Its an old mans
war, but a young mans fight. Its been
said through the ages, but nobody has ever done anything
about it. War is an injustice indeed, especially to the
young who have not had their chance at life. But two
simple steps can change that once and for all.
My father is a World War 2 veteran of the Army Air Corps
where he was a flight mechanic. He told me that while
working on planes he would notice other mechanics taking
shortcuts or doing work improperly. Hey, youre
doing that wrong, he would say, only to hear,
Who cares?... Im not going up in this plane
It troubled him then-as it does even now-how callous and
cynical men can sometimes be with the lives of others.
But no flight mechanic serving under Colonel John Killer
Kane ever did careless work. Kane, son of a Baptist
preacher, led the famous air attack of the heavily
defended Romanian oilfields in 1943. Kane every so often
would walk out to where the mechanics were working on a
plane and say, Are you boys just about finished?
Draw your parachutes. Were all taking this plane up
in one hour. Imagine the resolve and attention to
detail the mechanics exercised in their work- after word
went around about Kanes method of inspection.
Kane understood that men act in their own self interest,
and I wonder if this principle could be applied to our
time, where the burden of war is carried by 1% of the
population, mostly young guys between the ages of 18 and
22, barely out of childhood. What if all our wars from
now on were fought by the entire population instead of
delegated to youth?
The first step toward this end would be to reintroduce
the draft. Yes, the draft. Every-body- and I mean
everybody- between the ages of 18 and 65 would register
and be ready for active duty. Anyone old enough to work a
job is old enough to serve his or her country. Thomas
Jefferson said, Every citizen should be a soldier.
This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be
that of every free state.
Of course those most physically fit would still take the
role of active combatants. But I suspect this role would
not fall exclusively upon the young. I routinely see
forty-something yuppie women at the gym in peak,
hard-body condition from their aerobics and pilates
regimens. Men with gray hair who cross-country ski, run
in marathons and climb mountains. And lets not
forget the arm chair war-enthusiasts, the
neighborhood-tavern blowhards, and barber shop
strategists who- from their talk at least- would be eager
to see some action. And so, why not? Most
jobs in todays military are non-combat anyway, so
the army can use everybody.
Second and just as important. Decisions about war and
peace are too important to be made by a coterie of
politicians, even the best of whom are ambitious, and
inclined to make decisions based on political expe-diency
or their own unresolved personal neuroses.
Therefore, war could only be declared by a vote of the
people of the United States, and then by a two- thirds
majority. If there is to be war, then let it be a peoples
war: everybodys war, or it is nobodys. The
president could call for a vote at any time as often as
The nay-sayers will cry foul. What about top secret
information to which only the president is privy? But
intelligence has been so inept that it failed to foresee
the coup against the Shah of Iran. And the fall of the
Soviet Union. And the Bay of Pigs. And 9/11. Even
President Bush admits he got faulty information about
Iraqs weapons of mass destruction. What
Some will complain that if people vote for their own
wars, they wont choose war unless the country
is directly attacked, and then only against a clearly
defined aggressor, which is exactly the point. War is to
be used as an ultimate, last ditch resort after all other
means have been exhausted. Remember the lesson from
Colonel Kane? Everybody acts in their interest. We would
not eliminate wars, but wed have a hell of a lot
less of them.
But can the American people really be trusted with such
an important decision? Thomas Jefferson addressed that
question: I know of no safe depository of the
ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves;
and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise
their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is
not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.
Draw your parachutes. Were taking this plane up in
*Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com
The June, 2006 Edition
of the Valley Patriot
The Valley Patriot is a Monthly
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Valley Patriot Archive
Prior columns by Mark Palermo
Classroom Credit to Support
Trash Talk in N. Andover
The NY Times & Treason
Actions Speak Louder Than
Tom Duggan's Notebook
Mill City Maulers To Play Stadium
Planning for our Future
The Day of Reckoning in N.A.