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Captain Blight
05-25-2010, 01:12 PM
Found this in Sunday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The author is a former Republican Senator (South Dakota) and Viet Nam veteran:



Today's flaws are rooted in the Vietnam era
By Larry Pressler
Star-Tribune, 23rd May 2010



The problems faced by Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut's attorney general, over his depiction of his military service are indicative of a broader disease in our society. The issues of integrity in business and politics that plague us today-- the way elites are no longer trusted-- are rooted in the dishonesty that surrounded the Vietnam-era draft.

The Vietnam War drove members of my generation in different directions. Some served because they believed in the war; others didn't believe in the war and protested but when drafted felt an obligation to go. Others were simply drafted. Some refused service out of principle, others out of fear, and still others because they felt that taking the time to go to Vietnam would slow their careers.

Many of those who didn't serve were helped by an inherently unfair draft. I don't fault anyone for taking advantage of the law. Where I do find faultis among those who say they were avoiding the draft becayuse they were ideologically opposed to the war-- when, in fact, they mostly didn't want to make the sacrifice. The problem is that for every person who won a deferment or a spot in a special Naitonal Guard unit, someone poorer or less educated, and usually African-American, had to serve.

Thus, many in my generation knew they were using a broken (but legal) system to shirk their duty. They cloaked themsleves in idealism but deep down had to know they were engaging in a charade. (I too, was against the Vietnam war and felt that people should protest but not dodge their draft responsibility.)

This intellectual justification continutes to this day, only now these men are among our country's leaders.

I had a unique opportunity to observe the best and brightest of my generatin—first as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford in 1964 and then when I attended Harvard Law school after serving in Vietnam. Among both sets of my classmates were some who used elaborate steps to avoid the draft (At school, I recall articles circulating that explained how to fail Army physicals.)

In private conversations with my classmates, I was told over and over that they didn't want to serve in the military because it would hold up their careers. To the outside world, thoug, many would procalim that they weren't going because they were oppposed to the war and we should end all wars. Eventually they began to believe their “idealism” was superior to those who did serve. They said it was courageous to resist the draft-- something that would have been true if they had actually become conscientious objectors and gone to prison.

Too many in my generation did a deeply insidious thing. And they got away with it. Big time. Poorer people went to war. The men who didn't were able to get their head start to power.

Now that flawed thinking has been carried forward. Many of these men who evaded service but claimed idealism lead our elite institutions. The concept of using legal technicalities to evade responsibility has been carried over to playing with derivatives, or to short-changing shareholders. Once my generation got in the habit of saying one thing and beliving another, it couldn't stop.

Bizarre outcomes abound. Many of those who avoided the war became advocates of a muscular foreign policy. When I was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I would be invited to meetings in the Pentagon or the White House to discuss troop deployments, In those meetings, I encountered far too many Democrats and Republicans who did not serve in the war when they had a chance, and who overcompensated for their unease by sending others into harm's way.

In the coming days, I imagine we will learn more details of Blumenthal's sad story., What we know, though, more generally, is much more troubling. Too many members of my generation learned to believe that they could work within the law to evade basic resposibilities, cloaking their actions in idealism. It's a way of thinking that scars us to this day.

Although he obviously is talking about Blumenthal, I think this is a fine summing-up of how we got ourselves into this fine mess.

PhaseLockedLoop
05-25-2010, 01:52 PM
Uh, which fine mess?

Hal Forsen
05-25-2010, 01:56 PM
I think this nation would be a much better place if every man and woman were required to give a couple years service in some way.
Military or otherwise. And no buying your way out of it.
Freedom means more, to people who have worked for it.
Chickenhawks deserve NO respect.

oznabrag
05-25-2010, 02:07 PM
I think this nation would be a much better place if every man and woman were required to give a couple years service in some way.
Military or otherwise. And no buying your way out of it.
Freedom means more, to people who have worked for it.
Chickenhawks deserve NO respect.

I have often thought that compulsory service would help this country A LOT.

Phillip Allen
05-25-2010, 02:08 PM
The Swiss do well with it

David G
05-25-2010, 02:20 PM
I think he has articulated an important piece of the picture. I agree that a mandatory service period for all youngsters would be salutary. Very much so.

