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Saturday, August 27, 2005


George W was hardly the first draft-age man of means who used family connections to duck going to war (even while he professed undying support for the notion of sending others to fight). During the Civil War, for example, some of the young men who would later become famously wealthy Robber Barons avoided having to put their own butts on the line simply by paying $300 apiece for substitutes to serve in their stead. J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Philip Armour, Jay Gould, and James Mellon were among those buying their way out. For many of the banker and business elites of the time, war was strictly for others. As Mellon's father explained to him in a letter, "a man may be a patriot without risking his own life or sacrificing his health. There are plenty of lives less valuable."

Now that George W is president, this elitist attitude of "let others serve" has been lifted to the level of national policy. Rhetorically, BushCheneyRumsfeld & Company wrap their Iraq misadventure in bunting and images of 9/11, bellowing that "America is at war!" But that's a carefully crafted lie.

Stop the farce

War is life and death—way too important to be left to charlatans such as those running this farce. It should not be made easy for a society to undertake one. If the larger public pays no price, if our nation's military force becomes separated from civilian involvement and responsibility, then our leaders are licensed for malicious adventurism.

Would you be willing to take a bullet for Bush's adventurism? I wouldn't, nor would I want any of my loved ones to pay such a price. When you, me, and the great majority of Americans do not deem a war worthy of our own sacrifice (and when the war is so unworthy that the president is even afraid to ask us for sacrifice), there is a moral imperative for our democratic society to admit this to those few who have been put out there to make the ultimate sacrifice. And once we admit it, there is a moral imperative to get out of the war.

It's time for America to bring our troops home from Iraq. NO MORE LIES. NO MORE LIVES. To reign in future adventurism by the White House, we have to find a way to restore a broad level of public responsibility for the desperate act of waging war by putting every family at risk of losing a loved one—especially the families of the rich and powerful. Dealing in death is the most somber decision a people can make, and it ought to be a decision that gives the entire nation pause, that gives every person reason to tremble.

To establish democratic responsibility, we need to consider a national service program, or maybe a lottery system...or, better yet, a simple, new plan that we should call the "Leaders First" rule: All the politicians who support a shooting war will automatically be drafted or have one of their closest family members drafted to be first in the line of fire.

Source: The September 2005 Jim Hightower ‘Lowdown’

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