the Vietnam War, Vice President Dick Cheney finagled five draft
deferments. “I had other priorities,” says the man who would send
your boy to die in Baghdad.
of other boys, the draftees whose names are etched on that granite
wall in Washington, D.C., never got the chance to enjoy those “other
priorities.” Uncle Sam showed up and explained its priority: dying
face down in a rice paddy on the other side of the planet.
Cheney’s escape from service for “other priorities” seems unfair
and unjust, it is. But the inequity is not beyond resolution with
a simple law.
of us with sons who also have “other priorities” might propose the
Congressional and Executive Progeny Conscription Act.
would cover all the military-age sons of every congressman and every
member of the executive branch involved in defense and foreign policy.
1 would deal with Congress, for Congress authorizes and appropriates
the tax money for military action requested by the president.
vote by a congressman approving military action against a nation
with which the United States is not at war, or which has not attacked
the United States, automatically conscripts all of his sons in the
military for the duration of the war.
children will be posted to armored, artillery or infantry units,
with the Army or Marines, on the front lines. They get no “deferments”
for college or any other reason. If the son is, say, a surgical
resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he trades his scalpel for an
M-16 and bandolier of ammo.
2 would apply the same rule to the sons of the president, vice president,
secretaries of defense and state, the national security advisor
and other high officials.
a congressman or executive branch official does not have a son,
the Duty to serve falls to the closest blood relative(s) of appropriate
age. In the case of President Bush, the law would conscript his
nephews, George and Jebby.
The Decibel Level
a law would have as much chance of passing as a cut in congressional
pensions, but the idea has merit.
the how quickly the warmongering in Washington would subside. If
Bush and Cheney knew boys with their last name would land in a foxhole
near Baghdad, the temperature of their war rhetoric would drop considerably.
bellicose GOP chickenhawks in Congress might pause a little before
pushing that “yea” button for war. They’ll think twice about that
vote, knowing what it means: The boys they raised from pups might
turn purple and choke to death, spitting blood, in a gas cloud from
one of Saddam’s vaunted “weapons of mass destruction.”
Gets a Gun
to think of it, we could require the sons of all these public officials,
when the latter are elected, to enlist in the military. Then, they’d
be ready for action when Mommy or Daddy cast that vote or lobbied
law you prefer, the point for public officials would be this: If
you send another mother’s or father’s son to war, then you also
send your own. No deferments. No excuses. No “other priorities.”
Daddy the politician wants war, sonny boy gets a gun.
columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send
him mail] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record
in Harrisonburg, Va.