Monday, July 05, 2004
There has been widespread speculation that in a second Bush term, when the President needn't worry about his re-election prospects, the military draft is sure to be reinstituted. E.J. Dionne points out that for some Americans -- specifically, those who have already volunteered to serve, and who thought their tours of duty were over -- the draft is already a reality:
Volunteers are told suddenly that they are not free to go after their period of duty is up. They are in this position because our political leaders ignored the counsel of military leaders who knew the occupation of Iraq would require more troops than the politicians were willing to commit. When they were selling the war, those politicians did not want to admit how hard things might get. Nor were they willing to be candid about how their expansive foreign policy requires more troops than the administration is willing to pay for.
God forbid that Americans earning, say, more than $1 million a year be asked to pony up a little more in taxes to support a larger military at a time when, we are told over and over, the country is in the middle of a war on terrorism. Millionaires can't be asked to sacrifice even a little bit. No, they deserve to have their taxes cut while others fight and die. And anyone who speaks up in opposition to this injustice risks being called unpatriotic by those who give up absolutely nothing themselves. Patriotism is defined as a solicitude for tidy incomes, a belief in anything Rush Limbaugh says on the radio and a demand that those in charge of the country never be held accountable for their mistakes . . . .
If we mean what we've said in the 34 months since Sept. 11, 2001, you would think that national service would be a central theme in our politics. At the least, you'd think that we would pass a large new GI Bill providing real benefits -- college educations, job ladders, help with homeownership -- for those who give of themselves to the country. Our men and women in the armed forces and police, firefighters and highly skilled teachers who try to lift up poor kids in inner cities and rural America all deserve honor and appreciation.