Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why There Will be No Draft

My last semester in college a Lt. Colonel from the Army, all spiffy and impressive in his uniform, showed up in one of my classes and attempted to talk us into being officers. We would immediately be Captains with just a little training, bypassing all the Private/Corporal/Sergeant bullshit.

You'll be taken care of, he told us, adding, "We don't care what the enlistees want." He meant the grunts, the ones doing the front-line fighting.

He said it with a smile. I don't remember much of what he said, but I do remember him dismissing all those grunts with that smile. Even after all these years, I can still see it.

I didn't take him up on his offer. I may not be much of a warrior, and maybe not even very good officer material, but I don't hide while guys on the ground die.

I knew why he said what he did. I grew up during Vietnam, which started when I was seven and ended when I was 17. On TV I watched as 58,000 Americans soldiers died, and, according to soon-dead-and-in-Hell Robert McNamara, 3.4 million Southeast Asians.

I also saw riots, people burning their draft cards and going to Canada, shootings, bombings, bank robberies, kidnappings, and murders of police officers, by anti-war leftists. I saw soldiers fragging their own officers. They weren't leftists, just guys who didn't want to throw their lives away.

The military since then has learned its lesson. The news is now sanitized, and damn the media for its cowardice. No more pictures of naked little Vietnamese girls running down a dirt road, burned by naplam. No more pictures of American soldiers setting huts on fire with a Zippo lighter. It was pictures like that that turned the public against the war.

The military has also given up the draft, and instead takes the most intelligent and makes them into officers instead of trying to make them into grunts who'll kill their own officers. That's why they targeted me and other college students to be voluntary officers. They would have made a serious mistake in my case, if I had been drafted.

Nowadays, the ones they target for grunts are those who are of average intelligence, or on the left side of the bell curve. They're the kids who come out of small towns, can't find a job except at the local McDonald's, and so join the military. At their worst they're the chinless, sloping-foreheaded Lynndie Englands of Trailer Trash Mobile Home Park.

At their best they find themselves part of the most powerful army in the history of the world. It must be a heady experience, one full of pride and awe, until they get wounded or see their comrades killed. But at least it avoids protests, because it's not the middle-class kids being killed and wounded.

That's why I didn't take the Lt. Colonel up on his offer. I don't like the idea of my sitting in safety while some poor, deluded, not-very-bright working-class teenager who thinks he's a patriot, and is defending his country from evil, murderous maniacs, puts his life on the line for what he thinks is a good cause, but in reality is no cause at all. I'd prefer to be on the line with them, as long as I had lots of those special grenades with "frag" written on them.

People wonder why there are no effective anti-war protests these days. I just told you why. Middle-class kids aren't being put into harm's way, just the lower-class kids. If you want to see some massive protests, draft middle-class kids.

That's why there will be no draft, and no effective anti-war resistance.

Oh, yes, the military has learned its lesson, and learned it well. It's outsmarted all of us.

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