Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bring Back the Draft

Eight years ago when the terror attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. brought this country together, I agreed it was time for war. Time to smoke those responsible out of their holes. I wrote articles in support of our president and dismissed anti-war protests as irritating and ineffective. I believed my commander and chief would have an exit strategy in place before our boys’ boots ever hit enemy soil. Now I’m not so sure. All this time later, the theatre of terror has shifted from Afghanistan, to Iraq, back to Afghanistan, and those supposedly responsible for that awful September day in ’01 are still at large. So the boogeyman talk we’ve been told for years about that slippery Osama bin Laden keeps the crossfire shows going. The war plan has changed too many times to count and the politics have stayed the same. So as we surge through the mountains of Afghanistan, hoping to do what the Russians couldn’t do in 16 years, the definition of what it means to win is unclear. And the idea of one day leaving this Middle East mess behind feels like a pipe dream. There won’t be a ribbon-cutting ceremony or planting of the flag that marks an irrevocable end of tensions between the Taliban and America. The days of civilized war are long gone. Now it’s practically man against animal, because anyone who’s willing to blow himself, and a crowded commercial flight, to smithereens doesn’t pass the mankind-exam.

So if you’re one of the many Americans who wants to see this war end, because you can’t understand its connection to our everyday safety or just don’t care about problems half a world away, here’s what I say: Bring back the draft. All the roadside bombs and mortar attacks have somehow become accepted elevator-music in our daily routines. Sure, we sometimes go through the motions of thanking the troops and slapping magnetic yellow ribbons on the bumper of our SUV’s. But for those who don’t have a personal connection to the conflict, care level is low. For soldiers, recruiters target two places mainly: inner city populations and areas of higher poverty rates. This war is being fought by Dirk from Dunham Hollow and the kid who left high school at lunchtime to catch the Vo-Tec bus. College competition is high and if you don’t have a leg up in this economy good luck and God speed. And as long as that’s the way it is suburban housewives and their high powered husbands are fine with this war. But I promise that sentiment would change if talk of a draft made it to Clifton Park, or Westchester, or Greenwich, Connecticut. If little Tyler and Caleb had to trade their IPods and Blackberries for fatigues, the “Not My Son!” backlash would cripple this country in about three seconds. The two most powerful forces on earth are nuclear warheads and PTA moms. So I say draft soldiers at the front doors of Shen and Shaker. Tell your elected officials we want the kid with the Abercrombie jeans to protect our interests abroad. Let the fortunate sons hunt down “the enemy” through 100 degree weather where suicide attack waits behind every mountain and inside every cave. I bet we’d stop treating CNN’s war coverage like Reality TV and start putting our democracy into action.

It pains me to say I can’t recall the last time I read of a protest against Obama’s ordering of more troops to the front. Half the people I talk to aren’t even following the war anymore. The problem is there’s two classes in this country. And right now the have-nots are dying or returning stateside disabled (psychologically/physically) so the have-everythings can live on the lam. If you think about it the draft isn’t such an outrageous idea. For God’s sake, the armed forces are already backdoor drafting the enlisted few anyway. At this point we have two choices if we want this war to end: stand up and make an anti-war voice be heard, a voice that won’t shrink or submit until its agenda is met. Or cross fingers and pray that maybe someday we’ll collect our tanks and guns and leave the Middle East a stable, secure place. I say there’s no way the latter ever happens. And I say the magnetic yellow ribbons and passing interest aren’t cutting the mustard. But I promise you this: If our government started drafting suburban boys by the basket load, the PTA protests on Washington would make Vietnam-era flower power look like a Chinese fire drill.

Brian Huba


  1. Brian,
    I would like to start out by stating that I respect your opinion. Men and women fought hard for you to have that right. You do make some valid points, but I do not agree completely with what you are stating. I agree that the war is far from over, but a draft is not going to end it.
    I think I am correct to assume that you have never served a day in the military. If I am not correct, then I sincerely apologize. I am a graduate from the ‘Burgh. I have been in the Navy for the last 12 years. Was my family rich? No. Was I a great student? No. But I was not getting on the “Vo-Tec bus.” I have seen all types of people enlist in the military: the rich and the poor; the High School dropouts and those with Bachelor’s and Master Degrees. And let us not slight the outstanding scholars and athletes that become officers and fight right alongside the enlisted. We all serve for different reasons. To be honest, my main reason was that I just wanted to get away from the ‘Burgh for a little bit. 12 years later….
    There are a lot of young men and young women that enlist into the military through the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). There are some that may end up not going to boot camp, or do not last more than a year in the military before they realize it is not for them and find some way to get out. So if those young men and women, those that thought they wanted to join, either stayed home, or found a way out before it got tough, what makes you think that those that get drafted would not do the same? Why would I, as a leader in military, want to deal with some draftee that does not want to be there? Why would we, those that want to serve, want to deal with all the protests by those who do not? And Brian, as a teacher and a leader, why can’t you get out there and just protest the war now, instead of waiting for a draft to protest?
    I do not want you to get out there and protest though. If I recall correctly, it was those protests by those that were home during Vietnam that made those that became war veterans feel like they had no “home” to come back to. Do we really want to do that to the veterans fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? I do not want to speak for all OIF and OEF veterans, because it would not be my place to do so, but most of us know that people care about us war veterans. When I was in Iraq, we received care packages daily from people we do not know. We got letters and pictures from young students from all across the country. Those are just a couple of examples. Trust me….people care.
    What I would like you to do however, which is something you have power to do, is focus on educating our children. Educate them in a way so that they have a chance to make a difference. Educate them so that they KNOW they can make a difference. Don’t just assume, or let the student assume, that because some kid is poor, has bad grades, or comes from a “hick” town that they cannot make a difference.
    One way, or another, this war will end. We hope it is sooner rather than later. I am not sure what the solution is. I do not think any of us really do. But I do believe a draft is not the reason.
    And what does “backdoor drafting the enlisted few” mean? I can assure you the military is not tricking people to sign up.

