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Bring Back The Draft?


bludog
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Although a volunteer myself, I was in the conscription Army before Nixon made the military all-voluntary. The volunteer army tends to be homogeneous while the draft democratically mixed all kinds of people together in a huge hodgepodge, who would never have rubbed elbows otherwise. The mixture included all races and ethnic groups .... intellectuals and blue collar types .... Liberals and Conservatives .... career men and those who couldn't wait to get out.

 

Unlike today's army, where once having volunteered, one can have little complaint when called on to do the unjustifiable ; There was a spirit of rebellion among many of the draftees, and the influence of congressmen was not infrequently invoked by those with grievances and/or their families

.... And they often won. That is unthinkable now.

 

For instance, in the all-volunteer army of today, soldiers are sent back to hot war zones, like Afghanistan for tour after tour, hardly seeing their families for many years. In the draft army of Korea and Vietnam, when you finished your tour, you went stateside, if desired. But in the largely Conservative, volunteer army of today, soldiers feel they can't complain.

 

When the draft ended in favor of all-volunteer, the culture of the army changed with it. Unquestioning obeisance, (which always has and always will exist in the military), became the nearly universal status quo rather than a rule that was made to be broken by more than a few.

 

The Vietnam war ended, largely because of the draft. Without the draft, there probably never would have been a counterculture of widespread protest. Today, only a certain segment of the population fights the wars and the rest of society cares very little. Ending the draft has made it far easier to conduct endless war for the good of a few owners of the Military Industrial Complex. The end of the draft meant the beginning of a consistently more compliant, unquestioning army, eager to serve in any war; Justifiable or not.

 

If any one of the endless wars we are engaged in becomes too big a decision will have to be made: Either withdraw as gracefully as possible; Or bring back the draft.

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Although a volunteer myself, I was in the conscription Army before Nixon made the military all-voluntary. The volunteer army tends to be homogeneous while the draft democratically mixed all kinds of people together in a huge hodgepodge, who would never have rubbed elbows otherwise. The mixture included all races and ethnic groups .... intellectuals and blue collar types .... Liberals and Conservatives .... career men and those who couldn't wait to get out.

 

There are some benefits to universal conscription. In no particular order:

  • As you noted, different types of people meet and are forced to interact civilly, types that might never have mixed before. In some cases this may provoke intolerance, but I think it more cases it encourages tolerance.
  • Under-educated and undisciplined youth learn some skills and get some discipline.
  • Physical fitness is mandatory.

Important problems to solve if the draft returns:

  • Drugs must be rigorously kept away from service people.
  • Women must also be drafted.
  • Rape and any other sexual misconduct must be eliminated. (Including consensual sex between any two military people.)
  • There must be an alternate service choice for genuine conscientious objectors.
  • The mandatory term of service should be no longer than four years; ideally less. Extend that if the service person gets educational benefits.
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As you noted, different types of people meet and are forced to interact civilly, types that might never have mixed before. In some cases this may provoke intolerance, but I think it more cases it encourages tolerance.

 

In my three year service experience, the mixing of different types, who gained familiarity with each other, overwhelmingly produced more tolerance. Maybe it worked the other way sometimes, but I didn't see it.

 

Not saying there weren't conflicts and disagreements, but people got to know each other who, otherwise, would only have heard of each other from the news or media. I still use expressions unique to the Deep South. One of my friends was a Texas Conservative. (I had little idea about politics back then). Another was from Shasta, California .... And so on.

 

 

Under-educated and undisciplined youth learn some skills and get some discipline.

Physical fitness is mandatory.

 

Not only that. The education one gets about the different types of people from all over the Nation, can hardly be obtained anywhere else. Cliche notwithstanding, I gained an enormous amount of maturity in those three years. And the ability to adapt to the unfamiliar is carried through life.

 

 

Drugs must be rigorously kept away from service people.

 

Nearly impossible.

 

 

Women must also be drafted.

 

Absolutely.

 

 

Rape and any other sexual misconduct must be eliminated. (Including consensual sex between any two military people.

 

Again. Preventing consensual sex is nearly impossible. I saw it among homosexuals in the all-male army. That said, rape when identified, needs to be punished immediately. Sometimes, it's hard to draw the line between consensual sex and rape. Too complicated to deal with here

 

 

There must be an alternate service choice for genuine conscientious objectors.

 

Excellent point ... Like the Peace Corps.

 

 

The mandatory term of service should be no longer than four years; ideally less. Extend that if the service person gets educational benefits.

 

Mandatory was 2 years active duty. Then, IIRC, 4 years in the reserves. A service-member can always reenlist for an extra hitch, to finish his/her education.

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The all-volunteer army has been very effective in waging endless war for the benefit of a handful of of owners of the war industries. Volunteers tend to be from a poor, very Conservative strata of society .... Largely from the South. That makes it easy for the rest of the population to look the other way while others, far removed, fight and die in these unjust wars of aggression. The Vietnam war ended, largely because of the draft. Without the draft, there never would have been a counterculture of widespread protest because most of the population wouldn't have been worried about being drafted.

