Jump to content


Photo

In Defense Of The Draft


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 Skywalkre

Skywalkre

    Garry F!@#$%g Owen

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 8,314 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Phoenix, AZ
  • Interests:military history, psychology, gaming (computer, board, simulation, console), sci-fi

Posted 23 May 2018 - 1443 PM

This is a shout-out to an old friend from ASU.  The author was Army ROTC when I went there last and commissioned as AD Infantry when he graduated (I have no idea if he's still serving as his FB page has been completely purged of everything military and I haven't messaged him in years... I simply saw this on my feed this morning).

 

He doesn't discuss this below but I was reading another article a few weeks ago which indirectly made the argument for the draft.  It was talking about how one of our most effective fighting forces ever was the military of WW2 and it was that way simply because of who it ended up putting in uniform who normally wouldn't have volunteered.  Just because someone wants to do something (our current setup) doesn't necessarily mean they're the best for the job.

 

 

It’s Time to Reinstate the Draft

The “All-Volunteer Force” has been Disastrous

 

The Vietnam War used to be the longest war in American history. Despite its longevity, many Americans walked away from the debacle with a clear insight: the war — certainly after 1968—was pointless. In many ways, it was this insight that helped bring the war to its end. Even Richard Nixon campaigned on the anti-war sentiment. In a ’68 campaign ad, he said, “I pledge to you that we shall have an honorable end to the war in Vietnam.”

 

Notice he didn’t say ‘we will win,’ nor did he say anything about ‘honorable victory.’ The foreshadowing was clear. Even more clear was the growing hostility to the war. (Of course, Nixon was being duplicitous, but he was smart enough to use the public appeal for what it was.) But common public sentiment doesn’t always result in long-standing policy (even in a “democracy”).

 

Unfortunately for future generations, a powerful minority group in our nation held an entirely different opinion about the war. They believed (and many of their predecessors still believe) that the war could have been won — and they blame an unsupportive public and weak-kneed politicians for the loss.

 

Thomas Ricks, a Foreign Policy journalist and heavyweight national security author, addresses this group’s “we-won” mythology directly in “Setting the record straight on the end of the Vietnam War.” The mythology is a simple one: the military never received a tactical loss throughout the war, and therefore, the United States didn’t technically lose — instead, the military was forced to leave early. Ricks argues that

 

“…a fictitious, feel-good history has taken such hold in America’s memories of Vietnam. Putting all the blame on Congress, war protesters and left-wingers for the defeat exonerates those who were actually responsible for U.S. policy and those who conducted the war; not surprisingly, that makes it a popular argument among former U.S. policymakers and military commanders.

 

This same mentality is incredibly important for understanding today’s failed war policy in America. Most of us are at least partially familiar with the war in Vietnam. Few are familiar with how the United States restructured the military in the years that followed; the same “we-won” policymakers and military commanders created an institution — partially in good faith — but also with the intention to limit public disapproval from affecting future conflicts. Today, that institution, the all-volunteer force, has laid the groundwork for an era of perennial war.

 

The Creation of the All-Volunteer Force

Since 1973 until today, the United States military has been an “All-Volunteer Force” (hereafter, shortened to AVF). In the late 1960s, the government began to realize that a draft was not necessary in order to fight the Cold War; more importantly, in the wake of the Vietnam War, they realized a draft could be detrimental in their continued prosecution of the Cold War. It was the latter point that hastened the decision to end the draft.

 

Today, we are no longer fighting the Cold War. But the mentality remains in effect. Currently, you may be required by law to register for the Selective Service, but nobody is going to be drafted to fight in Afghanistan anytime soon — there’s no support for it. Instead, the modern military relies on volunteers to achieve limited political objectives, as well as to fight “minor” campaigns… even if the limited objectives come at the expense of long-term stability (e.g., the removal of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq) or are significantly less “limited” than first claimed.

 

Although most Americans today believe the Vietnam War wasn’t worth fighting, the draft — in the long-run — was not an evil. If it hadn’t been for the political unrest that was caused by conscription for an unjust war, it may have continued unabated well into the 1970s. By contrast, today’s wars, despite being massively unpopular, had no organized anti-war movement at any point.

 

The new political strategy is to deny the need for conscription in every case: to use limited military power to achieve limited objectives at the cost of stability; to pass the political football forward to the next generation or politician; and to maintain public support at all costs, or to merely create enough apathy to prevent collective action — even if maintaining that public support chokes the war of the resources it needs to win.

