10.16.2005

I didn't sign up for this.

Saturday night I was watching Off to War on the Discovery Times channel. This is a documentary that chronicles an engineering company and their families back home, as they get deployed to Iraq. This has been a really good show, and I have enjoyed every episode immensely. There was something in the newest episode that I saw that bothered me though. This is something I have been noticing more and more lately, both in the media and in real life. It is the “Poor me, I didn’t sign up for this” attitude that a lot of Soldiers/Marines/Sailors/Airmen seem to be having lately. Well, not a lot, it just seems that way because they are the only ones ever talking to the media (I expect that everyone else who doesn’t feel that way is busy doing their jobs.) I see it a lot, in this particular case, it was a bunch of guardsmen whining about “only signing up for one weekend a month, two weeks a year.” Throughout the series you hear soldiers saying, “I did not sign up for this” or “We weren’t trained to handle this.” My question is: Could the media please seek out members of the armed services who are proud of what they are doing, and understand the inherent risks with putting on the uniform?

With the release of the movie Jarhead coming out, it just compounds the disgruntled soldier image. Now, I have not read this book, just the jacket and reviews on Amazon. I have no intention if seeing this movie, and am saddened by the fact that no one can seem to make a decent movie about the Marines (Full Metal Jacket excluded). The other night I was in Borders getting my MLA Handbook for Research Writers, and Matt was looking for Bing West’s newest book. We were looking through the military section and the gulf war subsection. Almost every book in there was written by or about soldiers who were pissed about being solders. It was depressing. I was an active duty soldier, and am now a national guardsman. I am deeply proud of both. Yes, there are times when it sucks worse than most people could ever imagine. Yes, there is a high likelihood of getting killed or badly wounded, and yes, there is about a 100% chance that you will get told to do something that you do not want to do. So help me God, I am going to freak if I hear one more member of the Armed Forces spout off “I only signed up for the college money.” I can tell you that there are many, many cheaper ways to pay for education. I am just baffled by the large number (or at least it seems that way) of people in the military who think that it is not their job to go off to fight at the whim of the Commander In Chief. The second a person raises their right hand and says,
I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the
Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the
orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers
appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military
Justice. So help me God.
they release all rights that they have as a U.S. citizen. Something a person must understand about the military is that it doesn’t require a democracy to protect one.

Which brings me to the point of this ranting. Our great nation is doomed. Not because of corrupt politicians. Not because of communism. Not because of terrorists. Not because of a poor economy, but because of the large majority of its citizens. Our country is filled with people who are more concerned with themselves, and what is in it for them, than whether or not our nation will survive another century. But fear not faithful readers, I have a solution. It is not a comfortable one; in fact it is downright painful for most. It is, however, extremely simple. Mandatory national service. Note I said “National service” not “military service.” There is something like 50 nations that have conscription, or a draft of some sort with varying requirements. My plan is an easy one, at least in theory. Every legal citizen who turns 18, at time of graduation from high school, must join one of the available national service programs. The term is two years, during which time the individual will wear some sort of uniform, live in a barracks style environment, and be responsible for obeying all laws set forth by the mandatory national service doctrine that would be drafted up. No pun intended

I am sure that by now there are a whole bunch of people who are disagreeing with me, and saying that not everyone can take part, and that it violates a persons’ rights. Wrong and wrong. Why? First off, because this is my blog and I am always right on it. Secondly, there is no reason why someone cannot participate in this, unless they are severely mentally or physically disabled. What I have in mind is a large portion of people would join the armed forces. But a lot of people could also join one of many national work programs building houses, neighborhoods, national parks, and roads. The main point here, is that young Americans would be required to do something meaningful before they could take part in American society. I feel that what would come of this, is a less selfish nation of people who were involved in something bigger than themselves. As far as violating a person’s rights goes, rights only mean squat if there are people to protect them. Certain inalienable rights does not include exemption from having to serve the country that provides those rights.

So anyway, I will get off my little soapbox for the meantime. This is going to be the topic of my next writing assignment. I am still compiling data. If you look to the far right of the page, I have a new poll. You guessed it … It has to do with mandatory national service. Also, if you want to read accurate accounts of the war on terror in Iraq, just click the Michael Yon button to the right.