 

The all-volunteer army has been a tool for the profit of the Military Industrial Complex. It would not be so easy for them to wage endless war if the citizenry was subject to a draft.

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I disagree. It'd be even easier for them to wage war constantly if we instituted a citizen draft. They'd have plenty of people ready to ship off to whatever country they wanted. Furthermore other countries with all volunteer armies don't get involved with as many wars as we do. Do you really think we'll be less war-prone, when we have people making money off of wars that we fight? Sure, it might convince people to vote for candidates who are against war--but only after the fact. By then it'll be too late, and we'll be putting up another wall like the one we have for Vietnam with the names of men (and now women) who will give their life so the elites can make more money.

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It would not be so easy for them to wage endless war if the citizenry was subject to a draft.

I agree. If everyone's children are at risk, then almost no-one will want war. Just like the 60s. Actual conflict would be rarer.

 

Anyway, if they're was a draft, most of the enlisted would be in positions now filled by private corporations like Haliburton. Cooks, cleaners, people transporting provisions and equipment, even computer science types. Learning a trade, getting an education.

 

Instead of giving big profits to companies, we'd be investing in our own kids' futures.

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The all-volunteer army has been very effective in waging endless war for the benefit of a handful of of owners of the war industries. Volunteers tend to be from a poor, very Conservative strata of society .... Largely from the South. That makes it easy for the rest of the population to look the other way while others, far removed, fight and die in these unjust wars of aggression. The Vietnam war ended, largely because of the draft. Without the draft, there never would have been a counterculture of widespread protest because most of the population wouldn't have been worried about being drafted.

 

The all-volunteer army has been a tool for the profit of the Military Industrial Complex. It would not be so easy for them to wage endless war if the citizenry was subject to a draft.

 

I get what you're saying, and in part agree that in some instances opposition to a draft (especially one that would legally need to include women to be constitutional, might be a factor in slowing/stopping unpopular military actions.

 

But on the point of the anti-war movement stopping/ending the Viet Nam war, I'm not so sure. Seemed pretty clear to me by 1967 as a 9 year old (who precociously read the LA Times daily, whose favorite TVs show were either Huntley-Brinkley on NCSm or Cronkite on CBS) that we were involved in a conflict we could never win that we ought to have no part in.

 

But the damn war dragged on until 1975. Participating in war protests shaped my early years. And I'm proud played a very small place in the movement. But did it stop the war? Don't think so.

 

And we lost the White House in 68. Then again in 72. 76 was a fluke, followed by 3 more terms of "them" and not "us."

 

Great music came out of the era, but not electorial victories. And I don't think we ended the war via protests.

 

As the sticker on my trash can once read: Draft Beer, Not Students!

 

Bill (who supports a volunteer military)

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I agree. If everyone's children are at risk, then almost no-one will want war. Just like the 60s. Actual conflict would be rarer.

 

Anyway, if they're was a draft, most of the enlisted would be in positions now filled by private corporations like Haliburton. Cooks, cleaners, people transporting provisions and equipment, even computer science types. Learning a trade, getting an education.

 

Instead of giving big profits to companies, we'd be investing in our own kids' futures.

 

Well put.

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I agree. If everyone's children are at risk, then almost no-one will want war. Just like the 60s. Actual conflict would be rarer.

 

Anyway, if they're was a draft, most of the enlisted would be in positions now filled by private corporations like Haliburton. Cooks, cleaners, people transporting provisions and equipment, even computer science types. Learning a trade, getting an education.

 

Instead of giving big profits to companies, we'd be investing in our own kids' futures.

 

Except in the 60s anyone from the upper-middle class or with enough gumption and resources to avoid the draft could do so. It isn't like "everyone" went.

 

Some folks are born, made to wave the flag

Ooo, they're red, white and blue

And when the band plays "Hail to the Chief"

Ooo, they point the cannon at you, Lord

 

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, no

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Do you really think we'll be less war-prone, when we have people making money off of wars that we fight?

That's what we have now. (Blackrock, Haliburton, many more.)

 

Filling that gap with enlisted people removes a portion of the profit motive.

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Draft vs volunteer.... it depends on what you're trying to achieve. If you want an effective fighting force, go for the volunteers. If you don't plan on fighting any wars, draftees are just fine. This isn't the 1940's. If you want to fly and maintain an F-15, you don't want draftees. You want trained and motivated professionals. Same for an aircraft carrier or an Apache helicopter. You don't get good at jobs like that in a couple years.

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Plausible sounding premise for an imaginary scenario.

 

The Navy and Air Force have always relied on volunteers; So much safer than infantry. There are NO draftees flying F-15s (or the more current f16s) and never have been. The Army is the main force relying on draftees. The Marines, second. As for draftees on aircraft carriers or flying Apache helicopters; They never existed.

