"They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason."
~~ Ernest Hemingway
My friend Bernie says anyone who believes that George W. Bush's war on terror isn't a miserable, howling failure is surely a member of the media, a perp over at the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), or has had "the lobotomy." Bernie says if Bush manages to screw up another election, the second thing he's going to do is hit us with a full-blown draft.
"The second thing?" I asked. "Okay -- since Bush always screws up everything he touches-- I'll bite. What's the first thing?"
"Iran!" Bernie snorted. "Don't you pay attention? The articles have already been written. The graphics are loaded. The media is just waiting for Bush to give 'em the signal so they can write the headlines and fill in the date and time of the attack. Then," he grinned, "Hi-ho, hi-ho -- it's off to war we go..."
Bernie could be on to something. Anybody even remotely familiar with the totally mad ravings of the Machiavellian Michael Ledeen for the past two decades, or the sheer inhumanity lurking behind the chilly smile frozen on the warmongering face of Bill Kristol, editor of Rupert Murdoch's neoconservative Weekly Standard, knows that Iraq was only the beginning of a struggle with the "terror masters" of evil -- a war that Ledeen cheerfully announces will "go on forever."
"I've been watching Ledeen for years," Bernie said, "ever since the '80s, when he weaseled his way not only into the National Security Council and the Pentagon, but into Alexander Haig's brain over at State. Now, he squats in the 'freedom chair' at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and works with folks at AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) whippin' up blind fear that Iran is gonna nuke us before sunset.
"Nobody makes a better livin' at killin' than Mikey Ledeen. Hell," Bernie continued. "The body parts hadn't been scraped off the streets of Baghdad from Bush's premature and giddy attack on Iraq before Ledeen was ready to move on -- to deliver God's gift of freedom to millions of folks unfortunate enough to live on top of the oil in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and even little ol' Libya. Liberation's a dirty job," Bernie said. "It's hard work -- but like Ledeen says, somebody's gotta do it."
"Bernie," I said, fighting the impulse to skitter into the corner to crouch there, whimpering and gnawing on what little remains of my hair, "there must be another way. Surely, if George Bush screws up...er, wins another election, surely he's learned his lesson. He won't listen to people like Kristol and Ledeen..."
"Naw, Bush don't listen to 'em," Bernie grinned. "He don't have to listen. He wouldn't understand what they were sayin' even if he did listen. He just opens up, and whatever they shout in his ear immediately blasts out through his pie hole. I call it Bush's pie-hole foreign policy. I call it Bush's premature, pre-emptive pie-hole foreign policy. I call it Bush's predatory, pre-emptive, pie--"
"Okay -- okay! I get the picture!" I interrupted hurriedly. "But you're right, Bernie. There's no way we can continue on this course without a draft. As of today, we've lost 1,110 American troops in Iraq. Seven of that number are reported as killed but not identified because their families don't yet know they are gone forever. More than 8,000 have been wounded and nearly that many more evacuated because of disease, much of which -- like Ledeen's eternal war -- is the depleted uranium gift that just keeps on giving.
"Americans need to snap out of it," Bernie said, his eyes suddenly hard. "Time's up. Americans are out there dancin' alone on the brink of catastrophe, and nobody's covering their backs. They've been played for fools by the media, betrayed by their political leaders and cuckolded by their religious leaders.
"Help is not on the way for folks who think they can barricade themselves behind closed doors and ride out the storm," Bernie said. "War is on the way. A draft is on the way, and you can take it to the bank that these guys agree with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who has been widely quoted as saying contemptuously that military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.
"Look," Bernie continued, "I don't know whether Americans just can't handle the truth -- or if they've been lied to so damn much they don't recognize it anymore. They may not like it -- you may not like it -- but this guy's a liar. Plain and simple. If what comes blaring out of his pie-hole isn't true -- it's a lie. Not an exaggeration. Not a misrepresentation. Bush doesn't 'misspeak.' He lies. Lies. Lies."
Bernie pointed out that Bush likes to brag about not only his first, but his best accomplishment after taking office -- the massive 670-page No Child Left Behind Act. Although he has relentlessly cut funds for this education program, buried so deep that few noticed is a provision requiring public secondary schools to provide military recruiters not only with access to facilities, but also with contact information, to include addresses and telephone numbers, for every student -- or face a cutoff of all federal aid.
