War Games: the pre-emptive punch and fair play

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This blog was contributed by guest blogger Linda Hansen

We have it on very good authority (George W. himself) that, in this post-9/11 world, it is imperative to strike the first blow when we have the slightest notion someone–anyone–out there means to hurt us. Hit first and hit hard. Any perceived enemy is fair game. No hard evidence of imminent danger necessary. His job, he declares, is to protect us fom harm. What a fair and sensitive guy he is. Or not. Insiders say he has a petty mean streak a mile wide. And he smirks when he punches below the belt.

The sitting president plays host, every election cycle, to newly elected legislators. Everyone’s invited to the White House to meet and greet the Commander Guy. They all make nice–even though they’ve said some pretty awful things about each other during campaign season. The 2006 shindig was a doozey.

Senator-elect Jim Webb (D-VA) was there. He’s the ex-marine who beat Bush buddy/wannabe George “Macaca” Allen in a tight race. Senator Webb was no supporter of Dubyah’s Iraq War and, unlike the Prez, Webb actually had a son serving his country in Iraq. He chose to avoid Bush during the White House reception. Not a bad idea when you’re no fan. It beats hissing at him.

But old Dubyah was having none of that. He made a beeline for Jim Webb. Here’s how it went:

Bush (smirking): “How’s your boy?”

Webb (not smirking): “We want them to come home, Mr. President.”

Bush (maybe not smirking): “I didn’t ask you that. I asked how he’s doing.”

Webb (definitely not smirking): “That’s between me and my boy.”

Conservative columnist George Will was appalled. He said Senator-elect Webb was rude to the President of the United States. He said Bush was only “being sensitive” and Webb was a “boor.”

Well, big whoop! How many parents of servicemen and -women are feeling all warm and fuzzy toward a president who misled their kids into a disaster in the Middle East and is determined to keep them there? Seems to me every family member of everyone serving multiple, extended tours of duty in Iraq has earned the right to say whatever he or she likes about the war. They’ve earned the right–the hard way–to state their own opinions. No matter who it is they’re talking to. Jim Webb should have been praised for his self-control. He could have balled up one powerful fist and made a pre-emptive strike of his own; to defend himself against both Dubyah’s invading his space and his “Commander Guy sensitivity.”

War Games. That’s what it’s all about. It’s just fine to play the War Game when the “pieces”–the toy soldiers–belong to somebody else. When the same group of military families bears all the burden of The Game while the rest of America shops and complains about the cost of a gallon of gasoline.

There’s an answer for that. Look to games to define the rules of fair play for games. We need a draft again. Not the old one. Nothing like it. The old Selective Service was just that: selective. There were easy deferments for those who could afford to stay in college. Lots of Vietnam era privileged guys got a sudden yen for graduate degrees. And you could avoid the draft altogether–like Dubyah, like Dan Quayle–if your daddy had money, power, influence. He just saw to it you got bumped ahead of every other guy on the National Guard waiting list or got you into graduate school, even when your academic record put you mighty low on the list of applicants. Nope. Can’t have that again. We’re going to play fair this time, no matter whose keester winds up in the sling.

Let’s do a shiny new draft. And lets’ do it like, say, the NBA. Like basketball. First round draft picks, second round, third round and so on. No deferments. None. Here’s how it goes:

First round: The kids, nieces, nephews and grandchildren of every member of the Executive Branch of government. The president and vice-president are the first to see their families’ kids off to war.

Second round? Kids from Legislative Branch families.

Third? Department of Defense and war-mongering think tank policy makers’ kids.

Fourth? Hit up big business. Defense contractors, oil company execs…take your pick.

If you love the notion of a war, if you stand to make a profit from it, your kids are gone.

It’ll work. I’m sure of it. There won’t be another Vietnam or Iraq in our future–not with the sons and daughters of the powerful at risk first. You can bet we’ll see some serious talking going on; a veritable renaissance of diplomacy and intelligent, compassionate discourse in solving problems worldwide. No more dishonest, for-profit, pre-emptive rush-to-war. Ever again.

The cost of such a war, our leaders will tell us then, is just too high.

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5 Responses

  1. Hello.

    This was an interesting article!

    Would you be willing to spread the word about http://www.draftresistance.org? It’s a site dedicated to shattering the myths surrounding the selective slavery system and building mass civil disobedience to stop the draft before it starts.

    Our banner on a website, printing and posting the anti-draft flyer or just telling friends would help.

    Thanks!

    Scott Kohlhaas

    PS. When it comes to conscription, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

  2. Scott–

    I’ll certainly be checking out your website.

    Understand one thing, however: My op-eds are often satirical, but I am deadly serious. I do believe in the necessity of a draft. Wholeheartedly. But I am against the “bottom up” draft, the ultra-selective system that favors the “freedom from conscription” of those who can afford it.

    I’m likely old enough to be your mother; old enough that Vietnam was my first taste of wartime in America. My experience with the draft is deeply personal. My husband was one of the “ordinary” guys whose number came up in 1967. We’d been married for about 7 weeks. He was in Vietnam within six months, arriving just in time for the Tet Offensive. He spent all of 1968 in I Corps. I spent all of 1968 terrified he’d never come back.

    He did. But he was never the same guy I married. I’ve never been the same either. He spent Memorial Day this year watching TV–the Military Channel. One wrenching Vietnam story after another. All day. And he wept. All day.

    For him–for us–Iraq is the same war magnified. The “unintended consequences” of this war are far more dangerous. Fewer families bear the burden of war this time. There is no “Serve your year in hell and get out.” I was recently approached by a military mom who asked me to tell her story: Her only son is in Iraq. His fifth deployment. Fifth. Her Mother’s Day gift? Word that this tour was being extended.

    It is enough. The class system for cannon fodder has to end. Until it does, until the terrible burden of war is shouldered equally by the privileged, the powerful will take us into one war-for-profit after another. It costs them nothing; those who pay the price are both invisible and dispensable.

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