Community Service

Anybody proposing a Draft should first see their reflection.

The first thing we did upon learning that WaPo’s Dana Milbank had written a column advocating the Draft was look up (a) his age, and (b) his military service.

Having grown up during That Decade, you can understand why. Our babysitter had a Vietnam map on her livingroom wall, tracking the Last Known Locations of her son, the draftee Army cook. We checked our Number every year, even though we weren’t even a teenager. We gave Serious Thought to Canada, at least as serious as a twelve-year-old could muster.

And then it all went away, and Our Generation gave the world Toga Parties.

But despite the fact we dodged the Draft — even dodged Registration, since Jimmy didn’t dare piss off young voters with it in 1980 — we’ve never forgotten that sword hanging over our head growing up, our status as a potential pawn in Somebody Else’s War. Whatever the Draft’s justification in earlier eras, it didn’t apply to ours.

So, to our research: Dana Milbank was born in 1968. He went to Yale, where he joined Skull & Bones. The only action he saw, near as we can tell, was as a Wall Street Journal reporter in London, where he was serving bravely at the time of his marriage at 25.

Not only did Dana Milbank miss the Draft — even Registration didn’t kick in until he was twelve — he’s lived a life that would have easily allowed him to avoid the Draft.

Of such things are Chickenhawks made:

But one change, over time, could reverse the problems that have built up over the past few decades: We should mandate military service for all Americans, men and women alike, when they turn 18. The idea is radical, unlikely and impractical — but it just might work.

See, there are few veterans in Congress or the White House these days, and “there is no better explanation for what has gone wrong in Washington in recent years”, which can be boiled down to “a loss of control over the nation’s debt, legislative stalemate and a disabling partisanship”, and please ignore everything else that’s happened since 1980 to bring us to this point, because I have a Big Idea that conveniently wouldn’t affect me personally.

And hey, it works for Switzerland, so why not us?

Milbank of course isn’t the first to propose a Draft as a cure for what ails us — despite Our Exceptional Nation living through what should have been a Counterargument for the Ages, the Draft keeps thrusting a hand out the grave, having nothing to do with, y’know, national defense.

Of course, living through Vietnam — even as a child — distorts our judgment, we’re often told. But the number of real Drafts in our history are few — starting with Lincoln, returning with Wilson, resuming with Roosevelt, and reaffirmed with Truman and Johnson. A history of the Draft is a history of our major wars, as shown by the dates of Selective Service legislation: 1917, 1940, 1948, 1951, 1967.

Even the Founders were famously wary of standing armies, limiting funding to two-year increments and requiring Congress to declare war. They didn’t see the Army as a surrogate for Community.

Oh, and they did that other thing, which eventually led to some really disabling partisanship and the first Draft some fourscore years later. Perhaps Milbank can find a Wayback Machine and explain to them how an earlier Draft would have solved everything.

19 comments:

7:46 am • Tuesday • December 3, 2013

Some of us got drafted and fled. I’m told.

Now that we’ve impoverished working Americans we don’t need a draft.

1:05 pm • Tuesday • December 3, 2013

Know what else is cool about Switzerland? Every house gets a fucking assault rifle. I’m down with that.

2:39 pm • Tuesday • December 3, 2013

Yet guys like Millbanks will find a way to weasel out of it (like all the drafts before.)

3:27 pm • Tuesday • December 3, 2013

I’ve been at the library studying for about an hour and just realized that the guy who’s been sitting across from me the whole time is reading Catching Fire. Oh, to be an undergrad.

11:27 pm • Tuesday • December 3, 2013

The draft ended about three months before my 18th B-Day. Lucky for me. I was strongly considering refusing the draft. I would likely have ended up in Federal prison where I would have had a several times greater chance of being killed had if I had gone to Vietnam.

I barely considered Canada since I considered myself an American.

“My country – right or wrong” meant to me that if it was wrong, like our illegal war in southeast Asia was wrong, then I had a responsibility to speak up and say “No”. Regardless of the consequences.

I was very lucky it never came to that.

12:39 am • Wednesday • December 4, 2013

Think I was about 4 months too old … or young? to get drafted. My older cousin took his family to Canada to evade, and came back with a very dope BMW 2002. What would I have done? Unclear, but it would probably have involved a slightly older version of @MissExpatria and a few forged passports.

12:49 am • Wednesday • December 4, 2013

@blogenfreude: If you want to date it (and yourself): “Only men born between March 29, 1957, and December 31, 1959, were completely exempt from Selective Service registration.”

Sometimes there are advantages to being born in the sidewalk crack between the Boomers and Gen X.

