Due to a craze of events around the world, the United States may find it necessary to reinstate the draft; that is, the U.S. government might be forced into telling our nation’s youth that they have no choice but to honor the call of Uncle Sam, don a military uniform, and go to war.
The precipitating factor for such an emergency will likely be that of a joint venture between Israel and the United States, a coordinated military attack upon Iran sometime around late spring or early summer of 2006. Iran has apparently decided to do whatever it must in order to develop its nuclear facilities. On the other hand, Israel and the United States have made it clear that they will not allow Iran to do such a thing. Short of a miracle there seems to be no way out, no way to avoid such a clash.
Now, if such a war does become a reality, I suppose that our government could decide to forgo a ground war, and simply bomb the hell out of Iran. However, although such a strategy would likely “fill the bill” in the primary stages of the war, it would not be long before ground troops would be needed.
Believe me, there is no way Iran will simply roll over and play dead. As the dominant Shiite player in the Middle East, they will fight to the bitter end to protect their rights as a sovereign nation. If attacked, they can be counted on to retaliate by launching missiles upon Israel, encouraging the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq to battle coalition forces, coordinate an Iranian-Syrian “squeeze attack” upon U.S. ground forces stationed in Iraq, blockade the Strait of Hormuz impeding the flow of oil around the world, as well as activating a worldwide dormancy of “sleeper cells” set up for the purpose of attacking American interests at home and abroad.
Even worse, such an attack would provide ample evidence to the rest of the world that the United States has in fact become what it had suspected… a lawless, viciously inspired, bully of a nation, a terrorist with little regard for the rights of other nations around the world. Indeed, a rather sad state of affairs for a nation whose president so vociferously boasts of its regard for freedom and democracy for everyone on the planet.
However, if such a scenario plays out, the government will find that it does not have enough soldiers to fight such a war. This will be the case because: those who have already fought in Iraq are exhausted, “used up,” and in no position to continue on; reenlistment rates have hit an all time low; the military has been unable to meet its recruiting requirements due to young people’s unwillingness to fight in an increasingly unpopular war; and most of America’s coalition partners have decided to either decrease the number of troops allowed to serve in Iraq, or they have recalled them, telling them to get out and to come back home.
The only plausible alternative, in order to field an adequate number of soldiers to fight an expanded war in the Middle East, would be that of a draft, a forced military conscription of our nation’s youth. However, such would be a bitter pill for politicians to swallow. It would no doubt place our political leaders into a very difficult position… that of being unable to follow through on a preemptive war of their own making (kind of like starting a fight they are not able to finish), or, on the other hand, that of asking parents to send their kids into an increasingly unpopular war.
The 1960’s protest of the Viet Nam War showed that nothing will destroy a government faster than that of forcing young people to fight a war the people back home do not support. However, if such a thing occurs once again, it will make the Viet Nam era’s protests look like mere child’s play. In the 1960’s it was just the hippies, the liberals, and college-age folks who were against the war. However, this time it will be mainstream America, the parents of our own children, who will be in the streets protesting; Cindy Sheehan multiplied by as many parents as it takes to bring down a government utterly dominated by a cohort of Bush-Cheney crazies, fundamentalist sympathizers, and corporate-stained politicians.
But what about the kids? What advice might one give to young people who may well be forced to make such a horrid decision; one of fighting in a war they do not believe, five years in prison, or perhaps even compelled to leave the country of their birth… the kind of burden no self-respecting country would place upon its children!
As the parent of a thirty-one year old son, a teacher who has spent the past forty years teaching college age folks how utterly important it is that they develop the capacity to think for themselves, that they have the courage to challenge the status quo, I pray that the president of this country (one who will likely end up being impeached) is not insane enough to lead our country into another war, one that just might represent the beginning stages of another world war, a conflagration that could spell the end of civilization as we now know it.
But if our president (occasionally referred to as “the village idiot”) chooses to do such a thing, my advice to the young people of this country is the same I have given my son.
The lesson of Nuremberg was quite clear. Man is sacred. He is more than a mere citizen, more than the holder of a simple deed on “a petty piece of property.” He is a human being, a shareholder in a much greater assemblage of men. He is a member of the human race. As such we must not allow ourselves to be bound up by the laws of our own land. The only law large enough to contain the heart of man is that which serves the best interests of mankind. Each of us will be held accountable for upholding the laws of justice, peace, and love.
There are no exceptions. Every human being on this planet will be held responsible for his own actions. No one, regardless of his country of origin (even if he happens to be a citizen of the United States of America), will be allowed to escape judgment simply because he inadvertently assumed that he had no choice but to follow “his orders,” the commands given to him by “his superiors,” the government.
The Nazis learned that the hard way. The people of Germany should have known better than to follow in the footsteps of a mad man. Surely we, as a people, have learned from the horrors of an earlier age. Surely we will not allow the president of our country, George Walker Bush, to do the same. Surely we understand that the only sure response to evil is to say no!
As men and women of conscience, we need to realize that we have no choice but to do what we honestly believe to be the right thing to do. Anything less than this will destroy the fabric of a nation, desecrate the human spirit, and lead to perdition.
So, if called upon, that is, if you, as a young adult, are conscripted into military service, ask yourself this question: would it be better for me to appease my country by choosing to kill others in the name of a coin-engraved, cookie-cutter, American-sized God, or might it be more appropriate, more noble even, to choose to be an advocate for life by having the courage to say yes to humanity and no to the draft, by having the guts to make a determined stand against the God awful madness of war?
Someday when you become an old man (or an old woman) like myself, you will have the opportunity to look back upon your life. And when you do, you will wonder about the things you did, the way you chose to live your life. It is then you will be assessed the task of figuring out if you in fact lived a good and decent life.
So, when that moment arrives, that time when you must decide if you will go to war for your country, do the right thing, do that which will enable you to stand tall as a man of integrity, honesty and good will, one who, no doubt, chose life over death, one who will one day be proud of who he had chosen to become as a human being, an old, old man who will not be afraid to look at himself in the mirror and say “Yes Lord, take me, for I have lived my life, and I am not afraid to die.”
Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D., is a psychologist in Wharton, Texas.