Monday, November 20, 2006

When does a conundrum become a dilemma?

Poor Charlie Rangel. He calls for discussion about re-instating the draft, and the negative responses are thunderous.

Here's the conundrum/dilemma: Are we or are we not in the struggle of the 21st century? Will that struggle demand military action at times? Are the armed forces of the United States able, at its present level of "boots," to meet, successfully, the challenges they might face?

On the one hand the generals last week supported the volunteer armed forces which we now have; on the other hand, they say the armed forces we now have are insufficient to increase the commitment of troops in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Mr. Bush, to his credit, talks a good "fight." He, however, has not supported his speeches about how long and hard this struggle will be with demonstrable actions.

If this war is as important as Mr. Bush says it is, and I do think it is at least as important as he says, then it is his responsiblity to educate the public in the matter of war footing and sacrifice. So far, too often, the Opus cartoon of 10-1-06 is a metaphorically accurate depiction of this "war" as seen by the American public.

After a couple of panels with Opus looking around, he says, "We're at war?" "Of course we're at war." "War on drugs?" "No." "On traditional marriage?" "Iraq. You idiot." "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh. Right."

A draft would make the country pay attention to the "war" which obviously is real, and which, just as obviously, cannot be won on the "cheap," whether in blood or treasure.

Whatever Mr. Rangel's motives, he's certainly correct to bring up the subject of a draft, and his thinking deserves more than a knee-jerk "the public won't stand for it." How does one know what the public will stand for without a serious discussion?

Are we at war or not?

Are we prepared to win or not?

Will Western democracies survive or not?

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