Friday, December 22, 2006

Feel a Draft?

The draft is looming over us as a possible method to fulfill the cretin in chief's dreams of increasing our countrys commitment to a lost cause. What would be the effect of re-instituting the draft is beginning to be considered. Today I was impressed by seeing a reflection of a former draftee who served in Vietnam, and share it with you here.

The reality of the moment , however, was that I didn't want to be there, didn't believe in the war being fought and despised the concept of conscription. And as it turned out, the Army didn't really want me either, or most other draftees for that matter. That was because as a group, with a questionable fight on our hands, we tended to be uncooperative, sometimes obstreperous (occasionally considered subversive), unmotivated and underpaid -- yet still expensive, since the military invested four to eight months, including advanced training, in readying us for a commitment of two years.

Of course plenty of draftees were brave, aggressive and dedicated, and many died for their country. Everyone in the military recognized and respected that fact. But as a whole, the system didn't work well, and on June 30, 1973, the last draftee of the modern era was sworn into service.

At the end, the writer suggests that women also ought to be registering for the draft. That might well bring even more revulsion out in the people whose children would be directly hurt by this unjustifiable war that we're waging.

Throughout, the assumption of the op-ed I quoted from is that the volunteer army serving now is willing to be in conflict. From everything I have read, the reserves were never really expecting to be in armed conflict, or if they were, only for brief skirmishes like the ones that responsible administrations had occasionally used to bring about order and even a return to justice outside our borders. The present extended irrational incursion into another country was not envisioned by anyone familiar with our country's history. When they enlisted, it was to be a truly RESERVE force, for a country that prided itself on bringing order, not destroying it. These forces did not volunteer to destroy an existing order for political gain by a weakminded cretin who never served, and thought he needed to assume a tough appearance by throwing away their lives.

I only know personally one former Iraqi soldier, and he had joined the Army after high school because it would be a training for something, and pay for his education afterwards. Like the rest of us, he never imagined the effects on him or his country of irresponsible military action by his leaders. He served two unwilling terms, returned fed up and sickened by the destruction without purpose, and the dishonesty of the happy talk.

The ex-soldier I knew is the son of a friend, and came home very aware that we were trying to bring values of our own to a society and culture where they didn't fit. He had stories that illustrated how illfitted Iraqis were for western values, but my interpretation of those tends to be that we are not the arbiters of any values but our own. My brother returned from consulting with the South Vietnamese government during that war, with the conclusion that the effective methods of Western government would not work when the operatives were South Vietnamese. He, too, thought that was a value judgment against the South Vietnamese, not the westerners who didn't fit in with their culture.

David Ignatius also wrote an op-ed today, saying go to a very good soldier blog, and I did. I followed a few leads, wound up with this recount which I will leave you with. I will not comment further on soldiering.

I'm waving him off still. I don't want to do this. There is a huge sign in Arabic on the back of my vehicle that tells him deadly force is authorized, and not to come too close. He's already moved up beside me twice. He won't get another chance. I've tried to disable his vehicle by shooting at the grill, but somehow he's still moving. There is a .50 caliber machine gun aimed at his chest through his windshield. He sees my pointing it at him. I am also waving my hand at him to slow down, and using the blow horn to warn him off.

He's accelerating again, trying to get up beside me. I pull the trigger, putting a quick two round burst through his windshield. As it shatters, his truck instantly loses speed and moves erratically towards the right side of the street. I lean down to tell my driver we need to stop and check him out, and just as I do, my world incinerates.

I actually feel like I am in a video game for a moment. This can't be right. I feel myself flying through the air and land on the curb. I open my eyes. There's blood in them, so I wipe it away. I am barely able to get to my feet. The first four vehicles in my convoy are obscured by a large cloud of smoke. The next two are stopped, and smoking. My vehicle is upside down, leaning against a building. I begin to move towards it, but an RPG is fired at it, causing flames to form inside. I scream, and try to move my unsteady legs. I fall down and hit my head.

I hear many voices around me. Rough voices, most of them, but I hear a woman's voice as well. I feel hands grabbing me, pulling my weapon away, and I can't stop them. Where is my team? Are there any witnesses? Something strikes my head and I go black. I can't see or speak, but I feel hands lifting me up. It's like stage diving at a heavy metal concert, trusting the crowd to catch me and pass me back to the rear in safety. But right then I don't want to be limp, I want to run home.

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