One can't help but feel that the Bush administration's ambitions and fantasies are executed with little or no concern for what the American public might think. Why are they so confident? Because the public has no real stake in the attack. For many of us, the Iraq Attack, like the Gulf War, is a fictional television program, not a terrifying reality.
Take Zac Pennington, for example. He is 22 years old, lives comfortably, and is the arts calendar editor of this paper. During a recent editorial meeting in which we discussed the Iraq Attack, Dan Savage, our editor, asked each writer and section editor for ideas. When it came to be young Pennington's turn to contribute something, he said he had nothing to say. He had no position.
Pennington's lack of an opinion on the subject of war--and his desire to avoid expressing an opinion--is the heart and soul of the problem. This is precisely the kind of apathy that the Bush administration relies on. They are so confident because they know that many Americans have no opinion and are proud of it.
The reason why young Mr. Pennington does not have an opinion is not because he is lazy or, as the British put it, daft. Indeed, Pennington is smart and sensitive. He doesn't have an opinion because he doesn't have a direct connection with the events taking place in some faraway desert--meaning, his life is not threatened, and he doesn't have peers whose lives are threatened. The only cure for his blasé attitude toward the Iraq Attack would be seeing his name tossed into the twirling cage of a draft lottery.
The Bush administration and the Pentagon are well aware of this and so do not want to restore the draft, which hasn't been employed since 1973. The reason for this, as Congressman Charles Rangel explained in a recent New York Times editorial, is that it would make the realities of war more tangible not only to the average American but also to lawmakers. "[T]he Congress that voted overwhelmingly to allow the use of force in Iraq," Rangel wrote, "includes only one member who has a child in the enlisted ranks of the military."
The post-Vietnam end to the draft system at first seemed like a liberal victory. But what it in fact meant was that the use and abuse of military power became an abstraction to most Americans, thus making it easier for American presidents to use and abuse that power. A liberal defeat. Re-instituting the draft--one that doesn't offer loopholes for rich kids--would force the American people to take a more active interest in what our military power does or wants to do around the world.
Bringing back the draft would compel young men like Mr. Pennington to form a position on important military matters. Or die trying. --CHARLES MUDEDE
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I just turn the radio off. Or change the subject. Because that is my luxury as the youth of America. This is not something I am proud of, nor something I readily admit to my more progressive acquaintances--my bleeding heart is with them in knee-jerk pacifism, but I simply can't bring myself to take a stalwart stance on an issue that I am unable to wrap my head around. Or unwilling. In the vapid depths of my life, war is little more than a threat to the levity of my social situations.
I do not believe that there's even a minute chance the draft will be reinstated; that would cause too many people in my ambivalent position to actually question the decisions of the Bush sequel. But even if the draft is restored, I will be sitting pretty. Emphasis on pretty. In short, as my ever-tactful editor so delicately put it, a primetime network broadcast of me merrily eating pussy couldn't convince the United States military that I don't love dick.
An adolescence of fey posturing; an adulthood of wearing women's clothing and subtle affectations--it's afforded a lot to this straight-as-an-arrow, effeminate, 22-year-old heterosexual man. A healthy dose of derision, an impossibly muddled love life, and even a couple of bloody noses. But thanks to my preemptive Cpl. Klinger act, when they do reinstate the draft and every other straight guy is shipped out, I'll be at home playing homo. Blissfully unaware. 'Cause somebody's got to arrange the flowers at your funerals, fellas. --ZAC PENNINGTON