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?