President Trump is being savaged by all sides for his decision to remove our troops from Syria. This allowed Turkey to invade areas occupied by the Kurds, our allies in the fight against ISIS. The House of Representatives voted 354-60 to decry the policy. Newspaper editorials and armchair pundits on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC have berated the President. ABC News even fabricated a fake video of a Turkish attack on the Kurds (it was actually from a shooting range in Kentucky). One pundit in the Wall Street Journal described the President’s policy as “Speak Loudly but Carry a Toothpick.”

Joseph Bentivegna MD

But do any of these armchair warriors have any skin in the game? Do President George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton and President Obama, architects of this policy that the president inherited, have to worry about Chelsea, Sasha, Malia, Barbara or Jenna being killed in the mid-East. No, they do not. Why? Because there is no draft.

In the 1960s, while there was still a draft (it applied only to men), the Vietnam War became wildly unpopular. Riots ensued on elite campuses – Harvard, Yale and Columbia among others – as students questioned the wisdom of this proxy war to stop the spread of communism. Attending college permitted deferments. Other protesters burned their draft cards or fled to Canada. America’s elite and upper middle class saw little sense in personally being killed or maimed in the jungles of Vietnam. The political result – the draft was abolished, and to this day, we have an all-volunteer army.

Now our ruling class, with no worry of their children’s safety, is gung-ho for war; thus, President Trump — who incidentally avoided the draft himself by having a doctor write a letter stating that he had “bone spurs” — is being attacked from all sides.

But what was the President supposed to do? According to published reports, President Erdogan of Turkey (a NATO ally) threatened to invade Syria and establish a buffer zone in an area where 2,000 of our troops were stationed. Should President Trump have placed another 50,000 troops there to stop this assault? Should he have threatened to bomb Ankara? Or should he fulfill a campaign promise and remove our troops from harm’s way and stop our involvement in what he termed “endless wars?” He chose the latter option.

Yes, he sold out the Kurds. But those savaging the President pretend that this is new to American history. President Truman allowed Russia to enslave eastern Europe and refused to allow General MacArthur to free northern Korea. When we left Vietnam, we had alliances not only with factions in Vietnam but with our supporters in Cambodia. The pay back for our Vietnamese allies was so vicious that they got in boats with nowhere to go. The Cambodians were not so lucky. The brutal Communist dictator Pol Pot killed over 2 million of his so-called fellow citizens. We once made a treaty with the Sioux and Arapaho Indians in 1868 to allow them to retain their lands in the Black Hills of South Dakota and parts of Wyoming. Ask Red Cloud how that worked out? Selling out allies and breaking agreements for military and political reasons is as American as apple pie.

I recently attended my high school class reunion in rural western Pennsylvania. Several classmates showed me pictures of their children, young men and women in uniform, and said, “Joe, please pray for my son. He’s stationed in Afghanistan.” These are the deplorables than our ruling class enjoys ridiculing, when not sending them off into unwinnable wars so that they can play “nation building.”

So, when Chelsea Clinton, Malia Obama and Jenna Bush have the same chance of being injured by a land mine as the children of my high school pals, then maybe the general public will share our ruling class’s thirst for endless wars against countries that are no threat to us. But I strongly suspect the opposite. If our ruling class feared a draft notice that put their children in the midst of the Syria fiasco, the riots against the Vietnam War would look like picnics.

Joe Bentivegna is an ophthalmologist in Rocky Hill. 

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  1. As the father of officers, I greatly appreciate Dr. Bentivegna’s offering, but I have mixed feelings re: the draft. While conscription makes many more families have the proverbial ‘skin in the game,’ I think I prefer having my ‘kids’ command troops who actually choose to be there. We have trouble reaching physically capable numbers now, imagine with the draft in place.

    I believe most of those criticizing the pullout merely wanted POTUS to have casualties to hang around his neck for political reasons. While he and his troops are trained for the effort, one son could easily have been one of those the politicians seem willing to ‘sacrifice.’ If they want war, exercise their enumerated power, declare war and win it–or shut up. Oh wait, Turkey is a NATO member.

    I do disagree with the Dr’s comment re: ‘selling out the Kurds.’ However, as a military father, I try not to publicly offer my opinion on implemented strategies or my specific reasons thereof.

    God Bless our brave men and women.

  2. Good idea that will never happen. Even if the draft were reinstituted Murph and Blumy would put none of their loved ones at risk.
    Better yet we can return to the days we the King lead his army into war. Geo Washington led his army into war and all of the signers put their necks on the line. If we lost the revolutionary War Franklin, Jefferson, Washington and the others would have been taken back to London and been gibbetted over the Thames.
    Today’s pols have nothing to lose except an election

  3. One reason why the draft during Vietnam, which actually was the continuation of the draft during the Cold War when men such as myself did their military duty without being shot at or bombed, led to antiwar protests was that Congress did not have to step up and declare war. Congress really needs to take back its ability to declare war before sending troops abroad to fight a war chosen by the president.

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