Letters to the Editor

Mandatory service

November 11, 2009


To the editor:

How is it that this country has become bogged down in endless war in Iraq and Afghanistan? Could it be related to the creation of a professional military where the bonds between citizenship and military service have been severed? On this day when we honor those who have served in the armed forces, we ought to consider enacting legislation whereby citizenship is predicated not just on receiving benefits from the government (i.e. health care), but also by mandatory military service.


Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Such was the case during Nam.... aka the draft.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Isn't it time to bring the troops home to their families and devote war dollars toward rebuilding our nations economy,create new industry and put 20 million people back to work making peace and making money instead of making war?

Antiwar Activists Reawaken as Obama Weighs War Strategy http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/10/30/antiwar-activists-reawaken-as-obama-weighs-afghanistan-strategy/

No other nation in the world has the ability to take over the USA by military power?

Why do americans support USA military occupation of other countries?

Would americans welcome military occupation of the USA by another foreign military super power?

Would americans support the mass killing of our families by another foreign super power? Millions of innocent people have died since the mideast invasion began including close to 6,000 of our own soldiers. WHY?

Ten's of thousands of our soldiers have become disabled since the mideast invasion began which is no fun for them or their families. The estimated cost to support these unfortunate families for the next 40 -50 years is 4 trillion dollars.

Isn't it time to bring the troops home to their families and devote war dollars toward rebuilding our nations economy,create new industry and put 20 million people back to work making money instead of making war?

Do we want to bury the USA in arrogance and debt to other governments?


Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Iraq Vets Against The War


Combat Paper The story of the soldier the Marine, the men and the women and the journeys within the military service in a time a war is our basis for the project. This is a collaborative project initiated by Drew Matott and Drew Cameron along with members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. Utilizing uniforms worn in combat in Iraq, veterans cut, cook, beat and form sheets of paper out of their uniforms. In this way, veterans are able to use the transformation processes of papermaking to reclaim their uniform as art and begin to reconcile their experiences as a soldier in Iraq.

Warrior Writers Project The Warrior Writers Project provides tools and space for community building, healing and redefinition to Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Through writing/artistic workshops that are based on experiences in the military and Iraq, the veterans unbury their experiences and connect with each other on a personal and artistic level. The writing from the workshops is compiled into books, performances and exhibits that provide a lens into the hearts of people who have a deep and intimate relationship with the Iraq war. Furthermore, it gives the veterans a sense of ownership over their stories and strength in their voice, perspective and power.

In April we organized an exhibit, which showcased photographs of Iraq Veterans Against the War and artwork of two members. At the exhibit, veterans read from the book and performed pieces they had written in the workshop earlier that day.

Our third workshop took place at the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago on June 18th. That evening we shared our writings and photography at "Intrusive Thoughts" which was attended by over one hundred people. We will continue to facilitate workshops and organize exhibits and performances.

Truth in Recruiting Veteran's stories of conflict are a powerful tool that can be used to prevent others from entering into the military without a full understanding of their actions. Sharing our stories is not only eye opening for those who are listening, but healing for ourselves.

Veteran Gulf Reconstruction Project As veterans, we saw first-hand how diverting billions for an endless occupation in Iraq is responsible for the shameful lack of aid for reconstruction in the communities that survived Hurricanes Katrina and Rita here at home. If we can build bases in the desert for war, we can rebuild cities in the U.S. for justice.

Coalitions and Movement Building Iraq Veterans Against the War realizes the importance of working with other organizations in the fight to end this war. Our most important partner is Veterans for Peace. We also have very close relationships with Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

We are a proud member organization of the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition and sit on its Coordinating Committee.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 4 months ago

Draft Merrill, please Sunflower is running out of room due to his cut and paste.

For people who live in Section 8 housing (not disabled) should be working and if they don't find a job, tyhe government should put them to work. They are getting housiong from the government, the government should get something for them.

