Is It Time to Bring Back The Draft?
By: Stella L. Jatras
2 June 2008
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. " John Stuart Mill, English economist & philosopher (1806-1873)
The War, a documentary directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novich is the story of the Second World War through the personal accounts of a handful of men and women from four American towns. The war touched the lives of every family on every street in every town of America.
The scenes brought back the misery, the suffering, the cold, the mud, the rain, the sicknesses and the agony endured by our GIs. America faced an enemy that had attacked our country on 7 December 1941 plummeting us into a war that we did not want nor had we started; nor did we know when or how it was going to end. It was a war where every American felt there was a part for them to play - out of patriotism, and it was a war where the women of our country (exemplified by Rosie the Riveter) hung up their aprons and went to work in the factories making the much needed supplies for the war effort and where they waited for their loves one to safely return home.
Today, we have an all-volunteer military in which less than 1 percent of the population serve in the military. GIs have returned to the war zone, some as many as three, four and even five times and this is where I have the problem. I hear people say, "Well, after all, they volunteered!" Just because we have an all-volunteer military, does it mean that they are to be sent back into battle time and time again until they are either maimed or killed? Does it mean we should use our brightest and best as cannon fodder because they "volunteered" to serve their country? US suicide rates among US soldiers are heading for a record high, according to army data. According to other statistics, 120 War Vets commit suicide each week. It is just plain unfair. It should be the willing patriotic duty of every red blooded American to take up arms against an enemy, an enemy far more evil than we faced in World War II.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would agree with someone as politically liberal as Congressman Charlie Rangel, but I did when he said that if he were elected president he would bring back the draft. As they say, "Politics makes strange bedfellows." Rangel is right, the draft should be reinstated, but in a way that corrects the inequities, problems and manipulations of the old draft system. Names of all eligible draftees should be placed in a lottery. If your name is drawn - you go. If your name is not drawn - you don't. Although it's not quite that simple, this time, there should be no exemptions for college. Other exemptions, such as those for "critical personnel" should be rare and closely evaluated. There should also be consideration for families who already sacrificed one member defending our country. Lacking a draft, we have "A few good men" (and they are the best) are protecting the sorry behinds of those who do not wish to serve, many of whom heap insults, criticisms and yes, even lies, against those who do.
Just as America was attacked on 7 December 1941, America was also attacked on 11 September 2001 by an enemy more dangerous and evil than we could ever have anticipated, and still there are Americans who point their fingers and claim that it is we Americans who are to blame. "If only we understood them...," or, "If only we tried to reason with them..." just as Chamberlain had tried to reason with Adolph Hitler.
If we had fought World War II the way we are fighting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan today, our official language would be German. Instead of the kid-glove restrictions imposed on how we treat the Islamo-fascists who have vowed to kill the infidel (that's you and I, my friend, in case you haven't guessed), and the lawyer-imposed rules of engagement (ROEs) that are costing the lives of our warriors, the only concern, as one Marine put it, should be how to "facilitate their desire to go to Allah for a martyr's reward of being greeted by 72 virgins" but do it before they kill or injure an American GI or blow to pieces innocent civilian men, women and children?
As my Vietnam fighter-pilot husband once said, "If you're in a street fight and you fight by Marquis of Queensbury Rules and the other guy fights dirty, you're gonna lose!"
To put things into perspective:
As tragic as are the deaths of our GIs in the current war, approximately 5000 after almost five years of fighting, in less than the same length of time in World War Two, 400,000 were killed. Consider that The Battle of the Bulge lasted from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945 and was the largest battle of World War II in which the United States participated, 600,000 Americans (more than fought at Gettysburg ) fought for their lives. Although many dreamed of the day they could return to their families, too many of them did not make it home. At the conclusion of the battle there were 81,000 American casualties including 23,554 captured and 19,000 killed.
The battle for Iwo Jima was another costly campaign. What started as a quick, violent attack on February 19, 1945, turned into 36 days of some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting the Marines had encountered. The first day saw 2,400 American casualties. By the end of the campaign 71,245 Marines had been put ashore; of these, 5,931 were killed in action, and 17,372 wounded and, in all, Allied forces suffered 27,909 casualties, with 6,825 killed in action. Those are the brutal consequences of war.
What is the difference today? The answer is that we are a much different country from the America I grew up in during World War II. We expect war without casualties. Politicians subordinate the war effort and the lives of our military to their political ambitions. The media sensationalizes every enemy attack and questions every action of our military, causing many to question, is it worth it?
But then, the media was on our side in World War II. And, as one Marine is quoted as saying , "America is not at war. The Marines are at war; America is at the mall."