Rep. Charles Rangel is no doubt sincere when he says that,
"No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq."
But he could not be more wrong. His impetus for proposing the draft he says is to shift the burden of defending America from the poor, minority community who are economically pressed into service to the rich, white community which has been shirking its duty and using the black man as cannon fodder to line whitey’s pockets. His basis for this policy change is also demonstrably false, but if he is sincere in this contention then I would have to question his sanity.
I was having a conversation with my mother this weekend about how it is that in school, girls are now catered to and boys are expected to conform behaviorally to what is essentially a female standard. It seems to me that the principle behind this mindset has, to a great extent, pervaded the society at large and the consequences of it can be seen in various places across the nation. The rise of the metrosexual man and more importantly the homosexual to a position of faddish stature in pop culture, the over representation of women in college, and the degradation of the volunteer soldier to the position of victim are some of the more obvious consequences of this philosophy in action. The philosophy of which I speak is, of course, liberalism and it is no surprise that a Democrat controlled Congress having given birth to these notions would go out of its way to promote them.
But there is a difference between a boy and a girl, a man and a woman, a warrior and a civilian. These differences do not disappear according to who is empowered in Congress or in the media driven culture, but the tolerance for the existence of warriors has shifted to some extent. The truth is that military service as a career is, for many, an extraordinarily fulfilling one and a place where the innate virtues of a man are completely validated. In the same way, a woman’s innate virtues are completely validated by nurturing children either as a mother or as a teacher. There are no politics in this observation, merely a statement of facts established over the past 10,000 years of human history.
Speaking as a Navy SEAL, to the extent that guys leave the Navy prior to retirement (as I did), it is a result of the fact that military service does not offer the opportunity to make a handsome living. In fact during the 1990’s when I was an active duty SEAL and the Naval Special Warfare community had not been to war in a significant way for more than 20 years, we felt as if we were members of a massively underpaid professional sports team that didn’t have any games to play-only practice. Imagine having a job where you work out every morning for 90 minutes on company time and then either go shooting, skydiving, ride on fast boats, blow stuff up, or go diving and travel the world for free. It is every man’s fantasy, but there is emptiness when you know that you aren’t training for the big game, but rather the paycheck. In fact, I used to refer to the Teams as "Naval Special Welfare" because it became a place by the end of the 90’s where tough men went to never grow up.
The complete fulfillment came when the opportunity to face the enemies of America came. It is in a man’s nature to protect, to compete, to overcome a challenge, to face danger, to be victorious. It is nice to get paid to have fun like an NFL player, but it is life enriching to win the Superbowl or make a headshot at 900 meters or to see the target of your DA wearing the door that you just breached. A warrior lives for the fight-and sometimes dies for it- but always voluntarily. I have often heard the cliché that "it is the soldier who prays most for peace, because he knows the horror of war." That may be true for soldiers generally, but for warriors I have not found this to be the case. I never felt that way (although I haven’t seen those horrors…yet) and very few SEALs have ever conveyed that sentiment to me. Quite the contrary, at this point in America, there is no one left in the military who has not re-enlisted since we have been in a state of war. Nobody is joining up for the GI Bill or for some advanced computer training; they are joining to fight for their country. Some for an enlistment, some for a career, but with the economy and record low unemployment, nobody is serving to escape poverty.
Contrary to Rep. Rangel’s misguided concept of military service, if I could have made $150,000+ a year as a SEAL, I would never have left. An empirical demonstration of this concept can be seen the in the security contractor world, where men with even quite modest military skill and experience can easily make such a living. For the warrior with a family, it is not the lack of economic opportunity that causes a man to join the military, it is the lack of economic opportunity, once there, that causes him to leave it. This is reality and it is precisely the opposite of what Mr. Rangel so foolishly babbles on about.
There is no question that since the election results earlier this month, many service members are wondering if they are going to be left hanging by the American people who seem to want to quit early on a military operation that those fighting believe they are winning. This has happened before and those who serve today are well aware of the way things went last time. But as difficult as it must be to fight and bleed for your country and come home unappreciated and derided, it might be worse to be pitied as a hapless moron duped by the Man and used for his enrichment. Today’s warriors are facing the prospect of both.
So instead of sending us cowards, metrosexuals, and the truly stupid to swell the ranks of the victim pool, why not just f*cking pay us what we are worth so we don’t have to give a damn about your scorn or your pity.
h/t Jimbo & Allah