The government of the United States still demands that all American males between the ages of 18 and 24 register for military conscription – i.e., the Draft – even though that same government maintains that no such system of military conscription any longer exists. To enforce this Draft Registration, various penalties accrue to those young men who decline to submit. So, despite whatever the U.S. Government says to the contrary, our elected officials certainly seem intent on bringing back military conscription. They only await a suitable “opportunity.”
The intent here simply reeks of intimidation. The U.S. Government, in effect, says to the young men of America: “Even though we do not choose to conscript you now, we know where to locate you and we have every right to draft you if we should choose — and you have no right whatsoever to resist.” In recognition of this rank intimidation by our own government, I choose to call this crude threat to life and liberty “The Selective Subservience System.”
As a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. military during a period of coercive conscription, I say that under no circumstances should the youth of the United States ever allow the Draft to blight their lives and hopes for the future as it did with so many of my generation. Those who wish to start for-profit wars should themselves march away to fight them – and at their own expense. Leave the rest of us alone. We’ve done enough already. Yet we keep hearing ugly noises coming from various quarters insisting that the all-volunteer military doesn’t “represent” American society and that it makes resort to needless and pointless wars all too easy.
Well, to this I say that the same working poor who fought in Vietnam forty years ago fights today in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. So, obviously, those who designed the Selective Subservience System have managed to excuse themselves from the fighting and dying in any event, whether by conscripting the ignorant and desperately poor into military service or by “selling” this same class of persons on all the “benefits” of serving in the all-volunteer military. The unimpressed and justifiably cynical refer to this marketing and propaganda strategy as “The Poverty Draft.” Make enough Americans miserably poor and destitute and a sufficient number of them will join the U.S. military as the least bad alternative from among only awful choices.
I never thought that one positive thing ever came from America’s devastating War on Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos), except that 18-year-old citizens could finally vote. That latent threat of massive political involvement by the young, more than anything else except grinding poverty and lack of economic opportunity, explains today’s so-called “professional” — or mercenary — military establishment. Even worse, though, if we add dogmatic religious superstition (i.e., GAWD) and belligerent nationalism (i.e., “country”) to economic deprivation, we get a “Crusader” military establishment that destroys and kills not just for a meager monthly pay check, a few meals per day, the promise of some future educational assistance, and some cheap trinkets to wear on the uniform, but for “salvation” and “glory.” What a toxic combination of every conceivable horror. The “terrible worm in his iron cocoon” has returned from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to again devastate huge swaths of the earth in the name of two monstrous abstractions covering for a simple but corrosive venality.
George Orwell explained it all quite simply: The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. … The primary aim of modern warfare … is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living.
The U.S. military, despite what it says of its own “ideals” or “ethics” of “service,” exists to squander of our national resources so that these will not go towards improvement of the general American society. The U.S. military, like the vast prison system, in fact exists to keep the plutocratic oligarchy at the apex of the economic pyramid and the masses at the base of the pyramid mired in poverty and ignorance. Hence the incessant, blaring refrain of “patriotism” and “national security,” celebrated officiously by priests and kings throughout history, virtually guaranteed to terrify and subjugate the people into sullen, passive subservience.
Fortunately, only one half of one percent of the American people want anything to do with this kind of “service.” As Private Jessica Lynch explained her own situation: “I joined the army to get out of Palestine, West Virginia, where I couldn’t even get a job at Walmart.” The U.S. military had so little actual fighting to do against the Iraqi “army” that it had to invent a heroic fable around this one poor girl who got lost and shot up and eventually rescued by some Iraqi doctors. Lights! Camera! Action!
Only one thing explains why the U.S. has suffered “just” 6,000 dead in its recent decade of debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan: namely, the absence of a Draft. Had conscription existed, that total would surely have exceeded ten times as many. The cheaper the human life available to it, the more of that life the U.S. military will squander. So No Draft. Not Now. Not Tomorrow. Never. The self-styled “Best and the Brightest” (or today’s “Worst and the Dullest”) can take it from here all by themselves.
If America had a sensibly scaled military establishment geared to the defense of the territorial United States, then the fifty state militias and a small cadre of full-time professionals would adequately serve the need. America doesn’t have too few soldiers. It has too many “wars.” But America does not have a sensible or responsive government. It consists largely of power-hungry sociopaths who use the U.S. military as a weapon against the very citizenry that military claims to serve and protect.
It’s way past time for some serious demobilizing of the wasteful, money-laundering military-industrial-corporate-political-media beast.
Michael Murry, a Vietnam Veteran, gargoyle sculptor and poet, occupies the Asian Desk for The Contrary Perspective.