Beginning on Monday, December 8th, 1941, just hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the US into the Second World War, military recruiting offices were inundated by long lines of American men eager to take up arms against the Japs. These regular GI Joes were augmented by the enlistment of prominent actors, musicians and the sons of many of the elite families of the American political and business establishments. Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Reagan, Glenn Miller, Teddy Roosevelt Jr. and a very young George Herbert Walker Bush come to mind. (With the exception of Reagan, all saw actual combat or served in theaters where their lives were at risk.)
But since the 9/11 attacks that killed approximately 3,000 Americans within our own borders, we have witnessed not a single high-profile enlistment from the ranks of our political, industrial, media, or entertainment elites. Not one.
Why this dramatic absence of personal investment in the "War Against Terrorism" that has now been dramatically expanded by the President to include the "Evil Axis" of North Korea, Iraq and Iran? Shouldn't the self-described "conservatives" (neo-conservatives, actually) screaming the loudest for an invasion of the world be volunteering themselves and their Ivy League sons and daughters for this dramatically open-ended crusade?
Although America's elite began disengaging itself from the old republican concept of military service beginning with the $300 draft exemptions during the War Between the States, it wasn't until Vietnam that their absence from their own wars became scandalously obvious. While a number of "conservative" hawks did indeed serve in 'Nam or sent their sons, National Guard assignments or university deferments were more the rule for those families doing most of the ruling in Washington or Wall Street.
Where are the young Bushes and Clintons and Gephardts and Lotts when their fathers call us to war? Where are the scions of the Dupont and Rockefeller and Ford empires when we are asked to strike back against so many distant enemies? How many degrees of separation do you suppose exist between a Rumsfeld, a Wolfowitz, a Perle, or a Krauthammer and service in combat?
The purpose of these questions is not to raise a debate over whether the justified response to the 9/11 attacks has been high-jacked and expanded by a host of nefarious interests, both foreign and domestic. Neither are these questions meant to disparage those average Americans who have joined up in good faith. Rather, they are simply presented to stir the citizens of this republic to critically examine the conduct of the elites who make the decisions to take others lives... and to spend them. What are their families wagering in this Great Crusade... besides their portfolios?