January 17, 2005 - We have reasoned and pleaded and listened, yet nothing has changed. A majority of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, that the invasion of Iraq is justified, that massive tax cuts and huge increases in military spending are not squandering our economic future. Weíve used historical examples, simple logic, screamed angrily, and explained patiently, all to no effect.
It has been mind boggling and disheartening -- but I donít have to tell you this.
Many of us are now asking, is it possible to reach these people? Their hero George Bush boasts he hasnít read a book since college and that he doesnít change his mind. The fact is, those who admire anti-intellectualism and intransigence are seldom reachable.
When Bush insisted there was a security crisis because of Iraq, these Americans immediately accepted the legitimacy of the Hussein threat and supported the invasion of Iraq. Now Bush is insisting there is a Social Security crisis, the fund is running out of money, so we must create private accounts. These same non-reflective, unquestioning Americans are not, however, supporting George Bush when it comes to privatizing Social Security.
A recent USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll found that those over 50, the age group most supportive of President Bush, by 63 percent to 33 percent called the private accounts a "bad idea." ( http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-01-10-socsec-po
"The president has an uphill battle with privatizing Social Security," Wolf Blitzer said today on CCN.
Although supportive of our now quagmire in Iraq, and still unable to realize the ballooning federal deficit is sinking our economy, these conservatives can see right through the propaganda that Social Security is going bust. They realize the Social Security crisis is bogus, a politically trumped up crisis. What they could not see in Iraq -- the lies and the distortions -- they are seeing clearly with Social Security.
Why have Americans failed so miserably, so embarrassingly, so horribly with understanding the reality of Iraq, allowing themselves to be deceived and manipulated like children, yet not with Social Security? Why are they now saying no crackpot political scheme is going to snooker them out of their retirement money. Suddenly, these Americans are acting like intelligent adults.
The difference lies in a difference in subjects. Foreign wars are complex and far removed from everyday experience, which allow the fog of media coverage to effectively obscure and confuse. On the other hand, retirement programs are relatively simple, and very personal. They pertain to oneís self-interest, to oneís bank account.
To transform these unreflective Americans into reflective, responsible citizens requires making issues and decisions close and personal, which can be done quickly and relatively easily for the Iraq War. How? Simply replace the current poverty-draft and backdoor draft with an equitable military draft; replace the phony "all volunteer" military with a lottery system that includes all young Americans.
Of course our military does not need all young Americans, it needs only a small fraction, but we do need all parents and grandparents (and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters) to be intelligent, responsible citizens focused on the dangers of foreign adventures. And this will be done if foreign wars are transformed into something close and personal.
The abstraction of fighting a war on the other side of the world for "freedom and democracy" would become personal if Johnnyís middle-class posterior was on the killing line, or might be sent to the killing line. Fear would ricochet through safe and removed America, minds would focus and propaganda would be quickly dismissed. The former unreflective would become geniuses in deciphering what is important from what is utter nonsense. Then there would be no American war in Iraq.
During the presidential campaign, many Americans were surprised to learn that hard-liner Dick Cheney did not support a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying. A super hawk and right-winger who is respected by Christian Fundamentalists, his position on this issue is incomprehensible. Well, until you understand that his daughter is lesbian, that Dick Cheney and his wife have experienced the pain of gay discrimination up close and personal. Unfortunately, Dick Cheney and his wife do not have a daughter in the military who is stationed in Mosul.
A military draft without college deferments would bring riots to our college campuses; the taking over of academic administration buildings would again happen. There would be widespread political rebellion in middle-class society, which knows how to apply political pressure in Washington, with Senators and Representatives inundated with requests from parents for immediate meetings. The media would stop being a mere amplifier of the Administration's statements, now their class is angry and afraid. It would be a new day in America. Then there would be no American war in Iraq.
The Bush Administration and the Pentagon know this, which is why they have not reinstated the military draft, although desperate to recruit troops. They know that if those dead Americans coming home in body bags were former college students and middle class suburbanites, there would soon be no American war in Iraq.
"When itís their kids," said Barbara, whose 19 year old son died in Iraq, "then they will care. They donít care now."
A fair military draft would transform the question from "should America help Iraqis establish a democracy" to "is helping Iraqis worth Johnny (and Jane) losing a limb, maybe their life?" For nearly all Americans, whether hawk or dove, Red American or Blue American, father or mother, the answer would be not my Johnny and Jane!
"When itís their kids," said Barbara, whose 19 year old son died in Iraq...."
If you really want to end this immoral war, then demand a military draft and one that does not exclude the powerful and the privileged, and includes the middle-class. If there is going to be a war, insist their kids also fight and die in the war. If you donít care about ending this immoral war, then donít demand a draft. The choice is yours. To be fair or not to be fair.
More demonstrations in our streets, more appeals to morality, better-reasoned arguments are not ending the war, and they won't end the war. Bringing the fear of Iraq into the middle-class and privileged homes of America will. Bringing the fear into the George Bush supporters homes will. Then there will be no American war in Iraq. It is your choice.
Stewart Nusbaumer is editor of Intervention Magazine. He served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam on the DMZ. You can email Stewart
Posted Monday, January 17, 2005