James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Friday, February 23, 2007

Filling military ranks will turn uglier

It seems probable, almost a sure thing, that the insane rulers of the United States soon will attack Iran.

We don't yet know if they'll first use Israel as a surrogate, or begin bombardment from the ships now moving into position in the region or send bombers from land bases, nor do we know what sort of fictional provocation they'll create.

How far will they go? Dress up a few prisoners as Irani military men and then murder them and claim they were found in Iraq, ala Hitler in Poland? Or stage a terrorism attack, killing and wounding many innocents and blaming the action on Iran?

However it begins, the most puzzling question to rational people is how the White House expects to provide enough American troops to sustain wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, and keep enough troops at home to use against Americans, as they've already indicated they intend to do if protests grow large and effective. Even high ranking military officers are saying in public that aerial bombardment cannot by itself bring down Iran or its leaders.

Even though they've established that they can ignore reality to a breathtaking degree, a sane person can't help but think the neocons must recognize the terrible consequences of any sort of attack on Iran.

The costs to our people in Iraq and around the world, including in this country, will be far beyond anything we've seen thus far.

Putting aside, for a moment, the fact that they are certifiable lunatics, how do they plan to build our military capacity to levels that can prevent quick and extraordinarily bloody defeat in the Middle East?

Force everyone now in uniform to stay for years, regardless of enlistment agreements? Yes, of course, but that's not enough.

Clear the prisons of able-bodied men and drape them in uniform? The Bush mob already has lowered enlistment standards to an appalling degree, filling recruitment quotas by signing up criminals who wouldn't have been allowed in our military even a couple of years ago. But if they go all the way down that road, they won't have an army but an undisciplined mob that will be difficult, if not impossible, to control.

Increase reliance on the super-secretive, extremely expensive private armies such as Blackwater? Again, certainly, but again not enough.

It would be amazing if the Bush thugs decided to restart the military draft. A great majority of the people who have supported them in their brutal drive for world domination and, especially, the passive majority who have allowed them to do as they please, would turn sharply and loudly against them if middle class and upper middle class kids suddenly are put in danger.

The neocons are nuts, but they aren't stupid.

Is it possible to design a draft that allows the vast majority of young people whose families are well off to escape the net? Certainly, this country has long allowed the offspring of the rich to legally dodge military drafts, as George W. did, but how wide can you spread that umbrella and not arouse fury in those who have no shelter?

Is there a way to assure that those who are trapped can't effectively fight back? And how can you be certain that at least a sizable minority of those who are personally untouched but morally offended won't be spurred to some sort of action by the injustice of the situation?

As one who has read many books and articles about the days of sailing ships, my head keeps turning to press gangs – the gangs of sailors who were sent ashore for the royally-approved kidnapping of any reasonably able-bodied poor or laboring man they could lay hands on, by whatever means. Those who were kidnapped were pressed into service as sailors on war ships. Gentlemen, easily identified by their dress, were excluded, of course.

I don't (yet) believe anything quite that blatant is to be expected, but whatever means is used to fill the ranks with the sons and daughters of the poor and almost-poor is bound to be ugly, I think.

There's not much reason to believe a substantial number of affluent Americans will make serious effort to prevent even forced recruitment, so long as they and their offspring escape, but I retain some small hope that such resistance would/will develop.