Military Draft

Are We On The Brink Of A Nuclear War, Or Another Massive Infusion Of Troops In The Korean Peninsula, As In 1950?

Today is Easter, and any sensible person is on tenterhooks as we seem to be on the brink of a nuclear war, or another massive infusion of troops in the Korean Peninsula, due to the crazy North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, striving to be a threat to the United States mainland and to his Asian Pacific neighbors.

Kim Jong Un is unstable, unpredictable, mercurial, dangerous, reckless–but so is our President, Donald Trump.

Trump seems to be on an ego trip over his bombing of a Syrian airfield, and the MOAB (Mother Of All Bombs) dropped on an ISIL (ISIS) stronghold in Afghanistan in the past week.

Military leaders are running the show, while Trump says the North Korean issue will be settled one way or the other.

The ratcheting up of rhetoric on both sides is terrifying, and it means we have the possibility of all out war coming, either by use of nuclear weapons for the first time since World War II, or more likely, a massive infusion of American troops into the Korean Peninsula after an expected North Korean invasion of South Korea, and the raining down of missiles on Seoul, the capital of South Korea, with more than 10 million people, by the North Korean regime.

If a ground war develops, we could see massive loss of life on the part of South Koreans, and Japan is also in danger, as well as the 28,000 American troops already present in South Korea, the reminder that we have had troops in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

So 64 years later, nearly two thirds of a century, we may be soon engaging in another major war, which could, if things do not go well, lead to the decision to restart the military draft of young Americans, even though there has been no draft since 1973, and only registration required since 1980.

There is no question of the threat of North Korea, but to have an unstable egomaniac in Donald Trump dealing with this, instead of the sane and experienced Hillary Clinton, is a true concern.

Donald Trump had said he wished to put “America First”, and not engage in foreign wars, and yet now, he seems likely to engage in a war with North Korea, that will not easily be won, along with hints of ground troops in Syria, causing a confrontation with Russia and Vladimir Putin.

We must recall that the Korean War was not won, but was simply a truce, and there are no simple answers to this crisis, but we can sense military leadership taking over from civilian leadership, as Trump allows Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster to make final decisions on intervention that could undermine the nature of our democracy for the long term.

Let us not forget that when we commit troops to foreign war, in an age of no draft, who are the victims? They are primarily poor whites, as well as racial minorities, who commit themselves to a military career as the best alternative of occupation in a nation that has a growing poverty level, and the rich getting ever richer while the middle class sinks.

Instead of spending another $50 billion on defense, we should be spending on domestic needs, as we already have a bigger defense budget than the next eight nations combined.

Trump Uses Military Force On Syria On 100th Anniversary Of America Declaring War On Germany, Austria Hungary, And Ottoman Turks In World War I

Donald Trump has employed military force on a Syrian airbase, the villain in using chemical warfare on civilians, including children and babies, in the midst of the Syrian Civil War, which has raged for six years now, with Russia being the major ally of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

In so doing, Trump has done something considered appropriate, but the question is what effect it will have on the Syrian Civil War, on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, as well as our other rivals in the world, including China, North Korea, and Iran.

The irony of Trump taking action as the Chinese President is visiting him in Palm Beach, Florida, is noticed, as Trump wants and expects Chinese help to deal with Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s ruthless dictator, who continues to lob missiles, and is seen as a growing nuclear threat.

One can expect rapid action by Trump on North Korea after the summit with China ends this weekend.

So we have another President who is able to use foreign policy and national security as an area that may be part of his legacy, and might also boost his horrific public opinion polling ratings.

But we have to wonder whether Trump will be measured in his response, as he seems to be at the moment on Syria, or will end up enmeshing us in massive troop commitments in the Middle East and in the Korean peninsula in endless wars with massive loss of life and treasure.

Ironically, this military action occurred precisely on the centennial anniversary of Congress declaring war on Germany, Austria Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks in the First World War, the beginning of America’s full engagement with the world. The past century has seen America engaged in seven major wars and innumerable military engagements short of full scale war.

So one has to wonder how the American people will react to new military adventures, that might even require the beginning of a military draft, for the first time since 1973.

Republican Party, The Party Of Conservatives Abraham Lincoln And Ronald Reagan: Really, Lincoln A Conservative?

