Tuesday, April 26, 2011
NO SHARED SACRIFICE
Recently, a nightly news program profiled a young " hurt locker" type soldier serving in Afghanistan. (Hurt Locker was an Academy Award winner as "best picture" and featured a fearless soldier disarming bombs and blowing up IEDs (Imbedded Explosive Devices). And, here was a real soldier doing his job and saving lives in a real war, not a movie.
What was compelling about this young soldier was the fact that he is somewhat typical of many of our present day soldiers. Not that all of them are "Hurt Locker" types but that they are soldiers who come from backgrounds with limited options. In the case of the one profiled, his Dad was an alcoholic, a drug addict brother, and by his own admission, he was headed for trouble and found an escape into the Army. Good for the Army and good for us. And, he is exactly the type that the military can rescue and use; a kid from a hardscrabble life who has found a home doing the most difficult job in war.
Philosophically, however, there's a deeper story: with only 1% of our country involved in the sacrifices of our two wars, we don't have a clue as to the soldiers fighting our wars. We have an "all volunteer military" which is successful in terms of keeping the ranks filled but a dismal failure in terms of shared sacrifice. When Nobel Prize winner Mort Friedman and then Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, teamed up to get rid of the draft and into the All Volunteer Force, I can't believe that they could possibly have conceived what the eventual impact would be.
The impact has been no real shared sacrifice but it has also produced our two present wars. The President can send us to war without fear of condemnation or political fallout. After all these years at war, we have no national outcry, no marching in the streets, Vietnam style. And why? Americans have no investment, we're content to let the "Hurt Locker" soldiers fight our wars. I am so tired of hearing the politicians talk about the American people. Bullshit. Most people in this country don't really care. We would be lucky if we had half of our people with any real interest in who is fighting our wars. As a nation, we should be ashamed!