?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

I just remembered a discussion from our Friday (01 Oct 2004) lunch at Pizza Hut, that I thought I'd post a question on the draft, especially for Vietnam veterans and draftees.

Dave Schmidt, one of our senior faculty members, related that he was 19 during the Vietnam War when his number was called up (it was around the hundredth of some two hundred eligible young men from Hays, KS).1 His pre-induction physical had been scheduled and was within a week of happening in 1973, when the Paris Peace Accords were signed, ending the war.

David's position, shared by many who were conscientious objectors to the war, but were prepared to enlist and do their duty, is that conscription is a proper way to prepare for a conflict such as the present one in Iraq. Not only is it more fair and equitable, he believes, but it serves as a deterrent to congressional leaders and the commander-in-chief - or an incentive to more thoroughly exhaust diplomatic channels - "when the pain is shared equally". Though I had thought of a draft lottery in these terms when I first became eligible for selective service (1991), it had not crossed my mind for years: I have lived my adult years in fortunate times when no draft has been necessary.

This brings me to my question - actually several related questions:
What do you think of a draft as a way to incentivize diplomacy among U.S. foreign policy and military decision-makers? How well does this work in reducing the activation of reservists who have already served? Finally, is a draft worth while, in your opinion, for balancing the load between career members of the armed services (the volunteer military) and conscripted soldiers?

1An aside: during this time, shortly after John Kerry gave his testimony to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as an executive committee member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, came through Hays, KS to speak, and David went to listen to a talk of his.

--
Banazir

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
hempknight
Oct. 11th, 2004 03:47 am (UTC)
Draft is an overly-elaborate, and above all ineffective way to build the armed forces. Those who sign up and are willing to do it (you know, go to meet people of an exotic and interesting culture and kill them) are generally better at it than someone who's been dragged in there kicking and screaming.

As for it preventing war, I don't think the world works that way. Those in power want to stay there. And bringing back the draft, would have the exact opposite effect.

--
Danger is my middle name
dashamus
Oct. 11th, 2004 04:32 am (UTC)
Draft
I agree. No amout of MPs or Officers will ever be able to drag me to war (Currently). Why should I be forced to kill someone I have never met, jsut because our Illustrious Leaders (*gag*) have managed to screw up again. If they want to go to war, they better make sure they have the resources (men, machine, ammo) to complete it. No one bails me out if i overextend myself and end up in trouble, why should we do the same for them?

S
banazir
Oct. 11th, 2004 09:05 am (UTC)
Coalition of the Unwilling
I agree. No amout of MPs or Officers will ever be able to drag me to war (Currently). Why should I be forced to kill someone I have never met, jsut because our Illustrious Leaders (*gag*) have managed to screw up again.
Well, that's all well and good, Duck, and I personally concur with the assessment that there has been no such need in recent memory. (I'm speaking only as a U.S. citizen here.) Even now, full American commitment to the war in Iraq would require at most limited reservist activation, probably from servicepeople who are trained and prepared to go.

I was speaking, however, only of whether the draft would serve as a deterrent to war and whether the benefit to society (from aversion of preventable wars, practically speaking) would outweigh the commensurate loss in quality of the available troops. I agree that there are severe training and morale issues.

For context: My friend is actually somewhat pacifistic in his thinking, and had requested (and been denied) conscientious objector status for Vietnam. The recruiters' answer was: "If you mean it, enlist now and we will put you in the Medical Corps so you will not have to kill people or be on the front lines unless absolutely necessary." So, the draft need not mean combatant soldiers (or even soldiers carrying weapons): it could certainly include support personnel doing work near the theatre of combat. Now, again, there is still a morale issue. Conscripting the unwilling has got to have negative utility for the military organization itself, and not just for its political survival. OTOH, the different levels of need presented by WWI, WWII, and Vietnam showed that the "unwilling" line is pretty variable. Here I would indeed defer (or at least refer) to the will of the people on recognizing a true threat to the security of the nation or the world. Which, after all, is different from the sentiments of "my country, right or wrong" and "support our troops: { let them win | bring them home }".

If they want to go to war, they better make sure they have the resources (men, machine, ammo) to complete it. No one bails me out if i overextend myself and end up in trouble, why should we do the same for them?
I agree that preparedness should be a prerequisite; it's not clear that a volunteer or professional army will necessarily do this. The question in my mind is whether my colleague's assertion, that a country that has to send unwilling 19-year olds into battle will be less likely to do so without overwhelming reason, is entailed.

