Monday, August 9, 2010

Why America needs the Draft

In the waning days of the Vietnam War, the American military made a slow - though ultimately momentous - transition to an all-volunteer force. Considering the state of the armed forces at the time, not to mention the cultural gap in the country as a whole, it's hard to fault President Nixon and friends with such a decision. For a nation still wrestling with its role as a global leader (positive!) and/or as an imperialist regime (negative!), while dealing with social upheaval at home, an all-volunteer (or "professional") force must've appeared like an ideal compromise. It certainly seemed the correct solution during the skirmishes of the 1980's and Desert Storm in 1990-91 - we steamrolled communists and dictators alike, never getting immersed in protracted conflict, and victory parades tended to last longer than the actual battles. This professional force fit the modern American narrative well - dreams could be made in or out of uniform, but no authoritative institution was going to dictate where a young person was going to seek out such dreams. (The dark underside of this narrative, of course, was the continuation of tired stereotypes in popular culture regarding the intelligence and economic backgrounds of those who served, but that's slightly irrelevant to the point of this piece.)

Then came that whole Global War on Terrorism thing.

Nearly nine years after our war in Afghanistan kicked off, and more than seven years after Iraq was, uhh, liberated, a warrior caste entirely separate and distinct from the nation that produced it has evolved into being. The burden of many is being carried by very few. Soldiers deploy two, three, even four times, while combat zones become their definition of normality. Meanwhile ... American society does not comprehend. Let me reiterate that. They. Do. Not. Comprehend.

I do believe that most Americans care. They support the troops, in the classic "I don't know what to say to war vets or do for war vets" kind of way. When people shake my hand and thank me for serving, it does means a lot, and is appreciated. On a personal, micro level, that's often all anyone can do. If particularly connected, devoted, or understanding, a person works with soldier/veteran organizations and gives back in a practical, direct fashion. But that's not something many people do, for a variety of reasons. So the question raises itself - what can be done on a macro level?

In the initial months after my return from Iraq, I busted out my soapbox of self-righteousness, often blaming individuals for this disconnect between warrior and civilian. But as I've transitioned gradually back into the role of a citizen, I've come to understand there's a grander failure to blame for the stated societal gap. People have their own lives, the economy sucks, and day-to-day life drains. As Plato once said, "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." And yet ... We have young men and women in hellholes around the globe fighting in our name, regardless of our politics and beliefs. We all own these wars, and are all responsible for them, whether we like it or not. Simply asking people to care and be engaged is not enough. They - and by they, I mean society in general - won't care unless they are engaged themselves, directly. It's depressing, but a reality, nonetheless. For a country steeped in the merits of representing all facets of the population, at least in theory, something clearly has gone awry in terms of who's fighting the wars. There is a class element to all this, though it's not as pronounced or as clear as it was during Vietnam. But it's still there, and why nearly every one of my soldiers came from the south or the midwest.

During Kaboom's book tour this spring and summer, I've heard from soldiers, veterans, and vets' families alike on this. And more often than not, an angry, resentful condemnation comes out: "What have they been asked to sacrifice?" Beyond the dangers of grand, sweeping proclamations like "us" and "them" are kernels of truth. And the answer to their question is ... very little. There's the obvious, in terms of physical blood, sweat, and tears sacrificed abroad. Meanwhile, economically speaking, this is the first time in America's history taxes have been lowered during a time of war. And can you imagine the idea of the government selling war bonds today? On that macro level I discussed earlier, has any element of American life been altered due to the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq?

Which brings me back to the Draft. I've become more and more convinced that a healthy republic needs conscription to keep it healthy and honest. The gulf discussed isn't anyone's fault, an unforeseen byproduct of the all-volunteer force - but this gulf must be filled, unless we're intent on recreating Legions loyal to their commanders over country. (An extreme example. We're nowhere near there. Yet.) The Draft would be controversial, debated, and very likely protested. All good things in a properly functioning people's government. Meanwhile, the benefits of such would be twofold:

1) The citizenry would actually hold their political leaders accountable, as they're supposed to. Apathy being a republic/democracy's worst enemy is not a new understanding, but it remains a poignant one. Let's face it - the justifications for going to Iraq in 2003 were, at best, exaggerated and misunderstood. While the world raged in anger, America collectively yawned, giving our leaders the ultimate in passive-aggressive approvals. Think that would've happened if the lives of affluent youth were on the line? Think again. Maybe with a Draft, we still end up in Iraq - but in that case, we'd have found some damn legitimate reason to do so beyond purported weapons of mass destruction. (Oh, you think deposing a maniacal dictator qualifies? Let's invade 80% of the world then!) Could another Vietnam happen, where society is rope-a-doped into a protracted conflict? Sure, potentially, though I think it's unlikely for a couple generations, given the lessons learned from these wars. (Famous last words? Likely.) But even if such were to happen, at least it's then on everyone rather than a select few.

