I always liked those old World War II movies where bright-eyed Jimmy stifled his tears and said goodbye to Mom and Dad at the train station, and not to worry about him, because he was going off to fight for Uncle Sam. I always wanted to go off and fight for Uncle Sam, but I came of age in the wrong era. I thought I had my chance to fight for my country when we stormed Grenada, but it was over before I found the nearest recruiting office in the phone book (I was looking under “A” for “Army”. “M” for “Military” didn’t even occur to me–I was seventeen. Also, I found out later that I wouldn’t have been allowed to enlist at seventeen). Sure, it wasn’t saving an entire continent from the vile and vicious Nazis. We were just saving a few dozen medical students from being hazed by ragtag junta footsoldiers, but they’d obviously seen enough hardship in their lives already, what with not being able to get into a real medical school in the United States.
So I missed that window. When Gulf War I came around I was doing too many drugs, and I figured (correctly) that that one would probably be over in about eight minutes. Plus, being a little older, I was kind of a pussy about war, because unlike my starry-eyed visions of Jimmy going off to war, I realized that part and parcel of that was the very real possibility of having your organs shredded with an AK-47.
I realized last night watching the Republican debate that in a 2009 Republican Administration there will still be hope for an enthusiastic, God/Mother/Country/Apple Pie-loving young boy in his early 40s who wants to serve his country, because it’s going to be war all the time, baby, and we’re running out of people to fight it. The maximum enlistment age is already 42, but it’s only a matter of time before they let the real grownups in.
To a man last night–with the exception of that “responsible government”, isolationist, food-hording faux-Libertarian loon Ron Paul–the GOP slate said no surrender, we’ll stay the course, our might is right, we’ll fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here, etcetera.
Of course, like any good war, this isn’t going to be without its challenges. A successful war needs soldiers. The candidates’ immediate family are unavailable, of course (vision issues, I’m sure; plantar fasciitis, sciatica, stateside obligations). With some estimates suggesting 400,000-800,000 soldiers to get the job done in Iraq, we’ve got to start waving some money around to pull these kids out of Justin Timberlake concerts and into fatigues. Romney suggested a new GI Bill, but that costs money (unless you pull the soldiers just short of their mandatory tour of duty requirement, which many vets will tell you the National Guard has been doing successfully for years).
We’ve got the money, though. Well, not officially, because it’s not in the budget. Except for 2007, for every year of the war, the money we’ve needed–$343 million a day, according to a just-released Congressional estimate–is off-budget, and comes from our emergency spending fund. I think if you were listening carefully last night it’s clear what we have here is an emergency.
The only problem is that the liberal media are skewing public opinion with their irresponsible reporting of suicide bombings and kids being mutilated by IEDs, so we’re losing our own hearts and minds, which means this might require a different tack. But as the bipartisan economic stimulus agreement this week proved, we really can get good things done just by throwing a little money at a problem. After all, we’re going to be killing a recession in the womb just by giving everyone a few hundred bucks to go buy a Wii. We killed Communism with McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. For $343 million a day, we can build a lot of Blockbusters, JoAnn Fabrics, and Wal-Marts–Al Qaeda’s no match for their low prices. We build it, they will shop, we can come home. Al Qaeda leaves (the ones that don’t hire on at Wal-Mart as greeters, at least), and the Shiites, Sunni, and Kurds can go back to killing each other–only this time over great bargains. Of course, we have to spend at least some of that money to get the Iraqis more than an hour of electricity a day. It takes way too many candles to keep a Wal-Mart open. But that’s a T we can cross later.
It’s that kind of thinking outside the box that was so sorely lacking at last night’s debate. I’m glad we’re staying the course in Iraq, and I’m glad we’re not wasting a lot of time on Osama Bin Laden–he’s an aging, gaunt, diabetic in a dress; how much more damage can he do really? I just wanted some bigger ideas on how we’re going to fight this necessary war. But at least I know we’ll fight them from our caskets rather than running away with our tail between our legs like the Democrats would have the audacity to propose. And like some of the aged men the Germans rolled out at the end of World War II, I might still have the chance to live my childhood dream.