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Sep 25, 2004 10:32 am


Brooks [and others] on Darfur ...



Although he's shifted from being the Left's favorite conservative to being the Left's favorite target since he became a columnist for the New York Times, I still like reading David Brooks because he says things that I don't want to hear. Take his current column on Darfur, for example. The administration has been doing all those multi-consulti things about Darfur that many of us have criticized it for doing insufficiently prior to the invasion of Iraq. The consequence is, of course, that the people of Darfur continue to suffer and die by the thousands and tens of thousands, while the diplomats confer and deliberate.

But what are the implications of Brooks's argument? Does it expose the bankruptcy of diplomatic deliberations. Sure, they're bankrupt. But doesn't the argument cut the other way just as clearly? He doesn't say it, but Brooks knows full well that, under current conditions and for all kinds of reasons, the United States is not going to lead a" coalition of the willing" into Sudan for humanitarian purposes. For one thing, opening yet a third front against a Muslim nation would rip the mask off any pretense that our share in the struggles in Afghanistan and Iraq is anything other than a war on the Muslim world. For a second thing, having understaffed and underfunded the efforts in both Afghanistan and Iraq, our current fiscal and manpower resources are already stretched to their limits.

Those who wish to send military forcesto rescue the people of Darfur should belly up to the bar and demand: 1) the re-instatement of a universal military draft in the United States, one that does not exempt the children of privilege; and 2) an immediate increase in taxes to begin to foot the bill for World War III and a patriotic campaign for the sale of war bonds to channel additional private resources to sustain the war effort. We should also begin rationing oil and gasoline, even manufactured goods for civilian consumption. Those of us who drive SUVs might be required by law to put them up on blocks for the foreseeable future. What was great about"the greatest generation" was that it understood quite clearly that a world war could not be fought without sacrifice on the domestic front. Even so, they left us with an enormously increased national debt. One of the things that is disgraceful about this administration is that it promises yet more war and yet more tax cuts.

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Derek Charles Catsam - 9/27/2004

Ralph --
No problem. I may not have been all that clear.
But I would say that I would want a draft to cover a longer age range, one that would include me, maybe up to 35 or so. This is the age that would then have to put up or shut up. Clio/Rebunk/HNN friends of a certain age such as Bill Heuisler and others (I don't want to ascribe service to those who did not serve or deny it to those who did, so I won't list) who did serve are one thing. But there are an awful lot of militant types who have enjoyed the luxury of crying "More, more, more" who ought to have the chance to do more, more, more. By the way -- whatever ambivalence I have, I would serve and would likely sign up before I could be drafted. Of course it is easy to be honorable in a hypothetical that will never happen . . .
dc


Ralph E. Luker - 9/27/2004

I apologize, dc. I misread what you said.


Derek Charles Catsam - 9/27/2004

Ralph --
I thought I was expanding on your point with my own views. My talk about "sending other people's sons to war" was certainly intended to bolster your argument about "domestic sacrifices" that "cut into _our_ own personal interests." In fact, re-reading it, is that not precisely what I was talking about?
dc


Ralph E. Luker - 9/27/2004

dc, You miss or avoid my point. Sure, we're both a bit long of tooth to be drafted or volunteer, but the whole point of the post was to say that the administration continues to promote military adventures abroad without any summoning of us to domestic sacrifices -- which would cut into _our_ own personal interests.


Derek Charles Catsam - 9/27/2004

David + Ralph --
If I may, I would say that while I oppose a draft, I think it would quickly make the rubber meet the road with regard for the support for the war. It is easy to send other people's sons to war. It is rather harder when it might be your own, or you, going into the muck. I searched long and hard to support the war in Iraq (I never questioned going into Afghanistan) and am proud to say that my case (which I stated publicly in a forum in which I was a speaker at Minnesota State before we even went to Iraq) was based primarily on the human rights concerns that the administration now pretends was central to its case. While I still am glad we removed Saddam, my support is increasingly wobbly, though for the time being it stands, if only because withdrawal now would be disaster. But it is easy to sit back, talk about the glories of an overstretched volunteer army in which you will never serve. I toyed with signing up after 9-11, was effectively told I was a bit old, didn't I think? inevitably sank back into my own safe and probably somewhat cowardly world, engaged in other ways, such as my Israel work, and then got to sit back and discuss other people's kids going to war. At least a true universal draft might wake some people up. And by "true universal" I would mean with no exemptions but the narrowest possible, no deferments for college, grad school, or daddies. And i would make the age something like 18-35, making guys like me (and my fellow Rebunkers Tom and Steve) eligible. The Bush administration would never do this. So instead we'll go on as we are.
dc


Nathanael D. Robinson - 9/25/2004

Mr. Brooks has misrepresented the administration's approach to Darfur in this article. Bush et al have gone to the UN and other international organizations because they have no other options. If the US has any weight to throw around in the diplomatic arena, Powell uses it to shore up the political position in Iraq--not to solve the problem of Darfur. It's not like Bush is trying to be the good sport this time in going the diplomatic route--he has no other choice.

On top of that, Brooks is using the slugishness of the UN to discredit international institutions. He should look at the response of the African Union, a nascent institution with little funds that has been able to put Rwanda troops into the region.

As for the draft--America needs to do something in order to expand our military forces, and no one has offered higher pay for soldiers. The US needs forces trained in peace keeping and it needs a gendarmie. Would this require an increase in taxes? Perhaps, but some of the expense could come from cancelling development of weapons that we don't need (eg anti-IBM).


Ralph E. Luker - 9/25/2004

No, David, I don't. I do think that those who call for further military engagements have to be prepared to show where the manpower and resources for them are going to come from.


David T. Beito - 9/25/2004

You're scaring me Ralph. It sounds like you want a universal draft. Do you?

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