Friday, February 25, 2005


"Stop-Loss" is Weakening America

The current Administration is expert with language. They know about "the poet's faith in the power of names." Of course, they use this expertise for totalitarian purposes--which is a downside.

They call the destruction of Social Security "Social Security reform."

Their "Operation Clear Skies" is a cynical proposal designed to allow air polluters to pollute more.

And then of course there's "Stop-Loss," the Defense Department's euphemism for what Republican Senator John McCain more accurately calls a "back-door draft."

Stop-Loss sounds like a good idea. Loss is bad, right? Who wouldn't want to stop it?

Of course, what it actually refers to is the government breaking its promises and flagrantly ignoring specific contractual obligations it has entered into with its citizens. The citizens are chiefly soldiers in the National Guard on active combat duty in Iraq whose tours of duty are being extended beyond their agreed-upon durations. There are a myriad variations: soldiers being called back into service after they've left the military; a program called "Try One" which promises to allow citizens to serve as soldiers for one year on a trial basis, but then forces them to stay beyond that year; the list is long.

Meanwhile, back home, enlistments in the military and the National Guard and Reserves are dropping fast.

Does it take too much brainpower to put those two things together? On the one hand, the government is breaking its stated promises to people who are serving. On the other hand, people are becoming skeptical of the promises the government makes when it's trying to get them to serve.


"Stop Loss" should be called "Stop Enlistment." Quite apart from being despicable and dishonorable and a stain on our National virtue, the program, designed to strengthen active-duty army units in the short term, weakens the nation in the long run.

The Quotidian Meander

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