 

It should be noted that many aspects of the all-volunteer force are beneficial. Citizens are allowed to choose if service is right for them. But the benefits belie great social cost. The AVF’s sensibility is precisely why it is an insidious institution. Political actors have the ability to shrug off popular disapproval because the war is rarely a priority among voters.

 

This has been — more or less — understood since the beginning. In 1968, then-Former VP Nixon became interested in ending the wartime draft for similar reasons. He felt that abolition would undermine the anti-war movement because well-off youths would no longer be threatened by involuntary conscription. They would have no drive to continue the anti-war movement. He was right, but he missed his target window by approximately forty years.

 

The validity of his insight wouldn’t become clear until now. The United States has been involved in an imbroglio in Afghanistan for seventeen years. In Iraq, the anti-war movement was nowhere to be seen. Our collective inattention to that war left potentially fifty (50) million casualties in its wake. But in addition to political apathy, the AVF also encourages politicians to deny troop increases that might actually bring wars to a rapid conclusion.

 

The All-Volunteer Force Damages National Security and Enables Long-Term Adventurism

Beyond the apathy, the AVF does nothing to make Americans safer than they were before. Instead, it fuels the military-industrial complex by making wars open-ended endeavors. Outside of limited operations, wars require national diligence, costly expenditures, and as many dedicated troops as needed — if they’re to be fought at all. The United States has only intended to pay the monetary costs, and usually to military corporations financed through debt.

 

The War in Iraq is a prime example of this. We can easily juxtapose it against the first Gulf War — itself a limited and contained military operation with clear goals; it was well-suited for volunteer force. In the early 1990s, defeating the much weaker Iraqi Army in pitched battle was a simple task for a coalition force with superior tactics, morale, and equipment. (This would be the case even if US forces were outnumbered, compare the paltry 242 coalition deaths to anywhere from twenty to fifty thousand Iraqis KIA.) The Gulf War not require a draft, nor a massive influx of conscripts to win or secure anything in its aftermath.

 

The very same could be said for the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. The initial invasion was quite successful as a tactical maneuver. But the failure was in the resulting quagmire; complete anarchy settled over the entire country, in large part because the United States lacked the forces to secure the country post-invasion. If the United States had had more soldiers on the ground, there would have been more security, which would have allowed for a smooth transition of governmental services and a clean build-up in the wake of the “liberation.”

 

Of course, a massive factor in the failure of the Iraq War was a complete lack of adequate planning. But if American leadership had planned just one thing differently — to bring more ground troops — they would have easily prevented the complete breakdown of Iraqi society in the wake of governmental collapse. Perhaps this would have done nothing to alter the course of the war, but it certainly would have been a step in the right direction.

 

The military attempted to correct this very mistake approximately four years later in 2007. During “the Surge,” the U.S. military increased troop levels and operational activity in the region. It was intended to finally establish the (missing) security necessary to allow the build-up of Iraqi institutions, civil society, and most importantly — Iraqi security forces to maintain those new political institutions. It’s no secret that more soldiers give commanders more options.

 

And there are dozens of examples of this beyond Iraq. It has been nothing if not a common theme over the last twenty years. In 2009, General Stanley McChrystal argued for an increase because

 

"Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible…"

 

They needed:

 

"…additional troops beyond the 68,000 American forces already approved, from 10,000 to as many as 45,000."

 

The trend is still alive today: they always need more “boots on the ground.” In May of 2017, Op-Ed columnists were calling for a surge in Afghanistan even beyond the increase imposed by President Trump. There is a growing professional opinion in the military community that the answer to insurgency and weak governance is increased military presence in the short- to medium-term war effort.

 

None of this is an argument for the draft on its own. But most politicians consistently reject these requests for fear of exacerbating disapproval into a more general unrest. The American people have every right to disagree with the argument that more troops will end the war sooner. It is certainly a contentious viewpoint. Although if it’s the case that the generals are wrong, in all of their years of experience, then the people need to whether the military has any viable solution at all. If it can’t be handled militarily: the only answer is drawing down and ending the conflict.

 

Because there is no pressure to do such a thing, politicians save face by playing a safe, middle-of-the-road position.

 

On the one hand, they don’t want to turn apathy into unrest by raising the number of troops as high as the generals ask; and on the other, they can’t merely ignore the operational needs of war — lest it create an equally embarrassing debacle. They send enough to continue the war, but never enough to win the war. The AVF encourages politicians to remain risk-averse about troop levels instead of focusing on the operational requirements to secure victory.