As the Republican Party is imploding, we are hearing Florida Senator Marco Rubio and others talk about how Donald Trump is not a conservative, like Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, and that Trump cannot be allowed to inherit their conservatism.

Really?  Abraham Lincoln  a conservative?  Give us all a break!

Lincoln was NOT a conservative, as he challenged the Establishment of his time in so many ways, including opposing any expansion of slavery!

Lincoln waged war on the South, to prevent their successful secession from the Union, and that is NOT conservatism!

Lincoln moved to promote freedom of the slaves, via the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, and that is NOT conservatism!

Lincoln promoted a major national government commitment to a transcontinental railroad, and that is NOT conservatism!

Lincoln promoted creation of a national banking system; a national currency; the first federal income tax; the first land grant colleges; the Department of Agriculture added to the Presidential cabinet; the Homestead Act; and set up the first military draft; and all of this list is NOT conservatism!

Lincoln was a Liberal, a Progressive, who believed in the use of Presidential power and authority!

Lincoln became the inspiration for another Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt, who is condemned by conservatives, because he believed, as Lincoln did, in in expansion of federal authority, and assertion of Presidential authority and Social Justice, a la Abraham Lincoln!

That is why it is two Liberals, two Progressives, Lincoln and TR, on Mount Rushmore, because they were NOT conservatives!

 

Civil Liberties And The Presidency: From John Adams To Barack Obama

When it comes to the issue of the Presidency and the Bill of Rights, many Presidents have scored at an alarmingly low rate, often despite many other virtues that these Presidents have possessed.

John Adams set a terrible standard when he signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.

Andrew Jackson forcibly decreed the removal of five Native American tribes (The Trail Of Tears) from their ancestral lands and relocation in Oklahoma, supposedly forever, but with the discovery of oil in Tulsa, the territory was opened to whites in 1889, and reservation life became the norm.

John Tyler, through negotiation to add Texas to the Union, and accepting its institution of slavery, helped to create the slavery expansion issue as one which would divide the nation and lead to Civil War, and Tyler was part of the Confederate government and gave up his American citizenship.

James K. Polk further promoted the expansion of slavery through war with Mexico, and had no issue with slavery anywhere and everywhere.

Millard Fillmore, signing the Compromise of 1850, allowed the South to pursue fugitive slaves in the North.

Franklin Pierce, signing the Kansas Nebraska Act in 1854, made the expansion of slavery develop into the Kansas Civil War, which led to the Civil War.

James Buchanan endorsed the Dred Scott Decision, which allowed expansion of slavery everywhere in the nation, if a slave owner chose to move to the North with his slaves.

Abraham Lincoln suppressed press freedom; allowed preventive detention; and imposed a military draft that one could escape only by paying a fee that only wealthy people could afford.

Andrew Johnson wanted to restrict the rights of African Americans after the Civil War, and was an open racist, much more than anyone.

Grover Cleveland promoted the reservation life and adaptation to white culture for Native Americans through his signing of the Dawes Act in 1887.

Theodore Roosevelt spoke and wrote often about superior and inferior races, seeing only intellectual accomplishment and military strength as the basis to admire individuals of other races, but believing in white supremacy and the “Anglo Saxon” race.

Woodrow Wilson backed restrictions on citizens during World War I, and presided over the Red Scare under Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer after the war, as well as showing racist tendencies toward African Americans and Japan. He signed the Sedition Act of 1918, and issued an executive order segregating African Americans in Washington, DC.

Franklin D. Roosevelt interned Japanese Americans under executive order during World War II, and did little to deal with the racial problem in the South.

Richard Nixon arranged for bugging and wiretapping of his “enemies”; arranged break ins and “dirty tricks”; and became engaged in obstruction of justice and abuse of power, leading to moves toward impeachment and his eventual resignation from the Presidency, due to the Watergate Scandal.

Ronald Reagan cut back on civil rights enforcement, and showed insensitivity on the issue of apartheid in South Africa.

George W. Bush pushed through the Patriot Act, and the government engaged in constant civil liberties violations as part of the War on Terror.

Barack Obama also promoted violations of civil liberties, as part of the continued threat of international terrorism.

So 17 Presidents, at the least, have undermined our civil liberties and civil rights, often overlapping.

