"We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve."
"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded."
"Our destiny as Americans is tied up with one another. If we are less respected in the world, then you will be less safe."
These quotes are taken from a speech Obama made in July. According to the AARP Bulletin, during this same speech, he "said he would make federal assistance conditional on school districts establishing service programs and set the goal of 50 hours of service a year for middle and high school students. For college students, Obama would set the goal at 100 hours of service a year and create a $4,000 annual tax credit for college students that would be tied to that level of service."
Okay - so Obama isn't even in office yet... and nobody knows what he's actually going to do once he's in. He clearly cannot deliver on everything he has promised because there's not enough money in the world to do so (much less in the current American economy). But what if... what if Obama does go through with this one? He talks about needing a civilian national security force that's just as strong and just as well-funded as the military... and then talks of having this security force made up of volunteer service. This is pretty funny, really. They say, "You can choose to do this or you can choose not to graduate high school," making it "voluntary" because people are "choosing" to do it. But if they're going to punish people by forcing them to live their lives without a high school diploma, that's pretty much taking away their choice.
I have talked to people who think this is no big deal. Not such a bad idea... after all, Israel does it, right? Well, yes... in a way. Israel does have mandatory military service. The state of Israel has been a hotbed of terrorist activity and consistently on the receiving end of terrorist attacks for as long as I can remember. It seems to make a certain amount of sense to me that they would have mandatory enlistment there... But I'm not certain I'm ready to hold the Israeli government up as always doing everything right, so I don't see the "Israel does it" argument as very convincing. That said, this is probably something they're doing rather well and it seems to be something that works for them.
But there's another comparison being made all over the web... and that's the comparison to Hitler's "Hitler Youth" program. A small amount of background on this: The Hitler Youth stemmed from already existing German boys and girls associations (much like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts). The formal Youth Party was formed with only about 300 members in 1926, before Hitler had taken office as President. Before WWII was over, the Youth Party had grown to close to 9 million members, mostly because of the membership requirement established in 1940. The requirement was that all children (with an emphasis on boys) must belong. The training the children received in this group was all aimed at furthering the goals of the 3rd Reich. 1, fertility and child-bearing among women, increasing the Aryan bloodline and fostering a firm family-base in nazi ideology. 2, Erase old ideologies and other political ideologies. 3, The Hitler Youth program was quite successful in accomplishing its goals.
According to an article on "shoaheducation.com," the reasons Hitler was so effective in getting people to comply with his evil agenda were complex, but involved the following factors: "high-minded promises, increased economic rewards, propaganda, and the inculcation of conscience-free decision making through the Führerprinzip. But one of the more formidable factors was in the setting apart of a generation of youth, totally immersed and educated in the principles of the National Socialists."
Führerprinzip, German for "leader principle," is a prescription for a system with a military structure applied to civil society at large. It was not, however, invented by the Nazis, but by a German philosopher who claimed that certain "gifted individuals" were "born to rule" on the basis of Social Darwinism. During Nazi Germany, Führerprinzip was used because unquestioning obedience to superiors was supposed to produce order and prosperity.
I am not writing this to compare Obama and his potential leadership to Hitler and the Nazis. President-elect Obama has (obviously) not yet even taken his oath of office. I have no idea what he will end up doing during his time as President - and I think it's obvious his agenda will not include increasing the Aryan bloodline. I am, however, writing this to say that his proposal to have a civilian national security force that is as strong and as well funded as the military is a dangerous idea. It gives far too much power and control to the central government.
When Hitler was elected to office in Germany by popular vote, they did not live under totalitarian rule. They had many elected offices throughout their districts. The Nazi party was actually the National Socialists party, shortened to Nazi. The people of Germany were not somehow more evil than us. They were not more stupid than us. The man they elected turned out to be horribly evil, and they had some programs in place (as well as forming some after his election) that enabled that evil to continue unchecked.
I don't look at Obama as a Hitler... but I do think that we need to know our history -- and be ever watchful and aware that if we don't know it, we just might be doomed to repeat it.