Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Awwwww, History Can't Repeat.

For once he leads in the right direction. Former Democrat(-ic Party) Presidential Nominee, Senator John Forbes Kerry, has decided that he will not pursue the nomination in 2008. It's time for about five other guys to follow.

Anybody who's been to beautykilledbeast knows about one of my friends, a now retired U.S. Army major. Prior to the 2006 Midterm Elections, he wrote me a long note in which he corroborated Senator Kerry's "stuck in Iraq" blunder. Here it is.

It is a sad day for sure. Kerry needs a handler or coach that hits him witha tazer jolt every time he starts to say something devastating to his campaign.

I'll tell you though, this time he really hit the nail on the head. For the most part, the poor and under-educated are the ones fighting this war (in Iraq). Every time they show the picture of a casualty, they're either an Hispanic, a Black or a poor Southern/Midwestern White. Of course there are some exceptions, i.e., officers and an occasional middle class or upper-middle class kid who has always been a military enthusiast, but most of that crowd go through ROTC and service academies and enter as officers.

Oh, and by the way, officers make up less than 5% of the total force. Other rare exceptions are National Guard and Reserve units from places like Idaho or Vermont.

The vast majority of people in this country are in a state of denial and/or ashamed to admit that their battles are being fought by economically disadvantaged kids who have little alternative but to join the military.

It's really disgusting. Just thinking about it makes me want to vomit. There should be a peacetime draft so that the responsibility of defending this country is shared by all classes and races. I live in an upper-middle class town in Massachusetts. If I didn't bother to watch the news and read the paper, I'd have no idea that hundreds of thousands of young people were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I personally don't know one kid who is in the military. The only guy I know that deployed to Iraq is a white middle-class Army Reserve "Colonel" that lives in our town. Military service issuch a rarity in our town, that his getting activated was publicized in the local paper to the same level as John Glenn's orbit of the Earth. People even started web pages to track his progress and pursuits. He's a really nice guy and I'm glad he made it home alive.

I served over 20 years as an Officer on active duty and in the Reserves, and I can tell you for a fact that minorities and poor whites are disproportionately represented in the enlisted ranks. For the most part, they're the ones dying today. Like I said, officers across the board are predominently white from middle class and upper-middle class suburbs, but make up a very small fraction of the total force.

I was an officer in an Army Transportation Company during the Gulf War. My unit was 70% black and 20% hispanic. I've seen it for over 20 years on active duty and in the reserves. Anyone who tells you otherwise, must be either blind or sniffing glue in a bag.

What Kerry said was true.

Nobody wants to hear it, but it's the truth.
I always told my wife that once Americans saw women coming home in body bags, there would be a mandate for reinstitution of the draft. But to my surprise and astonishmement, I discovered that for most Americans today, if the female soldier killed was a minority or some other disenfranchised soul, the situation is A-O.K. with them.
This attitude should sicken anyone with half a conscience.

So long as their children are far removed from the possibility of meeting the same fate, they can care less. It's disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful. This war would have never been fought if there was a draft (with no deferments). You can bet your SUV and Minivan that middle class and upper-middle class parents would be horrified if their child stood a chance of ending up fighting and dying in Iraq or serving under Sgt. Leroy Jackson from the Detroit projects. Parents would be ringing their Senator's phones clean off the hook insisting they end the war immediately.

As long as their money and privilege keeps them out of the fray, who cares if there is a war on, other than the fact that it may impact the economy. I agree with Congressman and Korean War Vet Charlie Rangel: bring back the draft and you'll bring back a much more thoughtful use of U.S. military troops around the world.

When my father fought in WWII, he served alongside guys from every walk of life. The rich, the poor, the educated and the illiterate. It was a shared sacrifice and a shared responsibility. My dad, who was as "waspy" as they come, finished his college final exams and enlisted in January, 1942. Kennedys served, Roosevelts served, even Malcolm S. Forbes served as a Staff Sergeant in the Army Infantry. Christ, the actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., earned the Silver Star for valor in the Pacific and Jimmy Stewart won the Distinguished Flying Cross in Europe.

Anyone who tells you that the all volunteer military remotely resembles the class diversity of the force that fought WWII has never been on a military base in the last 30 years. Politically, I'm an independent, so I have no partisan feelings for Kerry or any other politician or party.

But I will say that instead of faulting Mr. Kerry for his comments, Americans should be looking at the larger moral question of who is shouldering the burden for defending this country.

Francis, you can use this for your blog page or wherever else you wish. . . .
Good luck. . .

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