Maybe Merrill can hire tehm to mow lawns with him.

Brent Garner 8 years, 4 months ago

An interesting idea. A similar idea is explored in depth in a science fiction book by Robert Heinlein. The name of the book is "Starship Troopers". If memory serves me correctly the chapter in question is chapter 8. The idea of requiring service before granting full citizenship rights, to include the right to vote, has some merit. I would recommend reading that chapter of "Starship Troopers" before all of you flame this LTE writer into oblivion.

Chris Golledge 8 years, 4 months ago

I hear the book is better than the movie, per usual. Sadly, I've only seen the movie, and enjoyed it more than I care to admit.

jonas_opines 8 years, 4 months ago

So, bkgardner, when we're done implementing Heinlein's ideas on mandatory service, I assume you want us to move on to the ideas of concensual group orgies and religious evolution he advocates on pages, oh, 50-400 of Stranger in a Strange Land?

gogoplata 8 years, 4 months ago

Mandatory service doesn't jive to well with "the land of the free."

If you love liberty and freedom mandatory service does not fit in.

sfjayhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Mandatory service would be a good thing for this country. Probably keep us out of the next phony war.

remember_username 8 years, 4 months ago

The are some good points for "mandatory" service, but I have to agree with some here that "mandatory" anything is a bad idea. I've always admired Robert Heinlein's argument in "Starship Troopers", and challenge those unfamiliar with it to read it. Unfortunately, I think Robert Heinlein was a bit naive when it comes to human nature, in Heinlein's universe feudalism would have worked just fine.

remember_username 8 years, 4 months ago

Jonas - as I recall mandatory service wasn't part of "Stranger in a Strange Land", you Grok?

remember_username 8 years, 4 months ago

vanguard3 - I agree that a period of maturity between high school and college is a great idea, and service should mean more than military enlistment. If the government would extend college or trade school financial incentives to those that serve in a CCC type service I think that would be a win-win proposal.

staff04 8 years, 4 months ago

Since 80% of people in the U.S. that are of age for service are too fat to serve or are otherwise physically ineligible, I guess it would be one way we could continue that race to the bottom in world health!

notajayhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jonas_opines 8 years, 4 months ago

remember_username (Anonymous) says…

"Jonas - as I recall mandatory service wasn't part of “Stranger in a Strange Land”, you Grok?"

I quite grok. My point was merely that we might not always be best taking the advice of science fiction writers (exceptions always). Heinlein wrote great books, but he was also kind of a crazy, horny old man.

remember_username 8 years, 4 months ago

jonas - I figured that was your point, but hey, how often does one get a chance to use "grok" in conversation these days? I just couldn't resist.

staff04 8 years, 4 months ago

"So you blame our healthcare system for that, staff. Here we go with the liberals' abandonment of the concept of personal responsibility again."

No, Tom, you're delusions have gotten the best of you again. I made no mention of the healthcare system, only the decline of the nation's health. Actually, I blame you for the fact that damn near everyone is too fat to serve. Sitting on your ass writing on the internet all day setting a brilliant example for your kids--if only some day they can be outstanding individuals like you.

Oh, and I don't have kids, spent an hour in the gym before you were out of bed this morning and, while I would prefer not to serve in a war of choice, if chosen to do so through conscription I would do my duty to the greatest extent my body would allow. If the example I'm setting for my dog is something you are concerned about, please go on a rant about that.

tomatogrower 8 years, 4 months ago

This is interesting. It was liberals who demanded an end to the draft in the 70's, and I was one of them. But now I see a bunch of young people whose only awareness that we at war (unless they have family in the military) is at school. They haven't had to give up anything. I even had one young man that told me we shouldn't bring prisoners of war to the US, because he didn't want to be put in harm's way. Yet, it's ok with him that soldiers are put in harm's way. I think we should bring back the draft (for men and women), and unplug these kids from their matrix, video games and Ipods.

