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Opening Arguments

Call me a draft dodger

Wishful thinking, I'd say:

IN late June, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former commander of international forces in Afghanistan, called for reinstating the draft. “I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk,” he said at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.”

[. . .]

But most of all, having a draft might, as General McChrystal said, make Americans think more carefully before going to war. Imagine the savings — in blood, tears and national treasure — if we had thought twice about whether we really wanted to invade Iraq.

Sounds good in theory, but have we actual history to look at. We had the draft during Korea and Vietnam both? Did it make us think more carefully about getting into those two wars, which I'd guess a big majority of Americans today would say were costly mistakes.

Short of sanctioning slavery, a draft is as serious an assault on liberty that a government can undertake. Taxes merely confiscate the fruits of our labor. A draft confiscates our very time, which is all he have, really. A draft forcibly removes us from our chosen lives and puts us in harm's way. In a true national emergency, I'd consider arguments in favor of a draft. Short of that, don't even try.

This is one issue I'll confess my opinions have evolved on. I once was a lot more receptive to the idea of a military draft and even universal service not necessarily of a military nature. Maybe not "for" the idea exactly, but persuaded that people who evaded the by running off to Canada (as opposed to volunterring, which is the way I did it) were making a less than respectable choice. I think it was more of an "I had to go so you should have, too, dammit" reaction than a reasoned position.


Tue, 07/10/2012 - 8:27pm

I'm not sure mandatory military service is the entire answer but some form of government service should be required.