If war is vital, why not all-out commitment?

As a teenager during World War II, I recall vividly how the entire population was involved in the War: my uncle who lived with us was drafted in 1940, my dad was air raid warden on our block, we contributed valuable pennies and dimes to War Stamps and Bonds. There was no escape from the War; even a trip to the movies brought a halt midway through a film while ushers passed buckets to collect our few coins for the “war effort.”

Every family was affected by the draft, including my high school friends who turned 18 and were snatched out of school for the service; they would receive diplomas in spite of failing to complete studies. Some were sent posthumously.

The draft continued after the War; it got me during the Korean War (Navy) and by the time of Vietnam young men studied like all hell to keep their student deferments. By the 1970s, we turned to an all volunteer army, navy air force and marine corps.

There was a war profits tax during World War II; wages were frozen and unions resisted striking. Harry Truman made his fame heading a Senate investigation on fraud committed by contractors during the War. In short, World War II required an all-out commitment.

Now we are told, the “war” in Afghanistan is critical to our nation’s safety. I’m wondering, if this war is so valuable, should we all not PAY for it, with a tax on high income, a war profits tax, and (regretfully) a draft?

When businesses find they can’t profit on war, when draft-dodging demagogic politicians can no longer wave the flag of patriotism, when young men (and in the 21st Century, women, too) are facing going into service, maybe our country won’t let itself be dragged into such unnecessary (in my view) conflicts.

Tell me if I’m wrong about this!

Read what the New York Times” Bob Herbert has to say.

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