, MB?”

    Time for a shocker– I’m a libertarian! No, I don’t support state coercion!

  24. “Pay some price? Five days ago I did pay a price and it was very high.”

    I know what you mean. I had to fork over far more than I could afford to pay my “fair share” last week. You would think that it would be enough to satiate their appetites.

    But it’s not enough for them. It’s never enough. As long as they don’t have to put on a uniform themselves and do the fighting, they throw as many of us on the fire as they can for the sake of “God, Duty, Honor, Country” and the rest of that saber-rattling crap.

    I dont’ care if Al Qaeda brings tanks, planes, and ground forces to our shores. No one, should ever be forced into such an arrangement. If America is worth fighting for, then it should have no trouble finding men and women willing to take such a risk.

    The trouble is, we aren’t fighting for America right now. Our armed forces are fighting for the paranoid delusions of an administration that’s getting way out of control.

    (BTW, no I don’t think Kerry would be any better either. I’m sure he’d do the same if given half the chance.)

  25. There’s something about a draft that would concentrate the mind, no?

  26. MB — Keep trying; you’ll get it right some day.

  27. First we pass a bill drafting Barbara and Jenna Bush and send them to Iraq. (no no, not to the Texas Air National Guard – Iraq). Then we see what the President does about continuing the war.

  28. Welch:

    Why be cute? What did that comment even mean?

  29. What I think is funny (and telling) is how those people who think the draft is a good idea–whether for politicians’ families or otherwise–just make the assumption that familial comfort naturally overrides all other principles. On the contrary, the parents I know with children serving are proud, recognize the danger and have learned to deal with it, but would never request of the child, who *volunteered*, to take himself out of harm’s way. The crying liberal contingent’s first impulse is for self-preservation, but there are others willing to risk their saftey *voluntarily* for what they believe is a greater good.

  30. Not to quibble, I believe Heinlein (in “Starship Troopers”) created a fictional future where the franchise of voting was extended only to veterans. If memory serves, the general theory was that if one wants the rights of a citizen, one ought to bear the responsibilities. In Heinlein’s fictional world, you do not need a draft. You simply need people who want be citizens.

  31. Heinlein also had a recurring theme of old men crawling into bed with pubescent girls, but ummm, I don’t think we should take that as a policy prescription.

  32. Could this be a smokescreen for saving the government money?
    Without a draft, how much longer before all our military will be wanting to sign up with Blackwater to get the big bucks after spending the very minimum time training at government expense?

  33. MB, you should read Matt’s excellent article from a few years back in Reason on the Iraq sanctions if you think he’s so gung-ho on them. It’ll also tell you why he’s being “cute”.

  34. Todd:

    Read it. I was less impressed than you were, apparently. I laid out Welch’s take on sanctions here:

    http://www.antiwar.com/barganier/?articleid=909

    I sent it to Welch at two addresses, as well as to Reason and Michael Young. Only Young had the courtesy to respond.

    In the articles of his discussed in the essay above, he clearly admits that the sanctions killed at least 300,000 Iraqis. Yet he spends the whole goddamn time railing at those who may have inflated the numbers?not the murderous U.S./UN sanctions!

  35. I at least can understand the point of view of the compulsory-national-service-for-everyone argument. I think it works best in practice in a homogenous society (ie, Switzerland, Israel) where leaders can draw on a pure tribal sense of nationalism to keep the glue between social members strong.

    I used to get my bile up about how the blue states subsidize the red states in tax receipts per federal dollar outlay in the state. (living in the Northeast does that to you) But it was pointed out to me that the red states tend to generate more military volunteers. That got me to thinking more about the symbiosis inherent in our society. I haven’t gotten to the bottom of these thoughts yet, but I do now recognize that the overweighting of military enlistees from the deep South and the west does counterbalance to a degree the fiscal imbalance.

    If there were an across-the-board draft, that would seriously overweight the contributions to the national weal from New Jersey and Connecticut.

  36. MB — It means that not only are you wrong about my positions & motivations, but you’re ridiculously wrong. But since you insist….

