The obligatory "grumpy curmudgeon columnist" position at The Cleveland Plain Dealer belongs to Dick Feagler, who fussed yesterday in favor of bringing back the draft.
Time to fire up the Clue Delivery System©.
The Plain Dealer
1801 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114-2198
It's time to bring back the draft.
Wipe the spittle from your chin, Dick.
That way, every family in America with an eligible teenage son or daughter will have a stake in American foreign policy.
We all have a stake already. 2,819 of us were killed on 9/11, we've lost over 700 people in Iraq, and another 115 in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The rest of us who are at least minimally sentient are well aware by now that foreign policy matters a lot. Join us, Dick. We don't bite.
Nobody with a kid in service will be able to ignore CNN or a presidential press conference and tune to "The Apprentice" instead.
You underestimate the power of pop culture, young Skywalker.
Seriously though, grabbing people's attention by sending their kids off to fight sounds a bit harsh. Don't ya think?
Besides, those bright young apprentices would be drafted and overseas under your grand plan, so I doubt The Donald would be on the tube. Maybe you can watch PBS instead.
The draft would be good for Congress. With a district full of draftees and their parents and wives or husbands, Congress would have to pay more attention to the bloody messes they allow a president to get us into.
If members of Congress are ignoring their vocal constituents (which I doubt), then they'll pay with their jobs come election time. If other constituents would rather sit on their duffs and watch junk TV than stay informed, then we're better off without them gumming up matters of vital national interest.
As for President Bush "getting us into a bloody mess", I have two questions.
One: do you prefer your mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, or in Euclid and Westlake and Parma? There's no third option, because the Islamists are going to keep coming after us until we surrender or they all die.
Two: didn't Congress vote "yes" on this whole War on Terror thing at some point? I seem to recall a debate or two. I'm sure it'll come to me in a moment.
We call what's going on in Iraq a war. And in the real and violent sense, it certainly is. But it isn't a declared war. We haven't had a declared war since World War II. Korea was a "police action." Vietnam - I think they called that one a "conflict." And this thing has some kind of zippy title on it like "Operation Spread Democracy, Iraqi Freedom, Fatten Contractors, Cheaper Gas for SUVs."
It's high time we got back to the days when members of Congress would have to stand on the floor in front of God and C-Span and vote to send our kids off to kill and be killed.
Hey, now I remember!
It is a declared war, Dick. President Bush went to Congress twice and asked for their formal endorsement of his war plans. The members of Congress stood up in front of the cameras and voted to declare war. Twice. Were you asleep on those days, big guy?
I gather you want Congress to use certain "magic words" before you'll treat a declaration of war seriously. You're thinking of our WWII declarations, which are just fine as examples of valid declarations of war. But I challenge you to find the passage in our Constitution that requires us to use those precise words. Heck, find me something in there that requires any format whatsoever for a valid declaration of war, and then show me how the resolutions passed by Congress (here and here) this time around have failed to make the grade.
Knock yourself out. I'll wait.
By the way, the names you've forgotten are "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and "Operation Enduring Freedom." You might want to think about getting a refill of your Cognex.
John Kerry's biggest weakness in this election is going to be that he voted for war. He's going to try to say, indeed has already said, that he voted to give the president the power to wage war but that he doesn't like the way the president did it.
Sorry, but that's a cop-out. When we go to war, we ought to go from the grass roots up. Kerry, by his agreement to let George Bush blunder into Iraq, is as responsible for this mess as the president is. It will be interesting to see how he tries to worm his way out of that responsibility.
I'll be fascinated to watch Senator Waffles try to spin that, too. But what's this "going to war from the grass roots up" stuff? Do you expect us to spontaneously form citizens' militias and clamor to be sent to war? Or are you pushing for a system where our leaders don't take action to defend the country unless they're certain that the winds of public opinion are blowing in the right direction? We had eight years of that already, and that is why we're in such a bloody mess.
Everybody makes fun of Dennis Kucinich.
There's an understatement.
They say he's on some kind of ego trip and has become a ludicrous figure by persisting in a no-chance presidential campaign this long.
They're right. Also, I'd like to point out that The Boy Mayor has been a ludicrous figure since the 1970s.
But I don't agree. I live in Dennis' district and when he beat a pal of mine, Martin Hoke, I groaned. But Dennis is running on conviction. He voted against the Iraq misadventure. For that he deserves credit that Kerry cannot claim.
Credit for voting his conscience? OK. Credit for voting wisely and in defense of our country? Nope.
Those of us who shrilly opposed the war are suffering from a severe attack of cognitive dissonance. That's the marvelous phrase that means you're trying to hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time and, while they bang into each other, make them work without an aspirin.