 

This creates continued instability in occupied countries; this instability justifies continued occupation. The nation is forced to continue sending troops over time because the occupied country remains fractured, but it will never be enough to actually right the failed regime. And so the occupation continues unabated.

 

We have a word for forcible military occupations that endure for their own sake: ‘colony.’ Colonies don’t require drafts; they require public complacency and an enduring justification. But unlike colonial adventures of the past, modern colonization exists to inflate political prospects for risk-averse elites (and their corporate benefactors).

 

A Moral Argument for the Draft: Responsibility and Consequence

The all-volunteer force enables public complacency directly. Meanwhile, indirectly, it establishes enduring justification for war by making it difficult to ever attain the number of soldiers that (might) push occupation into victory. These are pragmatic reasons — based on how the government and society can best function — but there are even stronger moral reasons for dismissing the AVF.

 

It is a common perception to view the U.S. military as a monolithic organization that exists to serve in place of those who don’t wish to serve, whether merely by choice or by disagreement. But it is no monolith. And it does not only serve in the place of the average citizen — it serves for the average citizen. There is a serious distinction between ‘in place of’ and ‘for.’ Serving ‘in place of’ is no different than a stand-in — a job for which almost anyone is qualified and the results are unimportant; serving ‘for’ is an official proxy — someone who represents us in an official capacity, and that we are ultimately responsible for.

 

By extension, all Americans are all responsible for the United States military whether they belong to it, have very little knowledge about the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, or vehemently opposed the wars for the last twenty years. But the way Americans act, in light of our continued military adventurism, seems to imply that Americans do not believe they are responsible for their military.

 

This could not be further from the truth. Others may serve in your place, but no one within the community can be absolved of the moral and practical consequences that are entailed by that service. This is no misrepresentation of responsibility. If the word is to have any meaning at all, then we must recognize it as such: when great moral wrong is occurring, whether to your own community or to others, you are obligated (to attempt) to correct it if it is within your means to do so.

 

It is certainly within the means of the American citizen to lobby to end the “Global War on Terror” — or to turn it around into something that is just (if that is even possible). It is only because of political apathy that this has not occurred at any point in the last twenty years.

 

This lack of motivation is nowhere more apparent than when examining the incredibly unpopularity of the wars. Even in 2013, CNN reported that the war in Afghanistan dipped below 20% approval, which probably makes it the most unpopular war in U.S. History. Where is the anti-war movement? It is dead — our own apathy killed it.

 

Any world where apathy becomes an excuse for unmet responsibilities is a world where responsibility exists only as a byword. But the sad part of all of this is that no one disagrees with this argument: we recognize that apathy is no excuse. Human beings (in general) lack the ability to turn recognition of abstract obligations into concrete action… unless those obligations entail serious personal consequences. We have a hard time taking responsibility when it doesn’t affect us personally — or as Thucydides once argued

 

"When will there be justice in Athens? There will be justice in Athens when those who are not injured are as outraged as those who are."

 

Most Americans have been more than happy to allow others to bear the injuries of perpetual war as long as those injuries are far from their concerns: less than 0.5% of the American population have fought in the Global War on Terrorism, and practically none of them outside of that 0.5% will have to come face-to-face with the destruction visited upon the communities in Iraq and Afghanistan. But whether Americans want to admit it or not: they bear a large portion of the responsibility for what happened in these countries.

 

Any institution, which allows people to forget that war is the most serious human endeavor ever, should be scraped. The United States needs obligatory wartime service for any engagement over a certain extended period of time — to do any less is to allow corporate interests and bloviating politicians to run our country without consequence. As sad as it is, many people in this country need to be reminded of the costs of war if they’re ever going to resist it effectively.

https://medium.com/@...ft-28689469af18


Edited by Skywalkre, 23 May 2018 - 1444 PM.

  • 0

#2 RETAC21

RETAC21

    A la lealtad y al valor

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 12,902 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Madrid, Spain
  • Interests:Military history in general

Posted 23 May 2018 - 1458 PM

If the objective of the draft is non-military it will be seen as a illegitimate intrusion. Only when all the nation's citizens feel that it's the duty of every citizen to actively defend it works. That's why Israel or Switzerland have effective armies but the Arab nations (for example) are unable to replicate the model. See how in Syria the Army fell apart but it got rebuilt when the alternative to Assad was worse than the regime.