 

As for the Army and Marines back in the days of conscription: They had a large majority portion of career NCOs and officers. Among lower ranks, volunteers were mixed with draftees. In my experience, many of the draftees were of superior quality compared to the career soldiers..

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Except in the 60s anyone from the upper-middle class or with enough gumption and resources to avoid the draft could do so. It isn't like "everyone" went.

 

Some folks are born, made to wave the flag

Ooo, they're red, white and blue

And when the band plays "Hail to the Chief"

Ooo, they point the cannon at you, Lord

 

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, no

 

Most everyone eligible, and their families, felt at risk from the draft. Many avoided it, but only by jumping through hoops.

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That's what we have now. (Blackrock, Haliburton, many more.)

 

Filling that gap with enlisted people removes a portion of the profit motive.

 

I disagree that it removes a portion of the profit motive. I think if anything it makes it easier to go to war, because you have basically a limitless force of soldiers who can't refuse to participate (unless they're a conscientious objector, or have families influential enough to get them deferred) instead of a limited force of volunteer soldiers. Going to war for bad reasons tends to affect enlistment and reenlistment rates. Institute the draft, and they don't have to worry about running out of soldiers.

 

I also think it's immoral to put the lives of our youth at risk to try to avoid war. Are you going to be the one to tell me my children had to die to prevent a war that didn't end up prevented? Because if you are, I recommend coming in body armor. I mean if I vote for the anti-war candidate, and then they either: Go back on their promises like most politicians are want to do, or lose... then all the good using my children against me did. (Especially since I'm anti-war in most cases to begin with)

 

Until the war actually becomes a reality, it won't be a blip on the radar to most people. And to those it will be, are most likely to be anti-war to begin with.

 

I mean look at the Iraq War. People stopped supporting it after a couple of years--without the threat of a draft. By the time Obama was elected, 64% of Americans felt the Iraq war wasn't worth fighting. That's a good majority, and there was no draft. It was popular at first, but support dwindled as more information came out. People didn't really think twice after the events on 9/11. In fact enlistment went up after 9/11.

And what position does it put us in to defend our allies? I mean if we're going to back out because it's unpopular to send our kids off to die--what does that do to our alliances? Not to mention how it effects the effectiveness of our military.

I also think it's unethical to send someone to die against their will. We can get into conscientious objectors, but that's a whole other bag of worms.

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The draft is, of course, involuntary servitude. I can see a reason for keeping the draft available for possible use in an emergency, but never for world policing or adventurism like the Iraq War. It serves to deter other countries from threatening us.

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There has to be a way to end our role as an aggressor nation. The Vietnam war and many of our forays into Latin America were pure adventurism also. And now we are waging a war in Afghanistan that is going on 14 years; The longest in our history; And that war was and is being waged with an all-volunteer army. It's the only way they could get away with it. We would have been gone from Afghanistan years ago if there was a draft.

 

We have troops stationed around the world .... In the Mid-East, Korea, Europe. And we have HUNDREDS of military bases around the world.

 

Where in the World Is the U.S. Military? - POLITICO Magazine
www.politico.com/magazine/.../us-military-bases-around-the-world-119321
Politico

By David Vine. July/August 2015. Despite recently closing hundreds of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad—from giant “Little Americas” to small radar facilities.

 

Where will it all end. Our military presence and aggression is becoming reminiscent of Imperial Rome, before the fall.

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Most everyone eligible, and their families, felt at risk from the draft. Many avoided it, but only by jumping through hoops.

 

Yes, I remember. Hoop jumping was just a lot easier for some than others. And for some, it was a "given."

 

Bill

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Another point I should have made: It wouldn't even really make politicians more Anti-War. If anything it'd make it easier for them, because they could simply run Anti-Draft. I mean someone proposes this, and they're probably going to be shown the door. It's not going to be popular with the people from the get go. It's political suicide to institute the draft to try to decrease our interventionist policies.

I mean think about it: Which position does a politician look better from:

A. "I'm not going to put your children in danger, because I'm going to be against any unjust wars. I'll support war only when it's necessary."

or

B. "I'm not going to put your children in danger, because I disagree with the draft. If we get into a war, it will be with an all volunteer army. We're not going to conscript people against their will."

Politician B wins with most people, and especially with people who need their children's lives to be in danger to be against interventionist policy to begin with.

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And yet, since 1973, the year the draft ended, we have been mostly at war. And now, we are engaged in the longest war of our history, in Afghanistan. Bin Ladin is dead and Al-Qaeda is no longer headquartered there. Why are American troops still fighting, getting maimed and dying in Afghanistan? Unlike draftees and their families, volunteers do not complain as much. And tending to be ultra-Conservative, they mostly are convinced that any war is just. The majority of the public doesn't care much because their sons and daughters are safe.

 

Most likely there will be a draft. when the enemies we are making become strong enough that the volunteer army is not enough. Even more profits for the Military Industrial Complex.

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