2) Wars would become a collective undertaking by the nation as a whole, rather than an isolated segment of the population. This would prove beneficial to both society and to the military. The number of sons and daughters involved would greatly increase, thus increasing personal connections and a sense of engagement, thus increasing product output. I'm talking war drive stuff here, yo, leaps and bounds beyond a yellow ribbon sticker on the back of a bumper. Further, as stated above, the citizenry (theoretically) would be actively invested in the war's progression, rather than observing from a distance like a fan at a sporting event. As for the military, reinstituting the Draft would shore up that pesky lack of manpower. If we're going to keep getting into long-term, guerilla wars in landlocked countries, that'll prove kind of-sort of-definitely vital in the future. (Don't blame me. People much smarter than me have forecasted small, little wars as the way of tomorrow.)

Here's a couple preemptive attacks against potential retorts:
1) No, crazy graying hippie, the modern soldier is not a mercenary. More often than not, they join(ed) the service for honorable and profound reasons. That said, if we allow this separate warrior caste to continue to evolve for a few more generations, who knows what the result may be. Probably closer to Robert Heinlein's vision of a warrior-citizen, but still not what we've historically desired in America, where the citizen-soldier is revered and celebrated.

2) No, loony tune protestor, I'm not glorifying war. War sucks, and I don't mean that facetiously. It's absolutely the worst thing humanity has to offer. But it will continue to happen in the future, just as it always happened in the past. And young people will continue to be willing to fight for societies that don't deserve them. Don't shoot the messenger. So to speak.

3) No, rabid Army fanatic, I don't think the Draft would destroy the armed services as we know them. But the effects of the Draft on the military is an altogether different topic. Let's tackle that one some other day, and for now, just realize that if the Army can accept women and gays, it'll probably make soft, spoiled Caucasians just as welcome.

4) No, illiterate Bush apologist, my feelings about the Iraq invasion don't have to neatly equate to my feelings about counterinsurgency in Iraq in 2010. Complexity! It's what's for dinner.

5) And no, logical reader, I don't believe the Draft would work perfectly solve all our ills, be them personally, domestically, or globally. No doubt, the rich would find a way to weasel their children out of the Draft one way or another. But let's at least make them earn that deferment, you dig?

24 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, you seem to forget that the military has become largely a means for a job for many who are truly not educated and come from poor backgrounds. The military is not meant for everybody, and the internal culture that pervades the military, which is one of conservative opinions, religious attitudes, and the idea that people who are different are not to be trusted, is not an environment in which people with higher levels of education want to experience.

    In addition, bringing back the draft is not likely to change the internal culture of the military. Instead, it is likely to transition a larger number of people into individuals that come to accept the internal culture of the military and begin to live that life and those ideas away from the military. Смотрите описание popcorn caramelizer тут.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "In which people with higher levels of education want to experience."

    I really have no interest in what people "want" to experience. I often don't "want" to get out of bed in the morning. Like Momma G always used to say, sometimes what you least want is what is best for you.

    "individuals that come to accept the internal culture of the military and begin to live that life and those ideas away from the military."

    You say that like it has to be a bad thing. If I have a job applicant, and one's a vet and the others a civilian, I'd bet the house the vet is more motivated, less inclined to complain, and more adept at complex situations. I've read many a sociologist and political scientist that believe America's boom in the 1950s can be directly attributed to the military mindset leftover from WWII.

    I'm wary of ideas that overly politicize everything. Brian, I think you'd be surprised by the diversity of the modern military, though it's not as diverse as our country as a whole.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Another interesting idea I've heard trotted out but has even less chance of being approved - mandatory national service for all, be it in the military, park service, AmeriCorps, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with your diagnosis of the problem but I am not sure the draft is the correct solution. From what I have read it seems like defense budgets are set to either stay flat or contract in the coming years and from what I have been told two things are currently true, personnel is one of the largest cost sectors for the military and we have had little trouble maintaining our current force level recruiting from volunteers. So the problem I see with a draft is this. If the purpose is to expand the military how are we going to pay for it? If we leave the military at its current size where do we fit the draftees in? Are we really going to turn away people who want to serve so that we have a spot for someone who is only serving under the threat of a prison sentence possibly while showing some people who are already serving the door because we don't have the space for them? That seems like a bad deal all around to me.