    Tom Dingley
    E6 USN

  2. YOU gonna go Brian? Can you walk the talk? Very easy to sit back & analyze from a comfy seat in the Burhg! Tell your story to a LHS vet who's been there!!!

  3. You are right on the money, Brian. We, the American people, don't seem to be paying attention At least we seem to be oblivious to the cost in time, lives and money of whatever it is we are doing wherever it is we are doing it.

    I say “seem” because I know, from having lived through the Vietnam era, that the number of protesters will grow – once the situation, whatever it is, is over. It is simply safer, here at home, to do nothing or join the flag wagers while the situation, whatever it is, is live.

    I must plead ignorance about your assertion that most of the folks doing whatever it is we are doing, wherever it is we are doing it are poor people - from the lower classes. For the sake of argument let us assume that you are right. Bringing back the draft won't change that. Having been a healthy boy, from a family of less than modest means during the Vietnam era, I know, the folks with doe, won't go.

  4. Brian,

    I believe that you were correct in your assertion that the greater majority of the American people do not really care about our troops, in the sense that 'caring' implies that they actually 'do' something in support of our troops. If you really did care about the troops, you would be contributing in some shape or form to ending the war as quickly as possible. Yellow ribbons are negligible, and this is coming from a veteran.

    In WWII, 'supporting the troops' meant enlisting or supporting the war effort by building war machines, in order to annihilate our adversaries and force upon them an unconditional surrender. In WWII, victory was achievable because we were fighting states with governments and terms of surrender, and because we held little disregard for the civilians we killed (and by civilians, I am referring to the 50,000 Germans killed during the bombing of Dresden, as well as the hundreds of thousands killed in the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima to name a few). We killed civilians, and there was no glory in it either, it was just part of what was required to end the war as soon as possible. We can look back at our bombings of Japan now, firebombing Tokyo and burning to death 100,000 civilians in a single night, and say "that was necessary" or "it was for the greater good" because it wasn't us. However, I doubt you'll ever meet a Japanese citizen who lived through those bombings, who can justify such horrendous atrocities with such simplistic, altruistic motives.

    There are those who are associated with the military who really do support the troops; but as for sports announcers, politicians, used car salesman and religious advisers; its often nothing more than superfluous, self-gratifying, patriotic-laden jargon. Obviously they can't say they don't support the troops, so they say they do just like everyone else around them says they do too. Some of them have millions of dollars, and they don't even contribute a penny of their fortune to the Wounded Warrior Project or anything like it.

    Its important to understand who you're at war with before you declare war on them. The Vietnamese were ruled by the Chinese for around 1,000 years; it took them 1,000 years to drive the Chinese out of their country in order to regain their anonymity. It also took them around 100 years to drive the French out, 5 years to rid themselves of the Japanese, and 15 years to rid themselves of the Americans. Every single foreign occupier had their own reasons and justifications for being in Vietnam. Nonetheless, the Vietnamese had one ultimate reason for fighting every single foreign power that came to their country uninvited; a desire to remain free of foreign influence and manipulation. If we didn't pull out in 1975, they'd still be fighting us and each other today.

    Afghanistan was occupied by Alexander the Great, the British and the Russians; all of which were world powers at the time. The Afghans will fight us for hundreds of years if we decide to stay there for that long. Obama believes that training Afghans to kill other Afghans for as long as there is resistance, is eventually going to bring permanent stability to Afghanistan. Even if you had only a basic elementary understanding of Afghanistan's history, you would be able to conclude that "staying there until the job gets done" or "training the people of Afghanistan, to kill the people of Afghanistan" are both ludicrous and absurd strategies that are not at all grounded in reality.

  5. You've a rudimentary understanding of America's fighting men and women.

    I was a soldier, and I've never in my life been so proud of anything as I am of my flag, my uniform, and my fellow soldiers. Understand that soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines do not need your pity. They don't need your care packages (although they're a welcome diversion). What they need is a clear mission, and the political will to accomplish the goals of that mission. It is trite, Marxist pablum to rant about the socio-economic background of enlistees.

    Understand that America's warriors don't fight to escape the limits of social class. Of course, some of America's warriors fight to ensure future opportunities for themselves. Of course, some of America's warriors fight to ensure opportunities for the people they love. Rest assured, however, that all of America's soldiers fight for each other and they fight for you. They fight for you because they know you are not capable of fighting for yourself.

    If you want to end the war, then end it by allowing our boys to win. Take off the leash, and allow the full weight of American military power to do what it does best ... hunt and kill the enemy. If General McChrystal requests 40,000 troops in Afganistan then give him 60,000. Change the rules of engagement to favor American infantry who now are simply not allowed to use all the tools at their disposal. Demonstrate a continued and sustained political will to win.

    The lesson of Vietnam was best learned by America's enemies, who know we haven't the stomach for doing what must be done.

    Bring back the draft to end the war? Please ...