Robert Lezzi’s contribution to the letters’ page Jan. 10 was of particular interest to me. I served two tours of duty in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, carrying out search and rescue assignments for downed pilots in the North Tonkin Gulf. While I somewhat appreciate Lezzi’s seemingly cynical (perhaps naive?) opinion, I have a more subjective point of view.

Resorting to the conscription of young people has historically proven to be an iffy tact. When first introduced during the American “War Between the States,” it was a common practice for some conscriptees to buy their way out of having to serve. In subsequent wars, people of privilege and influence would often find ways to avoid having their progeny sent off to war. It is still a matter of class and wealth, whether one is conscripted or not. How many members of the current U.S. administration have ever experienced a day of combat?

U.S. President George W. Bush was a reserve member of the Air National Guard (with a suspect record), and will yet send members of the National Guard to risk their lives in foreign lands. He didn’t. Victims of Hurricane Katrina could have used the help a lot more. The Iraq war is a cruel farce, and whether the armed force is volunteer or conscripted is beside the point.

martin waller

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