June 25, 2001
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More than 10 years ago, when King George the First was preparing to go to war with Iraq to defend oil profits, I made a modest proposal -- let the old men fight for once.
Throughout history, old men have been sending young men, children really, into battle.
On rare occasions the cause was just, the mission necessary. Nearly always, of course, the war was 'necessary' only to protect the profits and power of the ruling elites and their political puppets. So what could be more fair than requiring that the fat cats fight their own battles? I asked innocently then. Nobody listened to me, of course, and we once again sent our young people to fight in the Gulf so the undeserving rich and powerful could enjoy the fruits of their crimes. Not much has changed since then. Well, one thing changed. I talked then about sending our children out to be slaughtered. But the war profiteers had learned from Vietnam that the folks back home objected to their children dying by the thousands, so they have adopted a new strategy. Now we send our young warriors out to slaughter other people's children while remaining perfectly safe themselves.
In the Gulf War, for example, we managed to slaughter hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (no-one really knows the exact number because no-one cared enough to count) while losing only a handful of U.S. and allied troops. And in the recent U.S./NATO war against Yugoslavia and the Serbs, we sent in planes to bomb from high altitudes. We were told that the raids, like the war itself, were 'necessary' and were made with pinpoint accuracy against only military targets. That was a lie, of course. The bombs fell on civilian targets both by design and by error, the latter because bombing from 15,000 feet is inherently inaccurate.
With all this in mind, I want to renew my modest proposal, with some variations to reflect the realities of the new bloodless (on our side) wars.
1) For the first time, let us send the old men who vote for war into battle and leave the children at home. This should apply also to all the secret wars we wage by proxy, such as the current one against the people of Colombia. We could start by passing a law requiring every government official who votes for, or materially supports, war into the front lines for a normal term -- or perhaps For the Duration, as in World War 2.
That's everyone -- from the president to freshmen senators and representatives, along with the White House aides, those unelected government officials who so often control our destiny.
The puppet masters who really control our government by control of the political money supply would remain untouchable under this scenario, but perhaps we could change that by the second part of my modest proposal.
2) Reinstate the draft but change the age limits. No longer would we draft children. Instead, the draft age would *begin* at 30.
Setting the upper limit might be harder, but the fitness level of the average man has risen to the point that men of 65 or 70 could serve their country well. After all, it doesn't take a great deal of physical strength to drive a tank -- or drop bombs from 15,000 feet.
3) Now granted, we would have to do some quick juggling. We would need special elections to replace the officials marching off to war. But that is surely not an insurmountable problem to a country that can move a half million men and countless ships, tanks, and planes halfway around the world practically overnight.
In fact, that aspect is likely to be a real boon. Think of the prospect of having a clean slate, a new government of fresh faces who owe allegiance to a completely different set of puppet masters. Because of the necessity of quick elections, we will be able to get real election reforms. We could, for example, limit campaigns to 30 days, instead of two years.
Under the pressure of wartime deadlines, the government could throw the election open to everyone and finance the campaigns. That way, we could get rid of the institution of legalized bribery, the Political Action Committees and similar mechanisms.
It's possible, of course, that once these proposals are implemented, they might never have to be put into practice.
"Depend on it, sir," Samuel Johnson said, "when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."
Perhaps if our leaders were faced with the prospect of carrying out their own policies -- to do the killing, and possibly even dying, themselves -- we might get that same wonderful concentration. And with that concentration, those leaders may find that they have other options than continuously waging war to protect the privileges of wealthy individuals and corporations.
They might conclude that the puppet masters cost too much and are too dangerous to be allowed to continue rule by secretly pulling the strings. Thus our elected leaders might actually begin curbing the power of the puppeteers by reforming the election laws, by curbing the power of corporations and slashing corporate welfare, by cutting the war budget in half and using the enormous savings to promote the welfare of the people rather than the war profiteers.
At least it's worth a try.
Deck Deckert has spent nearly two decades as copy editor, wire editor and news editor at several metropolitan newspapers, including the Miami Herald and Miami News, before becoming a freelance writer. His articles and stories on everything from alligator farming to UFOs have appeared in numerous U.S. publications. He has written two young adult novels under a pen name, and co-authored a novel about the NATO war on Yugoslavia, Letters from the Fire, with Alma Hromic, a woman he had met in an Internet discussion group. Deckert and Hromic were married six months ago and are writing a book about their experience with Internet romance, Cyberdance.
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