The Tragedy Of Young Americans Who Join The Military Without Full Disclosure!

The political firestorm over Bowe Bergdahl being exchanged for five Taliban leaders at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp is unrelenting, and it is far from clear what the facts are, but yet, the right wing is in full swing on the attack, as they always are when it involves anything having to do with the policies and actions of the Barack Obama Administration!

Bergdahl may have been a deserter, and may have to face action by the US Army, if that is so, but that is far from clear at this point, and despite that, any move to bring troops home who are prisoners of war should be hailed, but not of course, when Barack Obama is the President, god forbid!

Ronald Reagan dealt with terrorists and evil forces in the Iran Contra scandal, and Israel has returned a thousand prisoners to the Palestinians for just one Israeli, live or dead, on the principle that they will do everything necessary to bring back their military forces, who are imprisoned or dead.

What is obviously overlooked, however, in this whole controversy is the reality and the truth that our young men and women are being propagandized, lied to, manipulated, at a naive age, when they think of the military, any branch, as “fun”, “adventure”, “a chance to do travel”, “the only possible way to get an education”, and as a way to “grow up”, when the military is very serious business, and recruiters lie through their teeth to get vulnerable, insecure, naive, ill informed young kids to commit to something they often have no conception of the seriousness involved, often something their own parents wish they did not do, but have no control over what an 18-19 year old does.

We see how many soldiers are not only harmed physically by being in the military and in a war zone, but psychologically, as they have trouble coping with what they see, what they participate in, what they witness, which stuns their image of themselves and the world around them.

At a time when only one half of one percent of the American people have been in the military, since the draft ended in 1973, most Americans do not appreciate the sacrifices, the turmoil created, the difficult times these troops have, engaged in unending wars with no purpose, unlike the Second World War, which was something everyone could understand.

It is also ironic how many, who have never served in war, are so quick to judge and condemn those who have, with Dick Cheney, the former Vice President and a draft dodger to boot, in the lead, but with most members of Congress and their offspring not having served, but very willing to send “cannon fodder” to fight wars for the oil and weapons industries, and make obscene profits at the expense of our young men and women!

As someone who did not serve in the military, the author has full respect for the sacrifices of the military, but has never supported the lies and deceit used by recruiters to convince young people, who have no direction, to sign up for something they are not mature enough to understand the full implications of, when they sign on the dotted line!

150th Anniversary Of New York City Draft Riots: A Disgraceful Moment In NYC History!

150 years ago, starting on July 13 and raging until July 16, New York City saw the worst rioting that had ever occurred up to that time, in the third year of the Civil War, due to the passing of a draft law by the US government, requiring the first ever military draft for all able boded men, unless they were wealthy enough to pay the government $300 to avoid service.

The Irish immigrants in New York City, among the poorest of all ethnic groups in the city, who could not afford the $300 fee, rioted and burned and destroyed, and sadly, set about to kill and lynch African Americans living in the city, blaming them for the Civil War.

At least eleven black men were lynched, but estimates go much higher, and the total loss of life is estimated as being at least 120 but potentially more, with at least 100 blacks being murdered in total.

At least 2,000 people were wounded, and possibly more, and property damage would be estimated in modern terms as at least $75 million. The film GANGS OF NEW YORK portrayed these events in a very dramatic way, and estimated much higher numbers of killed and wounded, and even higher property damage.

Blacks were forced to leave their residences by their landlords, afraid of bloodshed and property damage, and many left the city forever, and never returned, relocating elsewhere!

This was a horrible example of racial violence that has stained the history of New York City, and now, at the 150th anniversary of these terrible events, it becomes clear that racial harmony, racial justice, racial equality has NOT made as much progress as one would like to believe!

The Centennial Of Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency: A Time For Debate Over His Legacy

A century ago day, Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as the 28th President of the United States,and helped to transform the Presidency in massive ways, some good and some bad.

Wilson has been under attack in the present climate of conservative attacks on reform oriented Presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Barack Obama.

The facts are that Wilson, FDR, and LBJ were the three most accomplished Presidents in domestic affairs, but with plenty of criticism about their handling of wars and the domestic relationship to those wars.

