Sunday, February 12, 2012


Recently I was hanging out at Starbucks and watching the herd of kids coming in from the various offices around. They are laughing and talking, dozens of them. Most are doing some sort of social networking: tweeting, Facebook, talking to each other. Planning their social activities. All these kids are bright, well educated, probably come from upper middle class homes or higher. I informally surveyed a few and easdropped on others  They don't have much interest in politics or overall what is going on in the world, surely not Afghanistan. I am possibly a little harsh as I don't really know but while in line, I showed several this article I'm reading and asked about the war, military, government, deficit--for those who didn't escape, not that much on their minds. Contrast this with the profile of a group of Marines in Afghanistan. These guys are going on patrol. Fighting the Taliban, developing strategies. They are tough, tattooed, proud, doing their job. At war. The contrast is absolutely stark.

This is the same kind of article I've read over the last several years. Profiling what it means to be a modern day soldier in combat. It is hard, tough, life threatening. And to the NYT's credit, there have been several of these in depth articles of our fighting troops and I always asked the same question, who is reading these articles? Who really gives a flying f..k, whatever? Not these kids at Starbucks. They are untouched, probably unconcerned. It isn't judgment or their fault. It really doesn't effect them. They, like 99% of Americans, have no "skin" in the game. We have a professional and volunteer military, mostly kids who are unrepresentative of our American culture. I don't know this for sure, just mu guess. We can engage in wars or at least have been able in the past and merely pay the bill.

Without running the risk of sounding too philosophical, the issues now and what we ought to be concentrating on, are the unintended consequences of a "no draft" military. Iraq and now Afghanistan goes on and on because we have no overall American investment. Had we had a draft and Americans as a whole were paying the price, it might be entirely different. I am sure that the motives of  Milt Friedman and then SecDef Melvin Laird, as they led the charge of abolishing the draft in 1973 was, relatively, what they considered in the best interests of the country. To me, based on where we are in the world, our future, abolishing the draft was historically one of our all time biggest mistakes and an unintended consequence which is enormous.