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Note of Caution

Naturally, I have been amused by the brilliant Operation Yellow Elephant. The basic idea is to simply inquire of young right-wing Republicans, great proponents of the war in Iraq, why they haven't enlisted to help make up the shortfall under which the U.S. armed forces is currently suffering. Their excuses are rich. The irony could feed an army.

But I think we should be careful here. Though I am not a Christian, I do believe in the ever present possibility of redemption. Well, I mean, if Ebenezer Scrooge could come around...

There is the remote possibility that Operation Yellow Elephant might turn from a very funny, very snarky amusement into an opportunity for these young Republicans to actually redeem themselves. I know it seems unlikely, but what happens if these young Republicans actually stop and think for a moment? What if they actually do peer deep into their own souls? What happens if they are, finally, repulsed by their own hypocrisy?

In short, what if they all actually do join the Army?

I've always been one of those who could see the logic of instituting a draft. It has always seemed to me that if there was going to be killing and dying and going legless or armless for the rest of people's lives, then the fun ought to be spread around. The idea being, of course: if the children of rich people have to go, then our fearless leaders are going to be made to think twice about starting any more wars.

But I'm not so sure I think that way anymore. It seems to me, especially now that we are in the Age of Optional Wars, the idea ought to be to put the brakes on these wars before they get started. But how do you do that?

In a sense, the chickenhawk young Republicans are showing us the way. In a democracy, despite all the high-falutin' speechifying, people usually vote on the basis of their own (enlightened, one hopes) self-interests. These chickenhawk young Republicans don't really believe in this war. If they did, they would be flocking to where they are really needed: on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. So in an odd way, they are actually voting the "right way". This war is wrong and they, to borrow a famous line, "aren't going to take it anymore". The only problem is that they are lying about their votes. It's like those people who in interviews say "Oh, I don't have a problem with gay people", and then they go into the privacy of the voting booth and vote for measures that cripple the rights of gay people. It's hypocrisy without much cost.

In a democracy without a draft, the people actually get to vote on whether they want a war or not: If the people don't want the war, if they think the war is a fraud like this one, then they aren't going to join up, and pretty soon the country doesn't have the people power to fight the war anymore. These chickenhawk young Republicans are doing just the right thing: voting against this war by staying home. All they really have to do now to fulfill their patriotic obligations is, you know, be honest and own up to their actual votes.

Of course the obvious problem with all of this is, in fact, the current war in Iraq. Not having a draft didn't stop the Bush Administration from starting this fraudulent mess so we can't really say that not having a draft will keep us out of similar messes. I don't know that not having a draft can save us from an electorate that is too disengaged to actually pay attention to what's coming down the road.

So it might just be that the best thing not having a draft can do for us is help us keep ourselves from making things worse once we've effed up and started a stupid war. For example, without a draft, the Bush Administration is not going to be able to do any more irresponsible, incompetent adventuring across the face of the globe.

But what if all the chickenhawk young Republicans grow some integrity and they actually do join up? How much more damage will Bush be able to do then with all those extra bodies in uniform? It gives one pause.

Still, no matter what we say or think, democracy is pretty much a crap-shoot. You put your money down on the marker you think is going to put you in the money, and then you takes yer chances. Operation Yellow Elephant is great for a laugh, and I guess overall it's worth the terrible risk. I mean, after all, the chances of all the chickenhawk young Republicans signing up are vanishingly small. Maybe a little bigger than the chances of them shutting their war-holes, but not by much. There are some days when I feel like I could literally kill for a good laugh, so I suppose overall the risk of putting more military bodies in the hands of the Bush Administration is worth it, considering the odds.

The best jokes are always the most dangerous, so I'm not saying I'm actually against Operation Yellow Elephant. I'm just saying, what are we going to do if they actually stop being loud-mouthed hypocrites?  Yeah, I know the chances are small, but one of the reasons the left is in the sorry state it's in these days is because we don't think enough ahead. Where are our strategic thinkers on the left?

What if the chickenhawk young Republicans cross us up and act with integrity?

Do we have an exit strategy for a successful Operation Yellow Elephant?


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This is very personal for me.

Puppy is eleven this August. It is not inconceivable that, if the republicans or the chickenhawk democrats control the country for a few more years, there could be a draft when puppy gets out of high school.

And here's the thing. I'm not afraid to put my own life on the line for something I believe in. But I'm really, really afraid to put my son's life on the line for something I don't.

This problem, this big fucking gap between my belief that we are all out of heroes and we need a few more, on the one hand, and that this war is a bullshit piece of work we have been sold, on the other, is something that keeps me up at night.

I don't want to be a rich person whose son doesn't have to go. Go where, though, and for what, is the question the other half of my brain asks. And what would I do to avoid it? What would I give to have my son out of the line of fire??

I said this on my live journal the other day: I am not the only one who is thinking about this. Just the other day, Puppy asked me what we would do if there was a draft in the year he graduates high school.

So. Food for fucking thought. Jeez, I'm sorry Mike, I'm swearing all over your blog. But really. I am not hungry. Not in the least.

So. Food for fucking thought. Jeez, I'm sorry Mike, I'm swearing all over your blog.

Hey, don't worry about it. I don't. The other day I was googling on my blog and I found a link to The Sanitized Version. For example, see my post and your comment.

I did not even know that existed! That's just scary. I would imagine some of my more rant-like posts are darn near unreadable after that sort of treatment.

As one who lived through the draft during the Viet Nam era, I agree whole heartedly with the concept of voting with one's feet.

One of the purposes of, and arguments for, the volunteer military was that it would put a limit unpopular wars. It is a slow motion brake to be sure. But if Bush had an endless supply of conscripted bodies to play with, we would be in Iran, Syria and/or Lybia by now. The troops would be being slaughtered as the result of failed logistics and worse strategy. Being left in even greater shortages of personal armor, mechanized armor, heavy weapons, ammunition, food and water than the smaller number of troops in Iraq/Afghanistan now.

We had a high quality military machine that has been ruined in a useless criminal war against one of the major stabilizing influence in the region. This war was started on the basis of lies. It has been kept going on the basis of more lies. Hussein was no "box of dots", but the promised mass graves of 500,000 from his reign has been as vaporous as the promised weapons of mass destruction. We are still actively supporting regimes with worse rights records than Hussein ever had.

Like Viet Nam, this is a war we can not win. We can kill a lot of people on both sides, but NO significant insurgency in modern history has ever been defeated.

Yeah, I'm thinking pushing for a draft is maybe a good rhetorical ploy, like pre-election or something, but being seriously in favor of one, these days, could lead to just one more disaster. If we are going to live by the tyranny of the majority, then we ought to live by it, truly, and not by some compelled version of it. If the tyrannical majority thinks the war sucks, then no matter what the Realpolitickers say, the war should end. The Global Brainiacs would hate such an arrangement, but so what? When was the last time a Global Brainiac bought you a cup of coffee and asked you your opinion of anything?

Even better would be if the pro-torture YRs joined up and were captured -- then they might be able to give first-hand testimony to the rightness of their stance -- if they survived.

Thank you for your thoughts.

If large numbers of YRs do, in fact, join up, several things will follow:

National strategy will change. Either we will give our soldiers and Marines the equipment etc. to succeed, or we will get out.

And if Halliburton doesn´t like it, well, too bad.

If the YRs join up, then public opinion will change.

The country will be more unified, because people our political leaders actually know socially will be in the line of fire.

Donald Rumsfeld will be fired.

President Bush will beg Colin Powell to take over the Pentagon.



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