Ann Romney stated this week that her husband, Mitt, had served his country, during the Vietnam War, when he went to France to perform missionary work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a/k/a Mormon Church). She said her five sons served their country, in similar fashion, and did not enlist to go to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Let me point out, first, that my draft "class" was the last subject to the lottery. Every other year dates were chosen, my birth date would be drawn at 364 or 349. Always, that particular date had "bad" luck in the sense of numbers; "good" from the perspective of people who did not want to be drafted. Still, I had to register. Also, I received a form that asked, amongst other items, whether I would declare myself ineligible because I was a conscientious objector ("CO"). I wrote a letter to the draft board in which I stated I did not think they could tell me what my conscience was. (That beat the 30-page essay otherwise required.) They dinged me for failure to support my claim.
One should remember those times and that war—oops, sorry. Was it a "police action"? No, that was Korea. Vietnam was a commitment of troops based on a Senate resolution passed after a false report of a North Vietnamese attack on a U.S. Navy vessel, the so-called Tonkin Gulf incident. People still got shot, taken prisoner, and killed, in the name of national policies (see von Clauswitz), so I will refer to it as "war."
A lot of people in this country were opposed to the Vietnam War. There seemed to be no point to it. Our government supported a dictatorship fighting a dictatorship. The rumors of vast natural resources at stake were, then, only rumors. (Since, we have learned of vast oil reserves, and have, this week, played what used to be called "brinkmanship" with our Navy against that of China.) Senator Barry Goldwater said if we sent our troops there to win, we sent too few; if we sent them there to lose, we sent too many. Since the, Vietnam has become our trading partner (happened before President Obama took office). This week, Vietamese officials took a tour of the carrier U.S.S. George Washington. We wanted to impress them with our commitment for their position against China, their centuries-old adversary and with whom they dispute rights to oil under the ocean.
Back in 1966, Mitt Romney, then a student at Stanford, picketed a student demonstration against the Vietnam War, as Romney had a First Amendment right to do. However, he the signed up to go to France to perform missionary work for the Mormon Church. Today, as a candidate for President of the United States, he advocates expansion of (an already-bloated) military, confrontation with Iran, and other efforts that would place U.S. military personnel in danger. For what purpose? Romney has no military experience. The closest I can discern any of the male members of his family got to invasion of another country with a group of people was when his grandfather fled to Mexico to avoid U.S. laws against polygamy.
If Romney had said he was "for" the war and enlisted—fine. That is a position morally and rationally consistent with his actions at the demonstration. If he had signed up as service to be a medic, that took a hell of a lot of guts. He went to France, however. There is no requirement in his church to be a pacifist. Maybe it took some fortitude to endure people slamming doors in his face as he sought recruits for the followers of Joseph Smith. That did not take the impertinence of one who wore an armband in support of the Moratorium in a rural Indiana high school in 1969. It took no where near the guts of those who went to Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan.
The debate on Monday will be about foreign policy. President Obama is about my age (a little younger, in fact). The war was past when he reached 18. The President did not serve in the military. However, he did not run on a platform in which the drums of war were beaten.