Yesterday was veterans Day, and what was great about it was that I was reading the chapter about one of my favorite veterans from WWII- President Jack Kennedy. (I am reading Chris Matthews biography “Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero”. ) There is no better way to honor our veterans and our active military folks than to think hard and long about the wars we fight.
I think the past two wars and this future war with Iran remind me of the basis of our military today- a volunteer project. Thousands of people younger then me and around my age are signing up for the military and serving in the military. Many of them come back from our recent campaigns broken and others don’t have the opportunities they were told would be awaiting them after their honorable service. Yet significant number pay the ultimate price.
However, going back to JFK, I want to emphasize that I believe we don’t honor our military the way we should because its become a “volunteer” endeavor. When men and women volunteer they are faceless thousands who we honor and recognizeout of ritual. There is a loss of collective awe in the uniforms significance. But there was a time when our military was not a volunteer force, where the rich and the poor, the various minorities served as Americans through a draft. We thought twice about war because it was an equalizer. Not always perfect, but I believe it holds us all accountable to the choices of war and peace.
Today we have politicians who lightly make decisions of war and peace. Preemptive strikes and collateral damage are words of little significance to the true nature of war. “We get used to talking about billions of dollars, and millions of soldiers, that thousands of casualties sound like drops in the bucket.” said JFK. “But if those thousands want to live as much as the ten I saw, the people deciding the whys and wherefores had better make mighty sure that all this effort is headed for some definite goal, and that when we reach that goal we may say it was worth it, for if it isn’t, the whole things will turn to ashes, and we will face great trouble in the years to come after the war.”
No matter how much Condoleezza Rice or Dick Cheney assert the righteous of the Iraq war we, Americans, will face the great troubles in the years to come after the war ends this December. I am glad of its conclusion, but the rattles of sabers move us to our new target- Iran. How many wars will we fight and how many people will die before we realize how easy it is to go to war but how difficult it is to bring a war to a successful conclusion?
I believe two things- 1) bring back the draft and 2) by bringing back the draft make it mandatory for American citizens of a certain age to serve a certain period during a certain amount of years in the military. You have a citizen and society that is prepared to fight for its values, you address the obesity issue in this country head on and finally a future in which a draft will decide who goes to war and who doesnt will ensure that folks who govern think hard about decisions to go to war. The freedom we have is not free, so lets every citizen pay for it.
Finally, my last reflection is the reason I chose the picture of Kareem Khan and his grieving mother is because I would like State Representative Rick Womick (R-TN)to go to every single American Muslim family whose loved one’s have died in service, every veteran that has served this nation as a Muslim and thousands serving in our nations armed forces that they don’t belong there. I want him to tell them to their faces individually with the same conviction he had the audacity to make his comments in this interview to every single one of them. I want him to go to the graves of these American Muslim servicemen and the bedside of the injured ones and tell them “Personally, I don’t trust one [you] in our military because [you’re] commanded to lie to us through the term called Taqiyya. And if [you] truly are a devout Muslim, and follow the Quran and the Sunnah, then I feel threatened because [you’re] commanded to kill me.”