Thursday, November 08, 2007

“Chicks up front”: Why Hillary Will Support the Draft

By Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network, 11/09/07

I take Mitt Romney on face value when he says the all-volunteer army is working and he doesn’t intend to change it. It is in keeping with his nature and all his personal history to manage and improve an existing paradigm rather than to arbitrarily break it and do something else. But what will President Hillary do? I am almost certain by now that she will establish a military draft.

I have traveled in the same river as these people and one of the weirdly random talents I have had in my life is to show up unintentionally at places just when they were getting interesting. Like when Jack Kennedy rose out of my father’s old neighborhood in Boston and ran for President when I was a kid. And when Bob Dylan awakened the Sixties kind of in my high school football field in Newport R.I. Another was in August, 1968. I had just completed a year’s tour of duty in Thailand and began a half world journey; down the mountains and through the jungle by slow train to Bangkok and after a stay for a week or so at five-baht peasant hotels, the flight back to San Francisco. I had just enough travel money left to make it to Chicago.

I ended up sleeping in Union Station for three days, waiting for family to wire some of my cash. I hadn’t a clue what was going on in the U.S. When I arrived in Chicago the city was in turmoil. It was during the riots in the 1968 Democratic Convention.

As it turned out, it was a major turning point for people my age and thousands gathered to protest the war in Vietnam at Lincoln Park and Grant Park. Signs in the crowd read, “Chicks up front,” so the coppers wouldn’t hit so hard, said to have been orchestrated by Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman, the main organizer of the event.

It was certainly a time for change for Senator Clinton as well. As reported in a recent NYTs article on the turmoil of '68: "As the nation boiled over Vietnam, civil rights and the slayings of two charismatic leaders, Ms. Rodham was completing a sweeping intellectual, political and stylistic shift. She came to Wellesley as an 18-year-old Republican, a copy of Barry Goldwater’s right-wing treatise, The Conscience of a Conservative, on the shelf of her freshman dorm room. She would leave as an antiwar Democrat whose public rebuke of a Republican senator in a graduation speech won her notice in Life magazine as a voice for her generation."

Chicago brought forth a potential American passage; the trial of the Chicago Seven featuring Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Dave Dillinger and others followed as denouement. It might have amounted to a change in the way we live in this country: Recently I’ve been sent into a kind of déjà vu as I have heard some of the exact same anti-war phrases by those who opposed the invasion of Iraq and have used some of them myself.

But it didn’t turn out because the hippies and the war resisters did not pass the test of fire: On May 4, 1970, when four were left dead at Kent State the party ended. Rubin said in one of his autobiographies that after Kent State you couldn’t get girls to type your term papers for you anymore. You couldn’t call them chicks anymore either. Earth Mother had yielded to Wall St. and the corporate culture.

That failure haunts that same generation today because a revolutionary culture cannot change in mid-stream and join the mainstream corporate culture; Kent State could have triggered a mass uprising like the Irish Rebellion or the Boxer Rebellion in the last days of Manchu rule. A new culture – a new auspicious world – could have arisen from Kent State. But it failed. As such, it cannot well be incorporated in the experience of the individual as a psychological or mythic transition to adulthood. It can only be considered a few years of escapism and play: You cannot really be against the war and be for the soldiers as it is the fashion to say today. You have to be on one side or the other.

That was John Kerry’s problem from the first. He wanted to be one of the hippies . . . and was famously photographed at an anti-war rally with John Lennon . . . and one of the soldiers too; he proudly decorated his office with his military colors. It doesn’t work. The hippies didn’t consider him one of them, nor did some of his fellow soldiers who swift-boated him.

Gary Hart made a better transition. He opposed the war in Vietnam and directed George McGovern’s anti-war candidacy. After the war he became a military officer and a military expert. At all times, including today, he knew who he was. As the invasion of Iraq loomed some of us invited him to come speak here in New England on the topic. His opinion and his prediction of vast and extended warfare across the Middle East was perfectly accurate. Senator Clinton, who should be considered the leading voice of the Democrats at that time, did not listen to him. She listened instead to the focus groups and to the hordes when war fever and revenge were sweeping the country.

Senator Clinton today represents the people of her age who opted-out of the hippie days when its brief allure receded in the smoke at Kent State. They followed the path instead to Wall St. with Jerry Rubin and Arkansas po' white Bill was avatar to this transition. Rubin called himself a “pilot fish” to his generation and he is key to the age. Rubin had told them in the Sixties to go home and kill their parents and to avoid investment because, “A hip capitalist is a pig capitalist . . . They are traitors to their long hair." A decade later he would tell them, “Wealth creation is the real American revolution.” And the generational horde followed, like fish.

A problem arises now and has over the years and it is a mythic problem. The Billarys and the Cheneys and Bushs did not participate in the tribal adventure they were sent to as young ‘uns and they all appear to be living out the failed consequences of a myth unfulfilled. Certainly Cheney and the neocons seem to be living out a dangerous fantasy with their war adventures in Iraq and everywhere, but likewise the Dems seem to be unleavened by the tragedies and successes of military experience.