Michael D. Storey
05-25-2010, 02:23 PM
Even now, there are people in the military reserves who are getting notified that they should expect to be mobilized and go forward sometime during the next year, and then quitting the reserves to avoid it. This after 10-15 years of reserve service for some of them.

Good riddance.

If as military reserves, you are including the Guard, it would be fair to argue that going to (this) war does not guard our nation, or our national interest. These people, and their equipment, were missing from the Louisiana Hurricane, and from California Wildfires, where they would have been serving and guarding the nation, without a doubt, because they were plunged into a war that has not threatened our nation. It is not acceptable to say, but it will (one day) threaten our nation......Good words, if one happens to be The Amazing Kreskin. Too, too much that threatens our nation is clearly defined and located here at home to divert any resource.

This remains my opinion. I respect the opinions of others who feel that this war does indeed threaten the United States, and I honor their actions on behalf of the United States.

Kaa
05-25-2010, 02:46 PM
I think this nation would be a much better place if every man and woman were required to give a couple years service in some way.

I think it's a remarkably bad idea.

Kaa

Hal Forsen
05-25-2010, 02:51 PM
And that comes as no surprise......:p

Captain Blight
05-25-2010, 02:55 PM
So... How do y'all see this as relating to the recent finger-pointing going on over the Gulf/BP debacle? How do you see this mindset's relation to the Global Economic Front-Fell-Off Thingy? Let's please not bog this down in a 'military men are more patriotic' conversatin, please. Please. Start your own thread if you want to do that.

Sen. Pressler makes a remarkably good case for holding the 'elites' accountable. What would it take for THAT to happen?

htom
05-25-2010, 02:55 PM
If it's compulsory, it's neither voluntary nor a gift. With a better country, we would need a draft to choose among and order the volunteers. We've got a problem.

oznabrag
05-25-2010, 03:00 PM
Salutary for Americas youth... Maybe.

Only if there was no way out of it. No deferments etc... Or if it was say, a requirement to obtain the franchise; so that there was a tangible, real, important consequence to not doing serving. but not serving was still a viable option.

However, as a veteran and as a libertarian, I think compulsory military service is a bad idea for both practical and moral grounds.

Morally, compulsory service is very little different from slavery. I have no problem with the idea that service be required to obtain the full privileges of citizenship (voting is a privilege not a right. It is a societal construct that society may grant or deny as it sees fit); but if there is no choice, then it is slavery.

One of the reasons are military is as good as it is, is because it is an all volunteer force.

I would agree that compulsory military service would be a bad idea. I think that the individual should be able to choose the way in which he serves. However, I do not view such a program as 'slavery'.

I think that such a program could go a long, long way toward making us whole again. We are a house divided against itself into many, many shards, and if every citizen were expected to pitch in together for two years and put his/her shoulder to the wheel, we could reasonably expect the divisions among us to be lessened.

Remember, there's NO shirking this duty. You WILL serve. The Gangsta Rapper wannabe and the preppie WASP working at the same task together... Interesting image, no? Further, I think that the young American should be required to serve in an area of the country different from where they grew up, as this should begin to break down regional prejudice very quickly.

Michael D. Storey
05-25-2010, 03:05 PM
Morally, compulsory service is very little different from slavery.

Percy Byssche Shelley said this almost 200 years ago. HE sed that it added the indignity of a uniform to slavery.

I suggest that the definition of service be defined. And, at what level does a disability allow a deferment (not a loophole)?

Phillip Allen
05-25-2010, 03:08 PM
Morally, compulsory service is very little different from slavery. I have no problem with the idea that service be required to obtain the full privileges of citizenship (voting is a privilege not a right. It is a societal construct that society may grant or deny as it sees fit); but if there is no choice, then it is slavery.



how does that reconcile with taxation?

oznabrag
05-25-2010, 03:10 PM
... at what level does a disability allow a deferment (not a loophole)?

If you can function, we've got things you can do for your country.

Captain Blight
05-25-2010, 03:10 PM
::Facepalm::

You guys are COMPLETELY missing the point.

Phillip Allen
05-25-2010, 03:11 PM
::Facepalm::

You guys are COMPLETELY missing the point.

