You apply for a job. You're accepted, and you sign a two-year contract. You go to work. A year into your two-year contract you're sent on a 12-month foreign assignment. It's a high-stress assignment, but it pays well, it'll be over in a year, and you have thoughts of starting a different career when you get back.
As the assignment — and your employment contract — nears its end, you look forward to getting home to your family, anticipate starting your own auto-repair business after having spent the last two years fixing trucks for your employer. But then your employer says no, you can't go. We're unilaterally extending your contract. And there's nothing you can do about it; if you don't comply you go to jail, and you don't even get proper legal representation if you want to fight it.
You think that would fly if the employer were, say, Ford? Not a chance.
But if your employer is the United States Army, expect it. It goes by the innocuous name of “stop loss”, and it's been solidly in place for the last five years or so.
Technically, it's in their contracts: soldiers agree, when they enlist, to stay, in the event of war, for up to six months beyond the end of the war. Let me say that again: not six months beyond the normal end of the contract, but six months beyond the end of the war.
Think about it: beyond the end of a war with no end. King George has declared us in a “war against terror” that has no clear enemy, no defined beginning, and certainly no definition of an end. Even if we only consider the conflict in Iraq, the US Army's Commander in Chief refuses to announce or accept any timeline for ending it, and, therefore, provides no assurance that soldiers can ever expect to leave their jobs and get on with their lives.
Our soldiers deserve to know when they can leave, whether or not they're replaced when they do. They should not be under indefinite conscription. Joseph Heller wrote Catch 22 as satire and fiction, but with a nod to reality. George Bush has made it reality.
Catch 22 has a character called General Scheisskopf.
I'm not saying anything with that, I'm just saying....