Don't Recruit My Children

E-mail sent 1/7/2003 in response to e-mail received 1/6/03.

Original e-mail received 1/6/03

From: family member
To: TJ Western
Subject: Military

What’s the deal? I am proud to be in the military and need to know what you meant at Xmas.

Reply sent  1/7/03

Hi          ,

     Hey, I wasn’t saying anything about you or your commitment.

I was only addressing my responsibility to look after Allison’s best interests during her age of vulnerability and naiveté’. I really wanted to have the chance to add my opinion to yours for balance on issues that we may not agree on as it relates to the military and the current environment of war. I felt that the holiday was not the right venue for the discussion—that’s coming from “Mr. TJ Debate at any time, any place.”

But, fear not, I will gladly elaborate now.

I have a great deal of respect for those military personnel who are willing to give up their personal freedom and safety in order to maintain a military force for the defense of our country. The conflict in Afghanistan in pursuit of the training bases of those who attacked our country was justified.

The planned attack on Iraq is another story. It exemplifies the reason I will discourage my children from joining any military service.

In teaching and advising my children I would never dream to persuade them to surrender their destinies to the whims and unknown objectives of politicians: Republican, Democrat or otherwise. That is just good, common sense. I tap, for guidance, my personal experience from 1968 when I came out of Cretin High School with propaganda swirling around my young, impressionable mind concerning the war in Vietnam. The call to “fight for America” rang the halls. I planned to join the Marines.

There are reasons most military recruits join at the ripe young age of 18 or 19. The military establishment, for all time, has realized that the youth have a limited perspective when it comes to death and killing and the young readily give themselves over to an institution that will make choices for them during the difficult transition to adulthood. They too are malleable to political views and prone to absolutes.

My personal experience took a significant turn in 1968 when D. E. (brother-in-law) persuaded me to wait over the summer following graduation before I joined the Marines. I did(wait) and in the fall of that year friends and family (brother Don) began coming back from the Nam with very different perspectives on the war than the government and the schools were preaching. I did not join. In fact, I did everything I could do to avoid the draft. History shows the wisdom of that decision.

Back to Iraq. My view on the planned invasion of Iraq is that no matter what the outcome of the United Nations inspections, the U.S. and England will invade. I believe the true objective is not to stop the production of weapons of mass destruction but to gain a strategic military foothold in the Middle East. The current administration realizes that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will spread to the populace of key allies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and they want a central position to wield control over a region that is vital to the energy interests of the world—in short, power. An objective to die for?

The other key reason that Iraq is the target is that they are weak. An easy win compared to, say, Korea? Notice the different stance on the other “axis of evil” which is proven to already have nuclear capability and as much apparent willingness to use it as Iraq.

So, I want to help my daughter to make reasoned decisions on those choices that will affect her for her entire life. At the age of ten she hardly is mature enough to consider all the ramifications of things like getting pregnant, using drugs, dropping out of school, joining a religion or the military—no matter how much we discuss, debate or argue the points.

While I know she ultimately will face each of these decisions in her teen years ahead, I think it’s important that she gain more insight and maturity before considering those decisions. And as you can imagine, several of the above mentioned decisions will be made far sooner than any concerning joining the military.

Whew, I am glad to get that off my chest. This would have taken me two hours to say on Christmas. Does this make more sense than that curt cease and desist ultimatum at the party? Thanks for respecting my request and for the op to rail now. Let me know what you think. Talk to you later. Peace, TJ.


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