You see it often in the paper – I did this morning – a story about a US soldier who has spent a lot of time in war zones and lost it – gone crazy, if you will, and killed his comrade, a fellow soldier or himself. I think I know why. In this case why does not amount to a solution.
Back in the 1960s when I was covering the war in Vietnam, we still had a draft. The army was dealing with huge masses of people. Many – probably most – served a tour in Vietnam but hardly anyone served more than one. That apparently was bearable for most people. We all know that General Sherman was right; sooner or later war is hell.
Nowadays the draft is gone. The army is all volunteer and professional. We learn all the time about soldiers on their 4th or 5th tours in today's war zones. The lesson is simple: combat is bad for you and lots of combat is much worse than a little combat.
We wouldn't have so many of these tragic incidents if we still had the draft but I don't know anyone who thinks Americans would vote to reinstate it. Do you?
It's a problem we know how to fix. We just don't.