13 Comments:

At 10/16/2005 9:22 PM, Blogger everyday.wonder said...

Nice rant, gunslinger.

I appreciate what you had to say about the media slant and their practices of "selective interviewing". The re-enlistment rates alone are enough to see that a vast majority of fighting men and women are doing not only what they came to do but want to continue seeing it through to the end.

If you sift through the blogosphere, you can get any number of blogs recounting the positive effects of our military's actions and how there seems to be progress being made every day. Not that you would ever get that impression from the mainstream media.

And finally, I find your mandatory service idea interesting. I've heard similar ideas before in varying detail. That is the background of Heinlein's Starship Troopers which explores this concept to its extreme. Only those who have given of themselves in service to their country have a right to vote.

Interesting idea.

Keep ranting!

 
At 10/16/2005 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are forced to do something against your will,like mandatory service, are you still free? Democracy or dictatorship?

 
At 10/17/2005 9:52 AM, Blogger ted said...

Oooooh, anonymous, that's deep. Democracy or dictatorship. Am I still free if I am required to do something? Wow. You mean like pass a driver test before being able to drive a car legally? Like having to have my backgroud scrutinized before I purchase a firearm? Like having to follow certain guidelines before I can freely practice medicine? Like having to agree to serve as a juror before I can register to vote? LIKE PAY TAXES?!?! Twit.

Try this on for size there, anonymous (hey, next time man up and leave your name), if you don't want to give anything to this country, how about you don't take anything either?

 
At 10/17/2005 10:38 AM, Blogger ted said...

When I first started reading this I immediately thought of Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie). I have always liked the idea of seperating civilians and citizens based on their service. I do not think that service should be mandatory (I actually voted no on your poll). I do however think that there should be some reward for serving the country.

Limiting the right to vote to only those who have given some term of service sounds good to me. If you want one of the most powerful weapons in the world (a vote in America) you should be willing to give something for it. Recieving Social Security retirement benefits seems to be another reward that should only be available to those who have offered something in return (disability and death benefits should not be based on service, these should remain as they are). Maybe an express line at the post office while we're at it.

The service need not be military. How about two year service with a public works corps? Working with Habitat For Humaity for two years? Giving two years to the American Red Cross? Working for Amnesty International? Any of these and thousands of other organizations would work just fine. I think that there should be equal opportunity for both government and private service.

Your service should be a two year minimum and require that you leave your home and family. A training period of no less than six weeks must be involved. Failure to complete your service term would result in loss of eligibility for citizenship, but not loss of the right to serve again. Of course injury, illness, loss of a family member would not count as a leave from service. The service would be required to provide food and lodging and a small stipend for the citizenship candidate in order to qualify as an eligible service choice.

Certain jobs would provide citizenship as a result of the training to obtain those jobs. Police Officer, Firefighter, Paramedic, Doctor, Clergy would all result in citizenship upon completion of the requirements to obtain those jobs. I do not think that educators should gain citizenship automatically. I think they should be required to have citizenship prior to being eligible for their profession. The reason for this is teachers should be trying to encourage the service among our young people, not showing by objection that it does not have value.

Citizenship would be mandatory prior to attending an accredited two- or four-year college. Two years in the trenches, so to speak, would greatly benefit incoming freshmen and give upper classmen and graduate students a basis of experience that would be highly valuable in learning discipline. Also, exposure to a larger world would be a real boon to those who would otherwise wind up majoring in "undecided."

Those with severe disabilities could opt out of service and still gain citizenship in some other way. But no one seeking citizenship should be turned away.

Of course I know this would never work. The logistics of designing a system that would be agreeable enough to make it to a vote would look a lot like the programming committee in the second Robocop movie. It would likely also never pass. Just look at the sense of entitlement that Anonymous has. I am entitled to everything here just because of where my mom lived when she went into labor? There are too many people getting something for free right now. They will never give it up.

 
At 10/17/2005 11:04 AM, Blogger ted said...

You know, I got to thinking about it and I'm starting to wonder if Eric is going to be doing any of his own homework this term.

 
At 10/17/2005 3:45 PM, Blogger SHAZAM! said...

