If you're one of America's youth, retired professor Edward Bernard Glick has you in mind for a very special program: a revitalized draft.
The United States armed forces have a very big problem: Embroiled in war, they have bankrupted the nation they are sworn to protect financially, morally and militarily. Scandals involving clandestine torture facilities, missing trillions, and troop brutality visit our headlines with shocking regularity, and the vast majority of Americans disapprove of how the federal government is mishandling their line of defense to the point where the Pentagon is embarking on a multi-million dollar campaign to prevent negative news from ever leaving Iraq or Afghanistan.
Edward Bernard Glick disagrees. The retired Temple University professor sees the military's problem as little more than a personnel shortage - and he's got just the plan to fix that.
Said plan is fiendishly clever in its simplicity. In his recently penned (and appropriately titled) column "America's youth must serve their country, one way or another," Glick outlines his fool-proof method to plugging holes on the front lines - reinstating the draft. Citing failures in past policy and current dips in military enrollment, Glick's promotion of the draft is nothing short of momentous; its rhetoric both insults and horrifies while revealing the drive among some Americans to conscript for endless war. The latter alone is a shocking realization.
Does the United States need a larger military complex? Ask one of the millions of children who live below the poverty line, the underpaid teacher with outdated materials, or the small town with rotting streets and you'll get your answer. The military soaks up over half the federal budget every year; if we cannot defend our borders and attack nations around the world simultaneously, we need to reprioritize instead of wasting billions overseas.
Glick's thesis ignores such moderation and responsibility, choosing instead to promote the idea that forcing American citizens to fight illegal wars will somehow revitalize the troops. "A draft would do more than just harness the energy and idealism of the nation's youth to meet the military's unmet personnel needs," he writes, as if idealism were a spark to be clamped down in a stone jar and exploited. "It would also tap more of the resources of the nation's women, heeding their demands for more gender equality by making their obligations more consonant with their rights ... [and] it would be fairer to African-Americans and other minorities, who might stop viewing military service as just another job choice."
That's right! Glick has just summoned forth some magical trifecta which 1) insists the draft is a great recruiting tool and morale booster; 2) turns feminism and equal opportunity on their ears by stating women and minorities need better representation; and 3) regards every minority who enlisted as some chump whose qualifications could only find him a job in the armed forces! What does that say about our armed forces? And how exactly can blacks view military service "as just another job choice" when they are forced to participate in the job? The statement boggles the mind.
No less so than Glick's three-point plan, which boils down to all of-age youth enrolling in some infallible and incorruptible lottery system that could never be abused or mishandled by an administration that has stop-lossed 100,000 troops into extending their military commitments. Those that aren't selected to be cannon fodder for the year are then placed in blighted areas to help with the rampant poverty created in part by... out-of-control military spending. It's akin to an overseas church mission without any of the free will of electing to go.
And while I won't deny the societal benefit of millions of MySpace-addicted illiterates roaming poor neighborhoods and pretending to give a damn about those around them, Glick's proposal is slavery, pure and simple. The United States was ostensibly founded on the concept of personal freedom, and while those freedoms are being gnawed at by the hungry rats of the Bush administration, enforced social service is the end of liberty. At that point, the U.S. is a nation of serfs... and we're not there. Yet.
Glick's insistence that the youth of America fight his battles is maddening. I know it takes a lot of energy to be a retired professor, but if he's so keen on populating troop rolls, why doesn't he grab a helmet and a rifle and hit the front lines? Better yet, why not heed my fool-proof plan to level off troop numbers?
1. Politicians who vote for or support war with their silence must enlist every living relative in the U.S. Army ground forces; and
2. Pundits who cry for war, increased military spending and/or conscription must immediately sign themselves up for active military duty or have "Raging Hypocrite" tattooed on their foreheads.
See? My proposal is every bit as ridiculous... and in only two bullet points. It also has the added benefit of forcing the chicken hawks to put their money where their mouth is; after all, when it's their own asses on the line, do you really think they'd allocate themselves to a bloody ground battle?
That's what this is all about: Glick wants others to fight his battles. He believes what's happening over in the Middle East is worth your life. Not his, of course; after all, he's got important articles to write justifying Israel's self-defense and genocide in Gaza. But your body, your life, your soul; that's worth the price of admission.
Glick concludes by parroting John F. Kennedy's famous rhetorical question: "And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." I wonder, upon hearing those words, would a 19-year-old Glick embrace his country's values of liberty and happiness by pursuing the career in political science he dreamed about, or would he wish some stodgy old talking head could force him into an unfulfilling life firing cannons and cleaning bedpans until the state decided he had served long enough?
Canon Fodder is a bi-weekly analysis of politics and society.