I don't think it's an accident

Chris Coose
05-25-2010, 03:15 PM
As they did in signing up for the draft, compulsory service shall include duty for the contientious objector.
Otherwise, it's a no go.

oznabrag
05-25-2010, 03:16 PM
::Facepalm::

You guys are COMPLETELY missing the point.

Sorry for the thread drift, dude.

I'll go start another!:D

Michael D. Storey
05-25-2010, 03:21 PM
If you can function, we've got things you can do for your country.

So, what are your plans? Can you define function? How do the disabled volunteer on our society? Got any ideas? You say you have things that they can do. Let's hear 'em.

Captain Blight
05-25-2010, 03:25 PM
I don't think it's an accidentThey'd have to own up to something or other if they took the point to heart, I think. Almost everybody would.

This
Now that flawed thinking has been carried forward. Many of these men who evaded service but claimed idealism lead our elite institutions. The concept of using legal technicalities to evade responsibility has been carried over to playing with derivatives, or to short-changing shareholders. Once my generation got in the habit of saying one thing and beliving another, it couldn't stop. is what I was hoping would spur some good, vigorous, reasoned and civil discussion. I see that I'm in for yet another one of life's little disappointments.

Kaa
05-25-2010, 03:36 PM
I see that I'm in for yet another one of life's little disappointments.

:-)

Well, the problem is that the author of the C&P-ed article just constructed his own personal definition of what "basic responsibilities" of everyone should be and decided to hold up everyone to that standard.

That's a not very interesting game. What makes his idea of "basic responsibilities" special?

His other point -- that people tend to consider virtuous that behavior which suits them, even to the extend of declaring it a new virtue -- is not new at all.

Kaa

oznabrag
05-25-2010, 03:36 PM
They'd have to own up to something or other if they took the point to heart, I think. Almost everybody would.

This is what I was hoping would spur some good, vigorous, reasoned and civil discussion. I see that I'm in for yet another one of life's little disappointments.

I think that the point is so obvious that it practically defies discussion.

In fact, I'd say that these days practically every law is crafted with the idea of its being evadable by a select few.

Captain Blight
05-25-2010, 03:39 PM
:-)

Well, the problem is that the author of the C&P-ed article just constructed his own personal definition of what "basic responsibilities" of everyone should be and decided to hold up everyone to that standard.

That's a not very interesting game. What makes his idea of "basic responsibilities" special?

His other point -- that people tend to consider virtuous that behavior which suits them, even to the extend of declaring it a new virtue -- is not new at all.

KaaI'll ask the questions here, thank you very much. Also, no, he didn't; how you get "everyone" out of what was written would be interesting to learn, and where is this personal definition you speak of? I see it neither named nor defined. Have you tried posting because you have something of value to others to add, instead of just bloviating?

oznabrag
05-25-2010, 03:40 PM
So, what are your plans? Can you define function? How do the disabled volunteer on our society? Got any ideas? You say you have things that they can do. Let's hear 'em.

If you're wheelchair bound, you can still answer the phone.

It's no big mystery, Michael. There's a job for every size, shape, condition and aptitude.

While you do have a point that there is some cut-off beyond which a person would be more trouble than they're worth, that cut-off is very, very low.

pefjr
05-25-2010, 03:41 PM
The flaws acutally started in the Korean War. The writer has it wrong. Congress shirked the responsibility, not young men who chose not to fight in an undeclared war. If there was an urgent need for war in V/Nam, why didn't Congress formally declare a war. Then there is no question that everyone must serve the nation. The Constitution gives Congress that responsibility. But Congress didn't want to send their sons to die so they worked around a declaration in Korea and all subsequent wars since then. It's the same today, no draft but Congress is paying the soldiers much more money. The elite and wealthy children can escape the horrors of war.

As for Blumenthal, he served during the V/Nam war, I give him the benefit of the doubt for the slip of the tongue. A lot of military served during V/Nam and in support of V/Nam but not in country. No big deal.

Michael D. Storey
05-25-2010, 03:44 PM
If you're wheelchair bound, you can still answer the phone.

It's no big mystery, Michael. There's a job for every size, shape, condition and aptitude.

