Thursday, August 25, 2005

Typhoon's a' coming!

Well its less than 9 hours before Typhoon 11 is supposed to get here. (台風十一号).
It seems to be heading right for the Kanto Plain:



Came home, cleaned off the balcony and made the S.O. a nice spaghetti dinner. She is in a nice mood tonight so if I stop this post in mid stream......well, I am sure you will understand. The rain and wind are slowly、 but surely picking up.

Typhoons here are like hurricanes in the states and they are not. There is no day of preparation like one would experience in P-Cola or other locations. Today was a normal work day, the trains ran, life was going on as usual except.....it rained like hell.

The S.O. and I went to a change of command ceremony today. It was an improvised event, given the fact that because of the approaching typhoon, the band and the guest speaker could not make it. It was still a nice ceremony and the guy who was leaving his command tour is a great guy and a great pilot. He's off to the 5 sided tunnel of stupidity, so he is a better soul than me. Then again, he still has upward mobility, something I didn't have during the last 5 years of my military career. I knew I had hit my terminal paygrade well before moving on. Divorce and alimony payments will do that.

Nonetheless, the sight of so many men and women in uniform, doing God's work for the US, got me to thinking about the "chickenhawk" argument that has been raging among the political blogs lately. See examples of this discussion here, here, here and here. Some left side arguments can be found here, and here.



Who's right? Is it simply a cheap shot by Democrats that distracts from the real issues at hand or is there something to the argument that thanks to our all volunteer military, the sons and daughters of privilege are able to get off cheaply, with all the support the President nonsense and none of the real sacrifice that service in the Armed Forces requires?

Actually, both sides are wrong. And both sides are right.

The conservatives see this argument as a slap in the face of serving soldiers and also an attack on civilian control of the military. Liberals argue that its too easy for the "neocons" to take the country into conflicts with no clear cut objectives or victory strategy. They both miss the real issue here.

The real issue is about national service and how on both sides of the aisle, young men ( and sadly now, women) are bypassing the opportunity to fufill their obligation to serve their country, because the time involved is viewed as a lost opportunity to move ahead in their chosen career or ambition. Since the military is an all volunteer proposition, there is no requirement to serve.
Some people from both sides do take their obligations as a man seriously and put in some time in the service. Republicans tend to discount that there are actually Democratic supporters in uniform since they view the service as "their" voting bloc. That's a big mistake.

At the same time, there is some merit to the argument that the military is not representing a cross section of American society. During my final years of active duty, I dealt with a lot of cases, legal and otherwise, of folks who had come from really bad home backgrounds and were using the military as a means to escape / pull themselves up from it. A lot of folks did very well, others not so well. I also had opportunity to encounter some Congressional staffers who, opted to get their masters/ law degree and were working hard to build their "network" so they could get into positions of "real" political pull. They could not have been bothered to take a few years to serve their Nation.

That's why I have always supported the idea of a draft and / or a requirement to perform national service. Back in the "good old days" before the Democratic and Republican parties became hijacked by extremists, this argument could not have been made because most of the members would have done time in service as a matter of course. Its not "Bush's" army or any other person's. Its America's. Both sides need to remember that pronoun: "our".

There is a pretty interesting web site, that shows who in government served and who didn't. Go look at it, the results are pretty interesting and not what you would expect.

To me, that is what the real argument should be about here: namely, what is the obligation of a young man or woman to serve the nation and earn the privileges that come with citizenship. Solve that, and you will go a long way towards unifying a very politically divided country.

my .02

Skippy-san

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