The Slow Turn of the Conservative Worm
My sister sent a very interesting article today regarding the personal cost of war that the media largely ignores. The article is doubly interesting because it appeared on a conservative web site, The American Conservative. Web site for the magazine of the same name.
The article in question is the Walking Wounded by Fred Reed. It is a damned good read and contains some real wisdom in his observations regarding the crucial difference between the war in Iraq and the last big military adventure, Vietnam.
A short quote from the article:
"People say that this war isn’t like Vietnam. They are correct. Washington fights its war in Iraq with no better understanding of Iraq than it had of Vietnam, but with much better understanding of the United States. The Pentagon learned from Asia. This time around it has controlled the press well. Here is the great lesson of Southeast Asia: the press is dangerous, not because it is inaccurate, which it often is, but because it often isn’t. So we don’t much see the caskets —for reasons of privacy, you understand."
This article is well worth the read. While you're at it, introduce yourself to a strange and interesting mind, in the person of Fred Reed. Fred Reed on Everything. Fred claims to be wacko but compared to what passes for sanity in the US of A these days, wacko is more rational. At least in Fred's case.
Fred is very much his own guy so you can decide what political category he does or doesn't fit. I think he's sort of an old style two fisted liberal but he might poke me out for saying that.. Seeing that 'liberal' has changed meaning three times since the era of that variety of liberal. Hell, these days we don't distinguish liberals from commies, anarchists, or egalitarian billionaires like Jimmy Carter. How they all got into the same camp is a great mystery but it makes as much sense as any of our current political and theological terminology.
Fred paints a true picture of the unpleasant reality for returning vets. Men who are returning in sizable numbers but are completely ignored by the corporate/government sanctioned media. These kind of stories reveal the lie of honor and respect afforded the people we send to do the dirty work.
Thrown body, soul, and mind into literal hell to "protect America'" and "Liberate" the Iraqis, they are dumped like used tampons when they are too wounded to be of further use. Sure it's an ugly image but it is an ugly fact of life for these patriotic young men we pretend to honor and cherish. Until they lose their hands and can no longer do the dirty work.
Fred, like many smart and worthy writers, seems to believe that the political cost of reintroducing the draft will ensure it will not happen. I hope he is right but if you've been reading this blog you know I believe the draft is absolutely inevitable.
PNAC will have its way with congress. If you don't get the reference, check my last post for details and the links. It is not possible to maintain present commitments and support future foreign policy goals with the present military. Stop loss programs and using up your reserves so early in the campaign comes with a heavy payback ticket regarding future manpower needs.
It is important, to the persons responsible, to keep Americans ignorant of the real cost of this adventure in Imperial governance. It is bad for recruitment, among other things.
The fact that this timely piece should appear on a site such as the American Conservative, is significant. Or so I believe. Traditional conservatives are beginning, just beginning, to question their support for these radicals that have a strangle hold on American democracy.
The coming draft is a dangerous game but there are two choices. Bush and the neocronies can pull back from the brink and find new approaches or they can reintroduce conscription.
The tricky part will be how to reintroduce deferments. Without deferments, even a tame media can not hide the universal threat.
But the media will play ball. At first the draft will be a temporary measure. Draftees, congressional spokespersons will proclaim, will only be used for non-combat roles, to free more regular army for combat duty. Then only conscripts who 'volunteer' are sent to combat and eventually, just like in Vietnam, some terrible event will happen, requiring thousands of conscripts being fed to the on going effort.
I am convinced of the inevitability of this, not because of Vietnam, but because of the state of the American Army and Marine Corps and the size of the thankless task before them.
That appears to be the choice, back off or renew the draft. For a "war time president" who has never made a mistake, backing off is not an option.