Wilson accomplished the most domestic reform of any President before him, taking on parts of Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism agenda on the Progressive Party line in 1912, adding it to his own New Freedom legislative ideas.

So Wilson’s time saw the following:

Underwood Simmons Tariff

Federal Reserve Act

Clayton Anti Trust Act

Federal Trade Commission

Keating-Owen Child Labor Act

La Follette Seamen’s Act

Adamson Act (eight hour work day in interstate transportation)

Federal Farm Loan Act

Some of this did not work out well long term, and additionally, Wilson had major negative policies dealing with:

Woman Suffrage—opposing an amendment (although it came about despite him in 1920, via the 19th Amendment).

Race Relations—clearly racist policy of imposing Jim Crow segregation in Washington, DC; unfair treatment and recognition of African American sacrifices in the World War I effort; and endorsement of an openly racist film, D W Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION, which portrayed the Southern view of Reconstruction, a myth of long standing, which finally was proved inaccurate in the past half century of historical research and writing.

Civil Liberties Violations— including arrest and imprisonment of Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs for opposition to the draft and American involvement in World War I; the Espionage and Sedition Acts; and the Palmer Raids after the war.

In foreign policy, Wilson engaged in “Missionary Diplomacy” including interventions in Haiti, and more significantly in Mexico, attempting to pursue Pancho Villa for a raid across the border into Columbus, New Mexico, the worst incursion in American territory since the War of 1812. And of course, the controversy over Wilson and our entrance into World War I continues even today, and the whole debate and divisiveness over the Versailles Treaty and League of Nations in 1919-1920.

Additionally, being incapacitated by a stroke, but being unwilling to hand over temporary power to Vice President Thomas Marshall, and allowing his wife to run cabinet meetings, is another major issue in assessing Wilson’s Presidency.

So Wilson is a “very mixed bag” as a President, but usually is ranked in the bottom of the top ten of our Presidents, specifically because of his long range influence on America, rare among Presidents, for good or for bad, and there is clearly plenty of both!

The Centennial Of Richard Nixon

Today marks a century since Richard Nixon’s birth, and without any question, he is the most controversial American President of the 43 men who have held that office.

After barely losing in 1960, with the belief that his opponent, John F. Kennedy, had stolen the election in Chicago and in Texas, Nixon came back miraculously eight years later, and won a very close election over Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace. He proceeded to win a massive victory over George McGovern in 1972, the greatest landslide in electoral votes since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, winning all but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. A year and a half later, he was the only President who, due to the Watergate scandal, resigned from office, with the certainty of an impeachment in the House of Representatives and conviction in the US Senate had he not resigned.

Nixon knew the peaks and the valleys of the Presidency like no one ever has to the same extent before or since. He is a great Shakespearean type character, a human tragedy, a man with great intellect, but also great personal demons; a man of great accomplishments in many ways, but also great hates, resentments, insecurities and a large level of paranoia; a man who in many ways was the last “progressive” Republican President, but also catered to the right wing narrow mindedness and mean spiritedness; a man who had many controversial moments in his public career, but was consulted by future Presidents over the next twenty years due to his knowledge and expertise in foreign affairs; and a man, who, while hated more than any President since Abraham Lincoln, and only surpassed in level of hate by Barack Obama since, stands out as, without a doubt, the most significant President in his impact in the half century from his coming to Congress in 1947 until his death in 1994 at age 81.

This author grew up with intense feelings against Richard Nixon and started his career in the time of the Watergate scandal. Only after Nixon’s death and a semester sabbatical devoted to the study of all aspects of Nixon’s life, did this author start to see Nixon in a different light. As often told to students, this author no longer despises Nixon, but rather sees him as a tragic figure, who did a lot of good, but had his demons overtake him and destroy him. So this author now has respect for the good side of Nixon, while still condemning his evil side and illegal actions in office.

