supposed to believe that the President went to Iraq for Thanksgiving
because he's such a brave guy, and just because it was The
Right Thing to Do. The growing legion of Bush-haters, who
see the President's every move as a calculated political ploy,
frame his recent surprise trip as part of his reelection campaign,
carefully planned and stage-managed by cynical handlers. There
may be some truth in that, but I have an alternative theory:
it's all about the
skyrocketing rate of desertion.
Canard Enchaine, a French weekly, has the skinny on a
story that the American media probably wouldn't touch with
a ten-foot pole: over 1,700 American military personnel have
deserted their posts in Iraq, so far. They go on leave, and,
once back in the U.S., disappear, never to be seen or heard
from again. In Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Col.
Billy J. Buckner, spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps, acknowledges
that the number of troops going AWOL is rising, but attributes
it to moral failings on the part of the soldiers involved:
go AWOL for a number of reasons. They may have had family
problems at home and couldn't reconcile it, or they were stressed
out or maybe they just didn't like the Army and are afraid
any rate, says the Colonel:
sign a contract that says you're going to serve the Constitution
and the nation. We're not going to tolerate it."
military may not be tolerant of deserters, but there isn't
a whole lot they can do about it, especially if the numbers
keep increasing. That, I believe, is a major part of the reason
why the President went to Baghdad: sure, he was directly addressing
the Iraqis, and every politician is always running for reelection,
but his primary audience, in this instance, really was the
troops. Buck up, he was telling them. Because we're
with you, the American people are with you, and I'm
troops are supported and empathized with: the policy,
however, is increasingly opposed by the overwhelming majority
of the American people. A whopping 71 percent
say the Iraq war hasn't made them safer from terrorism.
Our men and women in uniform, by voting with their feet, are
merely reflecting the views of the fellows, who increasingly
look on the war to "liberate" Iraq as a pipe-dream founded
on a lie.
the War Party loves to point to the far-left "International
ANSWER" coalition, responsible for many of the rallies, as
the heart and soul of the antiwar opposition, the earliest
and most effective opponents of this war were senior military
officers. The military wing of the antiwar opposition, like
Right wing, has been less showy in its opposition, yet
potentially far more subversive of the War Party's policies.
People like General
Anthony Zinni, retired Marine Colonel Larry
Williams, former Navy secretary James
Webb, retired Marine commander Joseph
P. Hoar, and the most decorated soldier of the Vietnam
war era, Colonel
David Hackworth all opposed the war on the grounds that
an American occupation of Iraq would be a disaster.
civilians who plumbed for an invasion didn't listen to them,
nor did they listen to General Eric Shinseki, former Army
chief of staff, who warned that they couldn't stitch Iraq
back together again without 200,000
armed nation-builders. When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
heard this, he went
ballistic: the Pentagon's neocon-in-chief,
Paul Wolfowitz, made a point of publicly attacking Shinseki's
estimate as "wildly off the mark."
we are seeing the officers' rebellion against a policy of
imperialism taking shape in the ranks, as Army reservists,
called up in record numbers, are refusing to be coerced into
returning to Iraq early. The case of Capt. Steve McAlpin,
who was charged
with "insubordination" because he insisted that the military
follow the law and allow him a full 12 month break before
returning to Iraq, forced
the Army to allow reservists the option of delayed deployment.
Although there are no official numbers, it seems from news
reports that around half are choosing to stay home. Associated
the 40 or more soldiers being deployed by the 401st this week,
13 who returned from Central Asia early this year had agreed
to redeploy earlier than required. But at least seven of them
said they have now changed their minds."
sign a contract that says you're going to serve the Constitution
and the nation. We're not going to tolerate it."
is talking about deserters, but the rising rate of soldiers
going AWOL is perhaps due to the way they are being treated.
Soldiers American soldiers, at any rate are not slaves.
As Capt. McAlpin put
signed up to fight our nation's enemies and we are fully prepared
to do that. But if they're going to usurp the laws of this
country at the expense of our most precious asset, our soldiers,
then I will not stand for that, not for a minute."
dozen other officers refused to sign the waiver, and four
enlisted soldiers as well. This is the fighting spirit that
makes American soldiers indomitable in battle: God help the
War Party if it is ever turned against them.
conditions faced by wounded reservists,
and the unilateral altering of the contract by the Pentagon
to pull them back into battle prematurely, are only two of
the most immediate reasons for low morale in the ranks. As
that lured us into war are debunked, one by one, the personal
and economic reasons behind the reservists' rebellion are
mixed up with a more political sentiment, a general skepticism
of the imperial project. It is oh-so-easy for our laptop bombardiers,
the pro-war punditi, to call for "victory" and urge the President
to take on Syria, Iran, and beyond. Most of these slope-shouldered,
flat-footed and bespectacled
dweebs have never been anywhere near the military, and,
in any case, wouldn't be allowed in on the grounds of physical
disability: the rest evaded the draft, and got off on
various deferments. That's why we call them chickenhawks.
is now taking place in the ranks of the military is enormously
significant: it is nothing less than a soldiers' revolt against
the chickenhawks. To which one can only add: Glory, glory
Hallelujah! Because this is the real Achilles heel
of the War Party and Capt. McAlpin is our modern-day Paris.
