Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Resume the draft and tax the profiteers

American military families have endured intolerable sacrifices since President Bush took the country to war in Iraq, and they alone have borne the suffering, separation, death, maiming injuries, inadequate combat equipment and snafued paperwork leaving home front spouses short of support payments.

The rest of the nation has been properly supportive of troops in word. But it has not experienced real sacrifice approximating the hardship of service families.

President Bush's be-merry, don't-worry message 16 days after 9/11 effectively sent a message that no sacrifice is needed at home. "Get down to Disney World. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed," he said.

Americans are pain-free bystanders, isolated from the harsh reality of Iraq except through press reports. Bush's ban on photos of flag-draped caskets bearing bodies of American GIs adds another layer of insulation from the war's horrors.

Even costs of the trillion-dollar war aren't noticed. The cash-heavy Chinese communists are snapping up billions of dollars of IOUs, thereby postponing the pain that will be the problem of America's children and grandchildren.

With predictions that American troops will be in Iraq for up to another 20 years, and with no plan to get out, now is the time to resume the military draft.

A draft would create a new pool of manpower to relieve the stretched-thin all-volunteer force that now is recycled and redeployed to Iraq three and four times and is exhausted. Required military service for American men and women would bring home the human costs of war and spread sacrifice fairly to more families.

Congress, however, must write a Selective Service law that eliminates the exemptions that allowed so many sons to avoid service—as Dick Cheney did five times, claiming exemptions as a student and then as a husband and soon-to-be father. Marriage and parenthood don't exempt thousands of troops now in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For good measure, Congress also should enact a "war tax" to help offset the horrendous debt created by the Iraq expedition. Corporations that have profited excessively should be especially targeted.

Detroit should be asked to sacrifice, too, to meet tougher fuel mileage standards. New fuel conservation rules would spread sacrifice while reducing the nation's gluttonous consumption of petroleum.

If U.S. troops must remain in Iraq and Afghanistan for another 20 years as predicted, all American families should share that burden by contributing their men and women to military service and for industry to be taxed for profiteering.

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