While you do have a point that there is some cut-off beyond which a person would be more trouble than they're worth, that cut-off is very, very low.

Sure. I know this. I have directed non-profits that provided services to the disabled. I directed a Museum that had 200 acres accessible to the chair-bound. I have used them for a ton 'o stuff, and the things that they did, they chose and found meaning in. I know that it can happen. I am suggesting we get some good ideas perkolatin here.

Kaa
05-25-2010, 03:48 PM
I'll ask the questions here, thank you very much.

ROFL... Request denied, you can sit down now :-P


Also, no, he didn't; how you get "everyone" out of what was written would be interesting to learn, and where is this personal definition you speak of?

Did you, perchance, read the article?

He judged "many of [his] generation" for failing his test. Presumably, the he thinks his test is universal and applicable to everyone.

As to the test, it seems to be "using legal technicalities to evade responsibility" or "using a broken (but legal) system to shirk their duty" or "work within the law to evade basic resposibilities [sic]" -- he likes to repeat himself, doesn't he? :-)


Have you tried posting because you have something of value to others to add, instead of just bloviating?

Ah, another arbiter of value :D Shall I point to you *again* that you don't have to read me and my questions?

Kaa

David G
05-25-2010, 03:50 PM
:-)

Well, the problem is that the author of the C&P-ed article just constructed his own personal definition of what "basic responsibilities" of everyone should be and decided to hold up everyone to that standard.

That's a not very interesting game. What makes his idea of "basic responsibilities" special?

His other point -- that people tend to consider virtuous that behavior which suits them, even to the extend of declaring it a new virtue -- is not new at all.

Kaa

Kaa,

I'm too lazy/ill today to try and talk sense to you. All I can say is -- some days you're a bigger twit than others :p

Dane Allen
05-25-2010, 03:51 PM
Interesting

David G
05-25-2010, 03:52 PM
The flaws acutally started in the Korean War. The writer has it wrong. Congress shirked the responsibility, not young men who chose not to fight in an undeclared war. If there was an urgent need for war in V/Nam, why didn't Congress formally declare a war. Then there is no question that everyone must serve the nation. The Constitution gives Congress that responsibility. But Congress didn't want to send their sons to die so they worked around a declaration in Korea and all subsequent wars since then. It's the same today, no draft but Congress is paying the soldiers much more money. The elite and wealthy children can escape the horrors of war.

As for Blumenthal, he served during the V/Nam war, I give him the benefit of the doubt for the slip of the tongue. A lot of military served during V?Nam and in support of V/Nam but not in country. No big deal.

jr.

Your first para is hitting on all cylinders.

Your second just betrays your willingness to do gymnastics in favor of your own ideological biases.

Kaa
05-25-2010, 03:54 PM
All I can say is -- some days you're a bigger twit than others :p

I prefer to think about it the other way: on some days I'm less of a twit than on the others :-P

Kaa

David G
05-25-2010, 04:08 PM
I prefer to think about it the other way: on some days I'm less of a twit than on the others :-P

Kaa

NO, NO, NO --

This time you've got it completely turned around. Perhaps I'll be back later with quotes form Socrates, Deepak Chapra, and Whoopi Goldburg to prove my point. Ahhhh... maybe not :rolleyes:

paladin
05-25-2010, 09:07 PM
You can shirk your duty and keep getting deferments and not show up at all and become president and vice president if you have enough money, and a family in high places.

WX
05-25-2010, 09:23 PM
Military conscription has never been popular in this country. As for volunteering that is a different story. Volunteers save the Australian government in excess of $50 billion a year in every field imaginable.
You want to do something for your country, then volunteer and do something useful.

purri
05-25-2010, 09:23 PM
^or join and keep junking aircraft.

paladin
05-25-2010, 09:33 PM
only if'n ya gots an admirable for a daddy and grandaddy....

BrianW
05-26-2010, 11:36 AM
Very interesting article.

I didn't get the 'relate it to the recent oil spill' line of thinking at first. There's plenty of 'messes' out there.

John Smith
05-26-2010, 12:09 PM
I think this nation would be a much better place if every man and woman were required to give a couple years service in some way.
Military or otherwise. And no buying your way out of it.
Freedom means more, to people who have worked for it.
Chickenhawks deserve NO respect.

