When I was a kid, the culture turned against the Vietnam war, and it was permissible to air critical thoughts. I knew nothing about this in a political or social way. I'd see returning GIs appear on game shows, surprising their spouses who broke down in tears. That's where I connected -- a basic thank-god-I'm-alive vibe and fuck that war now behind me. The vets also smiled and cried, which touched my young heart. I had no idea what carnage they'd witnessed or helped to inflict.
Around this time a PSA appeared, showing two generic world leaders slugging it out, the narrator saying that wars should be fought by those who declare them. This too touched me, though in a weirder way. For beneath my innocence and ignorance, there grew an awareness that this was not the way the world worked, or could ever feasibly function. Nixon and Brezhnev were drinking buddies, and if they did throw down, it would be over the last bottle, not as an alternative to war.
The idea of forcing leaders to fight in place of armies has always been absurd, and crucially avoids the central nerve. Far from hammering each other, potential leaders should prove their individual mettle before taking office. A simple test will show if they have big stage chops. Hand them a gun, doesn't matter the make or caliber, and have them pump two rounds directly into the head of a bound and gagged prisoner. If they're going to order murderous hits from a distance, then they should feel what it's like to personally kill.
How would each base react to this arrangement? I suspect Repubs would be keener for election year executions than Dems, at least rhetorically. Most Dems affect a haughty air when it comes to mass murder, and rubbing their faces in it might fray their sensitive psyches. Then again, it may also release their inner-sadists, reconnecting them to earlier mule-sponsored massacres. We won't really know until we try. But it would weed out tourists and pretenders. Don't like Obama, Palin or Romney? Give each a piece and watch them collapse. McCain, who has killed from the sky, might actually enjoy it. A crazy, fading old man with hate and murder in his heart. I can't think of a better, more accurate symbol for our present state.
Some political observers are aghast that Afghan soldiers are undisciplined, hash-smoking slackers who don't appreciate the gifts NATO has given them. Don't blame the Afghans. They're caught between insanity and corruption, theocracy and theft, with death coming from all angles. Who the fuck wouldn't get baked? American military moralists should be happy that Afghan grunts are hitting blunts during firefights. Given that we're an occupying presence, there are certainly more lethal forms of local expression.