Schieffer On Sharing The Sacrifice

US Marines march at the entrance of their base after finishing their daily patrol in Saqlawiya near the restive city of Fallujah west of Baghdad 15 September 2006. AFP PHOTO/THIBAULD MALTERRE (Photo credit should read THIBAULD MALTERRE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Roadman is part of a distinguished panel of experts investigating the problems at Walter Reed Hospital and what he said the other day caught my eye.

One problem, he told The Washington Post, is that Iraq is producing so many casualties. "The nation," he said, "needs to realize we are at war."

As I read that I wondered, how many of us lead lives completely untouched by this war?

It is being fought by an all-volunteer force that accounts for less than one-half of one percent of us. Nor do many of us feel the economic impact since it is being fought mostly on borrowed money.

If we closed our eyes to TV and newspapers, most of us could get through the day without knowing there was a war.

When I was a child, we all knew about World War II. It was fought by draftees and everyone had a dad or an uncle or cousin or neighbor who was gone to war. Food was rationed, taxes were high. Every day brought something to remind us we were at war.

These days some Americans may not even know anyone in the military, let along have a connection.

Our volunteer military is the best in the world, but again I wonder, should democracies fight wars with an all-volunteer force?

Should we EVER go to war unless all of us are willing to share the sacrifice?

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By Bob Schieffer