SERVE For CitizenshipRobert Heinlein, a prolific and provocative science fiction writer, pounded out his novel, “Starship Troopers,” in the 1950’s, quicker than most of his other many works; but regardless of the speed with which he wrote it, as soon as I read it, some 40 years after it was published, it replaced “Stranger in a Strange Land” as my favorite Heinlein creation.
Hollywood made “Troopers” into a movie in the late 90’s, which for me was a little disappointing. What I did like about it though, is that the primary theme of the book was kept intact as a sidebar. The point Heinlein made in the book is that citizenship should NOT be simply “given” to someone based strictly on birth, or even by passing a written naturalization test. He asserted that FULL citizenship, he defined as the right to vote and run for office, should only be “earned” by successfully completing a tour in the armed forces, or if physically unable, through some other form of service to country.
Let’s examine WHY I love Heinlein’s requirements for FULL citizenship, based on concepts currently in place and their inherent flaws:
· Currently, any citizen can vote as long as they aren’t imprisoned, and if they meet prerequisites established by Federal and State law.
· At this time, any citizen can run for office as long as they meet similar voting requirements, although, a notable exception is that no one born outside the U.S. can run for president—so that excludes me and Arnold Schwarzenneger—Damn it!
· Presently, the armed forces are “manned” by men and women, some of whom are NOT even American citizens, and EVERY ONE in uniform is a volunteer.
So, why do I believe that our existing systems (U.S. military manning & citizenship requirements) are imperfect? After all, the ranks of all the service branches are fully staffed; although some recruiters are hard-pressed to meet their monthly recruitment goals, especially considering the present shooting war; and even worse, as far as the recruiters are concerned, that our economy is doing pretty well.
The primary problem I have with the current system is the same problem that New York Congressman, Charlie Rangel, has with it—that only a certain segment of American society is CHOOSING to serve. Where I part ways philosophically with old “race card” Charlie is that he claims that the brunt of the fighting and dying is being done by mostly the very poor or jobless. The problem with his argument is that he cannot find any statistics to bear him out. Basically, he’s “full” of it. The very poor do NOT generally sign up, especially for combat arms, and neither does any particular ethnic group, at least not in numbers out of proportion to their percentage of the population.
So, here’s where I think there IS a problem—that rich and upper-middle class people do NOT feel compelled to suffer the hardships of a tour in the military whatsoever. Primarily, the country is being defended by the sons and daughters of our Middle and Lower Middle Classes; and not by the poor, and even LESS so, by the rich.
The first question is this: Is it REALLY a problem—that certain classes of our society, namely the Upper Middle Class and the Rich, do NOT feel compelled to risk life and limb for their country? Are they less patriotic and more selfish than Middle Class youth, OR are they just unmindful? To the question: Is it a problem? —Rep. Rangel and I both say, “YES!” Mr. Rangel even says that, as a solution, we should bring back the draft.
Of course Rangel is being disingenuous—He doesn’t REALLY want that at all; he just believes that if a bunch of rich Republican’s had sons forced into uniform for impending shipment to Afghanistan and Iraq, or to the next “hotspot,” that they would be a lot less enthusiastic to rush us off to war. And he’s got a point—that’s why the French maintains a foreign legion—who is going to complain back home, when there are no moms and dads worried about their kids?
It seems to me, that a big reason there is a lack of interest in rich folks volunteering to serve, can be attributed to the fact, that so far, our military, police, and special agents have been GREATLY SUCCESSFUL in the current war against the terrorists. According to a poster pushing the importance of flu shots that I just read at the Manila Veterans Clinic, we lose 36,000 people per year to the flu. Compare that huge number to the less than 3,000 troops that have died fighting our enemies in the current Terror War since we invaded Afghanistan in late 2001. While terrorists have successfully hit on a grand scale places like Spain, Bali, Jordan, and England, they have NOT been able to do any real harm again on U.S. soil. That’s a pretty good interim measurement of “success,” as far as I’m concerned. But IF instead, we were STRUGGLING against the terror mongers, would there then be such an apparent lack of interest in WHO among our society become casualties of war?
