Anna Gregoline | September 1, 2004
Should every able-bodied citizen be required to serve for a certain period of time in some branch of the military service? Why or why not?

I already answered what I thought, but thought it might be worth asking, although I feel like it might have been on here before.

Lori Lancaster | September 1, 2004
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Robert Phillips | September 1, 2004
If the person is human, violence and killing sickens everyone. During WW2 there was a study done suggesting that most soldiers did not shoot when they were supposed to and had opportunity too. The syndrome apparently got so bad during Vietnam that they threatened soldiers with death if they did not fire the weapon when they were ordered too. Apparently they use video games to give people finger memory today...The point is war is hard, the military is hard. Everyone is ill suited to the task.

I will however agree that doing duty to those who fought and died for us does not necessarily entail guns or shooting. Perhaps that person can be a nurse or an engineer. Service can be many things..

Anna Gregoline | September 1, 2004
True enough - I'm sure there are many non-combat roles available in our military.

But I don't agree with most of the conflicts we become involved in, and how we involve ourselves. I STRONGLY disagree with the culture of our military. I would be ashamed to be a part of it, and being forced to wouldn't change my mind.

Robert Phillips | September 1, 2004
Yes, but what if our homes and lives were directly threatened. Would you fight if the children in your neighborhood were taken hostage...Like they just were in Russia. It is threats like this that the military is supposed to protect us from. I will agree that the conflicts the military involves itself in right now are perhaps not correct, but you have to think about worse case scenario's. What if we were being invaded by nazi like ultra right wing christians and they wanted to take your house to use as a base. Don't believe that this stuff can not happen because it does every day. I know this is an example from history, but remember the old adage that those who do not remember the past are doomed to relive the past. Right before King Richard II (the LionHeart) left for the crusades there was a huge christian attempt to kill and take control of all the property owned by Jews in England. The king needed the wealth to finance his journeys. That day and several after many thousands of Jews lost theirs lives and their property. Again remembering that we must learn lessons from situations like that would you be willing to fight then? I would hope so. This is what the military is for and those who join the military should see it as a sacred duty.

Anna Gregoline | September 1, 2004
Uh, that's a pretty bizarre scenario. The military isn't really for that right now, considering there is almost no possibility of something like that happening.

But in that impossible situation, would I fight to defend my family and home? Yes. Would I join the military to do so? Probably not.

And if we weren't involved in our current conflicts, I still wouldn't want to join the military, for some of the reasons above and others.

Lori Lancaster | September 1, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | September 1, 2004
Of course we're lucky to live here. But I'm talking about mandatory military service HERE, in America. Roberts situation just strikes me as perposterous.

Robert Phillips | September 1, 2004
It is a mistake to think that very bad things could not happen to America and our families. There are military people whos' job it is to think these things up and be prepared to deal with them. It is important to understand that the actions the military takes are very often related to the activities of these people. It is also a mistake to not understand implicitly why Bush did make the decision to go after Saddam. I don't agree that it was the correct thing to do, but I understand it.

Believe me when I say that almost anything can happen, and somewhere it is happening. Whole cultures are wiped out, families die. Thank the military and our constitution that it does not happen on huge scales here in America. Also believe me when I say that there are groups of people out there who would wipe America and all it stands for off the face of the earth if it was not for the military. You and I are able to have this conversation today because of the military.

Lori Lancaster | September 1, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | September 1, 2004
Sure, there are plenty of enemies of America (we're making more every day!), but I don't think that we'll become a war-torn country any time soon. And if we do, yes, we have a big military and I don't think it will be that bad for the average citizen. Do I feel secure that we have a big military? Sure. But I don't agree with how it's run, how it's used, etc, and I wouldn't want to be a part of it. Part of me feels that the next huge terrorist attack on American soil will not be justified, but I will understand it.

Thinking in this kind of "anything can happen anytime anywhere" mentality is exactly what Bush and Co. want you to think. They, like most facists, are controlling the populace through fear. Just this morning I saw new ads from Homeland Security showing lipstick and neckties in people's homes, with taglines like, "But do you have a transitor radio? But do you have a whistle?" as if these things will make us safe. Nothing makes us safe, I get that.

