There is a great concern that the military is being stretched thin in Iraq. The war against the insurgency is lasting much longer and the fighting is much harder than the war’s planners ever envisaged. Troops are serving longer tours in country and getting less time recuperating out of country. National Guard and Reserve troops are playing a much greater role than planned, putting a particular strain on these formerly “weekend warriors”. Yet a significant and loud minority in this country persist in supporting a large American military presence in the war. The problem is that the troop levels necessary to carry on the large-scale engagement insisted upon by the war-hawks are not sustainable in the long run, not without a draft or a great increase in voluntary enlistment.
I do not support the war. I have a very simple test for determining my support – would I fight in it myself? I will not call on other men to fight when I will not. My reasons are simple. Firstly, I have a healthy fear of death. Secondly, to overcome this scruple over staying alive with all my body parts intact, the cause must be sufficiently important for me to risk my life for it. Iraq is simply not important enough. When President Bush recently compared actual failure in Vietnam to possible failure in Iraq, I shrugged my shoulders. While the U.S. might have suffered emotionally from losing the Vietnam War, from a practical point of view, no real U.S. interests were harmed.
So I will not support a war that I will not fight in. But as the fight is going on, I encourage all those who would fight, to volunteer. If you support the war, and are between 18 and 42 years of age, and are not enlisted in the military, then please shut up. Don’t ask others to fight your battles.