Johnson’s mobilization proposal (on July 25, 1965) wasnex-Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg. He voiced thenopinion that a “mobilized” Vietnam War would make hisnimage as our UN Ambassador more tainted than would ann”unmobilized” Vietnam War.nWell, I say then, from the national commitment viewpoint,nthat’s all the more reason for the soldier to want hisnwar declared. That’s the only way he can be confident thatnthe government really means it.nThe worst part of all this is that in the undeclared case, it’snsuch a natural thing for our very Congress (being unaccountablento the public) to turn out to be an after-the-factnagent that nullifies our fighting men’s best efforts as annexpendable miscue, a discard from the Washington powerngame. The Framers had it figured correcdy. Our Constitutionnhad to be written so as to protect our fighting mennfrom shedding blood in pointless exercises while a dissentingnCongress strangled the effort. But what has evolved in thisnmodern age, apparently to everybody’s satisfaction but thatnof those fighting men, affords them no such protection.nI’ve heard just too many decorated veteran warriors fromnVietnam say, “Our government better figure out some waynto make it clear that they mean business next time, or I’mnthrough with soldiering.” They are sick of being told thatntheir lives have to be provisionally committed to a half-bakednplan because it’s the only way the President can, in thennational interest, get around adverse congressional sentiment.nThey shouldn’t have to take that.nThese men were brought up pledging allegiance to thenflag of a United States of America, which from its beginningsnwas committed to a separation of powers. Fromnmaturity they knew the strengths of this form of governmentnthat balances the legislature against the presidency. Theynalso sense, as did our Founding Fathers and the sixngenerations that followed, that our government’s weakness isna tendency to become fickle when the point of no return hasnpassed, when the fat is in the fire and the troops are in thenfield. But over these generations a national confidence hadngrown up, pardcularly through those personal commitments,nthat bright line assurance, documented by congressionalndeclarations of war. If in the post-Vietnam UnitednStates the soldier is just to be told that in modern timesnopinions change, that he should be prepared to havencommitments dropped, that he should do his job in the fieldnand never mind that he will be. fighting for a governmentnconstantly doing a balancing act against a nasty oppositionnfrom within, this will simply not do. Soldiers will march offnto their deaths only so long as they don’t feel they have tondie alone for what will be abandoned causes.nI’m not usually on the stump. The woods are full ofnexperts who can probably put me down in nothing flat. Asnthe saying goes, “I don’t know Washington.”nBut I do know some American history, and how thenFramers’ model for this country was that most admirablenRepublic of Rome. During the formation of our government,nwhen constitutional issues were being debated, thenfamous and not famous on both sides of the issues wrotenunder Roman pseudonyms (Publius, Camillus, Brutus,nCassius). George Washington was so taken with the characternof Cato the Younger in Joseph Addison’s 1713 play Catonthat he made the Roman republican his role model.n20/CHRONICLESnnnWashington loved the theater and went to see Catonnumerous times, and even had it performed for his troops atnValley Forge despite a congressional resolution that playsnwere inimical to republican virtue. Lines from the play cannbe found verbatim not only in Washington’s private correspondencenbut in his farewell address.nThe Roman Republic and its ethos, particularly during itsnfirst three hundred years, were a natural model for ournFounders’ dreams. Like ours, their republic emerged fromnmonarchy; like ours, the people of its early years were mostlynfree farmers. And although war had been the most dramaticnfeature of the life of the early republican Romans, theirnhistorians described how the development of the Romanncharacter was formed by institutions with which our revolutionarynforebears could identify: the family, religion, thenmoral code. The Greek historian Polybius (who died whennthe republic was a mere 386 years old, before it had becomenan empire and then corrupt — and incidentally a man whosenhobby was cryptography and the very man who devised thatnquadratic tap code we decided to use in the Hanoi prisons)npraised the Roman government as the best in the world andndescribed the honesty of the Roman people as superior tonthat of his own countrymen. Their army, as a republic, wasnthe most successful military organization in history, nevernlost a war, and brought a city state a mere 20 miles square tonthe status of conqueror of the whole Mediterranean world.nBut they, as we all must, eventually fell. They fell ofninfighting as an empire, from a general lack of publicnvirtue, from selfishness and inconsiderateness. I just don’tnwant to see that process speeded up here. Heed the letternfrom deployed soldier Marcus Flavinius, centurion in then2nd Cohort of the Augusta Legion, to his highly placedncousin, Turtullus, at home in Rome:nWe had been told, on leaving our native soil, thatnwe were going to defend the sacred rights conferrednon us by so many of our citizens settled overseas, sonmany years of our presence, so many benefitsnbrought by us to populations in need of our assistancenand our civilization.n— We were able to verify that all this was true,nand, because it was true, we did not hesitate to shednour quota of blood, to sacrifice our youth and ournhopes. We regretted nothing, but whereas we overnhere are inspired by this frame of mind, I am toldnthat in Rome factions and conspiracies are rife, thatntreachery flourishes, and that many people in theirnuncertainty and confusion lend a ready ear to thendire temptations of relinquishment and vilify ournaction.n— I cannot believe that all this is true, and yetnrecent wars have shown how pernicious such a statenof mind could be and to where it could lead.n— Make haste to reassure me, I beg you, andntell me that our fellow citizens understand us,nsupport us and protect us as we ourselves arenprotecting the glory of the Empire.n— If it should be otherwise, if we should have tonleave our bleached bones on these desert sands innvain, then beware the anger of the Legions! <^n