"It is also a mistake to not understand implicitly why Bush did make the decision to go after Saddam. I don't agree that it was the correct thing to do, but I understand it."

Please don't go there. It's not a mistake to not understand why Bush decided to go after Saddam. I don't understand it one bit. There are a million reasons why he shouldn't have done it.

Lori Lancaster | September 1, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | September 1, 2004
I never said that these things are happening in other countries, just that it's extremely unlikely here.

I'm sorry you have such a low opinion of me.

Back to the actual subject at hand, please? I will disengage from the argument so you can talk amongst yourselves.

Robert Phillips | September 1, 2004
Being mindful of something is not the same as fearing it. I trust, and believe that tomorrow I will have a home, my children will be safe, and I can go comfortably to sleep next to my wife without fear that a band of evil religious zealots will try and do away with my rights and ultimately my life. That does not mean I don't try and deal with potentialities like voting Bush out, and keeping my doors and windows locked.

Anna...If you are more able to understand why an Islamic terrorist would want to kill us than to understand why Bush brought us to war with Iraq then there is something wrong here. To defeat something you must know it.

Anna Gregoline | September 1, 2004
I don't understand why an Islamic terrorist would want to kill civilians, no.

But I will have a sliver of understanding when the next big terror event happens because of all we've done in Afganistan and Iraq.

What do you mean by "to defeat something you must know it?" Just curious, I'm not quite understanding.

Lori Lancaster | September 1, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | September 1, 2004
I do read everything that is said. I don't accuse anyone of anything consciously. I'm sorry you feel I do.

I don't know what this means - "I think I feel more comfortable having a military force to preserve our ideals in freedom and the freedom of other nations instead of being subject to the whims of a neighbooring country."

Does that mean you'd like us to be a military presence in other countries to demonstrate democracy? Or is the military here symbolic for those freedoms, something that we need to have as a nation for people to be reminded of those freedoms?

Lori Lancaster | September 1, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | September 1, 2004
It's true that there might be fewer wars now especially, because with Iraq, America has proven we can go to war no evidence and little support with few consequences. As another nation, I would be terrified of us - which is good in that other nations might do what we say - and bad because of the same reason, depending on what our leaders want from other countries!

Robert Phillips | September 1, 2004
There is a hugely great book called "APRIL 1865". It is about the last month of the Civil War. The south was in the process of making decisions about how surrender to the north would take place. A good number of rebel soldiers were taking to the "wilds", and preparing to continue fighting the civil war as guerilla fighters. Many such examples abound of this...Jesse James, and Cole Younger to name a couple. Some wanted to fight a terrorist war others simply wanted to continue in secret. Against the backdrop of this uncertanty is the historical fact that history has not EVER been kind to the losers in such a conflict. The generals and leaders of the other side almost always get executed and the people who fought for the losing side always get treated badly. In the past the losers always gave up their land and possesions and often were subjected to great indignities. It was not certain by any means how the civil war would end. When Grant sat down with Lee at Appomatix in April 1865 I could understand the apprehension that Lee was feeling. His life was more than likely over and done with and those of his generals might also be subject the same fate. Grant however knowing the philosophies and needs of the enemy was able to accept the surrender of the south with great respect and honor. In one fell swoop "defeating the terrorists" before they even got started. Grant was a great scholar who understood his enemy and used that to great advantage in defeating them.

Of course just a year or two after that the Indian wars started and our governement was not so respectful to the Indians.

Anna Gregoline | September 1, 2004
Sounds like a cool book - I'll have to check it out!

Robert Phillips | September 1, 2004
April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik

Awesome book.

Scott Hardie | September 3, 2004
Ouch. Melissa wrote something Tuesday about TC getting more hostile lately, but I thought she was imagining it. Now we have open personal attacks. I hate to keep bringing up the notion of civility around here, but I think it's something that concerns us all. When we criticize each other as authors, let's keep on writing it as something constructive and reading it as something constructive.

