Saturday, October 11, 2014

Whose boots?
     The United States has committed to "disrupt, degrade, and destroy" ISIS in Iraq and Syria by employing air strikes and using local ground forces (the Free Syrian Army and the Iraqi army).  The Free Syrian Army will be trained in Saudi Arabia by US forces.  It is currently a myth.  Two divisions of the Iraqi army, after having been trained and equipped by the US at a cost in the billions of dollars, laid down its arms and equipment and deserted at first contact with ISIS several months ago.  They refused to fight.  Most military analysts believe that an air campaign by the US and its "allies" will fail to "disrupt, degrade, and destroy" ISIS.  These same analysts believe that to accomplish the mission, US "boots on the ground" will be required.
     If US boots are on the ground in Iraq and Syria, whose boots will they be?  It is safe to assume that they will not be worn by the children and grandchildren of the politicians, pundits, and executives of Washington and Wall Street.  They will be worn by poor kids and patriots from the third and fourth socio-economic quintiles of our country and the first socio-economic quintile will continue to be AWOL in defending the nation.  Three hundred and thirty million Americans lay claim to rights, liberties, and security that not a single one of them is obligated to protect.  We have fought two wars for the past twelve years in which less than one half of one percent of the American people have had "skin in the game" with devastating consequences for those who have served and their families: PTSD, traumatic brain injury, unemployment, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, and suicide.
     If we decide to commit US "boots on the ground" in a long, expensive war against ISIS we should do two things as part of the process.  First, we should execute a lottery-based draft of both men and women without exemptions or deferrals of all 18-24 year olds who meet current enlistment standards.  Second, we should impose a war surtax such that every American taxpayer receives a quarterly bill from the IRS for their share of the cost of the war, thereby not adding to our $17 national debt.  Having "skin in the game" will cause limited liability patriots and chicken hawks to think twice about committing more American blood and treasure to another war in the Middle East.

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