From the NYT on serving and not serving.
Provocative line one: "With few exceptions, the only men and women in military service are the profoundly patriotic or the economically needy."
It was not always so. In other wars, the men and women in charge made sure their family members led the way. Since 9/11, the war on terrorism has often been compared to the generational challenge of Pearl Harbor; but Franklin D. Roosevelt's sons all enlisted soon after that attack. Both of Lyndon B. Johnson's sons-in-law served in Vietnam.
This is less a matter of politics than privilege. The Democratic elites have not responded more nobly than have the Republican; it's just that the Democrats' hypocrisy is less acute. Our president's own family illustrates the loss of the sense of responsibility that once went with privilege. In three generations the Bushes have gone from war hero in World War II, to war evader in Vietnam, to none of the extended family showing up in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And this - damning in tone:
If this war is truly worth fighting, then the burdens of doing so should fall on all Americans. If you support this war, but assume that Pat Tillman and Other People's Children should fight it, then you are worse than a hypocrite. If it's not worth your family fighting it, then it's not worth it, period. The draft is the truest test of public support for the administration's handling of the war, which is perhaps why the administration is so dead set against bringing it back.
Frankly, I'd go a step further. Why not a few years of compulsory military service after high school? Two years then college? How does it work in Israel and in other countries similarly structured. The draft is still a stressful crapshoot, I'd imagine. If you knew for certain you'd go - that everyone would go - then all the better. Of course, some kids would be saved by their ages. And it isn't hard to think that many decision-makers' kids would be done with service at any time they're deciding to start wars.
Would you go? Don't try to project back to being 17 or 18 and about to leave high school. Right now. Would you? What would you do if you were drafted? If you're behind Bush - or if you're going to vote for him anyway, would you go? Why not? Why?
[Update] Read this for more on Vietnam deferments as an emerging campaign issue, in this case, Cheney's 5 (4 for school, one for being a new father).