I don't want to single you out for one of those constructive complaints, Anna, since you got enough in this discussion already, but as the subject has been broached... I too often sense that the meaning of my words has been twisted on me and attacked for being something that it isn't. For instance, Kris will sometimes respond to some small point I'm trying to make about one politician by summarizing and denouncing the entire career of that person or the platform of that party; I say that I like one tree and I get treated as if I want to save an entire forest. You, on the other hand, can sometimes reject an entire argument with a put-down of the person's thoughts or beliefs because that person has a different opinion than yours; stating your own perspective is great, and declining to be engaged by someone else's argument is fine, but there's no need to minimize the person or the points they're trying to make. Look above, when Bob introduced a hypothetical example for sake of discussion, and you called it 'preposterous' and 'bizarre' as if it wasn't worthy of a proper response.

I noticed this a month ago and have regretted not saying anything at the time. On July 27-28, you explained to Mike that 'Tragic Comedy is a friendly place... The spirit of this board includes not calling people names because they believe in something you don't... I only ask that [another viewpoint] be respectful.' Then the very next day, you dismissed Mike's comment by saying, 'Your stance is disgusting... That [was an] appalling lack of compassion for your fellow man.' In neither instance was Mike saying anything about his fellow authors in particular; he was putting down liberals in general and Middle Easterners. In both cases, you were not interested in discussing Mike's points, which was fine, but did you have to insult Mike in the process? Keeping TC a friendly place is everyone's responsibility.

Anyway, Anna, I don't want you to think that you're not appreciated around here; you've done more for my discussion forum in a month than I have all year. :-) TC would be but a shadow of itself without you, and I doubt anybody wants you to stop posting. (Same goes for Kris, whose well-considered comments don't get the attention they deserve.) I just wanted to take this opportunity to clear the air; I will resume my regular impersonal TCing now.

Back to the draft:

Last summer, a friend argued for compulsory government service. He thought that every citizen, able-bodied or not, owed the government at least two years of service, even if it was only a desk job in the county treasurer's office. Besides boosting each person's sense of responsibility, it would benefit the populace by uniting them with a notion of civic duty that would strengthen the country. But in listening to his argument, I couldn't help but think that fascist nations have awfully strong senses of civic duty, too. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that a rejection of this concept of personal debt to the state was the principle behind the Declaration of Independence, and drove our victories over the dual threats of fascism and communism in the 20th century. We founded this country on the principle that the government owes the people, not the other way around. There are plenty of those who love this country so much that they will give the government their lives to protect it, but the freedom to make that decision for oneself is an essential freedom. Myself, I favor a constitutional amendment to ban conscription permanently, but I'm willing to settle for the draft existing but not being activated like it is now.

Scott Hardie | September 3, 2004
On the authorship subject, I'd like to apologize for hurting feelings and bruising egos in the pursuit of a better TC, if indeed I caused that. More importantly, I'd like to make it clear that I know I'm a flawed author as well. Please take the opportunity while it lasts to mention any bad habits that I could correct. We're all friends here.

Lori Lancaster | September 3, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | September 3, 2004
I apologize for the specific example with Mike and the gay thread. (I think it was in that one). It was a heated thread and I get upset over things like flagrant, even proud discrimination and name-calling - I'm not perfect, and I responded back in kind. Not cool.

I never mean to be dismissive of anyone. As of late, not just on this site, I've been getting into these battles online, and I don't know why this is going on. I don't know if my words have started coming across more rude than usual, if I'm not being fair enough, being slow enough in my responses, or if I've just created some sort of atmosphere where I come across like a fucking jerk, but I can't seem to stop having these altercations, so something is obviously wrong. As it is now, I don't want to be writing responses to things feeling like I'm on eggshells and thinking everyone thinks I'm a jerk but they're not speaking up - and I don't want to continue and have people speak up and tell me I'm a jerk. So I think I need to take a break, at least from posting things. I might respond here or there but I'm not going to be responding with anything that is political in any way.

Kris Weberg | September 3, 2004
To Scott's point about mandatory service as a personal debt to the state -- I agree that the effect would be the same, but the logic behind mandatory service might be less a notion of debt to one's country and more a notion that, as a democracy, a government of the people, no person should really be excluded from the government in some sense.

In a sense, most people are "outside" the government that's supposed to be theirs; many people don't even vote, which seems to me like a minimal kind of participation.