Richard Nixon will always be remembered positively for:

Opening up to mainland China
Negotiating the beginning of “detente”—the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the Soviet Union
Preventing Soviet military intervention in the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War
The ending of the military draft
The Environmental Protection Agency
The Consumer Product Safety Commission
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Affirmative Action
Wage and Price Controls

Nixon will be condemned for:

Dragging out the Vietnam War for four more years
Taking sides with Pakistan in the War Against India and Bangladesh
Supporting the overthrow of Chilean democracy by Augusto Pinochet
Supporting the Greek dictatorship of George Papadoupoulous
Bugging, Wire Tapping, and Break Ins under Presidential Order
The Watergate Scandal

This is just a brief summary of Nixon’s Presidency, and there already has been a lot of research conducted, but there is plenty of room for further scholarly investigation and debate, but suffice it to say that Richard Nixon had an impact on America still being felt a century after his birth and nineteen years after his death!

Bill Clinton And Mitt Romney: Two “Draft Dodgers”, But With A Difference!

In 1992, Presidential nominee Bill Clinton was constantly attacked for having avoided the draft during the Vietnam War, using his talents to evade service. Clinton, however, demonstrated against the war, so was principled about his opposition to the conflict that he avoid serving in.

But then there is the case of Mitt Romney, who also evaded the war, got draft deferments, and instead, used the excuse of being a Mormon missionary in France in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

But the difference is that Mitt Romney publicly expressed support of the war, held signs supporting the war, and advocated others joining the war!

Which is more to be condemned? The man who evades service on principle, or the man who evades service while supporting the war and the draft of OTHERS, but not his privileged self?

The author thinks you know the answer!

American World Commitment Now 95 Years And Counting: A Time For Reassessment!

This first week of April marks an important milestone, as 95 years ago, during the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson, who had entered office committed to domestic progressive reforms, he ended up becoming a war time President.

Wilson accomplished his domestic reforms, becoming the most active domestic President in American history, but later to be surpassed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.

But also, after much delay and attempt to avoid entrance into war, he felt forced to go to Congress and ask for a declaration of war against Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Turks, and in support of Great Britain, France, Italy, and Russia, in what was then called first the Great War, then the World War, and then ultimately the First World War.

America had conducted trade with all nations, had gone to war against Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898, had intervened in Latin America under Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, and had engaged in diplomacy with Europe and Asia, particularly under TR.

But the thought of committing troops to a continental war was beyond conception of Americans before the first week of April 1917. On April 2, Wilson delivered a war message, and four days of fierce debate began, with the final vote to go to war on April 6, by a margin of 373-50 in the House of Representatives, and 89-6 in the US Senate.

Since 1917, the United States has been engaged in SEVEN wars–World War I (1917-1918), World War II (1941-1945), Korean War (1950-1953), Vietnam War (1964-1973), Persian Gulf War (1991), Afghanistan War (2001-Present), Iraq War (2003-2011).

Additionally, this nation has been involved in military actions too numerous to list, or even to have an accurate count, including many secret interventions with special forces and intelligence agents in the CIA and other intelligence agencies, many of them secret in nature.

America has involvement in close to 160 countries in some form or manner, and we have become an imperial nation, the leader of the “free world”, first against Fascism and Nazism, then against Communism, and now against terrorism, which is an open ended commitment with no seeming end date.

This nation had a military draft in 1917-1918, in 1940-1947, and 1948-1973, but since, it has been the National Guard and the regular military forces that have borne the brunt of war. It has been easier for many in America to ignore our war involvement, since there is no longer mass participation in war. And that has affected the poor treatment of veterans who commit themselves to war, and now are surviving injuries in greater numbers, but often have mental issues not so easily addressed.

We now have very few members of Congress who have served in the military or in a war zone, and very few children of members of Congress who do the same. And now we will have a Presidential election with neither major candidate having served in the military, the
first such case since World War II.

This commemoration of our entrance into the First World War 95 years ago this week is a good time to stop and reflect and reassess what we are doing, and whether we can afford and also wish to keep spending so much blood and treasure on warfare, which is in many ways undermining our economic present and future.

We have become a security state, that is unwilling to face the reality that we cannot control the world, and think it will not harm our domestic tranquility and agenda. We are becoming a nation that can be compared to other empires that ultimately fell, including the Roman Empire, the Spanish Empire, and the British Empire.

The next President, whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, must get beyond the rhetoric, and seriously review the reality of what we are doing, and come to the conclusion that our national security is not helped by a constant state of war, and military spending getting out of control, and undermining our education, health care, and so many other programs and needs that will have to be pushed aside, if we do not stop the mad dash toward total, endless state of war!