Friday, October 15, 2004

hypothetical re-emergence of the draft

The youth of America has become disillusioned. In many countries, military service is a requirement for its citizens. As the world's last true superpower, we have adopted an attitude that something needs to be done, but that someone won't be me and someone else will be there to pick up the slack. Admittedly, I'm part of this and don't plan to change that stance. Our country has seen a great many decades of peace and prosperity where the specter of domestic and global threat has become virtually a non-issue. It wasn't until 9/11 that "we had to look at the world differently". We weren't so much looking at the world differently, but it was the alarm clock that gave the semblance of a wake up pinch to the citizens of our nation that we are not living in a protective bubble, protected from outside threats by the esteem and power position of our nation.

It is easy to go on the internet and write "I support the troops!". You feel so patriotic and American after that don't you, especially after all the jibing that you are un-american because of anti-war sentiment. Of course we all support troops. How many of us would actually become one of those troops? In my time at college i've seen a few of my friends decide to take the exam for the AirForce, i've heard about guys enlist in the Army. Back at home, in our naval base centered town, a few of my friends signed up for the Navy instead of going to college. One of my good friends just graduated from the University of Florida only to go directly to officers school for the United States Marines. These are only a few. Burning in our hearts, the educated, the elite, is not overwhelmingly the desire to fight for our nation abroad, it is to make money, be successful, have a family, close ourselves off in our materialism driven bubble life and be good consumers.

During the last month as well as the Presidential Debates, the issue of reinstituting a draft has arisen. Kerry talked about increasing our active military forces by 40k, Bush said some other things, but vehemently, both opposed and disregarded the idea of the draft. Abosolutely, we shouldn't need a draft, we shouldn't even need a military if the world wasn't so hell bent on fucking with their neighbors. We have seen it as the topic of Liberal media as well as Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11 Documentary, the issue of the composition of our military forces in terms of race and economics. I refuse to believe that our current military is composed [majority] of poor people who were recruited out of lower class neighborhoods and ghettos, this does not however take any force away from the reality that the military does use economic incentive to 'lure' people into service.

A good question is whether or not this is good or bad. On the surface, I think it's perfectly legitimate for a lot of people. Why would you goto the military, a lot of my friends didn't want to goto college, a lot wanted to learn pertinent life skills, a lot didn't think they had a future anywhere else. The military isn't a half bad deal if you are impoverished, you can get enlisting bonuses of about $20k, college repayment loans of about $65k, un-taxed pay,etc. As good willed as this sounds, it is yet another thing to dangle these incentives in front of low-income, low education grade school kids without ever looking at the fine details.

"And many of those who do accrue student loans find it impossible to work through the military's bureaucracy in order to access the money. The first wall they run into is a requirement that the college loan be at least one year old. By this time the recruit has served at least two years. The second wall is that only 15% of the loan will actually be paid each year after that. This means the recruit obligated for at least another seven years of duty for a total of least nine years of service. The third wall is that the military will only pay the loan if the recruit is still active in the reserves. But most contracts end after only six years of duty, far short of the nine-plus needed to pay the full loan. So, in the end, the recruit only gets a fraction, if any, of the $65,000 promised by the recruiter."

As to my point in this journal. There is no doubt that in our military, there is a significant portion of our active duty forces and reserves that is composed of the minority low income low education soldier that democrats like to point to. The rest of the forces are people who a. really believe in duty to country b. didn't think they were going anywhere in life c. family history of military service d. political aspirations e. something else.

With Bush and Kerry pushing for the reforms that America needs to push for to remain competitive in the 21st century, I almost can see the draft becomming something that needs to be put into serious consideration. If we are to raise economic disparity among the populace, if we are going to create more jobs, if we are going to stress more adamantly education and going to college, what exactly are we doing? We are pushing more people into higher education, pushing more people to be our market analysts, engineers, writers, artists, musicians, doctors,lawyers, and politicians of tommorow. The stress being largely on education and economic raising of the bar. With those two bars risen, who will enter the military instead of the work force? Being a college student, joining the military hasn't crossed my mind in a while. I think about working the 9-5 in the engineering sector. We have the mentality that we are being prepped for bigger and better things and that other people will do it. As of now, this has been true. We have brave men and women who join the military and goto Iraq and Afghanistan to do the government's bidding, "to spread liberty". The increase in education and economic balancing will enevitably lead to a reduction in military service. This breeds even more strongly, that the other guy will do it. I can sit at my computer and write about how bad things are, but I never have to see how bad things really are or can get.

When and if the United States is thrown into another conflict that is fought on a power level similar to that of World War II, will it be enough to say, let the other guy do it? In Iraq, our comparative might is staggering to that of a backwards oil nation. In a more level playing field, where the security of our nation is severly threatened, where the conflict is fist vs. fist (instead of fist vs. mosquito) I doubt it will be enough to stand on the sidelines. Who will compose the military at that point down the line, those who are on the fringes who still can't be economically secure? those who believe in service more than materialism? i don't think there will be enough if we make society better as a whole (increasing education levels as well as economic disparity). I have no problem with the draft, if my country needs me I'll step up to the plate. If we are threatening dictators who hide in holes, i'll keep sitting in the bleachers cheering.