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Whatever Happened to Uncle Sam Wants You?


If the war in Iraq is worth fighting, then why doesn’t George Bush, commander-in-chief of an army stretched so thin by the Iraq catastrophe that Colin Powell has labeled it broken, just look the people in the eye and say Uncle Sam Wants You? Think about it: Those who support global, perpetual war from Dick Cheney to Joe Lieberman to Rush Limbaugh never ask the ersatz patriots who support them to join up or shut up. Despite recruitment shortfalls, deployment extensions that push troops beyond human limit, and a re-set of the wars projected length, from cakewalk to forever, the American Empire’s politicians and pundits never ask for volunteers. In the modern U.S. Empire, the war’s planners, supporters, and profiteers (and progeny thereof) are not expected to serve.

In June, 2005, I wrote a piece for Common Dreams that made the following observation:

Certainly, there’s no shortage of passion on the pro-war side. No less an authority on good and evil than Fox News Network’s Sean Hannity informs us on page 6 of his book Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism, [The] threat they [the terrorists] represent is every bit as grave as the one we experienced during WW II. Hannity is fond of playing the World War II card to contrast the bravery of kids who marched en masse down to the recruiter on Dec. 8, 1941, with those despicable young antiwar liberals today. But instead of whining about liberals, why doesn’t Hannity use his bilious pulpit to ask like-minded Americans to perform their patriotic duty?

The FBI labels increased gang activity in the ranks as a threat to national security. If that’s the case, why doesn’t Bush call on those who are bravely supporting the war from afar with the exhortation, America needs its best and brightest and most patriotic in the military. Uncle Sam Wants You! Right now! Surely they wouldn’t say no to the president, would they?

The face of Matthew Continetti is the face of the American Empire. Continetti is a staff writer for the bellicose Weekly Standard, and, as such, a relentless young cheerleader for the Iraq war. Yet this twenty-something dismisses with an effete and arrogant shrug of his shoulders any suggestion that he should serve in a war that he and fellow chickenhawks have done so much to sell to the American people. Fair warning to patriotic Americans: This three-minute Youtube clip will make your flesh crawl.

Jonah Goldberg is of military age, though, like Continetti,not of military inclination. From the safety of his perch at National Review Online, Goldberg declares himself an admirer of what he calls the Ledeen Doctrine, which, as articulated by American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Ledeen, affirms that every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business. The putrefying morality and obscene bullying manifest in Continetti, Goldberg, and Ledeen are not eccentricities in neocon nation but, rather, the very soul of neocon nation. Ledeens American Enterprise Institute, after all, earned congratulations from Bush as the place where some of the finest minds in our nation are at work on some of the greatest challenges to our nation.

In the highly probable event that America launches an aerial attack on Iran, the not-insubstantial Iranian army will move rapidly into Iraq bent on the slaughter of American troops. College Republicans and other young, patriotic pro-imperial supporters should make this their Teddy Roosevelt moment and leave for basic training now, that they might be ready to really support the troops not with yellow ribbons this time, but with risk to their own lives.

The rest of young and hale America can best defend their homeland, their families, and the U.S. Constitution, not by kicking in the doors of brutalized Iraqis (and engendering a hatred of Uncle Sam that begs for terrorist retaliation here at home), but by refusing to serve in imperial war.

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    Michael Nolan is a freelance writer. His work has appeared in LewRockwell.com, Common Dreams.org, OpEdNews.com, and the Vermont Guardian.