Towards A Good Samaritan World

Thursday, May 26, 2005

CONFESSIONS OF A CHICKENHAWK

As Bob Novak points out, the limiting factor for US power is recruits. The heart of the matter:

How can the United States maintain its global credibility against the Islamists, if military ranks cannot be filled by volunteers and there is no public will for a draft?


I personally never accepted the Pottery Barn rule, if you break it, you own it. We didn't break Iraq. Saddam did. We gave them an opportunity to build a better society. No one said it would be easy. We won the war long ago. Our war objective was to remove Saddam. We removed Saddam. We went the extra mile and did some damage to the enemies of Iraqi democracy, while presiding over a process that led up to elections and a democratically elected government. We've made life, as one Iraqi put it, "more risky but worth living." We don't owe them, since we've benefited them already. (And they don't owe us, since our gift was gratuitous.)

I would like to stay in Iraq and keep fighting them. If there's ever been a just cause, it's killing the grotesque fiends who kill innocent people with car bombs. But it's not worth degrading our recruiting system, or introducing a draft.

I'd like to join the Army myself. I've wanted to for a long time. I tell my wife about my desires frequently. She says she'll divorce me if I do. Even so, I keep considering it. But my mom paid for the wedding and honeymoon, so I feel like she's got a stake in it too. I'd feel wrong pushing the envelope. For that reason, in my own personal case, I support the draft. I'd like to be drafted, so that I could serve my country, and my wife couldn't get mad and divorce me, and if she did divorce me, my mom wouldn't be able to blame me for it.

But in principle, I'm against the draft. And there are limits to what an all-volunteer army can sustainably do, particularly in a country whose wealthy economy offers such attractive alternatives. Our political leaders should recognize those constraints. And that should affect our strategy in Iraq, if necessary.

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