Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Why Americans are Unwilling to Serve in the Military

It's been close to a month since my last post, and truthfully, I was working on a post that is the polar oppostite of this one before I chose to post this one. That other post was on tolerance, and I hope to post it near the start of 2007.

I just read an article courtesy of the Drudge Report on how the Pentagon is considering providing more incentives for immigrants (legal and illegal) to join the military. This is due to the lack of Americans willing to volunteer. What's interesting to me is the fear for any government official to mention the "D" word (draft). Of course, anyone who's over age 40 can remember what happened the last time that happened. And really, who can blame them? Even now, whenever the D word is mentioned, you're bound to get a wide range of opinions, and those opinions aren't necessarily biased to one political party. I've heard just as many conservatives say they don't want the draft insituted as liberals, and vis versa.

This article also mentioned that the reason recruiting levels are so low is that people are worried getting sent off to Iraq. As someone who is turning 18 in 7 months, this is something that I firmly believe is true. I would find it to be an honor to serve my country and to defend the principles that it has fought for for 230 years. Truthfully, as much of the pacifist that I am, I fully support the war in Afghansitan. If I were called to serve, I'd more than willingly fight in Afghanistan to find (and kill) the man who is responsible for thousands of deaths around the world, 3,000 in the U.S. alone. But as long as this President is in power, I can't feel certain that if I get sent overseas, that I'll actually be fighting in a war that I don't believe in the cause of.

Whatever happens in Iraq now is the responsibility of the U.S.; we're the mechanics of one very beat up Pinto. The problem is, there is no "exit strategy." The current policy is to not cut and run, and all that means is that there is no long term plan, there never was, and we'll stay here as long as it takes to finish the job right. To quote my social studies teacher from my last school, the policy for the war in Iraq depended on the soldiers being greeted with flowers and candy. If that happened, the war wouldn't last much longer than Desert Storm. Desert Storm was over in a couple of weeks. "Gulf War II" has lasted for almost 4 years. "Flowers and candy" mean "roadside bombs and IEDs."

The truth is, the survival of every great civilization has relied on the integrity of its military. For the size and power of the United States, we have a comparatively small miliary, 500,000. China, for instance, has a military that is supposedly over one million. In the next century, that dragon will become our greatest adversary on the world stage; economically, politically, and militarilly. If we are to prevail into the next century with the leverage we have today, this government (Bush, his cronies, the Democrats, everyone) needs to come up with a definite plan for winning Iraq. Otherwise, this great volunteer army we have won't grow, largely out of fear for fighting in a Vietnam style war where the outcome is uncertain and light years away from reality.