Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

A War for Us, Fought by Them
by William Broyles Jr.
New York Times, 05/04/2004

If children of the political elite were fighting in Iraq, a resolution to the current military imbroglio would soon be found. The author, a Vietnam War veteran, proposes reinstating the draft to ensure the US military gets the support it needs and to relieve pressures on an over-extended volunteer force. Most importantly, he argues, a draft would also prove the ultimate test of Americans' support for the war in Iraq.

William Broyles Jr., the founding editor of Texas Monthly, wrote the screenplay for "Cast Away."

New York Times
A War for Us, Fought by Them

The problem is, I don't see the images of or read about any of the young men and women who, as Dick Cheney and I did, have "other priorities." There are no immediate family members of any of the prime civilian planners of this war serving in it — beginning with President Bush and extending deep into the Defense Department. Only one of the 535 members of Congress, Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, has a child in the war — and only half a dozen others have sons and daughters in the military.


This is less a matter of politics than privilege. The Democratic elites have not responded more nobly than have the Republican; it's just that the Democrats' hypocrisy is less acute. Our president's own family illustrates the loss of the sense of responsibility that once went with privilege. In three generations the Bushes have gone from war hero in World War II, to war evader in Vietnam, to none of the extended family showing up in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I remember when I was living in the US with a Green Card (permanent residence card) and I had to sign up for the draft in high school. I thought it was strange that I couldn't vote, drink or buy a gun, but I could be sent to fight a war for the US. It definitely did make me think a lot about war. I think that reinstating the draft in the US is an interesting idea.

Opinion Source is an interesting site run by some of my friends that summarizes op-eds and editorials from around the world. I need to tell them they need better permalinks.


If another country, say Canada (just for fun! ;) crossed our borders to attack this country in an effort to take it over, I wouldn't need to be drafted. I would volunteer to defend our country.

But to be drafted into the war in Iraq? Never. Never.

My father was drafted into the war in Vietnam and I saw how they treated him.

These are wars fought so that rich white men can get richer. Sending people to die when they have never seen conflict like this, themselves.

Their arrogance astounds me.

I might reconsider if I was told that Dubya was to fight beside me the whole time I was there.

Ed Garvey wrote a piece on this subject also.
Capital Times

It looks good on paper but I have a hard time
thinking about any war fought in our time not
ultimately turning into disaster. How does one
win in a war fought with nuclear weapons?
We're not talking hand to hand combat here.
I have a daughter 21 yrs. old. I know she has
no desire to be a warrior especially in a time
when wars are being fought for corporate wealth.
A lot to think about on this issue before signing up.

Was the draft a good idea in the Vietnam era? I know it is a test of American's support - just as it was in the Vietnam era.

Back then plenty of rich boys managed to stay out of Indochina too, as I recall - some deal about patrolling the skies over Texas.

The draft sounds good as an abstraction but in reality would be hugely unfair and fail to instill any real widespread sense awareness or responsibility among US citizens. The reason is simple: the contemporary US military simply does not need many draftees. Depsite all of the media hysteria about a US military stretched thin, the reality is that, given their own estimation of their manpower needs, the military is essentially all of those needs with volunteers. Even if it is decided that the US military is stretched too thin and some expansion is necessary (eg add a new division), my understanding is that most analysts feel that the needs can be filled w/volunteers. So, with a draft, were talking about a few thousand a year at most being drafted out of a draftable base of tens of millions (and that is assuming the draft won't extend to women). The point is that the draft would be hugely unfair and ineefective in that it would impact only a tiny, tiny percent of those eligible. BTW, this problem sort of existed in Viet Nam as well: the majority of troops and casualties were volunteers. So being a draftee in Viet Nam was a matter of being part of a small, and very unlucky, cohort.

I am a US Marine Corps Officer Candidate. I live in a rich white suburb of New York. My friends are the people that Broyles was talking about. I am one of the exceptions. I don't think a draft would work in this country because i don't think that the people in this country, the rich white kids, have the honor and respect to join the US military. They're all jacked up, and they don't believe in our country and aren't willing to discover the price of their freedoms. I wish a draft would work because i believe all Americans, men and women, should have to serve in some capacity. Unfortunately i don't have enough faith in some of my countrymen to do so. For those Marines and other servicemen who i would be proud to serve with i have the utmost respect. For those of my friends who would run to Daddy when the draft comes about. You make me sick because you will always find a way to get out of it. All i have to say is Semper Fi.

Don't you think the obvious choice is to require "National Service" for all 18-20 year olds? Every citizen, regardless of circumstances, must server two years for this country. National Service would have numerous divisions, but all would be oriented toward service or infrastructure building. Some, of course, would be military. This idea has been tossed about for years -- other than the startup problems of getting it going, it seems like it would be a huge benefit. I think most kids need the break after high school to figure out what they are going to do next. Those two years would be a great time to figure that out.

And, regarding the problem of legislators setting their own rules and keep their kids out of harm's way, we'd have to add a rule that any legislator who voted for war would have his/her kids immediately transferred to the military branch (smile).

People in jail should be forced to fight in the army. In fact, we could save money if we just destroyed the jails, turned them into parking lots and playgrounds, and forced the inmates to fly to Iraq (with their own money, of they can afford it, and run into battle zones. Oh, and when the war is over, just make the in, well more like "out"mates, just mates, to be vallets in the parking lots.

It's all about the parking, baby.

i think that this would be one of the best decisions that the united states has thought about presuing.Inside of the prisions the inmates aren't doing anything besides cause stress to the out side world. Instead of making them think about what they have done for the rest of their lives make them save others.