Guided, perhaps, by Athena
herself who, after all, personifies
wisdom McAlpin's arrow of protest has hit them
in their single most vulnerable spot.
was right: Wolfowitz was wrong. They are going to need
200,000-plus troops to keep Iraq from flying apart at the
seams. But where will the reinforcements come from and how
are we going to pay for it?
inevitability of "big
government conservatism" as the only possible policy for
a Republican President to follow in the post-9/11 era is a
cardinal belief of the National Review crowd, as well
as the avowedly neoconservative advocates of "national
greatness" over at the Weekly Standard. It won't
be hard for the latter to embrace the idea of conscription:
after all, "national
greatness" has to be about more than just building monuments,
preening, and pure ostentation. It has to be about sacrifice,
and nobility, and all that heroic stuff, and that means
dying, dammit, lots of it.
the tough-guy Max Boot-Victor Davis Hanson school of neoconservative
warmongering: it was Boot who bemoaned the lack of casualties
in Afghanistan, infamously
lamenting in the pages of the War Street Journal the
loss of an opportunity to make the proper blood sacrifice
to Ares. Hanson,
with his references to Thermopylae,
his evocation of Spartan virtues, also worships the war god,
and the National Review crowd will only be able to
hold out for so long against the rising necessity of a slave
army to fight an unjust war.
alliance with deranged liberals
like Rep. Charles Rangel and the goody-two-shoes faction
of the Democratic party, the National Review/"official"
conservative movement, together with their neoconservative
brethren, will either take up the cause of conscription
or else start campaigning to get us out of Iraq. It is one
or the other.
administration denies rumors
that plans for a military draft are already on the drawing
board. But the Defense Department didn't help
quell them by posting a notice on its website last week
advertising for "men and women in the community who might
be willing to serve as members of a local draft board."
I were a Democratic presidential candidate God forbid! The
dwarf look is so over! I would start off every
speech with a demand that the President solemnly pledge not
to bring back the draft. But that these words will ever pass
the lips of a single serious Democratic presidential candidate
and by that I mean to exclude John Kerry as well as Dennis
Kucinich is highly unlikely. General Clark may say it's
unnecessary, now, and Dean has never said a thing about it
as far as I can tell, but none would likely rule it out in
principle. The idea of conscription, after all, embodies the
liberal collectivist concept of the individual's necessary
subordination to the State. It also fits in rather neatly
with the racial victimology that energizes so much of the
why Harlem Democrat Rep.
Charles Rangel told the The Hill newspaper that
not only a demographic, economic and ethnic breakdown of the
National Guard and reservists deployed, but of those injured
and killed in action. 'It's a profile of who are the National
Guard people and what are their backgrounds and how fragile
are their economic backgrounds. A disproportionate number
of the poor and members of minority groups make up the enlisted
ranks of the military, while the most privileged Americans
are under-represented or absent. We need to return to the
tradition of the citizen soldier with alternative national
service required for those who cannot serve because of physical
limitations or reasons of conscience.'"
can't he be a total demagogue and come right out and amend
his legislation to read that only white people should
be drafted? That way, blacks, Latinos, and other official
victim groups can make up for centuries of oppression and
discrimination by staying home and getting all the good jobs.
Now that's what I call affirmative action!
Democratic party ranks may be against the war, and even against
a military draft, but who can deny that they'll be an easy
sell on the concept of "alternative service," as Rangel puts
it? Sending people to die in Iraq may not be a politically
potent platform on which to run for President, but given the
premise that we can't correct our error and get out "cut
and run," as the War Party puts it the occupation will
continue. If equity of sacrifice is the Democratic party battle
cry, and that of all good liberals, then they will fall in
line when the President finds it necessary to cash in his
chips with the American people and call for a military draft.
