July 2008

Letters to the Ethical Spectacle


Thank you for your piece on reinstating the draft. Respectfully, I couldn't disagree more with your stance. I recognize there is a disconnect between power and responsibility in this country - particularly when it comes to military adventures. However, I think you may be confusing cause and effect here. I would put it to you that the reason people in this country don't do more to hold their leaders accountable is precisely because their leaders refuse to be held accountable. In my view, lack of accountability in our leadership is the cause of much of our ambivalence, rather than the other way around.

Case in point: I attended many anti-war rallies before the start of the current Iraq occupation - including one on the mall in Washington DC where attendance numbered approximately 400,000. I even went as far as to write Dick Cheney pleading him, not to invade. (Talk about naiveté) Up until the time the bombs started falling, public opinion was running against the war. The net effect of all this anti-war sentiment was... nada, zilch, zip. Bush and company started "Shock and Awe" not because the people supported or didn't support the war. It was started because Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al didn't give a damn what the people thought.

Having been a conscientious objector during the Vietnam conflict, I am against military conscription on general principles. However, even if I supported the draft, I don't think reinstating it would have the effect you desire. It certainly won't make the Neo-nuts less likely to launch pre-emptive strikes. If anything, I think it would make it easier to launch new wars by providing them with cannon fodder.

Finally I'd just like to say that if we are engaged in a world conflict, I don't think it is the kind in which success will be determined by the amount of soldiers we can field. Reinstating the draft is not the answer to the problems we face. Sorry.

Tom Vincent

The letter is in response to the articles covering the Supreme Court's ruling this week that clarified Americans' right to own a gun for self-defense. It has once again sparked the debate about gun control.

The second amendment of the United States Constitution states: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Obviously the need for a state militia has been replaced by the National Guard and Coast Guard whereby trained military personnel are entrusted with the defense of this country against domestic enemies. Their weapons are tightly controlled and safeguarded.

The only two reasons for a citizen to own a firearm are for hunting or defense of the household from intruders. In either case, ownership of a handgun, shotgun or rifle is more than adequate to satisfy these purposes. There is absolutely no need for any U.S. civilian to own any weapon more powerful or sophisticated than these. Accordingly, all handguns, shotguns and rifles must be licensed and registered to the degree necessary to match weapon to owner at the click of a computer key.

Furthermore, if we had prohibited the purchase of more sophisticated weapons, several innocent victims would not have died at restaurants, universities and shopping malls.

Joe Bialek