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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Rangel's Tangled Angle

Who Bears the Burden? Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Recruits Before and After 9/11
by Tim Kane, Ph.D. - November 7, 2005
Although Representative Rangel's bill to reinstate the draft failed by a decisive vote of 402–2 in the House of Representatives in 2004, the issue will likely be considered again, especially if there are more terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Some motivations for the draft are entirely patriotic in the sense that they aim to protect America from aggressors. Others see the draft as an instrument of equality, as well as an instrument of pacifism.
Well deja vu all over again. I get it already. Charlie Rangel isn't so much in favor of the draft as he is against war.

I remember he didn't like Gulf War I either and back then he was demagoging race, whining that the over-representation of minorities in the military meant they would necessarily shoulder an unfair burden in casualties. It turned out the predominantly non-minority airmen and special forces were the ones who actually absorbed the disproportionate casualties. Not counting Saddam's military. The way our military cuts through theirs you have to wonder why we stomach any tinpot very long.

At any rate Rangel hasn't changed. These days he's still requesting reports to support his race-based worldview. And as usual they reveal a truth that just the opposite of his expectations.

Unfortunately being wrong hasn't stopped him. His latest angle: We need a draft to ensure that every race class shares the burden of military service equally. Once this is accomplished we will never again see war because no leader will dare face the wrath of a public so united against it.

This is the same old demagoguery with but a subtle change in grievance group. What's remarkable about his thinking is that it is so obviously false in several ways. False in presuming that the draft's random selection is more fair than self selection. False in presuming any deviation of the military population from societal norms is by its very nature unfair. That the balance of support for war would be different with or without the draft. And the ultimate falsity - that all this talk of draft and fairness is nothing but an indirect attack on the President's ability to wage war.

Consensus within the military is against the draft and I'm inclined to agree, but I could be convinced otherwise through reasonable debate with the goal of making them stronger. I cannot be convinced to argue about it with someone whose purpose is to undermine them or our society's ability to defend itself. Not much of what Charlie Rangel says makes sense because fairness is not his true goal. If you didn't already you should watch this to understand my argument why.

His party's rhetoric is obsessed with the fact that the richest 1% own 99% of everything, so he should understand that no matter how biased its sampling of society the military will always have more soldiers from poor families and less from rich. There just aren't very many sons of senators and tycoons. By the way, who decides which biases are bad?

None of the military folk I know are in it for the money. They know the pay is crap and the work dangerous but they volunteer anyway. They like serving their country. They like the way of life. To my eyes they overly represent the cream of our nation.

Charlie doesn't like that the military offers re-up bonuses. Democrats ordinarily champion increases in civil servant compensation but in this case Rangel chooses to decry money going to the military rank and file. Besides actually working the bonuses are mutually beneficial. All of which doesn't appear to matter to Rangel.

Why? Because like John Kerry, Representative-for-life Rangel's view of the military was formed during Vietnam. And it seems stuck there. They and the many that think like them act as though the military is a huge heartless machine, good for nothing but gobbling up young lives, and whose every attempt to grow must be thwarted. In their eyes the military's rightful place is at home where it is safely forbidden by the Constitution from doing anything.

Many of us don't see it that way. There are indeed huge heartless machines in the world, the real world, the world where virtually every strongman who comes to power at some point adopts an anti-corporate anti-American stand. Every day such tinpots squelch liberty, democracy, and the rule of law. Which is why we need a strong military. But every day our media mostly ignores all that and focuses instead on the most nitpickety inane non-stories it can find, especially if they feed the storyline of America as villain.

The mainstream media is divided between scaring their addicts witless about bird flu, the environment, meteors, albino Gypsy-Irish terrorists, and spinning great gobs of slick sweet nothings. All of which we are urged to believe is something the government must urgently do something about. While on the other hand the fight against militant Islam, or "Iraq" as they like to pigeonhole it, should never have been started (as if we started it) and should simply be declared stopped (as if that will stop it). This is the conventional wisdom now.

Most of us see the world beyond our small travels only through this distorted and schizophrenic media lens. In the US we're presented a constant drip of frightful stories about the misdeeds of our military, but until recently we heard next to nothing about what Islam and its Jihad are really about. Many people haven't watched what little has been shown. Hands up how many tuned in for The Path to 9/11?

What would public opinion be, on any topic, if the public actually knew what the jihadis want and just how large the "tiny minority" of extremists was before Iraq, Afghanistan, 9/11, Bush, their oil riches or colonialization? Well what the public understands is one thing. What is almost criminal is that to this day Charlie Rangel and many other politicians are still ignorant of the threat.

During Vietnam those who didn't want to fight went to Canada and didn't fight. The argument then was without the draft the military would wither away because nobody would be stupid enough to volunteer. Thus war would be ended and the flower power orgies could begin. Today we still have war. Of course. But nobody has to run to Canada. They just don't join. Those who do volunteer for military service, especially after 9/11, know full well they are putting their asses on the line for the rest of us. Including, they well know, those against war.

One last point. We don't draft garbage, fire, or policemen just because the job is dangerous or attracts the wrong proportions of people. We expect garbage to be picked up, fires fought, and criminals apprehended without having to join the neighborhood brigade. Different people are either happier or more productive doing different things. If the goal is fairness then nothing is more fair than leaving people free to choose, with special glory and appreciation reserved for those who choose to promote and defend the freedom from which the possibility of fairness, among other things, springs.

UPDATE 28 Nov: Rangel Adopts the Logic of Kerry's ‘Joke'.


Blogger MR said...

Great post, thank you. I don't know if you saw this article/video of Saddam and his inner circle right before the war, but I found it fascinating...

11/25/2006 11:17:00 AM  

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