    * If I’m “careerist,” then I’ve gotten the least bang for my careerism buck than anyone else I’ve ever met. More to the point, my wishy-washy position about the Iraq war (like absolutely every other political or foreign policy issue I can think of) has nothing whatsoever to do with regard to my career. It’s a silly attempt at an insult; hence “keep trying.”

    * I have not “been an ardent defender of the sanctions regime”; what I’ve been (to the endless dismay of some sanctions opponents) is someone who has chosen to focus my writing on the topic (articles in 2001, 2002 and 2003) to the question of “what is the real impact they’ve had on child mortality?”, an approach that led me to conclude that some sanctions opponents (in addition to the U.S. and Iraqi governments, plus many journalists), were knowingly peddling bogus numbers.

    But did I actually “defend” the sanctions in the process? No. From 2002:

    It seems awfully hard not to conclude that the embargo on Iraq has been ineffective (especially since 1998) and that it has, at the least, contributed to more than 100,000 deaths since 1990.

    And 2003:

    Which is an excellent reason to question their continued infliction upon countries such as Cuba, Libya and Myanmar. With the very notable exception of South Africa, the sanction tool?s track record in changing dictatorial behavior (or triggering regime change, which is often the real motivation) has been poor. Surely there must be some option between all-out war and a slap on the wrist, preferably one that doesn?t contribute to thousands of needless deaths.

    To answer your question: “Why be cute?” Because it wastes far less time than answering absurd allegations from someone who wants my unborn children shipped off to war.

  37. Reinstating the draft? WTF??? You want to see some people willing to die for their country, then try invading the US. All my redneck breathren are itching to try out their shiny glocks, S&W’s, Mossbergs, Remington’s, etc. That is the true beauty of America, we can defend her all the way down to the citizen level if we have too.

    Just don’t dare force us to die for a worthless cause on foreign soil.

  38. Welch:

    Anyone can go back and read your articles on sanctions and see how much time you spent arguing against them vs. defending the U.S. government/UN and slamming antiwar advocates.

  39. Welch:

    Anyone can go back and read your articles in their entirety and see how much time you spent criticizing sanctions vs. defending the U.S. government/UN and slamming antiwar advocates. Your protests ring a tad hollow.

  40. comments like “As long as they don’t have to put on a uniform themselves and do the fighting, they throw as many of us on the fire as they can for the sake of “God, Duty, Honor, Country” and the rest of that saber-rattling crap.” make me wonder if people that think this think that only current or former military men and women are qualified for elected office? After all, it sounds like they’re saying that only those who have put on a uniform and fought for our country can be trusted to make responsible decisions regarding the use of the military. One question: Do you really want current and former Generals running the country? Look what that’s done for Central and South America….

  41. MB,

    my question about taxes and regulations was about “being applicable to only those that support them”. you said you are a libertarian – so what does that mean?

    if you don’t support taxes and the rest of us realize we have to pay, will you be a freeloader on whatever govt service you use?

    About Iraqi sanctions, if you pull your head out of sand, and read about the Oil for Food corruption, that will tell you who was responsible for the “millions of children” dying in Iraq. (Hint: Saddam and the UN corruption)

    Saddam killing his subjects does not qualify as “war” for you anti-war morons, simply because there is no “other” side fighting. Just like “absense of conflict” = “peace” for the Stalinists.

    There was no war in Rwanda where 800,000 were slaughtered (in a one-sided operation) – so that was fine by you, right? Your stance is disgusting.

  42. And your protests ring a bit hollow, too, like an echo.

  43. Zorel:

    Great stuff! Yeah, since I didn’t want the U.S> to intervene in Rwanda, I was thus a big fan of the genocide–perfectly logical conclusion.

    As for taxes, I believe that those who want to receive services should pay for them; those who don’t, shouldn’t. Surely this sounds vaguely familiar?

    As for Saddam’s crimes, read the article I posted above.

  44. MB: Pointing out your lies — that I “supported the war,” that I’m an “ardent defender of the sanctions regime” — is not a “protest,” it’s a correction.

