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CSotD: In lieu of a leader

I like Bob Moran’s presidential portrait, since so many people have been drawing parallels between the 1920s and the current set of 20s, but one major difference is that then we’d just concluded a horrific war and had a strong desire to avoid another.

For all that can be said about Woodrow Wilson’s attitude towards race and towards women’s suffrage, he did try his best to set up a League of Nations to keep us from blundering into war again.

Now comes Donald Trump, and, while his assassination of an Iranian military leader isn’t much like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, that parallel has also been drawn, in the sense of a strange, unnecessary action that sparked a horrendous war.

It seems a reach, but it’s already established that we don’t have many history majors amongst us.

After all, we’re still hearing that nonsense about a “five-time draft dodger.”

One time draft dodger.

 

But one is enough, if you then become a chickenhawk.

Someone on social media commented that a lot of politicians are non-veterans and so we should cut Trump some slack for his non-service, but the facts don’t support that.

There was avoidance of the draft, yes.

Young men were more apt to stay in school rather than take a gap year to decide what they really wanted, and professors were reluctant to flunk a kid out and have him end up in a rice paddy.

And there were a few — but only a few — schools like Parsons where people enrolled specifically to preserve their II-S deferments.

And there were loopholes. If you were close to minimum weight, you could fast for a few days before your physical and few people really thought the less of you for it, though they would not likely think more of you for it, either.

Bill Clinton exploited all the loopholes he could find to avoid service, and his elaborate tap-dancing can be classified as dodging, much as Dan Quayle and George Bush’s less tortuous exploitation of connections to get into Guard units can be questioned.

But pulling strings, while hardly admirable, is different than actual, actionable, criminal draft-dodging, like fleeing to Canada, going underground or, certainly, submitting fraudulent medical records to the government.

Donald Trump committed fraud to avoid the draft, and, while I never heard of anyone being prosecuted for draft fraud, it does undermine your right to send anyone else off to war.

 

And even heroic service does not give you the right to contemplate actions that not only violate our own laws on the topic but are classified under international law as war crimes, such as targeting cultural sites and purely civilian targets.

(It occurs to me that we’ve used the term “Christian Taliban” to criticize harsh, rightwing religious claims. But I’d hate to see us mirror the actual Taliban’s destruction of other people’s religious landmarks, as Trump threatens.)

And whatever your military plans, the law requires you to share them before moving forward.

There has been a report that his advisers used a common tactic of offering him a number of options, including something outrageous that would make the others more palatable, and that the assassination was the crazy idea they didn’t expect him to choose.

I just hope our generals know that, when it comes to committing war crimes, “I was just following orders” is not an acceptable defense.

 

In any case, there have been a bazillion cartoons pointing out the obvious, that Trump has suddenly discovered the Iranian threat because he needs a distraction, but David Fitzsimmons wins the prize for the most amusing-yet-telling depiction.

He is also, by the way, one of many using the wasp’s nest metaphor.

 

Pia Guerra uses a different symbol, but, much as I always admire her art, I’m going to disagree with her on a couple of levels here.

The first is that, however we may decry the brutality of the bullfight, matadors are traditionally heroic symbols and I doubt this is her intent.

More central, however, is that Iran is, indeed, a wasp’s nest and not a bull. There will be no head-to-head clash, but rather an endless series of stings, of random bombings and suicide attacks coming out of nowhere.

And don’t expect them to happen “somewhere else.”

Globalization has ended the days when the United States could sit back and watch wars happen overseas, with maybe a little gas rationing and the planting of Victory Gardens, but few actual threats.

9/11 dragged us into the reality that the rest of the world has known for several decades, and modern warfare is not a spectator sport.

 

It’s bad enough if it’s unavoidable, but, as Mike Smith notes, history will not be kind if we allow ourselves to be led into chaos by an obvious ignoramus.

 

This year marks the centennial of  Women’s Suffrage, and Pat Bagley celebrates it with this cartoon, but, again, I have to admire the art but demure from the message.

There is considerable argument over what specific percentage of women voted for Donald Trump, but he beat Hillary Clinton among female voters.

And for all the blustering about “white men this” and “white men that,” white privilege is hardly exclusively male.

I only heard this weekend about the Women’s March that is happening in two weeks, which suggests that there is something, if not “elite,” at least not populist in the plan, because, between my personal and my professional social media accounts, I should have seen a well-publicized effort.

However, what I have been hearing is that, come November, outraged women will rise up and cast Trump out.

I hope so, but it’s going to take more than faith in gender-based wisdom.

It’s going to take voter registration and phone banks and knocking on doors and offering election-day transportation.

And a recognition that women are not a monolithic political group.

 

And now for something completely different

 

If the appearance of Mr. Roboto in Dick Tracy didn’t implant enough of an earworm, it seems he has a girlfriend.

 

Community Comments

#1 Kip Williams
January/5/2020
@ 11:12 am

I went with a friend to a roadhouse near Norfolk once where Norman Greenbaum was playing. It was a suspenseful set, as we all waited for “Spirit In The Sky.”

#2 Hank Gillette
January/5/2020
@ 3:36 pm

“There is considerable argument over what specific percentage of women voted for Donald Trump, but he beat Hillary Clinton among female voters.”

You left out an important qualifier: Trump beat Clinton among WHITE female voters. Overall, women went for Hillary 54% to 39%.

If this were not true, then it would mean that more men voted for Hillary than for Donald, and I think we can rule that out.

#3 D. D. Degg
January/5/2020
@ 6:14 pm

All roads lead to Putin.
I haven’t seen much about the immediate benefactors of the killing of Soleimani being the oil exporters. The top two are totalitarian regimes: Saudi Arabia and Russia.

#4 Mike Peterson
January/6/2020
@ 4:10 am

Hank Gillette: You are correct, sir!
https://www.people-press.org/2018/08/09/an-examination-of-the-2016-electorate-based-on-validated-voters/

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