Mark Palermo

An Old Man's War, A Young Man's Fight

He Was Our S.O.B.
Long Ago Saturday Nights at the Circle 9
The Dark Side of Vaccinations
Wine: Where Ignorance and Pretension Find their Loudest Voice
A 1976 Journey in Search of Self
The Machinery of Mass Dreams
The Outlaw Georgie Bush
Sex Offender Registries Out of Control
Extreme Makeover for Airheads
The Fault Lies not in the Stars, but in Ourselves
Reconsidering George Carlin
If You Think Liberals Are Jerks...
She Couldn't Do Her Chores
Remembering Viktor Frankl
One Day on the Farm-1977
A Fresh Look at Meat
How the Real World Works: A Lesson
30 Bucks for the Human Touch
1929 All Over Again
An Old Man's War, A Young Man's Fight
More Things in Heaven and Earth...
Our Dumbed-down Public Discourse
Bread, But No Roses
Earth's the Right Place for Love
Read This Before Enlisting
Poison Is Good for You: The Fluoridation Scam
Ron Paul:He Makes Too Much Sense
War Is a Racket
Brazil's National Orgasm Day
Calling all Liberals!
Why I Don't Get Flu Shots
What is Community?
Haverhillicus Homocrisicum
If You Wanna Be a Junkie, Why?
Do We Know His Family?
Scam: Youth Sports
A Subsidy for the Human Touch?
How Not to Be Boring
If the Bread and Roses Strike Were NOW
America's Problem with the Body
Columbus Day? or Renaissance Day?
Depleted Uranium Weapons
Mitt Romney: A Clintonian Republican
A Checklist for Conservatives
On Torture and Torturers
Pimp of the Nation
Romney is a Jerk
Hypocrisy and its Champions
The Dumb Society
The Men's Taverns of Yesteryear
On Dittoheads!
Let China Sleep
2004 McDebates
Animal Rights Page
US Wealth Distribution Chart
Public Grief, Private Lives

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
-- Dwight Eisenhower, April 16, 1953


An Old Man's War, a Young Man's Fight- by Mark Palermo

"It’s an old man’s war, but a young man’s fight." It’s been said through the ages, but nobody has ever done anything about it. War is an injustice indeed, especially to the young who have not had their chance at life. But two simple steps can change that once and for all.


My father is a World War 2 veteran of the Army Air Corps where he was a flight mechanic. He told me that while working on planes he would notice other mechanics taking shortcuts or doing work improperly. “Hey, you’re doing that wrong,” he would say, only to hear, “Who cares?... I’m not going up in this plane…”  It troubled him then-as it does even now-how callous and cynical men can sometimes be with the lives of others.


But no flight mechanic serving under Colonel John “Killer” Kane ever did careless work. Kane, son of a Baptist preacher, led the famous air attack of the heavily defended Romanian oilfields in 1943. Kane every so often would walk out to where the mechanics were working on a plane and say,” Are you boys just about finished? Draw your parachutes. We’re all taking this plane up in one hour.” Imagine the resolve and attention to detail the mechanics exercised in their work- after word went around about Kane's method of inspection.


Kane understood that men act in their own self interest, and I wonder if this principle could be applied to our time, where the burden of war is carried by 1% of the population, mostly young guys between the ages of 18 and 22, barely out of childhood. What if all our wars from now on were fought by the entire population instead of delegated to youth?


The first step toward this end would be to reintroduce the draft. Yes, the draft. Everybody- and I mean everybody- between the ages of 18 and 65 would register and be ready for active duty. Anyone old enough to work a job is old enough to serve his or her country. Thomas Jefferson said, “Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.“

Of course those most physically fit would still take the role of active combatants. But I suspect this role would not fall exclusively upon the young. I routinely see forty-something yuppie women at the gym in peak, hard-body condition from their aerobics and pilates regimens. Men with gray hair who cross-country ski, run in marathons and climb mountains. And let’s not forget the arm chair war-enthusiasts, the neighborhood-tavern blowhards, and barber shop strategists who- from their talk at least- would be eager to see some “action.” And so, why not? Most jobs in today’s military are non-combat anyway, so the army can use everybody.


Second and just as important. Decisions about war and peace are too important to be made by a coterie of politicians, even the best of whom are ambitious, and inclined to make decisions based on political expediency or their own unresolved personal neuroses.  Therefore, war could only be declared by a vote of the people of the United States, and then by a two- thirds majority. If there is to be war, then let it be a people’s war: everybody's war, or it is nobody's. The president could call for a vote at any time as often as needed. 


The nay-sayers will cry foul. What about top secret information to which only the president is privy? But intelligence has been so inept that it failed to foresee the coup against the Shah of Iran. And the fall of the Soviet Union. And the Bay of Pigs. And 9/11. Even President Bush admits he got faulty information about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. What intelligence?


Some will complain that if people vote for their own wars, they won’t choose war unless the country  is directly attacked, and then only against a clearly defined aggressor, which is exactly the point. War is to be used as an ultimate, last ditch resort after all other means have been exhausted. Remember the lesson from Colonel Kane? Everybody acts in their interest. We would not eliminate wars, but we’d have a hell of a lot less of them.


But can the American people really be trusted with such an important decision? Thomas Jefferson addressed that question: “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.” Draw your parachutes. We’re taking this plane up in one hour.



July 2006