It’s the Defense Department’s version of Dante’s Inferno. First, the impending war with Iraq bogs down into fierce, guerilla fighting inside of Baghdad, extending what was supposed to be a short, decisive campaign to oust Saddam Hussein into a bloody, house-to-house battle of wills against the Iraqi Republican Guard. Emboldened by Iraq’s resistance, Iran, Syria and Egypt step up their own anti-U.S. rhetoric while posturing strongly towards Israel, whose northern border comes under attack by Hezbollah terrorists operating out of Lebanon. Then just when it looks like things can’t get any worse, the other shoe drops.
With the majority of America’s military resources tied up in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf, an opportunistic, nuclear-armed North Korea sends its one million-man army swarming across the demilitarized zone into South Korea, leaving the 37,000 U.S troops stationed there with no choice but to retreat in the face of the enemy’s superior numbers. Those who think that this hypothetical chain of events sounds more like a game of Risk than a legitimate wartime scenario ignore the suicidal tendencies of both Saddam and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il. Left with nothing to lose as their despotic regimes teeter on the brink of collapse, these two weapons of mass destruction-wielding madmen may very well attempt to drag America into the bowels of hell with them. Unless the Bush Administration flexes its nuclear muscle, such a nightmarish situation would undoubtedly lead to a two-front war in the Middle East and Korea, one that Donald Rumsfeld recently said the U.S is more than capable of waging. But with a scaled-down military force consisting of roughly 500,000 active troops and reserves, are we? Or will maintaining multiple fronts require an action that hasn’t been taken since 1973—namely, reinstating the military draft.
The argument for conscription, while previously discredited by President Bush and all but ignored by the media, is more legitimate now than at any time since World War II. Instituting the draft to pursue the questionable interventionism of the first Korean War and Vietnam seems ludicrous when compared to the roll call of threats presently faced by the Unites States. Since the carnage of 9/11, America has been in constant danger of attack by both domestic and foreign terrorists. Islamic nations such as Iraq, Iran and Libya, sworn enemies of the United States all, are working feverishly at developing nuclear capabilities to match their already potent arsenals of biological and chemical weapons. As stated previously, the situation in North Korea is rapidly disintegrating, while the continued military and economic growth of its populous and ambitious Chinese neighbor warrants grave concern. Add to these maladies an ever-duplicitous Russia, the jealous, anti-U.S. leanings of the emerging European superstate and the ineffectual, neo-Third World nonsense that is the United Nations, and it’s obvious that the United States has few friends and even fewer reliable allies.
Little separates the precarious position in which the U.S. presently finds itself from that of Israel, a nation that has been in a perpetual state of war throughout its fifty-five year existence. The difference is that as a country, Israel is far better suited psychologically for continuous conflict due to its policy of mandatory military service (three years for men over 18, 18-21 months for women). Conscription has undoubtedly played a vital role in nurturing the fighting spirit so often shown by the Israelis in the face of overwhelming odds. Similarly, America’s current challenges require a collective attitude that is less Athens and more Sparta, not in a sense of initiating or seeking out conflicts, but in being prepared to deal with them decisively should they arise. Ask any Englander who lived through the Battle of Britain—hard times call for hardened people.
That said, I don’t wish for empire and believe preemptive military strikes should only be used in desperate circumstances (ironically, like the ones presented in Iraq and North Korea right now). I’d be thrilled if the host of crises we’re facing could be worked out diplomatically, but the harsh reality is that America needs to toughen up and quick, because we’re staring at what could be decades of uncertainty and strife. The logical solution to this is mandatory national service for every able-bodied young American (including those attending college) in order to foster preparedness, solidarity and love of country. Of course, one would hope that such qualities are inherent in every American, regardless of whether they served in the military. But thanks to massive immigration, a decadent popular culture, a relentlessly liberal mass media and the virtual Leftist indoctrination camps that our public schools and universities have become, the United States today feels more like a loose affiliation of special interest groups than an actual, unified nation.
A good example of how far our national fabric has unraveled can be found in a story my father shared with me recently about his dad. When World War II broke out, my grandfather was twenty-eight years old and married, with a daughter, a decent job and a tidy home in a working-class Philadelphia neighborhood. This comfortable existence was shattered on December 7th, 1941 when, as he lie on the couch listening to a football game, news broke in that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. The words were barely out of the announcer’s mouth before my grandfather, the son of German immigrants, was at the local recruitment office enlisting in the army. He ended up fighting the Japanese in Burma, a place with some of the most hellish jungles on earth, and collected a Purple Heart for his troubles. When one hears a story like this, the brief period of flag-waving that followed 9/11 seems minuscule in comparison. How many young men (myself included) who watched the World Trade Center buildings collapse hopped up from their couches in a patriotic fervor and volunteered to fight for their country? Far too few, I’m afraid, for the time when America was still an intensely proud republic filled with tough-minded young people has long since passed.