    I think the idea of some kind of mandatory service or military training MIGHT be a good one but I remain very doubtful that a return to a direct military draft is the right solution.

    Perhaps some form of mandatory military training and then service in an organization more like the guard would be a better approach. It would allow our active duty forces to continue to be manned by volunteers and would reduce the disruption to the lives of those who have been drafted (which might make it more politically appealing). Additionally a non military service option(something like the CCC maybe?) might go a long way to making it more palatable to the more pacifist segments of america. In any form I think mandatory service is a political tough sell these days but this is a conversation we need to have.


    -Ben Ulfers

    ReplyDelete
  5. Personally, I'm a bigger fan of compulsory national service versus a draft. Let the military be an option but also include the Peace Corps, Teach for America, etc.

    It's like dealing with 3 year olds at breakfast time...you give them limited options. Makes them think they have control.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm not necessarily opposed to re-instating the draft, but are we quite sure that greater democratic interest and investment is the right idea in the era of long-term counter-insurgency warfare?

    I assume (because I agree) that the consequences you predict will actually come to pass. Creating risk to the silver spoon class will get the attention of Congress. Why is that good, again? Congress engages exclusively in short term political thinking. The long term strategic commitments necessary to win a counter-insurgency war would not long survive in the face of intense political interest in the war(s).

    War. Do you want people to care? Or do you want to win?

    - Brian Hagen

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think you have hit on a fact that needs to be looked at. I totally agree with the "mandatory national service for all" because it IS true that not everyone is meant for the military life, just as it is true that not everyone is meant for college.

    BUT. As a culture, there is a small but crucial cornerstone that has been pulled from the bottom of our "house". Written on the cornerstone were the words "just wait until the army gets a hold of you ..." Remember that? Parents for generations, since the beginning of our country, have relied on our military to make our boys into "men". In our cultural psyche we have raised our boys until they were old enough for the military (18?) and then turned them over. With the advent of the end of the draft, what has become of our young men in our culture? And if we as "modern women" truly believe in equality for all, then our daughters need to contribute to our country more than just more children.

    As a mother who has raised two daughters I DO realize a hint of what fear that could bring. My oldest daughter landed in Kenya Sept 10th, the day before 9/11. She was safe, she was protected and not involved with war. But the fear of not being able to jump in my car and just go bring her home was very very real. But, she is a person who contributes. We have so many "quick sand pools" in our society today with children and young adults who see no way off the roads that lead them there. We've taken away an old part of the infrastructure of our culture and replaced it with "go to college and get a job". Not everyone belongs in college. And clearly, colleges today do not build human beings who have strong values that make for a strong personal infrastructure. I'm not talking about religion at all. Just your basic strong sense of right and wrong and here's how you can contribute to the human race. We need something in our social education that gives our young people a sense of strength and self discipline.

    I don’t know… if Americans can’t/won’t recognize how much our military contributes, is there any hope that they can even comprehend “cultural psyche”? And by the way ... I loved your Book!!!

    Ria

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great thread introduced with that posting Matt. It is definitely a conversation that needs to be approached on a national level. I totally agree that with our whole young demographic as potential wearers of uniform the public would be a hell of a lot more inclined to actually pay attention about what kind of conflicts our leaders (?) could be steering this country into...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ben Ulfers is right on. The weak private sector labor market has done much of the work of encouraging otherwise reluctant young men and women to look at military service. Entrance into all branches – officer or enlisted – is now highly competitive. Army OCS recently banned most waivers in an incompetent attempt at restricting the flow of incoming candidates. In the current economy, the military would have to increase dramatically in size to accommodate draftees.

    That being said, figuring out a way to draft people would be worth an overly large military in a marginal sense. Our national psyche has more to gain from breaking down the civilian/military divide than it has to lose from extra boots. A draft and a general public service obligation are both great options. The latter would at least imbue Americans with civic-mindedness, if not a military ethic.

