In 1965, satirist and mathematician Tom Lehrer released his album That Was The Year That Was with a song entitled Send the Marines. He introduced the song as follows:
"What with President Johnson practicing 'escalatio' on the Vietnamese and then the Dominican crisis on top of that it has been a nervous year and people have begun to feel like a Christian Scientist with an appendicitis. Fortunately in times of crisis just like this, America always has this number one instrument of diplomacy to fall back on."Sadly, things haven't changed much, have they? Once again, our military is paying the awful price for our national diplomatic policy failures. Our volunteer military, a specialized fighting machine drawn from a limited population, keeps most of America from having to feel the sting of losing sons and daughters in battle.
As a nation, we have not universally sacrificed anything for this war. We whine about $3 a gallon gasoline but still fill up our SUVs at the pump. Compared to the rationing of food and goods in WWII which affected every American, we are sacrificing nothing. A few families have tragically sacrificed their sons and daughters and it is for them that I grieve.
In his book People of the Lie, Dr. M. Scott Peck talks about the evil of groups in his examination of the MyLai Massacre during the Vietnam War. It's a great book and I highly recommend it for people who argue that evil is some abstract idea. This book was written in 1983, and he prophetically wrote about the dangers of an all volunteer military as follows (my emphasis added):
Abandoning the concept of the citizen soldier in favor of the mercenary, we have placed ourselves in great jeopardy. Twenty years from now, when Vietnam has been largely forgotten, how easy it will be, with volunteers, to once again become involved in little foreign adventures. Such adventures will keep our military on its toes, provide it will real-life war games to test its prowess, and need not hurt or involve the average American citizen at all until it is too late.1983 + 20 years = 2003 ... the year we attacked Iraq based on lies told to us by our president and government. In the same way, President Johnson lied to the American people about the attack on the Gulf of Tonkin (which never happened) justifying his "escalatio" on the Vietnamese and costing our country over 58,000 lives.
Things haven't changed.