Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Prince Harry will not go to Iraq -- protecting privilege? -- reminds us of the draft


British Army off Staff Gen. Richard Dannatt announced today that Britain's third in line for the throne, Prince Harry, will not go to Iraq with his unit even though he is commissioned in the British Army and appears to have done very well.

Of course, security problems, given the Prince's fame, were cited. That's a no brainer. But the idea of not sending someone who has chosen a military career, and then not letting him share the risk, is morally disturbing. (Okay, if you want, you can get into the "morality" of royalty if you want.) If the prince were deployed, it would be entirely appropriate to give his unit even more security or deploy him only in easier to secure areas, but he really should have been allowed to go. This sounds like an admission that conditions in Iraq are so out of control that the future of the region really is in grave doubt. The Green Zone is reported to be under heavy pressure now. (Is this about democracy, or is it about oil?)

I was somewhat sheltered when I was in the Army. I "volunteered for the draft" and then enlisted RA for two years two weeks early and wound up at Fort Jackson, SC Feb. 9, 1968. The Army recruiter had said that there was a 95% chance that I would wind up in Vietnam as a 11Bravo infrantryman "as cannon fodder" if I did not sign up for at least three years. Some men believed that, but I did not. As it turned out, even though I recycled in Basic once, I got sent to the Pentagon as an 01E20 "Mathematician" after Basic and was quartered on South Post at Fort Myer (South Post no longer exists). Then, some shenannigans occurred as I was processed for my TS, and I wound up being transferred to Fort Eustis ("Fort Uselss") Virginia, near Williamsburg, in the Combat Development Command Transportation Agency. I spent the last 17 months of my tour in the low rise white wood building that is no longer there.

Today, the Pentagon cold shoulders the idea of the draft again, whereas a few politicans (such as Rangel) argue that it would be much fairer than the "back door draft" of multiple tours. The idea that "sacrifice" should be shared equitably is very hard for us to get a grip on in today's political debate. The draft also would beg the question of what should happen to "don't ask don't tell" as being gay shouldn't keep one out of the draft (it didn't during Vietnam), and it also begs the question of conscripting females. Of course, their (the liberal politicians') real purpose is to get us out of Iraq altogether. When Saddam Hussein's statue fell in 2003 (after the "shock and awe"), little did we know.

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