There has been enormous media attention surrounding G.W. Bush’s military service during the Viet Nam war. Most of the discussion revolves around whether he actually served in the Alabama Air National Guard or was AWOL after transfer from the Texas Air National Guard. For the purpose of this article, we will assume without proof that he was not AWOL.
To our thinking, what is more important than his stint in the Alabama Guard is his entire military career including now as “Commander in Chief”. It is undisputed that during the Viet Nam era, the National Guard was the haven and refuge for those privileged individuals, by way of political or economic clout, to avoid the draft and therefor avoid View Nam.
It is also undisputed that G.W.’s grandfather was a former U.S. Senator and his father, at the time was politically influential and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Records show that George W. skipped over 500 National Guard applicants when he was selected, thereby causing at least one applicant to be drafted who rightfully should have been selected before him. No one knows if that applicant went to Viet Nam and was killed or injured in combat. What we do know is that George W. saw no combat.
We also know that while G.W. Bush’s peers were fighting in Viet Nam, he used his time in the Alabama Air National Guard to be involved with a political campaign of a family friend. Records show that he even failed to have the necessary physical to keep on flying.
Is there anything wrong with being the Air National Guard? The answer is simple. Of course not. It is a highly reputable part of our armed forces. But there is something wrong with skipping over 500 other applicants because of political connections and then treating it like summer camp where you go when you want to and participate in activities when you feel like it. But what is more wrong, is that the same person who used political clout to get into the Air National Guard so that he would not have to face real combat, is now the first President to unilaterally send our sons and daughters to war, at best based upon faulty intelligence and at worst based upon political agenda, without international backing, and without provocation from the other side. What is worse, is that the same President saw fit to be politically campaigning as his means of national service as his peers were dying in Viet Nam, now has deployed members of the National Guard to do the exact activities he used the National Guard to avoid.
It is said by many, that military men, generals and admirals having experienced the atrocities and the horrors of war are the least likely and the last to send our youths off to fight. They simply realize the tragedy of war and that there are no winners. But, when you have a President who avoided his participation in war and therefore side steps the misery that accompanies it, the mangled bodies, the hopes and dreams destroyed, the crying widows; the reality of it, it is much easier for that President to cavalierly send our troops to fight.
No, George W. Bush should not be chastised or even denigrated in any way for his military service. But he should be denigrated for his desire to send the military off to war, when there was no clear justification for said war as was the same in Viet Nam. There is one thing we do know, and that is that if George W. Bush was not the President but was at military service age, his track record shows that he would not be volunteering for the armed services. He would not even be in the Air National Guard, but if he was we know that he would use some political clout to keep him on someone’s campaign trail not on some dusty desert trail in Iraq.