Charles Pena, of the Cato Institute, trenchantly
analyzed Bush's options:
don't think a presidential candidate would seriously propose
a draft. But an incumbent, safely in for a second term that
might be a different story. When you crunch the numbers, you
understand why you hear talk about a draft. You only have
to look at troop levels to realize we don't have the numbers
to do the job in Iraq properly."
idea that conservatives and erstwhile "libertarians"
who support this war could employ a kind of "split
screen" and call for tax cuts and the rollback of State
power with the left side of their brains, and enthuse over
the invasion and conquest of Iraq with the right lobe, was
always an illusion.
like the macabre "PATRIOT" Act and
the looming threat of conscription remind us of why we fight.
The battle against foreign interventionism and empire-building
is the key to rolling back the power of the State on the home
front. Constitutional, republican (small 'r'), limited
government is anathema to the idea of empire. The idea
that justifies conscription that man belongs to the
State, rather than his own family is the very heart
and soul of liberal collectivism. If we add on the stipulation
that his first duty is to the Empire, we can count the neocons
socialist opponents of this
war have no answer to the arguments in favor of the draft.
Since state socialism embodies the idea that human beings
owe their first allegiance to some government or other as
the collective embodiment of the workers' will the various
outfits almost never bring up the idea of opposing conscription
in principle. They just don't want this State to own
you but, once they get in power, they'll claim that
same "right." No wonder they'd
rather talk about Mumia Abu Jamal.
you just see them all jumping on the pro-draft bandwagon?
The neoconservatives, in the name of "national greatness,"
the liberal Democrats in the name of "equality of sacrifice,"
the National Review types in the name of grin-and-bear-it
Spartan virtues, and George W. Bush or whatever Democrat
manages to unseat him in the name of whatever his speechwriters
can think to come up with.
will leave us libertarians as the sole opponents of a new
form of slavery, in which case we'll either be at the head
of a mass movement or in the clink as "enemy combatants."
In either case, the outlook for living the good life
or even a moment of peace in this troubled age becomes
ever more unlikely.
IN THE MARGIN
of troubled times, on account of my column
(and another article)
on the subject, the Libertarian Party has been forced to respond
to the demand of many of its supporters and well-wishers to
disinvite the pro-war
Neal Boortz as a featured speaker at their upcoming national
convention. Here is the text of a letter convention chair
was bombarded last week after Justin Raimondo's instigation.
With now well over 200 e-mails on the subject, the 'vote'
to 'dump Boortz' vs. 'keep Boortz' is about 50/50. Until further
notice, he stays on the program.
not the 'keynote' speaker or the 'main' speaker; he's not
going to be billed as the official spokesperson for the LP,
nor is he running for president or some other LP position
(as some misguided and apparently illiterate "dump Boortz"
advocates surmised!). He's an LP member with a level of notoriety
who also lives in Atlanta. He's responsible for bringing a
lot of people into the party and until the Iraqi invasion
no one had a problem with him. He will be one of a few dozen
speakers. He wasn't invited so that he could sway Libertarians
to his way of thinking and the overall program will be more
than balanced on the "war" issue. Let's all go to Atlanta
and have a great time!"
mind what the LP platform says, plain as day, and what the
LP's official position is on the war. Never mind that Boortz's
supporters are, for the most part, not members of the
LP. Never mind that party members will be giving a platform
to a point of view that is hardly suffering from underexposure
in this country. Never mind the complete absence of any similarly
well-known anti-war personage on the speakers' platform
at that convention Nancy Neale says that the "vote" is in,
it's 50-50, so Boortz is still on. And LP members who don't
like it had better shut the heck up, as Ms. Neale says in
the opening paragraph of her missive:
"Yes, can you guys please stop discussing Boortz and the
convention on TCLP
Active. Please read the beginning of my column
in the December LP News."
Ms. Neale should learn that the Libertarian
Party platform is not up for repeal via an online vote
by Neal Boortz's drooling redneck followers. If the pro-war
fake- "libertarians" don't like it, let them get the hell
out and form their own damn party.
Boortz really is a due-paying member, then, in actively promoting
and endorsing this rotten war, he has brazenly violated the
all members are asked to sign, endorsing the non-aggression
principle. He should either change his position on the war,
on else be asked to resign.
the LP so desperate for support from anywhere and anyone
that they'll take in a raving warmonger, even one who calls
for the government to plant spies in the antiwar movement?
Puh-leeze! If total opportunism and a desire for publicity
are the deciding factors and they usually are with the LP
leadership then one could easily make the argument that
the LP would get more favorable publicity from expelling
Boortz from the party than they would from having him speak.
headlining the LP National Convention? What's next? Will they
invite John Ashcroft, on the grounds that he's against gun
oh why do I bother? At this point, I just don't know. Maybe
it's out of sentiment, for old
times' sake, or maybe it's just the principle of the thing.
Sure, we're increasingly living in a nightmare Bizarro World, where up
is down and wrong is right but is nothing sacred?
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