Also, the fact that our way of life has barely hiccupped, even as we fight this war, that alone makes it quite easy for our affluent citizens, who are apparently self-centered anyway, and with better things to do with their “more important lives,” to simply ignore the whole thing. These people carry on with going to expensive schools, and increasing their fortunes, while doing so at the expense of those relatively few who have submitted themselves to the hardships, dangers, and low pay of military life.
All three of us—Charlie Rangel, Robert Heinlein, and I—we all say that a situation where only a FEW preserve the liberties of the many, is wrong, wrong, wrong! This is especially unfair when these few come from only a single part of society—financially speaking, the lower middle class to middle class.
But, reinstating the draft is NOT the answer to correcting this wrong. I hate the draft. Forcing people to serve is the LEAST effective way to “attract” motivated people into the military. “Drafting” is the antithesis of “attracting;” and the best troops, those most receptive to training, and those most willing to “close with and destroy the enemy,” are naturally going to be those that willingly volunteer.
Drafting people is just plain counter-productive, because for the most part, you end up with a bunch of individuals who DON’T want to be there. The draft causes morale problems, and the “unwilling” it puts into uniform just won’t work as hard to accomplish mission goals when their hearts aren’t in it. Today's professional military is perhaps the most highly motivated, and best trained, of any we’ve ever fielded; and it’s success has proven that it is the ONLY way to go, especially when it comes to fighting a war heavy on high-tech.
So the draft is OUT, but how do we answer the cultural problem that exists—of getting the pampered sons of rich men—to VOLUNTEER? Heinlein has the perfect answer—change the Constitution to state that ONLY those that have served in some capacity have the right to vote and to run for office.
Think of it. There would be no more “chicken hawks,” as the dems like to label people like Vice President Cheney, and even Senator Hillary Clinton, whom have never served in the military in uniform, while supporting the use of arms to protect the country’s interests.
And the best reason of all—if RICH people want to run for office, they MUST serve in the military, FIRST! It’s perfect, as it addresses the societal question: is the country really best served when ONLY mostly privileged people serve in office that have NEVER had to exert themselves elbow-to-elbow with the rest of us? What better way for these pampered few to get a dose of “real life,” than by “serving in the trenches” for their country? Let's face it, nowadays only people with money can AFFORD the costs of running for office, and that's NOT going to change. So, it's important that we get more of them with some military experience under their belt.
Academics and cultural elite HATE this particular Heinlein concept. They have called him everything from a militarist to a fascist. Of course, they are idiots. What is their solution? They have none. They are ALSO against the draft. Remember the 60’s—“Hell no, we won’t go!” Those are the same people who came up with that silly saying. Thank goodness that the existence of the All Volunteer Force precludes them from being able to parade around, while yelling that ridiculous inanity. For the most part, these people despise the military, and deny we even need it. This makes it easy to discount most anything they have to say about it. Their absurd belief that America is the “jack of all problems,” that we are inherently evil, and that we DESERVE to be attacked and destroyed, ALL THAT makes them irrelevant in the discussion. So, enjoy your latte and continue to look down your haughty noses at the very people who give you the right and ability to yammer and think up clever catch phrases. Most of us who have operated in the REAL world realize how truly inconsequential you are when it comes to actually solving real world dilemmas. In other words--you pontificate, while we get things done!
Problem is, most of those in the mainstream media, and educators at virtually all levels, have already been brainwashed and tainted by the "military haters" in academia. And worse, the people who pursue careers as educators are the philosophical clones of the professors who trained them. Liberals breed liberalism. It follows: who has first access to the youth of America, our future soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen?--so-called "progressive" anti-military educators, that's who! It's a wonder that ANYONE enlists. So how are we going to get rich young people in the process of acquiring an eduation to WANT to enlist, when their minds are being poisoned against joining up in the first place? The young and impressionable are the easiest to influence, and they certainly are; therein is the problem.
So, the ranks of the military will continue to be filled, by and large, by young patriots from small towns and suburbs. College professors will continue to poison their students against military service, especially students who are very rich, and very liberal. Sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it’s not when you look at who DOESN’T serve in uniform—it’s NOT the very rich, and there certainly aren’t many dyed-in-the-wool liberals lining up in front of recruitment sergeants either! It's sad to say, but UNTIL there is some kind of incentive for them to do so, rich men's sons will rarely consider serving even a second in the armed forces. As far as RICH young liberals serving, THEY are a lost cause!