As Scott does, I think that's their right and would be loath to deprive anyone of the right to their own apathy or deliberate withdrawal. But I can understand the frustration of people who see democracy not only as an opportunity to get involved, but a system dependent on everyone's involvement by its very constiution and nature.

(This speaks to the broader issue of mandatory government service of some kind; mandatory military service, to me, seems a bit narrow a focus for civic improvement and was, when it was called the draft, eventually destructive to the morale of the armed forces themselves. You can't fight a war using people who don't believe in the combat itself and don't want to be in the army.)

Scott Hardie | September 5, 2004
Lori: Yeah, I know. I wish I had more time to write things here. It seems like most nights, I can sit down at the computer for around ten minutes, and some nights not at all. When I do have an hour or more available, I usually spend it on some other project, like writing a FIN post. C'est la vie. It's just an ongoing juggling act.

Anna: I sympathize with you, because as you know, I too have a bad habit of unwittingly, unintentionally being rude; I've developed an aggressive politeness to compensate but the problem never really goes away. We know you don't mean to be rude or mean-spirited, and that you want TC to be just as nice of a place as we do. I don't know; sometimes it just seems like you give a knee-jerk reaction from your perspective without really listening to what we're saying. Take your comment yesterday in the Kerry discussion: Bob introduced a hypothetical question and asked for speculation, and you responded with an automatic restatement of your perspective, ignoring what it was he was trying to ask of us. It gets your opinion across loud and clear, but it does nothing to help the ongoing dialogue on TC, which is something you clearly want to do based on how many new discussions you've started lately. I hope that this gives you something to think about and that you're not hurt by it.

Kris: All true and agreed, as far as I'm concerned. The man who suggested this wasn't thinking about democratic participation, however; when I asked him for clarification, he literally said the words that every citizen owes service to the government. This is the same guy who agreed with Alexander Hamilton that an electoral college is necessary because most citizens are morons who can't be trusted to vote for real candidates (as opposed to crooks and incompetents); he had no problem with the electors choosing a different candidate than the one who received the most votes. :-|

Anna Gregoline | September 5, 2004
Of course I'm hurt by it. Who wouldn't be? It's going to take me some time to figure out how to talk on here.

John E Gunter | September 7, 2004
I believe a draft or whatever you want to call it is an important part of our government. I'm not talking about a democracy here; I'm talking our government.

But, I also believe that if for some reason, you are against fighting, for a real reason, not just some made up reason because you are afraid of death, lazy or something along those lines, then you need to be except from the service. As an example, let us say that you strongly believe that killing another human being is wrong, and then you should be except from a draft.

Course, not everyone is going to like the idea that they are drafted and must serve x number of years in the military. So you will get people who lie to get out of the service, if you allow that kind of exemption.

So how do you get a standing military, you use what we do today. It worked during WWI and WWII, which yes, today is different, but until someone figures out a better way to do it, you use what works. The big problem is, most times, people ignore a way that might be better, because they get comfortable in what they know.

When they re-instated signing up for selective services or whatever they called it, I had just turned 18. My father made sure I went down to sign up, but I would have done it without his encouragement. I even looked into enlisting in the army, but unfortunately, my recruiting officer didn't want to give me what would fit me best, which was a fast track to officer training.

This is something I found out then, almost 20 years ago, so it might not be the same now, but recruiting officers don't get a recruitment credit if they recruit you as a noncom or an officer. They only get that credit by recruiting an enlisted man. So what happened, the army lost out on a good recruit. Once I found out that I was getting the shaft, I stopped the process and backed away.

If the situation had come up though, where we were at war and my country needed me, I would have joined. That's what my father did during WWII and I would have done the same. Sure, our country has problems, but in my mind, it's important to protect the freedoms we have by serving our country in the times that a need exists.

It was one individual who was treating me badly, so I still feel a responsibility to my country. Yes, our government is for the people, but as a responsible citizen, I owe a responsibility to the government and my fellow citizens.

John

Anna Gregoline | September 7, 2004
My question to you is, who decides what's a "real" reason or not? And what's to prevent everyone from adopting those reasons?

John E Gunter | September 7, 2004
That's why it's almost impossible to get out of the draft, because people being human will make up "real" reasons so that they don't get drafted.