    Adam Smith encouraged the funding of war fully through taxation so that the tax-paying public would act as more of a check on warmaking. The practical implications of that are another question, but it parallels your point that apathy is a republic’s worst enemy. In some ways, however, widespread apathy can be a good thing. The mob is unlikely to take the time to understand the nuances of counterinsurgency or any other strategy for that matter. A worthwhile yet complicated war could be ended prematurely or never begun out of a combination of uninformed public opinion and political cowardice.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. One of the Pros not brought up is that the draft would likely improve the overall quality of Joe.

    Just before the economy tanked, we were scraping the bottom of the barrel, lowering minimum test scores, handing out waivers for all sorts of criminal backgrounds, and even pushing back the maximum age into the 40's. A draft would help cut down on this erosion of the quality of our forces after years of war while more evenly spreading out the burden (four involuntary deployments of a year or more is something no American should have to endure, especially while of-age Americans advocate going to war while not serving themselves).

    One of the cons not pre-empted is the effect of morale on each unit as people who didn't volunteer to be there are roped into a situation they want nothing to do with. If we're being honest though, anyone who's served in the Army in the past five years has seen this type of soldier anyway. More importantly though, if the major effect of America being more wary about going to war and only doing so when the whole country is behind it is accomplished, this soldier would be far less common.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Really impressed with the idea exchange and - dare I say it - dialogue going on here. Maybe the Internet isn't just a home to ANGRY CAPS LOCK, after all.

    Anyways, I think the question of how a COIN war would be accepted (or not accepted) in an America w/ a Draft is a vital one. Really touches upon how we see ourselves as a country, and how we would want to utilize our military in the 21st century. I'm only surmising here, but I'd say it's safe to presume a Draft would severely limit future COIN involvement.

    Conversely, we stick with the current status quo, we're a couple decades away from a neo-constabulary.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great discussion! I'd like to address this from the civilian perspecpective, if I may.

    I don't disagree with your statement that there is a divide in our country between the civilian and the military. However, it may not be as deep or as pervasive as it appears. There are countless civilians who care deeply and who take action to show their support. Think Soldiers' Angels, Operation Gratitude, AnySoldier.com, Operation Paperback, and more such organizations, and the hundreds of thousands of caring Americans who get names of our troops to send support packages and cards and letters.

    There are civilians who volunteer with FRG groups, at VA Hospitals, who barrage their representatives whenever they see injustice to our troops, the Patriot Guard Riders -- I could go on and on --

    There are so many Americans who love and honor our military, and we do whatever we can in so many ways to show that. Sometimes it's hard to see that, since it doesn't get a whole lot of press, but it's there and it's real.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Matt, You were doing so well and then you posted this…..
    As a 30 year vet who has seen a fair share of nasty locations and sporty exchanges, you don’t want to go in country with a group of people that don’t want to be there. My experiences are pre and post draft and you speak of something you know nothing about. Believe me. Go ahead and take the midnight patrol with your draftees buddies, make sure you update your form 93 first……..

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'll agree that reincorporating draftees into the armed services is a complicated one, and though I didn't serve in 'Nam, I understand the worst case scenarios of such. The question of how it would impact the military though, is a different one than posed here. To me, the impact the Draft would have on American society in general is more important than the impact it would have on the military. (That might ruffle some feathers, but it's a question of the health of the whole.) Further, as Mikey mentioned above, the volunteer force has plenty of experience with soldiers who don't want to be there - "volunteer" does not always mean "willing."

    And Marilyn, thank you for your thoughts. You're absolutely right - there are many civilians out there doing their part, and more so. I just think there should be, and needs to be, more of them. Their sacrifices and devotion are very real, though, as you point out.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Nice post and interesting conversation.

    I have heard the idea of mandatory public service (including an option of military service) bandied around before and I like the idea. I think I agree with HF6 though about the best way to implement it.

    BTW Pogue had some nice ideas about how civillians could show their support for the military in his comment here.

    http://mmc-justgottabeme.blogspot.com/2010/05/never-ask-question-if-youre-not.html?showComment=1274224173789#c6526763960063249166

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hiii .... glad to see your blog, I am a blogger Indonesia. Welcome stranger!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Matt,

    I'm late to this discussion, but I want to add my 2 cents as a Columbia ROTC advocate.

    LTC Paul Yingling recently made a similar proposal at Small Wars Journal: http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2010/07/the-allvolunteer-force-the-deb/

    I noticed with Yingling and now in your post that the ethical rationale for conscription is very close to the ethical case for restoring ROTC at Ivy League universities. For example, our 2005 compendium, 'Case for Columbia ROTC': http://www.advocatesforrotc.org/columbia/case/index.html

    I responded to Yingling that the draft, his proposed prescription to the social-cultural gaps in the military, is extreme and premature at this time. At this time, the reasonable prescription is restoring ROTC at Ivy League and peer campuses that are currently missing ROTC.