  • 0

#3 Roman Alymov

Roman Alymov

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 15,785 posts
  • Location:Moscow, Russia
  • Interests:Tank recovery

Posted 24 May 2018 - 0010 AM

This peace is IMHO not exactly about "draft vs. no draft", but about lack of public care about Politicians  using Army fighting wars that are, according to some people opinion, wrong. Returning draft will not correct it - in our age it is possible to bomb weddings on another side of the globe with zero boots on the ground (end even no military personnel used, as controlling drones may be outsourced to civilins)


  • 0

#4 chino

chino

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,175 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Now in Macau
  • Interests:S2 Branch & Rifle Platoon Runner

Posted 24 May 2018 - 1303 PM

If I understand the article correctly, the author is suggesting that if the US Army is made of conscripts then the US would be less warlike?


Edited by chino, 24 May 2018 - 1312 PM.

  • 0

#5 RETAC21

RETAC21

    A la lealtad y al valor

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 12,902 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Madrid, Spain
  • Interests:Military history in general

Posted 24 May 2018 - 1312 PM

Or when no threat is perceived. Over here, doing away with the draft was inmensely popular because it was widely seen as a waste of time after the end of the Cold War.


  • 0

#6 JWB

JWB

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 6,705 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:everything (almost)

Posted 24 May 2018 - 1415 PM

If I understand the article correctly, the author is suggesting that if the US Army is made of conscripts then the US would be less warlike?

Yes. 

 

In 1970 Nixon invaded Cambodia and the result was riots in US cities. In 1971 Nixon ended the draft for Vietnam. In 1972 Nixon bombed Hanoi "like they have never been bombed before" and hardly a word was said.


  • 0

#7 Colin

Colin

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16,266 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Vancouver, Canada
  • Interests:tanks, old and new AFV's, Landrovers, diving, hovercrafts

Posted 24 May 2018 - 2234 PM

One of the issues with the draft was that it was unfair, to many rich/connected kids getting out of it. If your going to have a draft, far less exemptions should be given. 


  • 0

#8 BansheeOne

BansheeOne

    Bullshit filter overload, venting into civility charger

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 12,738 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Berlin

Posted 25 May 2018 - 0422 AM

Inequality was a major reason that killed conscription in Germany. Not based upon background, but that an increasing number of young men didn't serve at all because they were declared unfit by a shrinking force (irrespective of physical fitness having actually declined in the younger generation) or there weren't even enough civilian substitute service slots anymore. Then there were growing complaints that women didn't have to serve at all as a flip side to improving gender equality in society. Other nations didn't see that as problematic, Denmark's selective service seems to work quite well.


  • 0

#9 Adam Peter

Adam Peter

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 989 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sopron, Hungary
  • Interests:history, music

Posted 30 May 2018 - 1124 AM

Inequality was a major reason that killed conscription in Germany. Not based upon background, but that an increasing number of young men didn't serve at all because they were declared unfit by a shrinking force (irrespective of physical fitness having actually declined in the younger generation) or there weren't even enough civilian substitute service slots anymore.

 

This is my opinion about draft, too. I had few months, but as my father said, under the 27 months he served, the one who not put his own life on tracks in his career.


  • 0

#10 Panzermann

Panzermann

    REFORGER '79

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 13,713 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teutonistan

Posted 02 June 2018 - 1556 PM

Inequality was a major reason that killed conscription in Germany. Not based upon background, but that an increasing number of young men didn't serve at all because they were declared unfit by a shrinking force (irrespective of physical fitness having actually declined in the younger generation) or there weren't even enough civilian substitute service slots anymore. Then there were growing complaints that women didn't have to serve at all as a flip side to improving gender equality in society. Other nations didn't see that as problematic, Denmark's selective service seems to work quite well.



You forgot to mention that the size was reduced to save money. And along with it the infrastructure of barracks, training areas et. etc. Otherwise Germany could have easily afforded to draft all conscripts. But our allknowing and wise politicians preferred to cut the Bundeswehr in salami slices over the post cold war years for shortsighted gains. We are encircled by friends after all and eternal peace had broken out. "peace dividend". Cynics would say that you cannot send a conscript army into colonial adventures, so the Bundeswehr was professionalised.

Edited by Panzermann, 02 June 2018 - 1610 PM.