  45. Ardency is in the eye of the beholder–I explained how I see it in the link posted above. And if cheering on the U.S. government during the run-up to war wasn’t effectively supporting the war, then you have my apology.

  46. Who says Bush can’t create jobs?

  47. Matt Welch: MB — I didn’t support the Iraq war, and I don’t have children.

    Give Julian some dramatically more potent weed and sign him up.

  48. However compelling Hagel’s arguments may be, it’s still involuntary servitude.

    The difference between Hagel and Rangel is that Rangel was being a smart ass and making a point, while Hagel appears to be serious.

  49. “Great stuff! Yeah, since I didn’t want the U.S> to intervene in Rwanda, I was thus a big fan of the genocide–perfectly logical conclusion.”

    There is a point to be made that your willingness to observe slaughter that you have the power to prevent, while far from making you a ‘fan’ of slaughter, does not elevate your moral position in everyone’s eyes either.

  50. “There’s not an American … that doesn’t understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future,”

    I’m surprised that no one else has commented on this. It sounds like Chucky is pointedly indicating that those who DON’T understand what we are engaged in are un-American.

    My dad died in Vietnam. Before he left, my mom and he watched protests on t.v. When she asked him how he felt about it, he said he was over there fighting for someone else’s right to do the same thing. He wasn’t drafted and he didn’t see protests as un-American but rather an important part of being an American to be able to do it.

    I think Chuck Hagel could have learned a thing or two from my dad.

  51. The difference between Hagel and Rangel…

    Whenever a Dem and Repub are on the same wrong side of an issue, Joe never fails to find a “difference” between the two that excuses the Dem’s behavior and confirms the Repub’s innate evilness. C.f. Dodd/Lott, Byrd/Thurmond, etc.

  52. Jean Bart is 100% correct. God that was hard to get out. Seriously, you could not pay me enough to serve next to a draftee. The same goes for ALL of the men and women I served with. Draftees make lousy soldiers, when they make soldiers at all.

  53. Relatives of politicians should be first in line for the draft. If a Congressman is willing to sacrifice his own children, then I might buy the necessity for this war.

    I am of the opinion that people should not be enslaved because of their parents’ political beliefs. But then, I’m an ethical person who believes in human freedom; you aren’t.

  54. “There is a point to be made that your willingness to observe slaughter that you have the power to prevent”

    Has the United States ever prevented genocide? It seems that Sadaam did most of his killing in the 80’s when we supported him. Did Rumsfeld observe the slaughter when he looked Sadaam in the eye and gave him a big old hug. We aren’t preventing anything right now but cleaning up the mess we helped create.

  55. “Heinlein also had a recurring theme of old men crawling into bed with pubescent girls, but ummm, I don’t think we should take that as a policy prescription.”

    Why not?
    And it should be subsidized, too.

  56. Dan-
    Nyaah nyaah nyaah to you too.

  57. “I used to get my bile up about how the blue states subsidize the red states in tax receipts per federal dollar outlay in the state.”

    Or how it’s the red voting districts in the blue states that are subsidizing everyone.

  58. MALAK said:
    “Seriously, you could not pay me enough to serve next to a draftee. The same goes for ALL of the men and women I served with. Draftees make lousy soldiers, when they make soldiers at all.”

    Were you a “lifer,” MALAK?
    Having been a draftee, you could not pay me enough to serve next to a lifer.
    But that’s the point of the draft, eh?
    I served even though they didn’t pay me enough.
    But thanks for helping me “find” myself:
    I was always a lover; never a fighter.

  59. “Whenever a Dem and Repub are on the same wrong side of an issue, Joe never fails…”

    Nothing of substance to add, eh Josh?

  60. The suggestions to reinstate the draft are not made to strengthen our army, they are meant to raise even more objections to national defense. There are enough volunteers to serve the needs of our militray. Anyone who doesn’t want to serve, stay the hell away from the army. Join the navy instead.

