Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another Inconvenient Truth

The National Moment of Remembrance fell neatly in the middle of the fifth inning on Memorial Day in Baltimore.

That was fitting since no one in this country ever seems willing to be inconvenienced by soldiers. One died in Iraq yesterday and another in Afghanistan the day before that. More than 4,000 Americans – including 91 New Yorkers – have been killed in wars this whole country is supposed to be fighting. But the only ones who ever sacrifice are those in uniform and the families they leave behind.

We make our soldiers use substandard equipment – old helmets that won’t stop a piece of shrapnel and no body armor and patrol vehicles that aren’t safe enough to drive on the Cross Bronx Expressway – and we give them poor pay and lousy healthcare and crummy housing and virtually no hope of a decent life back home if they’re able to survive.

If this country wants to fight wars then we should all sacrifice. There should be a military draft in place so everyone – not just poor people – has to fight. Federal taxes should be tripled to support the war effort, there should be rationing on everything from butter to gasoline and all nonessential travel should be banned.

Wearing American-flag lapel pins and putting “I Support the Troops” bumper stickers on gas-guzzling vehicles and standing in the seventh inning for God Bless America and observing the National Moment of Remembrance is the height of hypocrisy. None of that supports the troops or the veterans. All it does is make a bunch of rich people who have never had to sacrifice anything feel good.

No one has the right to stand until we all sacrifice to support the soldiers.

Sorry for the inconvenience.


Pete said...

Thanks for always saying what needs to be said. Words like these can make a difference if people take the time to read.

Ron W. said...

This is stuff everyone should be thinking about…

Donna said...

If everyone in this country had to sacrifice for wars (i.e. higher taxes, rationing, travel bans, etc.) there would be no wars. I do think that’s the point.

Henry said...

Yeah, Donna. I think that is the point. World War II had everything mentioned here (the draft, higher taxes, rationing, travel bans). Vietnam had the draft and higher taxes and we were there for what a dozen years? Iraq, Afghanistan, and what ever they have planned next (Iran?) will probably last forever.

Olivia said...

They say blogs are great for debate, but there is no debate here. You hit the nail on the head.

Danny said...

Todd, I am in total agreement with you regarding the evil of the neo-cons' war. However, your solutions I find horrifying.

First, a draft is slavery. Forcing an individual to kill against his or her will is not consistent with the basic principles of liberty.

Second, enhancing the power of the state in or out of war time only enhances the problem. We are in Iraq, and were in Vietnam and Korea because the power of the executive branch has far exceeded Constitutional limits. And we also have a legislative branch that holds so little regard for the Constitution that it can simply vote away its war making responsibility. It is precisely because of the unconstitutional power of the government that we go to war, occupy countries, assassinate leaders for imperial and corporate reasons.

Third, powers grabbed by the state during war time are rarely returned.

I do not think we should hold the actions of our government during WWII and Vietnam (two unnecessary wars) up as anything to emulate. When the government has the ability to force the individual to fall in line is precisely when wars are most likely. The most notorious conquerers - Hitler, Stalin, Hirohito - were those with the most power over the individual.

Tripling Federal taxes? That would only give the government three times the war making resources. What we should be doing is cutting off funding. But, of course, even the supposed anti-war politicians don't have the guts for that.

As I see it, liberty promotes peace. An unrestrained state promotes war.

Todd Drew said...

I appreciate your opinions, but the draft already exists. In too many neighborhoods there are no good jobs so joining the military is about the only option for a kid getting out of high school. This draft is based on economics so anyone whose family can afford to send them to college or has better connections/options doesn’t have to go.

Rich people stand on both side of this issue while US soldiers die every day because they are not properly equipped and protected. They lose arms and legs and come home to find substandard medical care and no options to live a decent life.

The things I talk about (the draft, higher taxes, rationing and travel bans) would impact most people in this country so everyone would have to think before supporting wars.

This isn’t about promoting wars. There are wars. Whether you support it or are against it, the soldiers are our responsibility. Treating them the way we do is a crime.

Glamourbrain said...

Thanks for saying it. I posted to similar effect here.

JoeyBoy said...

Danny, your thoughts might be good in theory, but the soldiers getting hit with the roadside bombs don’t have the luxury of sitting in front of a computer working on their theories. That’s what the limousine liberals don’t get sometimes.

Danny said...

Your argument for the draft is an interesting one and well intentioned. I just don't believe that restricting liberties will prevent wars. Roosevelt enjoyed all of those powers you mentioned and then some and he sent 400,000 Americans to their deaths.

Also, no amount of increased spending on military equipment will prevent casualties. Don't we already outspend the rest of the world combined? I would imagine that U.S. soldiers are the best trained, best equipped on the planet. How many more dollars would be sufficient? War is utter madness. And almost always unnecessary. We should discontinue our policy of meddling around the world. We'd then have more than enough money to care for injured soldiers as we should.

Todd Drew said...

It looks like we are going to have to agree to disagree on this. I believe that there would be fewer casualties if every US soldier was issued a Kevlar helmet. I also believe that properly designed and armored vehicles prevent casualties from roadside bombs.

Calling US soldiers the best equipped on the planet is like saying the US has the finest healthcare system on the planet. It all depends on your point of view.

I agree that wars are madness and completely unnecessary. The soldiers that are on patrol in Iraq and Afghanistan today had nothing to do with starting any of this, but they always have to pay the price.

Their safety is supposed to be our responsibility and it’s time we take a little.