If We Are at War, Let’s Bring Back the Draft!
I served in the French military. Not by choice. Then it was mandatory for all young men to serve. France had a draft, and it should bring it back if the country is at war. I could have tried to dodge the draft with various shenanigans, but I did not want to do so because of the deep respect I had for my ancestors who had died or been seriously wounded in various conflicts. I also wanted to obverse, from within, the peculiar and mostly perverse institution that is an army. Military forces have always shared strangely similar traits and psychological tactics worldwide. During boot camps, the goal of the upper echelon is to break the individual will of the recruits and, within a few weeks, reprogram each one from being a civilian into what the military culture views as a superior human: a soldier. While civilians can say no and exercise their free will, soldiers must obey a strict top-down chain of command with zero tolerance for debate, no matter how absurd or even criminal the orders might be. Once you are in the military machine, it owns your person and controls the essentials of your life as a soldier. Armies, independently of geographical locations, never tolerate any form of dissent.
La Marseillaise, chicken hawks and Pétainistes
In the aftermath of the November 13, 2015 Paris attack, La Marseillaise has become a very popular song worldwide, and in France it is a rallying call for war. There is a lyric in this French revolutionary song that says: “Aux armes citoyens!” It is a call to war, and not one to be fought by mercenary professional soldiers. In the late 18th century, it was a call to ordinary French citizens to defend their revolution and newly formed republic against the professional armies of European kings. Against all odds, and to the kingdom’s dismay, France’s revolutionary troops defeated its enemies at the battle of Valmy on September 20, 1792. The French Revolution and its formidable army of peasants had changed the course of history and put on notice the European royals and their mercenaries. The victory at Valmy made me proud as a young man, and it still does. At the time, French people had no fear, and they fought bravely for the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. La Marseillaise represents this: not the decreed state of emergency in France.
Many dark days would come to challenge France’s revolutionary heritage and national pride. One of them, perhaps the worst of all, was the humiliating defeat in 1940 that Germany inflicted on France. A large majority of French people accepted the defeat and supported the collaborator pro-German Vichy government headed by Pétain, but a few brave men and women did not. On June 18, 1940, Charles de Gaulle assumed their leadership from London, and he called on all French citizens, including those in France’s colonies in North Africa and West Africa to join him in the fight against the German occupation and its Vichy collaborators. De Gaulle was declared by Vichy to be a traitor and condemned to death. If Pétain and his Vichy government had a wide support among the French population in 1940, by May 1945 de Gaulle had saved the country’s honor, and all of France had become Gaulliste. One can easily extrapolate that, if General de Gaulle were alive today, he would be very upset, and he might forcefully denounce the state of emergency and its wide acceptance as being Pétainiste. The acceptance of defeat during World War II had come from fear, just like the current willingness of a majority of French people to lose most of their basic civil liberties from the imposition of a three-month state of emergency that could be extended.
Patriot Act on steroids
France’s state-of-emergency law should be very seriously taken. It was first passed into law in 1955 during the war in Algeria. The last time it was used was 1961 when French police killed more than 200 French citizens of North African origin during a peaceful demonstration in Paris. The provisions of the state of emergency are even more repressive and Orwellian than the USA Patriot Act. They give French authorities the arbitrary power to search any home or business without a warrant (more than 500 searches have already been conducted in one week); conduct searches on all persons in public places, randomly and without probable cause; arrest anyone deemed to be suspicious or dangerous; ban all protests and public gatherings; and last but not least, in a provision that has not yet been used and that allows censorship by the French government, control and even shut down press organizations, including radio stations. To enforce its police-state policies, the French government has already mobilized, all combined, more than 100,000 police, gendarmes, and military. This will be a considerable expense for France’s taxpayers, and it will likely bring cuts to many social programs.
Paradoxically, within a week, the birthplace of the notion of human rights has become the justification for a global-police-state agenda. Many in France accept this shameful path as if they are cattle mooing joyfully on their way to the slaughterhouse. If this is not stopped, the mercenary police-state apparatus will take over, in a constant war from within against its own citizens: a war against the most sacred principles of the French republic for the illusion of security. The professional armies of the West, just like their jihadist counterpart in ISIS, are in essence mercenary forces that fight wars to profit the military-industrial complex. What has happened to my compatriots and my culture? Was Valmy won by our forefathers in vain? Let us bring back the draft! Only determined citizen’s armies can protect our nations from the mercenary forces of the Orwellian Empire.