Letter to the Editor: Principal of deception lives on
The ultimate cost of war is almost always the loss of liberty. Although true defensive wars and revolutionary wars against tyrants may establish a free society, as did our war against the British, those wars are rare. Most wars are unnecessary, dangerous, and cause senseless suffering with little being gained.
The result of most conflicts throughout the ages has been loss of liberty and life on both sides. The current war in which we find ourselves clearly qualifies as one of those unnecessary and dangerous wars. To get the people to support ill-conceived wars, the nation's leaders employ grand schemes of deception.
Woodrow Wilson orchestrated our entry into World War I by first promising during the election of 1916 to keep us out of the European conflict, then a few months later, pressuring and maneuvering Congress into-declaring war against Germany. Whether it was the Spanish American War before that or all the wars since, U.S. presidents have deceived the people to gain popular support for ill-conceived military ventures.
Wilson wanted the war and immediately demanded conscription to fight it. He didn't have the guts even to name the program a military draft; instead in a speech before Congress calling the war, he advised the army should be "chosen upon the principle of universal liability to service." Most Americans at the time of the declaration didn't believe actual combat troops would be sent. What a dramatic change from this early perception, when the people endorsed the war, to the carnage that followed and the later disillusionment with Wilson and his grand scheme for world government under the League of Nations. The American people rejected this gross new entanglement, a reflection of a somewhat healthier age than the one we find ourselves in today.
But when it comes to war, the principle of deception lives on. The plan for "universal liability to serve" once again is raising its ugly head. The dollar cost of the current war is already staggering, yet plans are being made to drastically expand the human cost by forcing conscription on the young men (and maybe women) who have no ax to grind with the Iraqi people and want no part of this fight. Hundreds of Americans have already been killed, and thousands more wounded and crippled, while thousands of others will experience new and deadly war-related illnesses not yet identified.
We were told we had to support this preemptive war against Iraq because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (and to confront al Qaeda). It was said our national security depended on it. But all implied that lack of support for this Iraqi invasion was un-American and unpatriotic.
Since the original reasons for the war never existed, it is now claimed that we're there to make Iraq a western-style democracy and to spread western values. And besides, it's argued it's nice that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power. But does the mere existence of evil somewhere in the world justify preemptive war at the expense of the American people? Utopian dreams, fulfilled by autocratic means, hardly qualify as being morally justifiable.
One of the worst votes that an elected official could ever cast would be to institute a military draft to fight an illegal war.