If you visit this page, pass it on. This column appeared in the Clarksdale Press Register where I live and the Clarion Ledger, Mississippi's statewide newspaper.
You can support our troops and question this war at the same time. I am a four time decorated Vietnam Veteran. I have no misgivings about war. At times they are necessary. But, the United States does not need to send American men and women to a country because their people are oppressed. There are far more oppressed people in this world than Iraq and yet we turn blind eyes to the human atrocities that occur in those countries...
Here's my column. Pass it on and question and discuss the goals of the war...if you can name them and whether or not they are worth the life of another American soldier and if they are, I urge you to support a military draft.
Folks, I spent 18 months in Vietnam, 13 of them in line combat and the other five training replacements for their first combat patrol.
We are good at kicking butt; but, we should leave the nation building to someone else.
My position is--institute the draft or bring the troops home, use our money to rebuild the country, and institute the military draft any time our troops go on one of these excursions for more than six months.
For comments: e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
When do we win?
What do we win?
When do we leave?
When is the phrase "we are doing a lot of good over there" no longer enough to justify the next soldier KIA?
Perhaps I am suffering from an overdose of Memorial Day weekend movies. Perhaps, I have seen (and read) "We Were Soldiers Once…And Young" one too many times. Perhaps Americans need to talk more about "the war" and just what we are getting out of it for our efforts.
There is no good time to leave a country yours has conquered. There is no length of time that is long enough, nor good deeds that are done enough to determine when a conqueror has won over "the hearts and minds" of the people conquered.
There are not enough Americans who have an interest let alone a commitment in this war to say "it’s time to come home" nor to say "let’s hold the line".
The few Americans who have a real interest in staying or leaving are the ones with sons, daughters, husbands, wives, Fathers and Mothers who are dying or could die next for an Iraqi citizen’s freedom.
Most of us sacrifice little for the war. Even fewer of us worry every night for someone in Iraq.
More than 35 years ago from a rice paddy, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Clarion Ledger chastising "the American media" for its reporting on "my" war. I outlined a lengthy list of good deeds we were doing for the people of Vietnam. The longer I remained in Vietnam, though, the more I realized that "doing for" was not the same as reducing the threat of "the commies" from invading the U. S. The more I re-read that letter, the more somber about Iraq I become.
Those people who say one cannot compare the two wars are correct. In a Democracy such as ours, all persons, we like to think, have an equal voice. And for nearly two hundred years, the draft offered assurance that all Americans had an equal opportunity to defend our country and our freedoms. The end of the draft after Vietnam brought with it an end to equal opportunity to protect Democracy and Liberty.
Today’s volunteer army is not in the best interests of a Democracy. A volunteer military does not allow enough people to answer the questions posed at the beginning.
A military draft assures all Americans have an equal opportunity to defend and die for our own liberties or someone else’s freedom from oppression. A military draft assures that a president thinks twice before fabricating "intelligence" or allowing himself (or herself) to be duped by "intelligence" personnel in order to justify war. A military draft brings Democracy to the political decision-making process to go to war.
We are not at war in Iraq to defend our freedoms. If we were every red-blooded American male who has rattled the sword for war would line up at the recruitment center to go off to battle to defend his loved ones. They are not. Most are deadly silent, fearing, I suspect, criticism from their friends (or worse, our government) if they openly oppose the war, or stares from people like me if they support war but watch as someone else’s Mother, Father, wife, husband, brother, sister, son or daughter fights for freedom.
Yes, we are doing good for Iraqis. Yes, we are bringing good water and schools to Iraqi children. And, yes, we are introducing American values to an oppressed people. But, with our money, we are doing the same in Communist China without loss of a life. We are doing the same in Vietnam and we have not lost a life there in more than 30 years.
Begin a discussion by asking the primary question "What are our national interests in Iraq?" Is the answer "to bring freedom to the Iraqis?" Or, is it "to protect our freedoms here at home?"
Either answer evokes the question, should not all Americans have an equal opportunity to accomplish the national goals (if there are any) on the war in Iraq?
If you have no clue…well, you’re lucky there is no draft.
If there had been a draft, this war would have been over two years ago or never started. Americans would have demanded an answer to the primary question and the answers to the questions posed at the beginning would have been the goals.
At some point "doing good" is not enough to justify the loss of another American Soldier in Iraq, unless we all have an equal opportunity to die to "do good".
If Americans are not ready for an equal opportunity draft, it’s time to call it a day and come home because most Americans sacrifice nothing for the outcome of the war, have no commitment to the war, or worse yet are just plain clueless on the war.
The people who volunteer can’t do it alone, forever.
John M. Mayo