    Privileged Americans may be insulated and out of popular reach for most of their lives, but they go to college, often in the Ivy League. Moreover, they attend college at the precise stage of their lives that people normally join the military.

    However at the places and stage of life they would reasonably consider the military option, these Americans are denied fair and proximate access to the military due to the absence of ROTC on many of their campuses.

    So, my prescription: the universities and the military should work together restore ROTC at schools like Columbia, ensure the new ROTC programs have solid cadre and resources, and tailor a recruiting campaign to the Ivy League students on campus. Then give it time and let's see what happens. If reasonably administered ROTC programs on those select campuses fail to lead to a rebalancing of the force, then let's talk draft.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Mounting evidence is showing that the two wars this country is fighting is placing the sacrifice on a very small slice of the American Population. Our volunteer military, their friends and families are shouldering a disproportionate burden of fighting two wars , multiple combat deployments are straining families, increasing the suicide rate of the Active Duty military, especially in the US Army and Marine Corps. I don't think the All Volunteer Military was ever designed to fight a ten year war without being supplemented by conscripted Americans who are willing to fight and die for this country. We have never won a "War of Necessity" the Civil War, or WWII are the only wars of necessity, absolute necessity, upon which the triumph of our Arms depended the existence of the country. In both these wars of general and National Mobilization,, the triumph of the Nation's Military depended chiefly upon filling the ranks of America's War fighters, with American's who were willing to put on hold and put at risk, their dreams of a full and happy life. That is not to say that the drafted and the draft itself did not cause great social upheaval, and even draft riots (during the Civil War). The Vietnam war's draft inequities, and deferments are well documented. My point here is to argue that, no long term war worth fighting and of course worth winning, should be undertaken with out the need to resort to the trauma and universal sacrifice that a national Conscription, even a limited draft will entail. IF our leaders, our president cannot muster the Broad and Universal support for such a sacrifice, than the conclusion must be reached that this is not a war that the American People are prepared to sacrifice their sons and daughters for, and we should get out sooner rather than later. I have always been suspicious that an all volunteer military will be used without the necessity for a declaration of war, and a national conversation or referendum on the merits of using American Military Force to achieve our foreign policy objectives. Grenada, Panama,the First Gulf War, Iraq, and Now Afghanistan, we have used the US Military to solve certain foreign policy challenges without the need for a formal declaration of war,which I believe is required by the constitution. The founding fathers were very suspicious of a large peace-time standing army. They thought the danger would be too great that such a force would be used to overthrow the civilian authority. I think we now have a new danger that in the last 25 years we have used the military without having to go the US Public and drum up support or a national consensus for the necessity for the use of American Force.

    Read more: http://www.myspace.com/lancejagman/blog#ixzz13UdsFNaz

    ReplyDelete
  20. First let me say I was one of those bearded, herb indulging, radicals that protested the war in Vietnam. I “beat” the draft and as a draft councilor was proud to say, helped many others to do the same. No, I am not a coward, and no, I was not rooting for Ho Chi Minh to win, and no, I did not blame our serving soldiers. I saw them as victims, and not perpetrators of atrocities. My objection was directed at those officials (if there is an after life I suspect Henry Kissinger and his ilk will be in for an uncomfortable time) who spent years talking about an exit strategy while our young men were being rounded up to be sent off to a war by folks who had no intention of winning that war, but were looking for a face saving exit strategy. After years of searching for that exit strategy, and thousands killed and maimed, we saw how much “face” we saved with pictures of helicopters lifting off our embassy roof in Saigon, as desperate men clung to any part of the helicopter they could reach in hopes of escape.

    A draft can only work if it is universal, no exemptions, no alternative forms of service. Let those third and fourth generation of Harvard graduates serve along side the immigrant from New York, or the son or daughter of a coal minor in West Virginia. If you allow “alternative forms of service” you will have the same dichotomy where the privileged and well connected do there public service surveying coral reefs off the coast of Hawaii during part of the day, and the rest sipping mai tais in some air conditioned bar while the underclass are handed rifles and rucksacks, and march through swamps.

