Maybe We Do Need a Draft

With all this talk about a draft, I thought that, as a professional soldier, I’d throw my two cents worth in.

Let me begin by saying that I’m against a general draft for a number of reasons. Conscription makes free citizens into slaves and the property of the state. A draft also gives the state a large standing army, and having such an army creates too great a temptation for politicians to use it.

However, I find it patently un-American and unpatriotic to place the burden of war on a small stratum of society. I’m not speaking of just the actual blood and guts fighting, but the entire burden of war.

War is a sad event that, in a great nation like the United States, should be shared equally.

First, there is the issue of whose children shall actually go and do the fighting and dying. I notice that the children of our political elite are not here with us in Iraq. I think we need a rather selective draft to fix this obvious oversight.

Specifically, we need to draft, right now, the children of every politician in our federal government and every executive in our military industrial complex. We must also draft the wife or husband of each politician and defense contractor.

They will be put into frontline combat units in the most dangerous areas. They could, for instance, be used as shock troops in operations like Najaf and Fallujah. After all, if it’s good enough for our kids and spouses, it’s got to be good enough for theirs.

These spouses and kids need to serve on a “first in, last out” basis. They will be required to roll up their sleeves and take the anthrax and other experimental injections and drugs that the soldiers do. They will go to war with the same equipment the rest of us use, and if there is a shortage of items like body armor, boots or uniforms, they will be at the end of the receiving line.

Second, there is the issue of solidarity within the government. Take, for instance, the status of reservists, men and women who patriotically remain in the military on a reserve status and go to war when they are called upon.

In almost every case (except perhaps for officers, who actually get a good paycheck), the soldiers and reservists must not only leave behind family and friends, they must also leave behind their jobs. We usually take a massive pay cut for the privilege of living in squalid conditions away from family and friends in defense of our Republic.

For the record, most of us reservists didn’t sign up for the money; we signed up to defend our country. But given that the last few wars we’ve been sent to fight have NOT been in defense of our Constitutional Republic, but rather of some politician’s notion of “global security” or “national interest,” pardon me if we get a little upset at the wrecking of our careers, our bank accounts and our families.

I believe the oath of enlistment we took said something about defending the Constitution, not about defending some despotic little regime such as Kuwait or liberating people 10,000 miles from our home. Remember, we are a Constitutional Republic, not an Empire.

Politicians believe that the military and reservists can be deployed frequently, for long periods of time, without causing any problems. As a result, soldiers are leaving the military in a steady flow, so many that the military has put into effect a “stop loss” program, which basically means, “You ain’t getting out until we say so, contracts and regulations be damned.”

Perhaps we need to level the playing field a bit. Whenever our nation goes to war, our political leadership must be given the glorious privilege of bearing the same burdens that we troops do. This is a basic principle called “jump first, eat last,” or leading by example. A good leader faces the same hardships as his or her soldiers, making sure that their needs are taken care of first, even if it means that he or she does without.

Therefore, when troops go into the field, all of our “public servants” need to move out of their homes and into tents or barracks with conditions identical to those of the soldiers. They will eat the same kind of food that their soldiers do and sleep in the dirt, on cots or in bunk beds.

They will also take a 50% cut in pay, although they will get to keep their benefits and retirement programs. We won’t ask them to go so far as to shut down their businesses and lose their clients (as some of us in the reserves must), but they will have to get by on less just like the rest of us do. They will, of course, be protected by the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act from creditors seizing their homes, property and businesses while they are deployed.

They will not be allowed to see their spouses (who, you’ll recall, will be serving in the frontlines) or children, but they will be given free postage on their mail home. We will allow AT&T to set up pay phone banks just like the soldiers have over here (yes, we have to pay for those calls). We’ll also have “Internet cafés” set up so that they can wait in line and sit in a hot tent to send an email to their families. Maybe we’ll spring for a web cam or two!

We won’t make them face actual danger, though; that’s the job of the trained professionals. Besides, if their children and spouses are serving in combat, they will have enough on their minds as it is.

Of course, we could just limit ourselves to only declaring wars and deploying troops to defend our Constitutional Republic, but then what do I know? I’m only a soldier.