Saturday, October 6, 2007

I'm STILL feeling a draft

Since I was about eighteen I've wondered why the draft was limited to young men. In a real democracy at war, it seems everyone that was mentally and physically able should serve and that all defence industries would be nationalized for the duration. Aside from basic fairness it would be a powerful incentive to avoid unnecessary wars. A fifty-something overweight and out-of-shape person such as myself probably wouldn't do too well hiking around Afganistan with an eighty pound pack, but we could drive trucks and move supplies and such. A lot of people have commented that most Americans have not been at all inconvenienced by the Iraq police action and would tend to be much less aggressive if they knew they would be directly involved.
I've long been interested in how black people were treated in the Armed forces - how they could fight for "democracy" when they were systematically and offically segregated in civilian life and also in the services, for whatever reasons. I admit my original interest was racist - I noticed that we had not won a war since the services were integrated and I didn't believe it was coincidental, but I saw a teevee documentary recently about ww2 in Europe, that mentioned an all-black logistics unit supplying Patton, and the pieces started to come together. Patton was continuosly bogged down driving toward Germany by lack of fuel which fit well with my original, obviously racist, hypothesis that blacks may have been less than enthusiastic about getting killed rushing unarmed and probably lightly escorted tankers in service to the Man in a dangerously fluid and undefined front for two dollars a day. I'm sure there were many with a stong sense of duty that could overlook the irony in being essentially slaves fighting for democracy, but I would have had a strong attitude problem with segregation eighty years after the civil war. We were very fortunate that black people were so patient and forebearing for so long, and I believe that their experiences in the war contributed to the acceleration of the civil rights movement in the 50's and 60's.
Without a draft, logistics and support have become almost prohibitivly expensive. Soldiers still get paid diddly, but this helps explain why privatised war is ruinously expensive and inefficient and why we will never win another war bigger and more distant than Grenada.

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