Let me take another track on this. Let's say someone gets drafted who will not in any way shape or form kill another human being. They are placed in a fire team during a conflict. Doesn't matter if it's on foreign or domestic soil. Now, you are part of that same fire team and that person is supposed to watch your back as it were.

During a patrol you happen to miss an enemy as you walk past a building. Your buddy, who will not kill another human being for any reason, is behind the enemy when that same enemy steps out to take a shot at you, which at the very least will wound you and possibly kill you. But your buddy will not kill him so what does he do, let you get shot, or warn you so that the enemy knows he's there also?

I personally would rather that person never made it into the military so that he would not have to make a life or death decision concerning my life! But, how do you know which people should be exempt from service due to those kinds of reasons?

I will tell you who decides though, the government.

John

Anna Gregoline | September 7, 2004
I'm sure they do psychological testing as well as boot camp? Maybe not?

I would be one of those people that if they wouldn't let me out for a not-wanting-to-kill-people reason, I would run and hide or as a last resort, injure myself so I wouldn't have to go. If people don't want to do something so dangerous/against their beliefs, they will. I think a draft can very very rarely be a good thing.

Erik Bates | September 8, 2004
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Erik Bates | September 8, 2004
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Jackie Mason | September 8, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | September 8, 2004
Thanks, Jackie. It's all become a little heated lately. I understand why I was singled out, but I wish that Scott had noticed some of the other comments and made a more blanket statement perhaps - and a more private one to me.

Scott Hardie | September 8, 2004
Anna: Yes, I'm pretty sure the Army does decent psychological testing. The kid in "Full Metal Jacket" wouldn't have lasted but a few days.

Jackie: You are correct; several authors have been harsh and personal in their writing lately. I singled out Anna for what I intended as helpful comments because she happened to be the focus of the discussion at that point. :-| Thankfully, most people seem to get that this is a civil place: Several users have told me they read discussions here but refuse to comment because they'd wind up starting flame wars.

Anna Gregoline | September 8, 2004
They were helpful comments - but next time, please try to contact me first. I felt very singled out and berated in front of the class, so to speak.

Mike Eberhart | September 8, 2004
"Officer" - Anyone who is a 2nd LT, 1st LT, Capt., Maj., LtCol, Col, Brig. Gen, Maj. Gen, Lt. Gen, General. This would be ranks O-1 - O-10. Anyone who is an officer is in a leadership position. They are in command of squadrons, platoons, brigades, wings, etc....

"Non-Com" - Non-Commisioned officer. These are still enlisted men, they have just completed NCO school. Usually these are Sgt's that are in supervisory positions.

"Enlisted" - Any service member E-1 through E-10. There can only be 1 E-10 in each branch of the services. So realistically, you can only get to E-9, which is a Chief. If they call you enlisted, it's usually because you haven't made the rank of Sgt yet. Usually anyone that's an Airman, Seaman, Private, or below.

Then you also have the "Warrant Officer". They aren't really enlisted and they aren't really officers. They are below a 2nd LT, and above CMSgt. They usually are the guys that fly or work on the helicopters in the Army. At least that's where I've seen most of them.

Hope that helps Eric.

Mike Eberhart | September 8, 2004
Scott,
Actually in full metal jacket, that guy would have probably still made it through, he didn't freak out until the rest of his platoon gave him a code red. That's what put him over the top. And actually, he turned into a pretty decent recruit after the code red. He just snapped in the end. The way it works in basic training for the Air Force, if you can't cut it during your 6 weeks, you get recycled back to another training class. What that means is, if you get close to graduation and the TI's don't think you deserve to graduate and need more conditioning, they will recycle you back to another flight that still have about 2 and half weeks left in their training. This gives you more time to straighten yourself out. You can get recycled several times before they will finally let you out of basic.

Jackie,
You're right, I wouldn't have a problem with the draft. If I knew that I was going to get drafted though, I would go and enlist first, that way I get to choose which branch of the service that I wanted to go to. If you're drafted, they put you where they want. However, I can't get drafted any longer. I tried to rejoin the AF Reserves about 2 years ago, but they wouldn't let me in because I had lower back surgery. I'm medically disqualified for the Air Force. I didn't try any other branches because I figured they would all tell me the same thing.


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