The key question today is how will the Democrats and the Republicans manage the continuing mess in Iraq, Pakistan and throughout the Islamic world? Specifically, will they continue to rely on the professional army which seems heavily indebted to mercenary forces like Blackwater? Or will they establish a draft?

There are two “prisons” here – as Toynbee called them. The one is mythical: She opposed the war in Vietnam which was a primary directive of Kennedy and the country at the time. To do so is in fact a very radical step; in the past, only a very small minority of Quakers or Buddhists here in New England would take it. And they would not change their views on warfare and capital once the inconvenient war was over as Hillary and the Rubin horde has. Hillary has to prove she has manlies to be President. Katty Kay of BBC has offered commentary in that regard; because she is a woman, said Kay. But more so, I would say, because she opposed the war in Vietnam. Having adopted the mainstream direction after the war, the previous position can only be considered a weakness or failure which creates compensation and dangerous instability in later leadership.

The Democrats in this regard are now displaying romanticized notions of the citizen-soldier in World War II and the draftee in Vietnam which I see as a default of intelligent analysis and avoidance of the problem at hand. This romanticizing comes from a lack of personal experience in time of crisis: One can only imagine fair action and judgment in war if there is no personal experience as touchstone, so one makes decisions by feelings and imaginings.

The question of military service popped up here in New Hampshire when Hillary came to talk recently to a group of local editors and reporters. She said to them that she sees no support among the military for a return to the draft.

Unfortunately, that does not answer the question of whether or not she supports the draft, and like oh-so-much she and her husband have said to us over the years; it does not even address the question. We already know that there is no interest in the draft in the military. And if we were unsure we would go and ask them. We want to know what she thinks about the draft and specifically, if she would establish a draft to continue the conflict which, if she, Romney or most of the others are elected, is certain to go on for at least a decade if not much longer.

But she has not answered that question.

Under the circumstance it is probably better to try to get the answer as Greg House, MD, of the clever TV show House does. House never listens to his patients. He assumes they always lie, obfuscate or hide the truth. Instead, he sends his interns out to search their houses and talk to their friends and relatives to find out what is going on.

We might do the same with Bill and Hillary. If we don’t know what they are thinking; if they are congenitally incapable of talking straight, we might look to their friends and those who they would bring with them to the Oval Office if they are elected. It has been suggested in the press that Hillary would bring either Jim Webb, warrior, novelist and the new Senator from Virginia, or General Wesley Clark. I would think that someone like Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, or Mark Warner, former Governor of Virginia and current candidate for the Senate, would be much better but again, this is compensation – to prove that the Democrats have manlies; to prove it to themselves.

When he ran for Senate Webb was forced to answer if he would support the Democratic candidate “no matter who it is” (meaning Hillary) and he said he would. Clark was among the first to endorse Hillary this Fall and it was felt by some at the time that he had been running for VP with Hillary all along.

In ’04 when he ran for President there was a clear suggestion that he would like the job of Secretary of State. Some of the best commentators have speculated this year that because of the good work he did in the ’06 race for vets running for office and because of the high profile he showed in opposition to a potential invasion of Iran, he is certain to have an important position in any Democratic cabinet, possibly Secretary of State.

When he endorsed Senator Clinton, General Clark said he had known her for 21 years. He is one of Bill’s best friends; I see him as Bill’s “alter ego” – Arkansas guy and fellow Rhodes Scholar.

On July 6, 2004, Clark addressed a small group in Manchester, NH, and said, “I know you all don’t support the draft, but when I heard in the early 1970s that they were thinking of going to an all-volunteer army, I thought, ‘good for the army, bad for the country.’”

He cited the classic argument of a “professional army” as the tool of an elite regime while the draft was the way of an egalitarian, democratic people.

Myself, I find this faulty. Both Hitler and Stalin relied on a draft.

It is an important issue because increasingly, Clark appears to be forming opinion for the Democrats and for the Clintons.

Senator Clinton needs to be asked directly if she is committed to the all-volunteer army as Romney is or if she is in agreement with Wesley Clark on this issue. Which of these will be the law of the land when she is President?

If she doesn’t answer straight, which she won’t, we should press her on who she will bring forth on military issues and make our own assumptions from that.

She certainly believes in registration and told my local reporters that 18-year-old women, along with men should be required to register.

“I think that should be required of everyone in case of a national emergency,” she said. And in a hair-raising aside, she suggested that 9-11 was such an emergency.

“I really believe that Bush could have gotten the nation involved. He chose not to,” she said. “He had a chance after 9-11 to summon America to service and sacrifice, and he didn’t do it.”

She said she would also “like to do more” with national service and presumably everyone could be pressed into “national service” in case of “a national emergency.”

So in a Hillary Presidency, you won’t only have the chance to be pulled out of a card game, as I was, and drafted into the war in Vietnam, but could also be drafted, man or woman, into alternative service; possibly doing laundry at the White House or scrubbing floors at the William J. Clinton Library and Museum in Arkansas.

Some of my madcap, dynamic friends up here in the Free State Project in New Hampshire claim that Hillary is a commie and her yearnings go back to the early days of Trotsky or Lenin in Russia.

Her political vision goes back further than that. It goes back to Peter the Great.