Today, Herbert asks the question that, for me, has always the bottom line. Would you send your child?
When I was growing up during the Vietnam War, my father used to say this all the time. Would they (the hawk politicians) send their kids? Of course, "they" did not. He had no intentions of sending his, either. My brother was of draft age, and my father, who was very political, explored whatever options there were to keep him out: exaggerating a knee injury, getting conscientious objector status, and if necessary, moving to Canada.
I have no idea if my father would have actually moved us north, though I know he would have done whatever it took to keep his son out of Southeast Asia. My brother "got a good number," as we said in those days, and I never found out.
Bob Herbert says:
It's easy to be macho when you have nothing at risk. The hawks want the war to be fought with other people's children, while their own children go safely off to college, or to the mall. The number of influential American officials who have children in uniform in Iraq is minuscule.Daddy Bush didn't want Junior to go, either. Hell, Junior didn't even show up at his avoid-the-draft club, a/k/a the National Guard. (Let's not forget, folks, the Guard meant something different in those days. People joined to get out of the draft, period.)
Most Americans want no part of Mr. Bush's war, which is why Army recruiters are failing so miserably at meeting their monthly enlistment quotas. Desperate, the Army is lowering its standards, shortening tours, increasing bonuses and violating its own recruitment regulations and ethical guidelines.
My only quibble with Herbert is over this:
If the United States had a draft (for which there is no political sentiment), its warriors would be drawn from a much wider swath of the population, and political leaders would think much longer and harder before committing the country to war.This should be true, but in reality, there is always a way out for the rich and connected. It has always been thus. Given the disparities of wealth and privilege in the US today, there is no reason to think it would be otherwise. I don't think a draft is the cure. Though with these dark hints of Osama in Iran, we may soon find out.