Less than one percent of Americans serve in the Armed Forces, with many of these coming from a developing military caste of career professionals following in the footsteps of parents or grandparents who also served. Most of America is too dumb, too fat, too weak, too inked, or too “criminal” to serve even if they wanted to. There has been no war draft since Viet Nam. Nor is there a direct “war tax” on American consumers, and the American population seems utterly unconcerned about America’s enormous national debt. Indeed, Kant’s “poor game” is being played out in America at this very moment.
To remedy this, the United States, as a nation, should strongly consider the following:
1) A formal declaration of war, or at least very specific Congressional approval, for every US military action that lasts longer than 90 days.
2) The re-institution of a national draft (for both men and women) for every war the US fights that lasts longer than 180 days.
3) A war tax that directly affects every American, in order to pay for the war and to ensure the average American has at least some stake in the fighting.
4) The establishment of a tradition of two or more years of service (not necessarily military service) for all mentally and physically capable citizens.
5) Recognize that the democratic peace theory is a deeply flawed model. Instead of obsessively focusing on establishing “democracy,” the U.S. should focus on establishing the rule of law, adherence to international norms, and the fostering of governments amenable (or at least not inimical) to Western values and U.S. interests.
America still has the best military in the world, but it is stretched thin, badly mis-utilized by its political masters, and poorly understood by the average American. America needs to re-connect with its roots of service and sacrifice, and share the burden of war more equally throughout its citizenry. We need to recognize that our system of government and our worldview isn’t going to work for everyone else in the world.
And we need to start fighting wars to win them, instead of contemplating actions that are “unbelievably small” yet “not pinpricks,” or piecemealing our troops into conflicts we won’t let them win. If we do these things, then maybe our country won’t be in a perpetual state of war and the flow of blood, treasure, and national prestige that our country has been hemorrhaging for the last 12+ years can finally be stemmed. We need to get back to basics; otherwise we’re just tossing the dice.
Scott Faith is a veteran of a half-dozen combat deployments and has served in several different Special Operations units over the course of his Army career. Scott’s writing focuses largely on veterans’ issues, but he is also a big proponent of Constitutional rights and has a deep interest in politics. He often allows other veterans who request anonymity to publish their work under his byline. Scott welcomes story ideas and feedback on his articles, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.