Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Who's Really Destroying the Military?

Mark Hyman loves to talk about the “Angry Left.” Most recently, he’s used the term when warning viewers about people who want to have the military draft reinstated so that the armed services will collapse.

You might be asking yourself why the draft would bring about the undoing of the military. I don’t know. Hyman doesn’t seem to know either. At least, he doesn’t offer an explanation. Granting that an army built from the draft won World War II, Hyman cryptically says that was a “different era under different circumstances.” According to Hyman, the draft today would bring in “the very people the military doesn't want: petty criminals, drug users, the lazy, conduct cases.”

Why would a draft today bring in these kinds of people? Hyman doesn’t say. One would think that even a rudimentary screening process would keep kleptomaniacs and crackheads out of uniform, but apparently Hyman doesn’t think the armed services are capable of weeding out such people.

The bigger question, however, is one that I’ve wondered about in the past: exactly who is “the Angry Left”?

For Hyman, it’s a group of people who (among other things) have a “little plan” to destroy the military by introducing the draft (and, according to Hyman’s bizarre reasoning, swelling the ranks of America’s armed forces with criminals). On a practical level, the idea of anyone taking this route to undermine the military is too dopey to be taken seriously for a second, but tabling that issue for a moment, who are the dastardly individuals who make up Hyman’s “Angry Left” and are bent on eviscerating the armed services?

Would it be the 16 Democratic Senators and 48 Democratic members of the House of Representatives who served in the military?

Would it be Paul Hackett, the first Iraq War vet to run for Congress? The Bush-bashing Democrat is (as of this writing) in a statistical dead heat with an entrenched Republican in a highly conservative district of Ohio.

Would it be the tens of thousands of registered Democrats who are fighting (and too often dying) in Iraq right now? What about the parents, family, and friends of these registered Democrats?

Of course not. Nor does it include any of us in the reality-based world. Which is why Hyman gives no examples of the people he claims are trying to destroy the military by reinstating the draft. “Angry Left” is nothing but an empty phrase into which Hyman (and, he hopes, his viewers) puts anyone he doesn’t like. Like the bogeyman, a child’s distillation of all the things that go bump in the night that he’s too scared to face, the “Angry Left” is Hyman’s projection of those people and ideas whom he fears and feels inadequate to cope with directly.

Now, there are certainly people who have suggested reinstituting the draft, and some of them are on the political left. But the primary reason for this is the fact that it is the children of poor and working class families that are serving and dying in wildly disproportionate numbers in the Iraq War. Some have suggested that if what is at stake in Iraq is of such monumental importance, perhaps children from across the socio-economic spectrum should serve.

Heck, we don’t even need a draft for that. How about Bush’s daughters volunteering to serve? This would be more than an empty gesture; according to a Rolling Stone article about the prospects of the draft being reinstated, military recruiters say that Jena Bush volunteering to serve in Iraq would do more to boost recruitment than a trebling of their advertising budget.

Perhaps if everyone’s children were equally at risk, decisions to go to war would be made with more forethought than we saw in this case. Hyman, however, mocks this rationale as a smokescreen that hides the Left’s “real” agenda: destroying the military. But I can’t help but think that in mocking this rationale, Hyman is also mocking the very idea that sacrifice should be shared by all.

And as far as destroying the military goes, the current administration is doing an excellent job of that itself. By conducting a voluntary war for no coherent reason and with no exit strategy, Bush has killed off 1800 members of the military, and sent ten times that many to the hospital (many with permanent disabilities). By sending troops in too small a number without the proper equipment, he’s ensured a long, drawn-out, and miserable existence for soldiers in the field.

Add to this the farming out of support services for the troops to companies like Halliburton, which have done atrocious jobs of caring for our servicemen and women, and it’s little wonder that the Army is falling short of recruiting goals. In fact, according to the Rolling Stone article, recruiters are now admitting 25% more high school dropouts into the service in order to even come close to meeting their quotas.

African Americans, once hugely over represented in the armed forces, now make up numbers that are roughly equal to their percentage in the general population. Might it be that those people to whom the armed forces have traditionally turned to fight their battles are finally getting sick of being taken for granted, particularly when those who are doing the most pontificating on the wisdom of the war also seem to be those with the least at stake?

Yes, even if we granted Hyman’s bizarre idea that wacky liberals are out to undermine the military by reinstating the draft, the Angry Left still comes in a distant second to the Angry Right when it comes to destroying our armed forces, as well as the lives of the individual young men and women who comprise them.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 3.17


At 12:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as all the right-wing talkers continue to blame Clinton for for all of Bush's failed policies, Hyman would like to shift the blame for Bush's destruction of the world's greatest military force onto the backs of the liberals and progressives.
I once heard 'Hack', Col. David Hackworth, the recently deceased, most decorated Army veteran, say in an interview, that Bush was given the very finest military ever, like the sword 'Excaliber', and Bush then proceeded to beat it on a rock (Iraq - no pun intended).
Hyman and his ilk are the fascist purveyors of spin, alternate reality, blame-shifting and non-accountability for the liars, thieves and thugs that make up this administration that wanted and relentlessly pursued this illegal and immoral war in Iraq.
Thanks, and keep bustin' Hyman!
Mike B. in SC

At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice article, I completely agree that if there was a draft for all major wars, then the elite people in power would think twice before starting pre-emptive wars. It's just a shame that a lot of the "poorer" folks who don't have many options in life and join the military, still back Bush, and his chronies although they do nothing to better the equipment, or #'s of troops serving in Iraq.

Also that's a really good analogy Mike, that you got from 'Hack'.
Thanks for keepin tab's on Hyman, too bad people actually believe his rhetoric, and can't distinguish news, from propaganda.

Joe H. in MN


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