Security Without Sacrifice? 

Security Without Sacrifice?

Even in his big speech last week, Bush wouldn't ask the country for more recruits. K. Lopez at the Corner noticed; it's almost as if, in the excitement of the moment, she thought Jonah Goldberg should enlist. Or some of the Young Republicans.

Fred Kaplan said right after the speech:

Perhaps the most appalling part of the speech came toward the end, when President Bush told the American people how they can contribute to the cause. This Fourth of July, he suggested, write a letter of thanks to a member of the U.S. armed forces or help out a military family that lives down the street. Up to this point, the president had been describing the many ways in which the fate of Iraq will shape the peace and freedom of the Middle East and the security of democratic nations everywhere. And this is his idea of commensurate sacrifice?

I used to say that W follows Reagan in promising glory without sacrifice. This isn't quite right. Bush is always saying Americans won't be safe in their beds until some big victory is won against terra, somewhere. It's better that the fighting happen in Baghdad than in Boise. So it's security without sacrifice--some kind of complete and absolute security--that he is offering.

On Thursday Kaplan said:

[blockquote]With a draft, everybody's life is on the line—a turbulent state that can energize and unify a country under serious threat but tear the same country apart in a war of stalemate or dubious motive.... [snip] And yet, draft or no draft, the country is headed toward that debate [about the draft]. Does America want to be—can it be—the world's policeman, colossus, liberator, call it what you will? If so, with what resources? By itself or with allies? Through international law or by whim?[/blockquote]

Whatever the answers, there is a potentially calamitous mismatch between the Bush administration's avowed intentions and its tangible means. They can print or borrow money to float the national debt. They can't clone or borrow soldiers to float an imperial army.

It's reassuring for Spartans to attack a place that doesn't really matter--a place that can't actually threaten homeland security even if things go bad--it's kind of a fail safe. But then, it's hard to build and sustain popular support for the war because: folks are safe, they're not being asked to sacrifice, and the war doesn't really matter.

UPDATE: Hitchens on whether pro-war people can reasonably be expected to "send" their adult children to war:

...I resent the taunt that is latent in the anti-war stress on supposedly uneven sacrifice. Did I send my children to rescue the victims of the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center? No, I expected the police and fire departments to accept the risk of gruesome death on my behalf. All of them were volunteers (many of them needlessly thrown away, as we now know, because of poor communications), and one knew that their depleted ranks would soon be filled by equally tough and heroic citizens who would volunteer in their turn. We would certainly face a grave societal crisis if that expectation turned out to be false.

Wait: this great, world-shaping war is like having the police and fire department fully staffed? Not like all of us, together, sacrificing for the freedom of the world? And by the way, hasn't the volunteer military fallen short on its recruitment goals over the past several months? Hitchens, a great advocate of the war who is on the way to being a U.S. citizen, would prefer that someone other than his children be paid to do the actual fighting. This is more Hobbes than Patton. And I believe Hitchens has been cheered on, on this subject, by Ann Althouse, one of whose sons is in law school.

(Fred Griffin is pretty good on Alterman's site: Suddenly Bush is aware of two kinds of people fighting U.S. forces, and "new" Iraqi forces: terrorists on the one hand, and "insurgents" on the other. Maybe some of the latter will be invited to the table, so the U.S. can bug out and concentrate on Afghanistan?)

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