I believe a case can be made that we'd be less likely to send draftees (eveyone's got a kid in the game) to questionable wars.

On the other hand, this would cost MORE money that we don't have.

ccmanuals
05-26-2010, 12:38 PM
I believe a case can be made that we'd be less likely to send draftees (eveyone's got a kid in the game) to questionable wars.

On the other hand, this would cost MORE money that we don't have.

I don't know John, I believe that if everyone had skin in the game there would be alot fewer wars.

PhaseLockedLoop
05-26-2010, 12:58 PM
[QUOTE=pefjr;2605578]If there was an urgent need for war in V/Nam, why didn't Congress formally declare a war. Then there is no question that everyone must serve the nation. The Constitution gives Congress that responsibility. But Congress didn't want to send their sons to die so they worked around a declaration in Korea and all subsequent wars since then. It's the same today, no draft but Congress is paying the soldiers much more money. The elite and wealthy children can escape the horrors of war. QUOTE]

The reason Congress didn't declare war is that it pretended we were fighting terrorism. We didn't recognize the National Liberation Front and so wouldn't negotiate with them. The furthest we'd go was to call those who opposed us "Viet Cong," which is to say, commies. To declare war, you have to have something to declare war ON--or at least you used to have to.

And "it's the same today, no draft?" What? There WAS a draft, of course, from WWII through the Vietnam war. Lots (and lots) of folks who didn't want to go, went. Lots of people didn't, because of various exemptions, or because of pull.
Certainly ambitious citizens pretended to oppose the war because it gave their ambition cover. Whatís really disgraceful is that they didnít actually oppose the war, or even care about it.

Finally, what really eroded trust was not the draft evasion but the war itself, which was based on lies, monstrous grandiosity, and indifference to human life, including the lives of our guys. The plain fact was that the US was attempting to prevent Vietnam from being overtaken by the Vietnamese. The effort by the US government to elide this fact, perverted government, the press, and the populace. How perverted they already were is something I canít testify toóI was born in í45. But they must have had practise.

pefjr
05-26-2010, 01:33 PM
And "it's the same today, no draft?" What? There WAS a draft, of course, from WWII through the Vietnam war. Lots (and lots) of folks who didn't want to go, went.
Maybe I was not clear on this. There is no draft today, unlike the V/Nam era. We have a professional Military, and well paid. Benefits are very good. But the wealthy and elite can still avoid the horrors of wars as long as Congress does not formally declare war. Under a Formal Declaration of War there are few loopholes, everyone must step up to the plate. We don't fight wars as a nation anymore, Congress "authorizes" and hires the job out to professionals. The lack of formality allows these lesser wars to continue one after another. The MIC has built it's own economy that lives and breathes on war.The thread title and C&P is discussing responsibility. It's Congress that is dodging it's Constitutional responsibility by allowing undeclared wars. Congress went off track in Korea and it has continued since.

George Jung
05-26-2010, 01:37 PM
Senator Pressler - a bit of a twit, as I recall.

There's probably a lot of good that could come of a 2 year, national service stint - which most likely would find itself bastardized by someone in govt., who's skin wasn't actually at risk, and for some agenda.


Ever notice it' always old men making decisions that affect.... well, everybody else! Want national service? Start by having everyone currently alive and kicking, put in their time, and it's a go. And ensure the politicians don't get the cherry positions, while the rest of us are out draining the swamps.

Captain Blight
05-26-2010, 01:41 PM
I've always believed that the rules need to apply equally. If they're not applied equally, they don't apply at all.

nw_noob
05-26-2010, 02:20 PM
Wasn't the vietnam era slogan "don't trust anyone over 50"

Now this author is saying "don't trust anyone over 50 'cuz they learned to lie in the vietnam era."

oznabrag
05-26-2010, 03:39 PM
I've always believed that the rules need to apply equally. If they're not applied equally, they don't apply at all.

In the immortal words of Billy Jack: "When policemen break the law, there is no law."

Sure, it's from a cheesy, anti-establishment, kick-em-up flick from the 70's, but it's got the ring of truth.