The so called voluntary military these days is substantially made up of the poor and unemployed, who have few other alternatives or opportunities in America. There is also a core of career professional military types, and together this is how we staff our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The rest of us in the general population go on with our ordinary lives, largely and with great relief and personally uninvolved in these conflicts.

The last time we had a real draft, broadly impacting or democracy, was in the Vietnam era, a time when many families of young people of all walks of life were actually touched by the war, giving many more motivation to engage with the issues, to march in the streets, on campuses and in Washington and speak out on their views through the news media.

Some, like myself, even with degrees and good prospects in the workforce, served, and were lucky to survive, unlike the one in 32 who didn’t, at the height of the war in 1968, when 543,000 Americans soldiers, airmen and sailors served in Vietnam.

Now, as we sit on the verge of once again escalating our commitment of troops in Afghanistan, for a conflict with no clear end in sight, perhaps now is the time to again reconsider a military draft, with all its faults, so the people of this country would wake up and better recognize that we all have something at stake in the draconian decisions made on our behalf by today’s political and military leadership.

What are we fighting for? What is at stake, besides the lives of thousands of Americans, and some $65 billion, a year, plus now another $30 billion?  From 1970 on, when the Vietnam War was winding down, we lost an additional 10,000 Americans. What and when may we wind down or win in Afghanistan? How many more young lives will we spend before then? What will we have gained? Will we just send our troops on to the next war in Pakistan, or wherever, and throw more of our taxes into Eisenhower’s “military/industrial complex?”

If we really support the politicians in escalating Afghanistan, let’s implement the fundamentals of our democracy, support a military draft for the nation and show our resolve for this “cause.” Or???

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