I remeber when I joined the Marines in 93' after the first gulf war, I wanted to go off and fight. Looking back, I was probably a little naive, not fully understanding the risks, difficulties and sacrifices of fighting in a war. Having said that, I knew that if hell broke loose somewhere, I could be sent there. I knew that when I swore the oath, I was signing a huge degree of my personal freedom away.

The notion that mandatory civil or federal service somehow equates to a dictatorship is silly. Americans may one day decide to put something like this on the ballot and vote on it.

Given the abundance of people in America today who have a sense entitlement, who lack an understanding of how our freedom is derived, who don't have an appreciation for how unique we are in the world or who simply hate their country; mandatory national service could have a revolutionary effect on the way people view the the world, their country and themselves.

Doesn't Switzerland have something like this already?

 
At 10/17/2005 4:13 PM, Blogger Tim Lewis said...

There is a bright neon orange line between communism and democracy. The only problem is many people only see in black and white. There is a difference between democracy and entitlement to everything, but there are many who believe them to be the same thing, with equal share in everything. The problem is most of them want nothing to do with the sweat and blood it takes to have those things. No one wants to earn anything these days.

All men are created equal is not the same thing as all men have the same equity.

 
At 10/17/2005 4:13 PM, Blogger ted said...

You mean The People's Evil Dictatorship of Switzerland?

 
At 10/17/2005 10:07 PM, Blogger Alien Shaman said...

I had a very similar discussion recently. I too was of the opinion that all citizens should give something of themselves for two years - either domestic (job corp, parks, border builders) or international (military) service.

One interesting issue with this is the immense economic impact it would incur. You would delay all people from entering the work force and could stiffle economic growth. That argument alone is sufficient for me to leave things be for now.

The core problem that everyone seems to agree with is that American's have a sense of entitlement. The question is how do you solve that fundamental mindset?

One answer is to have everyone serve, thus "earning" their keep.

Another solution is to reduce the government and it's social programs so that citizens get no direct benefits, thus you are entitled to nothing.

There is no easy answer, and any changes (or lack there of) will have long lasting impacts upon American society. The America of now, is not the America of our Founding Fathers, the 40's, or what it will be in 2050. America is a continuously evolving complex system, as all societies are, so really what we want is to slow down that evolution because we are happy with the America of today - but who knows, perhaps we will love the America of tomorrow even more, especially since it is up to us and our votes to shape it.

I just hope the America of tomorrow does not see the President with the power to deploy US Troops stateside at his whim, the loss of state's rights, or attacks on our personal (privacy) freedoms.

 
At 10/18/2005 4:03 PM, Anonymous John Starbuck said...

Hey Ted,

Those things that you listed above are not required to be an American. You and I have the choice to do those things (taxes not included). If I don't want to have my backgroud looked at I will choose not to buy a firearm. I don't have to take a drivers test if I choose not to drive. What I believe the proposal here is mandatory(without a choice) service.

John Starbuck

 
At 10/18/2005 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I should go over to Canada for some french fries and gravy.

 
At 10/18/2005 11:29 PM, Blogger Tim Lewis said...

You can choose not to buy a gun...or have a job.

 
At 10/24/2005 1:08 AM, Blogger Quant Trader said...

A large part of the reason that we have such an elite and profesional military is because it is an all-volunteer force. For one reason or another every person who defends our freedom is doing so because this is what they want to do, not because they are being forced to do so. This is a powerful concept. Having a volunteer army ensures that we get exactly those people best suited for the job...mainly those people born to be warriors. I can honestly say that I would NOT want most of the people I went to highschool with to be defending my and my family's freedom. I only want to trust true warriors with that responsibility.

As for mandatory non-military national service, this is also a bad idea. The problem with compulsory national service for the "greater good" is who decides what the best way in which a person's service is to be put to use? Of course this responsibility is given to the government. The same government that is currently spending 200+ million dollers to build a bridge to no where in Alaska, and the same government that keeps military bases open which the military leadership has said that they don't even want. Government is horrible at efficiently allocating resources. The labor of our youth is far to precious of a resource to be entrusted to the U.S. Government. Do you really think your tax dolllars are well spent? Do you think the government would spend the labor of the nation's youth any better than they spend our tax dollars?

 

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