Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Drafting Peace

I was looking at some old photos from the 1960s today on a website, and that prompted some thoughts on what happened then.

For example, there were some huge peace demonstrations to end the war in Vietnam back then and I participated in many of them myself. Why? Simple. Back then we had the draft, whioh meant that every male over the age of 18 was required to register and having done so, you could be ordered to report for duty in the army and sent to Vietnam. Guys I knew were dying in Vietnam as soon as the summer we graduated from high school. And for what?

The simple fact of the draft gave both young men and their parents cause to be concerned, and brought many to the demonstrations.

Many people, when considering the question of whether they would be willing to die for Vietnam, decided that they would not. Eventually, popular opinion caused our politicians to end the war.

Which brings us to the present day. There were no massive demonstrations when either of the Bushes were launching wars in Iraq. Why not? Because there is no draft, so all young men are not in danger of being shipped to Iraq to face possible sudden death or permanent injury. If there was still a draft there would have been large protests.

Support is stronger for the war in Afghanistan because the terrorists who were responsible for 9/11 had training camps in that country, and there is a lot of agreement that retaliating against them is the correct thing to do.

When we don't have a vested interest in an action or series of events, we are less concerned about how it turns out. If we don't personally have to go and fight in a war, then how it goes is somebody else's problem.

At the root of that activism and idealism in the 60s was a very personal interest in making the world a better place. We cannot control what everyone else in the world does, but we can control what we do. I still look forward to a time when we are not involved in any war with anyone.

Here is a related thought. If we consider terrorists to be enemy combatants then we are elevating a handful of deranged suicidal people to the level of worthy adversary.

If we were to treat them instead as criminals to be tracked down, the violence would be smaller and more contained. If coordinated police and military forces tracked down mad bombers, saboteurs, kidnappers and murderers and treated them as such, they would have a much harder time portraying themselves as heroes.

Another current example is the horrendous spate of killings by the drug cartels in Mexico who are fighting for the rights to be our illegal drug suppliers. So now there is talk about lending military aid to the Mexican government to try and end this carnage. However, legalizing drugs would end the carnage more quickly and efficiently than a fleet of helicopters and battalions of soldiers.

Apprehending criminals rather than declaring wars could be a better way to do what needs to be done. So we can act in our own self defense and work toward peace at the same time. We can do it.

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