Also, on this board it's the conservatives that are whining about the draft. They are all gungho about Bush's 2 wars, as long as they aren't drafted to fight the wars. They'll just sit at home and invest in corporations and get rich from wars, but don't ask them to fight the war. Pretty sick, if you ask me.

But then, maybe we shouldn't reinstate the draft. Maybe we should just allow our country to go downhill. I worry about the mess that would ensue, but maybe, because of the selfishness "all about me", anti-community attitude of conservatives and many of our young people, we deserve to fail as a country.

remember_username 8 years, 4 months ago

ComradeRedRooster - This surprises you? Based upon the opinions of many frequent posters I'm either a left wing Socialist, or a liberal elitist, possibly even a grasshopper.

tomatogrower 8 years, 4 months ago

ComradeRedRooster (Anonymous) says… The Soviet Union, a model of socialist efficiency utilized mandatory service, they called them gulags. Please don't ever mention mandatory service to a group of socialists, they start getting excited, drooling and drunk with power. The other leftist socialist system in Nazi Germany concentrated mandatory laborers in work camps.

So, being a patriot and fighting your country's wars, being concerned about your community and doing things to serve your country and community is socialist? So, doing everything you can to get everything for yourself and screw everyone else really is the conservative stand. I always suspected that, but now you all are being open about it. At least you're being honest now, so please don't wrap yourself in the flag anymore. You'll look like a hypocrite. You put ribbons on your cars, and say the Pledge to the flag and say you are supporting the troops, but don't ask you to sacrifice anything. As long as you're making money, driving your SUV's, and not having to lift your little finger to help your country, you'll support the American way. Just don't ask you to do anything that doesn't profit you. The Conservative Creed "It's All About Me!!!!"

Ralph Reed 8 years, 4 months ago

Let's see, The average Presidential election turnout 1960 to 2008 was 51%. The average off year turnout was 37%. (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html) That means for all the elections only about 45% of eligible voters give a sh*t. Granted there are those who can't make it for a valid reason, but that's pretty close.

Voting and holding public office are rights of a citizen. If you don't serve, you're not a citizen (I think Heinlein called them residents, but it's been a while since I read the book) and you don't vote or hold public office. That should really have no effect on about 55% of the voting age populace.

The only difference between Heinlein and what we have now is that those who exercised their right to serve in the military can vote and hold public office. Those who don't have all the rights we enjoy except the two granted to those who served in the military. I see nothing really wrong with that; I would just expand it to a service of some sort to the country (ie: CCC as someone mentioned above; or teaching K-12.).

Tom dislikes almost everything I espouse as I'm self-identified as a liberal. However, the rights we have must be earned and paid for, not just given as a birthright. Those rights I've earned are what allow me to write here.

BTW Tom, your rants above are little more than thrashing about. Relook what you wrote and try again.

(Yes, I have read a lot of Heinlein's books, to include "Starship Troopers." The movie left a lot out.)

gogoplata 8 years, 4 months ago

What is patriotic about fighting the countrys wars? If they are wars that don't need to be faught, if they are a waste of lives and resources, and if they are unconstitutional it seems to me the true patriot would just say no.

Let me get this correct, those for mandatory service are good with taking away someones freedom so they can go fight for the freedom you are pushing for the government to take away? Makes no sense.

puddleglum 8 years, 4 months ago

c'mon, tom-I got your back.

what happened to the mini-30 magazine you wanted? I thought that was a good deal?

tomatogrower 8 years, 4 months ago

I didn't say I agreed with this war, but there are plenty, especially conservatives on the board, who are all supportive of Bush/Cheney's wars, yet they haven't lifted a finger to fight the war. Tom, I bet you could still volunteer to fight this war. I've heard you defend Bush and Cheney's war. Yet, you don't even have the guts to pay the taxes to pay for this war. How much money do you have invested in the war machine? You could care less about this country.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.