  61. I’m confused as to why we need a draft. If we believe that we need more troops (and that’s debatable, but one argument at a time, yes?), can’t we just spend more money and have more people sign up? Is the supply of volunteer soldiers that inelastic?

  62. Ignorant Student-
    Since the war started, Bush has actually lowered veteran’s benefits and other such things. A draft is a lot cheaper than making the military desirable.

  63. How are you holding up in the shelter? Beans still dry?

  64. Oh, and a little wd-40 will have that caps lock key unstuck in a jiffy!

  65. anti draft Protesters “Hell no, we won’t go”

    Pentagon “Hell no, we don’t want you”

    Simple

  66. Now hold on one ding-dang minute! Regardless of age? I will not have you pulling babies out of the maternity ward!

  67. Take it easy on Joe. I once came in 6th in a field of 7 candidates. If I had finished 25th out of 26, maybe I’d be a bit loopy, too.

    Now, as far as our conscription-happy solons in Washington, both Chucks are veterans. Rangel is a Korean war veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star. He dropped out of high school to enlist. Hagel served as a squad leader in Vietnam. I can’t find out if he volunteered or not, though. When they will draft you anyway if you don’t enlist, it is a good question if anyone is really a volunteer.

    Both of them are seriously wrongheaded, but they aren’t typical chickenhawks.

    Kevin

  68. The draft is a stupid fucking idea. There are plenty of people wanting to join the military.

    The draft is tactically wrong, it is morally wrong to the people who don’t want to join, and it would be a huge waste of money.

    “a president’s offspring should be pulled from whatever they are doing, sent to basic training, measured for a uniform and shipped out with a combat unit to the front line”

    Hmmm, while we are coming up with stupid ideas, why don’t we just have any presidents offspring excecuted the day they take office so that they “understand the cost of war”, but with the offspring price already paid, they wont hesitate to go to war if needed?

  69. “Supporting a person’s right not to fight or wage war may be SMART POLITICS, BUT IS BAD WARFIGHTING…”

    Our political system doesn’t exist to support wars. Our wars are fought to support our political system. If a certain technique or tool of warfare undermines that system, then no matter how useful it may be, we should reject it.

  70. Hey, I wonder what JosephMendiola thinks about religion.

  71. I think Hagel should be drafted and sent to fight. Draft or no draft that was one of the dumbest things I’ve heard all year. I say send all the Politicans over for a taste of action, then we will see just how much longer we are over there.

  72. Ruthless: Hope you check this. No, not a lifer. Just someone who feels that a citizen who benefits from the society he resides in has a responsibility to in some way contribute to the security of that society. Did my time (5 years) honorably and now contribute in other ways.

  73. Oh, and Ruthless? All the women I have known say the same thing: those who claim to be lovers rather than fighters, usually suck at both! Out.

  74. MALAK, what about people who would suck as soldiers, but excell at efficiently delivering goods and services, or whatever? Aren’t they contributing more to their society as civilians?

  75. Jennifer,

    You said “Since the war started, Bush has actually lowered veteran’s benefits …” That is a severe oversimplification of reality. A one-sentence summary on this issue would have to say that Bush increased funding for veterans. The more complete truth can be found here:
    http://factcheck.org/article.aspx?docID=144

  76. Taking the ideas of Charles Rangel, and Jennifer, way back at the top of the thread, a little further, Frank Harris III says in the Hartford Courant:

    Since the president has been in the mood for a constitutional amendment, here’s another: I move that there be a constitutional amendment that every president, before committing anyone else’s sons and daughters to combat or a hostile situation, first pledge his own son and daughter to the war effort.

    Regardless of age or occupation, a president’s offspring should be pulled from whatever they are doing, sent to basic training, measured for a uniform and shipped out with a combat unit to the front line.

    Yes, a tour of duty for the Bush twins.

    Charming.

  77. Yes joe they are. But what have they done to improve it’s security, or the security of there fellow citizens. I am by no means in favor of a drafted military, nor do I presume to impose my beliefs on others. Those who do not wish to serve in the defense of their society, SHOULDN’T. The choice, as it should be, is theirs.

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