As the war in Iraq just seems to get uglier and uglier, it looks like America’s youth might find themselves staring down the barrel of a gun – quite literally.
That’s right; a good old fashioned military conscription could be headed to a democracy near you.
“But wait!” you say. “The President told us that as long as he was running the show there would only be an all-volunteer military.”
Well that is true. Despite John Kerry’s insistence that there was no way in hell that Bush could keep up his war going without eventually reinstating some sort of draft, the President managed to convince the electorate that everything would be free and easy.
But a Center for American Progress report released last week said that the U.S. needs to gut the 140,000 soldier force currently stationed Iraq – many of whom are overextended and have spent more time in-country than any of their predecessors in previous wars – or the American presence in the Middle East will be detrimental to national security. That is of course unless the government can find some way to beef up its numbers.
If current trends continue, beefing up the military’s numbers is going to require a draft or a small miracle, because lines at recruitment centers are even less impressive than they were for the movie version of “Doom.”
But “doom” is a good word for the future that could await the young people who decided to not run down to the enlistment office on Sept. 12, 2001. That’s not to disparage those who did – they made a noble choice based on conviction and we at the Campus Times respect that. But the young people who stayed away, and continue to stay away, have also made a choice, and we would contend that in most cases it is also based on conviction and therefore noble as well.
The real tragedy would be for those people who are opposed to our current foreign policy in the Middle East to be forced to support it, simply because the President doesn’t like to admit defeat or error.
There’s been a lot of rhetoric about America finishing what it starts over the last few years. It is a nice ideal, but at what cost do we want to finish it and are we really the people to finish it?
The West has a history of horrible failure when it comes to Middle Eastern affairs—most of the problems that exist there today are a result of Medieval European imperialist scheming and modern America’s thirst for oil. Anyone can tear a clock apart, but very few people can put one back together – it takes an expert. And the U.S. is no expert when it comes to the Muslim world.
And so a crossroads is coming. Does the U.S. scale back its presence in Iraq or does it force its youth to war? Given the West’s track record in that part of the world, we say scale back so that those who are behind can stay behind and finish what they’ve started. If the West’s record in the Middle East tells us anything, it is that those who stayed behind have a better chance of reaching their goals at home than our government has of reaching its goals in Iraq.