My 5- and 8-year-old sons are fond of committing their versions of modern warfare to drawing paper. There must be scores of these pictures scattered around the house, and they're always the same. Planes and rockets streak across the paper. As bullets fly from the wings of some into the fuselages of others, their trajectories are carefully traced in crayon. An occasional "pow" is printed in a smoke cloud.
The bloodless vision of these scenes,as sterile as Saturday morning cartoons, is irritating -- like war toys. It's not that they're too realistic. They're not realistic enough. "Look, children," I want to say, "you've got it all wrong. War hurts! But I keep my mouth shut. What really concerns me is that they may discover this truth for themselves -- first-hand.
With President Carter proposing to rev up the draft, I now find myself the mother of two potential soldiers, which has forced me to do some hard thinking. How do I feel about that? Although I'm no defense analyst, I've concluded reluctantly that Carteris probably headed in the right direction.
Suspending the draft was a natural reaction to the Vietnam war. Our abhorrence of it had spilled over into an opposition to national conscription. And there was the additional argument that ending the draft would impose a measure of restraint on a military andpolitical establishment which had exhibited an alarming tendency to involve itself in areas of the world where it had no business. Without the draft,the Pentagon would not be able to go adventuring -- not at the expense of my friends, or our children -- so I and many others reasoned.
What we had forgotten in our enthusiastic efforts to curb the military is that other nations can adventure too. And their adventure can bring them within shooting distance of some of our bona fide national interests.Now that Russia has reminded us of that fact, we're faced with deciding whether we were right, in the long term, about the draft.
Should we reinstitute it in the name of preparedness? If we do, does it necessarily follow that America will resume its role as the world's policeman -- that we'll find ourselves in another quagmire like Vietnam? Perhaps we'll simply have to take the risks, knowing that an over-zealous military does seem to be an occupational disease to which all superpowers are susceptible. But surely it is preferable to take our chances at trying to control the symptoms as they crop up here at home -- once we've beefed up our armed services -- rather than putting ourselves at a disadvantage should some other superpower choose to adventure under our noses.
So when the draft cards appear again,I'll accept them as a depressing necessity -- proof again that we live inan imperfect world peopled by imperfectable man. The draft will become part of that list of possible menaces -- like drugs and drag racing -- looming in the futures of my two young sons. In the meantime, we'll go on as usual in our house.We are not rearing warrriors. Aggression will be frowned upon except on the soccor field. Bedtime stories will concentrate on the peaceable kingdoms of Winnie-the-Pooh, Charlotte and Wilbur, Rat and Mole. I'll cultivate the artwork with the trees and flowers -- and I'll keep an eye on the Pentagon. If Carter gives them a draft, they must not squander it. All those soldiers will have strings attached -- to parents like me.