In his November/December 2002 article in Mother Jones Magazine, David Goodman says recruiters are up-front about using school lists to aggressively pursue students through mailings, phone calls and personal visits -- even if parents object.
According to Goodman, Major Johannes Paraan, head US Army recruiter for Vermont and northeastern New York, said, "The only thing that will get us to stop contacting the family is if they call their congressman...Or maybe if the kid died, we'll take them (sic) off our list."
Although Bush is promising unequivocally, "There will never be a draft as long as I am the President," and House Majority Leader, Texas Republican Tom DeLay tried to allay voters' fears by the sudden call-up and defeat earlier this month of a draft bill sponsored by New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel, who candidly admits he submitted it to make the political point the military is being stretched too thin under Bush, the beat goes on.
Especially in the halls of the Selective Service Department. Last week, the New York Times reported there were contingency plans for a draft of "doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelms the military's medical corps..."
When pinned down, the Selective Service blandly said it was merely a routine update, and assured us that it was "on the shelf," or just an option on the table, and would stay there unless they were directed to carry it out.
However, the Pentagon was furious. "It is the policy of this administration to oppose a military draft for any purpose whatsoever," spokesman Lawrence T.Di Rita said. "A return to the draft is unthinkable. There will be no draft."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld echoed that sentiment. In an interview with WOAI-AM Radio in San Antonio, Texas, Rumsfeld said the draft idea was "false and mischievous." He knocked the option completely off the table by emphasizing, "We do not have a draft. We do not intend to have a draft. There is no intention to draft doctors or dentists or veterinarians or anything else I can think of..."
Goodness gracious! Henny Penny! Tell that to the thousands of soldiers affected by the June 2004 "stop-loss" orders that forced them to remain in the service and head back to Iraq even though their contractual commitments were up.
Tell it to soldiers of Fort Carson, Colorado's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, who were told to reenlist for three more years or be transferred to units deploying for Iraq. These all-volunteer active-duty soldiers suddenly find themselves involuntarily restrained until 2007.
Tell it to the National Guard, the Reserves, and especially to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) forces -- people honorably discharged after serving four to six years, but remain in the IRR for the rest of their eight-year commitments. These people are rarely called up, but more than 4,000 IRR troops have been, and fully a third -- 843 -- have failed to report for duty.
Tell it to 70-year-old Ted Wallace of Los Gatos, California, who was recently ordered to report for deployment to Iraq. NBC Affiliate KNTV reported that Wallace "checked the documents with his local recruiting office and they told him they were accurate and authentic. He says he is going to report to duty but hopes they don't put him on the front line. He also hopes that the army will put off his deployment until after his upcoming knee surgery..."
Although denial after denial comes blaring out of Bush's pie-hole on the campaign trail that there will be no draft, those who haven't been bludgeoned into blind obedience or infused with unthinking ideological stupidity, know differently. It is an abomination that American citizens accept this administration's outlook that their children are "dumb, stupid animals" to be used as pawns in a greedy crusade of what Russian activist Alexander Berkman once described so succinctly as "brutish callousness, wanton destruction and irresponsible murder."
Bush has plans for our young men and for our young women as well. Why -- when millions of Americans will be affected -- is the response only long silence followed by a few vague bleats of polite demurral -- drowned out by mindless chants of "four more years...four more years?"
Don't these people have children? Don't they know that in the critical weeks remaining of this destructive administration, many more Americans will die like dogs on a bloody battlefield for no good reason? Don't they know we can't take four more years of this madness?
Bush cannot be allowed to screw up another election. He cannot be allowed to force more war, an involuntary draft -- a pre-emptive pie-hole foreign policy on the innocent peoples of this world -- a police state on the American people -- and all for no good reason.
When Americans realize the best they can hope for is another black memorial wall in Washington, D.C., all options for four more years of George W. Bush are -- or should be -- off the table.
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She will accept praise and atta-boys at firstname.lastname@example.org. Complaints and death threats should be directed to her cousin, Junior Samples, at BR-549.
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