As an undergraduate, I wrote a fictional short story about a quagmire of war with Iran, and the military draft introduced to fight it. The story focused on the lives of college students disrupting rather ignominiously. Basically, everything stayed exactly the same until it wasn’t, and by then it was too late.
The once-quixotic tale felt eerily prescient on Thursday. As this University paid meticulous attention to the Student Government election, our commander-in-chief delivered spine-chilling news, via Twitter. John Bolton, who less than a month ago argued forcefully for a first strike against ICBM-armed North Korea and has long argued for a similar measure against Iran, will be the National Security Advisor.
There was gallows humor on social media, jokes in person about drinking tonight for tomorrow we all die and some younger folks ruminating about what exactly they would do in the event of mandatory conscription. But life went on. The SG elections fueled debate, the bars played basketball and West Campus dubiously glistened like any other Thursday.
North Korea’s military personnel, including all reserves, is three times as big as the United States’. Iran’s military is gigantic, too. Bolton wants to attack both. Conflicts with those nations would lead to, at best, pyrrhic victories. The worst-case scenario is mushroom clouds over Los Angeles, New York and Austin. Assuming we don’t all die of radiation poisoning in the first month, fighting such wars would require a severe influx of manpower to the military. When I turned 18, I registered for the dormant Selective Service, as I’m sure most other men reading this did. Put one and one together.
As that most unholy and bellicose drumbeat of war grows ever more cacophonous, I have been shocked to see such a muted reaction. This country has reacted forcefully, as it should, to so many of the crises and issues of the country. But the threat of millions dead overnight, and thousands more conscripted against their wills, ought to register too. I suppose we young people are apathetic because, after all, the United States has a volunteer military, and has had one for more than 40 years. That would be folly.
Bolton, who has no sons, avoided service himself in the Vietnam War, later writing, “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy.” And then, of course, there is Cadet Bone Spurs. They don’t care about you.
Call your member of Congress. Take to the streets. Get in the faces of the people you know enabling this warmongering administration and tell them, “Hell no!” Tell them you don’t want to die in an immoral war based on false pretenses.
In the short story, everything was the same, until it wasn’t. And then it was too late. I hope we are not complacent this time. Our allies, in Japan, South Korea, Israel and across Europe, are fearful. We should be too.
Horwitz is a second-year law student from Houston. He is a senior columnist.