Secretary of State John Kerry has broached a subject that is sure to get many Americans riled up.
He said during a symposium about the Vietnam War that he has “deep reservations” about our nation’s reliance on an all-volunteer fighting force.
Is he calling for a return of the draft? No. He’s not going that far. Indeed, show me a politician who does so and I’ll show you a politician who’s likely on his or her way out of office.
But this man does know a few things about combat, about sacrifice and about shared responsibility.
He was a Navy officer during the Vietnam War. Kerry came from that war and became a leader in the effort end that conflict.
What was Kerry’s major point about his appearance at the LBJ School of Public Administration at the University of Texas-Austin? “Don’t confuse the war with the warrior.”
That, sadly, is what many Americans did as they lashed out at the policies that caused so much dissension here at home. The blamed the young Americans who were following lawful orders.
That terrible time helped contribute to the end of military conscription.
More than 40 years later, the nation has been fighting wars on multiple fronts with young men and women who have served multiple tours of duty. They serve, return home and then go back into the combat theater. Again and again they go.
Some of them pay the ultimate price during those redeployments.
Kerry has asked a pertinent question: Are enough Americans buying into our nation’s commitment to fighting this war against international terrorism?
Indeed, the all-volunteer force — while still the deadliest fighting force in the world — has put tremendous strain on the young Americans who keep answering the call to thrust themselves back into harm’s way.
Is it time to force more Americans to share in this fight?
Let’s have this discussion.