Don't blame us sane people. You did this to yourself. Try dropping one of those contradictory beliefs, and maybe the voices in your head will pipe down.
We never should have gone to Iraq. But, now that we are there, we can't pull out. It's hard to make logic from such thoughts. Maybe Socrates could do it. But there's no Socrates in sight.
It's pretty easy, actually. Your side lost the battle of ideas, and our nation has since gone to war. If we reverse course now and run away, that will be what is known as "losing a war." If that happens, the Islamists will bring the big bloody mess back here to America again. They won't stop until we surrender to Islamist domination or they all die. How many times must you hear that before it sinks in?
Do a little thought experiment, Dick. You're a dogcatcher (or a cop, take your pick). There's a big, rabid dog stalking through your neighborhood. Staying indoors and calling for help won't do, because you are the help. The dog won't go away, you can't reason with him, and you can't guarantee that your family and your neighbors can avoid him forever. Bribing him with doggie treats won't work. He's rabid, remember?
After agonizing over your options, you reluctantly step outside with your gun to kill the rabid dog, ignoring the pleas of your neighbors and your own nagging doubts to "just leave him be, he'll go away" ... because you know he won't.
The rabid dog turns, sees you, and charges.
You are officially committed to battle, just like our nation is now. You aren't completely happy about it (to put it mildly) but you're in it up to your eyeballs. Do you tough it out and kill the dog, or do you turn your back on him and run?
A news report the other day reminded me that the original estimate on troop strength for Iraq was 30,000. At the moment we have 137,000 troops in Iraq, and the Pentagon is asking for more. And they'll get more. They always do. In for a penny, in for a pound.
That's war. After we toppled Hussein, the Islamists flocked to Iraq to fight us. No plan survives first contact with the enemy. But our guys are adapting and adjusting their strategy and their tactics. We're killing more of them than we're losing from our ranks. Eventually the enemy will get tired of it and sue for peace.
That's the great law of a war where there are no front lines,
There haven't been front lines for generations, Dick. We're not fighting the Battle of Verdun. Take comfort from knowing that most of the front-lineless action is over in Iraq and not on East 9th Street (is this sinking in yet?).
no clear objective (other than babbling about democracy)
Try this: "kill the enemy until they stop trying to kill us."
and no exit strategy.
Try this: "leave after victory and not a moment before."
What's "victory"? See our objective, above.
You and I have seen this drama before. Where were the guys who are running this thing? Improving their putting game?
The combat leaders are in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other hot spots, killing the enemy in his own lands. The political leaders are back here where they belong, staying out of the way and ensuring that the combat leaders get the men, weapons and supplies they need to win.
What you seem to want is a President who personally approves the targets and micromanages the war. It doesn't work (not even in Germany).
The headline in USA TODAY read: "Fewer soldiers re-enlist. Army sees dip as war increases need."
What are you and Dave Moniz smoking, Dick? I want some, because it must be fantastic stuff to keep you so far from reality. The doom-and-gloom article reports that the reenlistment rate fell to 96% ... and last year it was 106%. Egad! We're 4% away from our goal! Run for the hills, Esther!
The 96% projection is for the first half of the fiscal year, anyhow. Wait to see what happens with reenlistments between now and September 17th before you claim the sky is falling.
So maybe it's draft time. In my ancient days as a Cold Warrior we all went in. I went in as a ROTC officer because I thought that was smarter than going in as a private. The guys on my block enlisted, too. We all became shareholders in what our government did.
What an arrogant remark. I hope you have the stones to repeat it to the next Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant you bump into.
You're already a "shareholder" by virtue of being an American. Stop reading Robert Heinlein and look around you. We don't restrict political power to veterans in this country.
So I say bring back the draft, and let everybody in on the action. But I want a fair draft -- not like the one in Vietnam when, if you could pay your way into college you got a deferment for studying bugs. And no lottery either. Everybody goes.
So we just draft all 27,143,454 people between 18 and 24? Oh yeah, that'll work wonders. Flooding the services with 27 million kids is exactly what they need to win.
If we are going to cowboy around the world and send our 20-year-olds to do it, let's send them all. Mine, yours, everybody's. A universal draft would make us feel the chill of the draft. And there would be more dishonorable discharges among the old men in charge of shortening the lives of kids they claim to represent.
I see. Because you think our current policy is unwise, you want to implement a colossally unwise and unpopular policy to rake us over the coals for disagreeing with you last year. Brilliant. You're just like the spoiled brat who screams when another kid plays with his favorite toy, then tries to break everybody else's toys out of spite.
Grow up, shut up, and sit down.
UPDATE: A definitive debunking of the bring-back-the-draft crowd.