1:09 am • Wednesday • December 4, 2013

Well, fuck all you brave tiny-dicked fucks for your heroism.

Ole Rev Zafod was born almost 73 years ago, son of a Republican army officer, who went on to become another one, went to VMI , graduated as a DMG after being a DMS at ROTC summer camp at Ft Bragg in 1961 after coning in first in his platoon.

I went on to being commissioned Regular Army on graduation, tho I was transferred from Infnatry like my old man, to Field Artillery. I spent 2.5 years in the 101st Airborne, another 2.5 in Germany at Baumholder in the 8th Indf Div, and then a year in the 25th Inf Div with a few months in the boonies and the rest in Div HQ in G-3 on the night shift, averaging 12 hours a day and 7 days a week, Dropped from 205 lbs to 148 in the first six months.

Came home with a revised attitude. About ten years later, looked for reasons for divorces. Got head shrunk. Quit serial marrying.

I’ve been thru so much more shit in my life than any of you puny fucks, it’s laughable. Tet offensive? Four divorces?

And yet I keep a positive attitude. But you people are fucking everything up so much I can’t believe it.

I’m more liberal than you ever thought of being, tho I’m smart enough to know the Democrats are too far right.

Any questions, mofos?

1:41 am • Wednesday • December 4, 2013

@nojo: @RevZafod: November 10, 1959, if my birth certificate is to be believed. So I am exempt, but is the DOB of an adopted kid the truth? No worries now though …

2:16 am • Wednesday • December 4, 2013

@RevZafod: I am clapping.

7:41 am • Wednesday • December 4, 2013

@RevZafod: I think you’ve got it covered.

10:50 am • Wednesday • December 4, 2013

Israel has the right idea about military service, but they are surrounded by enemies who want to wipe them off the map. We are not. I thought then, and think now, that the VietNam war was a terrible mistake. The US was under no threat from North Vietnam, as witnessed by the fact that they won the war and our GDP has increased over 500% since 1975.

9:27 pm • Wednesday • December 4, 2013

@RevZafod: I wish there were a viable socialist party in the US, because I would belong to it.

9:47 pm • Wednesday • December 4, 2013

@RevZafod: Are you my doppelganger?

DMG, RA Commission, 8th Div, 1/28 Artillery (Honest John) in Wackernheim. Made many runs to Baumholder, then commanded CIDG Base Camp Security at Camp McDermott in Nha Trang after Tet, then out.

Pretty hard to be a right-winger after all that. Served 30+ years on local Boards for Planned Parenthood, and ACLUKY and maintained computer membership lists for statewide NOW for 10 years.

Also don’t think Democrats are liberal enuf, but then you are a bit younger.

10:30 pm • Wednesday • December 4, 2013

@stickler: I think folks around here are pretty much agreed that modern Democrats are virtually indistinguishable from Rockefeller Republicans.

12:08 am • Thursday • December 5, 2013

@RevZafod: @stickler: Words can’t express how much I respect what you guys did, and I can’t fathom how it affects you to this day. My dad and uncle were both drafted during Vietnam. They both enlisted (dad, A.F.; uncle, Army) because they couldn’t deal with the idea of leaving the country and never returning, plus their fathers/uncles/grandfathers had served in Korea/WWII/WWI. My uncle wound up in ‘Nam and my dad “lucked out” by being in rural Texas for four years. 45 years later, my uncle still carries the physical and mental scars from being over there, and is similarly a big liberal, in a “Jesus was a liberal why can’t we be like him and stop killing” hippie way,

@Benedick: And I respect those who had the stomach to leave the U.S. with the knowledge that they might never again ever be able to come home to visit their family or be at a funeral or wedding without fear of getting arrested at the border.

11:05 pm • Wednesday • December 18, 2013

I was draft age during the Vietnam War. Going to Canada didn’t occur to me, so I hitched around the country and camped out in various wilderness areas for a couple of years. My best friend was killed there. Now, I’m treating PTSD cases that are still left over from that stupid war. I thought that at least we learned a lesson there, and then George Bush did it again. And again. The human wreckage from those bullshit chickenhawk wars will likely outlive me. For a country that has nothing to fear from anyone, our “leaders” seem to be afraid of everyone.

7:36 am • Thursday • December 19, 2013

@lentinus: I did get drafted. That’s what they learned: don’t have drafts, they tend not to be popular.

8:02 pm • Thursday • December 19, 2013

@Benedick: Unpopular indeed. Glad you survived that mess. Only an idiot chickenhawk who never served would suggest reinstating the draft. Although I have even heard Democrats suggesting it as a way to bring the reality of war to everyone. Except themselves, of course.

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