Take the average eighteen-year-old in far too many of our cozy suburban cul-de-sacs. Between watching reruns of Jackass, playing Grand Theft Auto, surfing the Net for porn and taking bong hits with his buds, good ‘ole Johnny stocks shelves at the neighborhood Wal-Mart. He’s just finished high school and isn’t sure what he wants to do with his life, so his parents have agreed to support him while he (no pun intended) hashes things out. Don’t laugh. After spending countless hours at my local shopping mall this past Christmas season, I’ve come to the conclusion that middle-class kids today fall into two equally soft categories: on the one hand are the preppy, jeep-driving Dave Matthews Band fans, and on the other, the Eminem-loving "gangsta" wannabes. Considering that the only fighting these kids have ever done was over the remote control, I shudder to think how they’d react if stuck in the middle of the desert, eyeball-to-eyeball with, say, an Iranian goatherder who hasn’t eaten in a week. Then again, most of these sheltered suburban souls will probably never have to experience such troubles. As soon as pro wrestling pay-per-views and Road Rules marathons get boring, they’ll decide to attend college, which makes it unlikely they’ll ever spend a day in the military thanks to a nice, fat deferment.
With the word "sacrifice" apparently stricken from middle-class dictionaries, we’ll have to turn to that always-reliable group who suffered the brunt of U.S. casualties in Vietnam: the poor and working-class people of our nation’s rural and urban areas. Except that these most patriotic of citizens aren’t such a sure thing anymore. Besides sharing the corrupted culture of their suburban counterparts, poor and working-class kids of all races and ethnicities must often face the additional demons of violence, poverty, drugs and failing schools. I’ve worked as a tutor in Philadelphia’s public, private and charter schools for a year and a half now and would be willing to wager that maybe ten percent of the students I’ve seen could locate Iraq on the map, let alone Iowa.
Compounding such ineptitude is an educational curriculum that seems bent on portraying Americans—whites and Christians in particular—as racist, imperialist bullies who’ve brought nothing but suffering to others. Such false teachings have gone a long way towards making our nation’s youth what it currently is—depraved, listless and indifferent, with little appreciation for America or its place in the world. Since both the Democratic and Republican parties are either too out of touch or too scared to address this fact, the question must be raised: is our present educational and cultural climate one that can produce truly great men and women? The answer, I fear, is no. Requiring military service from our young people, besides providing the obvious benefit of preparing them for the tough times that lie ahead, may be the only way to instill in them a value that has somehow been lost over the past forty years—the sense of honor and commitment that comes with knowing that you live in the greatest country in the world.
I realize that a military draft, in the short term at least, would create a national uproar. First and foremost, no one wants to see their son or daughter shipped off to some distant land only to return in a coffin. My answer is that, God willing, no conscript will ever have to see battle, let alone leave the confines of the United States. But if circumstances escalate and troops are needed for combat overseas, we could take some comfort in knowing that our draftees would be well-drilled and ready for action due to months of prior mandatory training. Another hot-button issue raised by a military draft, besides the potential for battlefield casualties, would be the role of women.
With our country’s militant feminist crowd harboring delusions of buffed, tough warrior princesses leading the charge to victory, no draft could be complete, unfortunately, without including young females. While woman volunteers have served admirably in a number of combat support positions (especially since the first Persian Gulf War), there is absolutely no need to draft large amounts of the fairer sex in order to augment our armed forces. Last time I checked, there were plenty of able-bodied young men walking America’s streets who despite the present politically correct maxim, are far better suited physically for the rigors of war than the average, 5-4, 125-pound college-aged female. However, thanks to endless screams of inequality from the Left, our armed forces must be fully gender-integrated, a fact that would entail mandatory service for women as well as men.
While I find the drafting of females unfathomable, there are numerous support and technological positions that they could fill, including medical services, administrative duties, and transporting personnel and equipment. Luckily, women are excluded from ground units with exposure to direct combat, and much to feminists’ chagrin, cannot engage in activities like hand-to-hand combat and special ops missions that are extremely difficult for them due to their genetic makeup. Conscription of single, childless women aged 18-26 has been mandatory in Israel since 1959 largely out of necessity due to that country’s small population. But here’s something the darlings at N.O.W. might want to take note of: many Israelis soured on women in the military after hundreds of female soldiers were killed in the 1948 War for Independence. Imagine the outcry such casualties would provoke in the United States, especially at our institutions of higher learning.
It’s a sure bet that college campuses, which have been relatively tame thus far in regards to the impending war with Iraq, would come alive with Leftist venom as soon as draft cards were issued. Spurred on by the cartel of Marxist professors infesting campuses nationwide, students would revel in flag-burning and general rebellion against a government that dares ask them to defend their country. Meanwhile, racial pimps like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would howl about blacks and Hispanics being asked to fight the white man’s war, and the millions of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. will probably resent being asked for once to pull their own weight. To me, these probabilities only underscore the need for a draft. We must weather the initial storms of protest in order to ensure the long-term strength and security of the United States. With war looming, this is no time to drift apart along class and racial lines. We as Americans need to share a sense of community, of oneness. And with our government either unwilling or unable to enforce the policies necessary to foster such solidarity, mandatory military service may be our only hope for a future united America.