  • 0

#11 Panzermann

Panzermann

    REFORGER '79

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 13,713 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teutonistan

Posted 02 June 2018 - 1617 PM

this blogpost has a lot of interesting points about conscription for and against:

https://warontherock...of-citizenship/



related to the above: the hiding of the costs of war for the USA and hiding it from the public this way.

https://warontherock...e-of-democracy/
  • 0

#12 R011

R011

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 5,912 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Posted 02 June 2018 - 2222 PM

The problem with conscription is that you get a lot of private soldiers and second lieutenants, but not enough good,experienced OR-5/6 and (first) lieutenants and captains to lead them. This, IMO, is one reason why the US had My Lai with conscription and nothing nearly as serious since.
  • 0

#13 NickM

NickM

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,609 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Concord, California, USA
  • Interests:Military history, computer sims, my daughter

Posted 03 June 2018 - 0035 AM

The problem with conscription is that you get a lot of private soldiers and second lieutenants, but not enough good,experienced OR-5/6 and (first) lieutenants and captains to lead them. This, IMO, is one reason why the US had My Lai with conscription and nothing nearly as serious since.

 

Not just that but The brigades making up the 23rd "Americal" Division were among the poorest performing in the US Army at the time in terms of 'human material' and officers & NCOs--or so goes the story. The unit was often derided by other more established US units as the 'raggedy ass metri-cal Division'.


  • 0

#14 RETAC21

RETAC21

    A la lealtad y al valor

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 12,902 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Madrid, Spain
  • Interests:Military history in general

Posted 03 June 2018 - 0225 AM

The problem with conscription is that you get a lot of private soldiers and second lieutenants, but not enough good,experienced OR-5/6 and (first) lieutenants and captains to lead them. This, IMO, is one reason why the US had My Lai with conscription and nothing nearly as serious since.

 

Not necessarily, see Israel for a successful implementation. It all depends on how much time and effort the nation is willing to invest to have a workable Army.


  • 0

#15 Panzermann

Panzermann

    REFORGER '79

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 13,713 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teutonistan

Posted 03 June 2018 - 1043 AM

 

The problem with conscription is that you get a lot of private soldiers and second lieutenants, but not enough good,experienced OR-5/6 and (first) lieutenants and captains to lead them. This, IMO, is one reason why the US had My Lai with conscription and nothing nearly as serious since.

 

Not necessarily, see Israel for a successful implementation. It all depends on how much time and effort the nation is willing to invest to have a workable Army.

 

 

Or Switzerland. Most officers and senior NCOs are longer serving in the militia. There is only a relatively small rump of professional soldiers. Most in the upper ranks of course.


  • 0

#16 JWB

JWB

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 6,705 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:everything (almost)

Posted 03 June 2018 - 1123 AM

The draft allowed Westmoreland to be a butcher.


  • 0

#17 R011

R011

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 5,912 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Posted 03 June 2018 - 1125 AM

The Israeli and Swiss militia based armies have good leaders at that level as everyone stays in and continues training and professional development. Its a lot different from the usual conscript based army. That isn't to say it can't be done, but you need a good sized cadre of Sr NCOs for best results.
  • 0

#18 RETAC21

RETAC21

    A la lealtad y al valor

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 12,902 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Madrid, Spain
  • Interests:Military history in general

Posted 03 June 2018 - 1137 AM

The usual conscript based army also includes the WW2 Wehrmacht, Finnish, Bundeswehr and other NATO armies of the Cold War, wouldn't call them untipical. The question is not one of conscription or professional armies, but one of competence, and while easier to achieve in a professional, volunteer force, good results are common in conscript armies if enough time and effort is devoted to traning


  • 0

#19 NickM

NickM

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,609 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Concord, California, USA
  • Interests:Military history, computer sims, my daughter

Posted 03 June 2018 - 1532 PM

The draft allowed Westmoreland to be a butcher.

 

You can thank Giap & Le Duan for that, too.


  • 0

#20 chino

chino

    Crew

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,175 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Now in Macau
  • Interests:S2 Branch & Rifle Platoon Runner

Posted 05 June 2018 - 1036 AM

There are good conscript units along with the bad, and similarly with professional units. A professional army can be bad in one war and become good in another e.g. the Egyptians in Six Day War and later Yom Kippur War.

 

With conscript armies, you cannot send them as expeditionary forces to fight in foreign wars whose legitimacy they are not convinced about. There are many reasons the Israelis were very good in the past. One of them was because every single soldier was motivated. Their families and the pet dog, they were all motivated. Because survival was truly at stake.

 

If Singapore tried to send its conscripts to... say, Syria, as a fighting force, there would be a lot of desertions. But if we are about to get invaded, even old ex-conscripts like me would volunteer as home guard rather than be defenceless.


Edited by chino, 05 June 2018 - 1043 AM.

  • 0




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users