    The downside of a draft would be in the amount of time and resources it takes to adequately prepare today’s recruit to be an effective soldier in this modern era of technology. No longer can you just take a guy off the street, and in six months train him to march, salute, shoot a rifle and blindly obey orders. By the time one of your draftees was adequately trained, he would be ready for discharge, and the military would not get an adequate return on their investment.

    Do we have the resources to even begin such a massive undertaking? I don’t think our current military bases would be adequate to handle the number of people that would have to be processed annually, nor the manpower and resources to outfit and train such recruits.


    Norm Roth

    ReplyDelete
  21. First let me say I was one of those bearded, herb indulging, radicals that protested the war in Vietnam. I “beat” the draft and as a draft councilor was proud to say, helped many others to do the same. No, I am not a coward, not a "chicken hawk" by any stretch of the imagination and no, I was not rooting for Ho Chi Minh to win, and no, I did not blame our serving soldiers. I saw them as victims, and not perpetrators of atrocities. My objection was directed at those officials (if there is an after life I suspect Henry Kissinger and his ilk will be in for an uncomfortable time) who spent years talking about an exit strategy while our young men were being rounded up to be sent off to a war by folks who had no intention of winning that war, but were looking for a face saving exit strategy. After years of searching for that exit strategy, and thousands killed and maimed, we saw how much “face” we saved with pictures of helicopters lifting off our embassy roof in Saigon, as desperate men clung to any part of the helicopter they could reach in hopes of escape.

    A draft can only work if it is universal, no exemptions, no alternative forms of service. Let those third and fourth generation of Harvard graduates serve along side the immigrant from New York, or the son or daughter of a coal minor in West Virginia. If you allow “alternative forms of service” you will have the same dichotomy where the privileged and well connected do there "public service" surveying coral reefs off the coast of Hawaii during part of the day, and the rest of the time sipping mai tais in some air conditioned bar while the underclass are handed rifles and rucksacks, and march through swamps.

    The downside of a draft would be in the amount of time and resources it takes to adequately prepare today’s recruit to be an effective soldier in this modern era of technology. No longer can you just take a guy off the street, and in six months train him to march, salute, shoot a rifle and blindly obey orders. By the time one of your draftees was adequately trained, he would be ready for discharge, and the military would not get an adequate return on their investment.

    Do we have the resources to even begin such a massive undertaking? I don’t think our current military bases would be adequate to handle the number of people that would have to be processed annually, nor the manpower and resources to outfit and train such recruits.

    Norm Roth

    ReplyDelete
  22. Part 1:

    First let me say I was one of those bearded, herb indulging, radicals that protested the war in Vietnam. I “beat” the draft and as a draft councilor was proud to say, helped many others to do the same. No, I am not a coward, and no, I was not rooting for Ho Chi Minh to win, and no, I did not blame our serving soldiers. I saw them as victims, and not perpetrators of atrocities. My objection was directed at those officials (if there is an after life I suspect Henry Kissinger and his ilk will be in for an uncomfortable time) who spent years talking about an exit strategy while our young men were being rounded up to be sent off to a war by folks who had no intention of winning that war, but were looking for a face saving exit strategy. After years of searching for that exit strategy, and thousands killed and maimed, we saw how much “face” we saved with pictures of helicopters lifting off our embassy roof in Saigon, as desperate men clung to any part of the helicopter they could reach in hopes of escape.

    A draft can only work if it is universal, no exemptions, no alternative forms of service. Let those third and fourth generation of Harvard graduates serve along side the immigrant from New York, or the son or daughter of a coal minor in West Virginia. If you allow “alternative forms of service” you will have the same dichotomy where the privileged and well connected do there public service surveying coral reefs off the coast of Hawaii during part of the day, and the rest sipping mai tais in some air conditioned bar while the underclass are handed rifles and rucksacks, and march through swamps.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Part 2:

    The downside of a draft would be in the amount of time and resources it takes to adequately prepare today’s recruit to be an effective soldier in this modern era of technology. No longer can you just take a guy off the street, and in six months train him to march, salute, shoot a rifle and blindly obey orders. By the time one of your draftees was adequately trained, he would be ready for discharge, and the military would not get an adequate return on their investment.

    Do we have the resources to even begin such a massive undertaking? I don’t think our current military bases would be adequate to handle the number of people that would have to be processed annually, nor the manpower and resources to outfit and train such recruits.

    Norm Roth (my posting was too large to be put on at one time)

    ReplyDelete
  24. That is strange the postings did go through even though I got an error message the first two times i tried. Now i see all three posted.

    ReplyDelete