--
Banazir
spoothbrush
Oct. 11th, 2004 04:12 am (UTC)
Well, I'm not even eligible for selective service, but...

The idea of a draft, or at least a fair and equitable draft (which isn't in place if you can get exemptions for university, or have connected and/or wealthy family or friends pull strings to get you out of it) could potentially work in that way for the legislators -- but a drafted military would, I think, have to be in place in both war and peacetime for this to be effective. Mandatory military service (Eurostyle!) or a peacetime draft without exceptions, or possibly a law (and probably a constitutional amendment) that a draft must be in effect before declaration of war or beginning hostilities -- these might make the draft have an effect on diplomacy. If, as now, you don't start the draft until you've had a couple years of volunteer military action, it creates an atmosphere of distrust.

For actual individuals, it's not nearly so appealing. Part of this may be because Americans broadly seem to have a hard time thinking of serving in combat as being a duty (hence all the "heroes" talk about our armed forces -- something heroic is kind of by definition something well above and beyond duty). Part of it also may be that, after Vietnam, we associate "draft" with "sending kids unwillingly off to die", and so it's become a really ugly word.

Vague Sort of Summary (given that it's early and I'm half awake):
Active draft during lead-up-to-war: potentially good and could force questions, but not convinced.

Active draft instituted when war has actually been going on: bad, because gives the impression "The CiC/military got in over their heads and now there's a situation that they can't handle, so we're going to put you/your kid/your sibling in harms' way to try to salvage this bad situation."
borgseawolf
Oct. 11th, 2004 04:18 am (UTC)
Draft is always the worse solution for any situation except defending your own country from enemy invasion.
Unless _I'm_ in power, of course :) (sorry, too much Total War recently)
banazir
Oct. 11th, 2004 01:44 pm (UTC)
The relativity of wrong (to steal an Asimovianism)
Draft is always the worse solution for any situation except defending your own country from enemy invasion.
If you mean for purposes of successfully carrying out a full-conflagration campaign, yes.

If you mean "winning" in the Sun Tzu sense (where to subdue the enemy without fighting is the optimal result), possibly, but not necessarily.

If you mean for purposes of preserving the peace (and here I mean having a standing army as a deterrent, not just as lip service to a government that will appease and capitulate to terrorism), I disagree.

Unless _I'm_ in power, of course :) (sorry, too much Total War recently)
Well, you're not Shogun of TEUNC for nothing.

--
Banazir
anglachel1
Oct. 11th, 2004 01:03 pm (UTC)
A good topic
What do you think of a draft as a way to incentivize diplomacy among U.S. foreign policy and military decision-makers?

No, it will not incentivize for peace, if that is what you mean. Why not? Because we have seen four years of an ideologically driven administration living in a fantasy land ignore and marginalize precisely those policy makers and military advisors who *could* be incentivized by such a thing. An administration that is inclined to pursue multi-lateral, multi-faceted solutions to regional and global threats (think the Balkans, think Indonesia, think Iraq War I) will have as a matter of policy the determination not to misuse the armed forces. Administrations who are not able to think beyond their own desires will look upon a draft as permission to engage in imperial adventures; their own toy soldiers. We don't need to wonder. The proof is in front of our eyes.

Finally, is a draft worth while, in your opinion, for balancing the load between career members of the armed services (the volunteer military) and conscripted soldiers?

No. There does not need to be a "balance" as long as there is not an administration in power which has lost touch with reality. Iraq War I is more than proof of this, as is the US intervention in the Balkans. Please take the time to look up Gen. Wes Clark's writings on the improvement to the armed forces because the people who are there *want* to be there, take it seriously, and are more efficient and effective. It is still skewed to lower income groups and racial minorities, but it is not imposed. And, frankly, it can be, with intelligence and determination, a way out of bad social and economic conditions for many people, particularly women of color.

Conscription skips over women, at least as done now. It also allows exemptions for people who have the connections, wealth, and color to work the system. Until you can guarantee that Jenna and Not-Jenna Bush (and their socio-economic peers) would be drafted, I will say no.

Is there a time when a conscription is warranted? Yes. If the US is invaded, or if there is a global war of such a degree that our nation is materially harmed, then a conscription is justified. Of course, under those conditions, I think you would have a flood of volunteers to start with (as happened after the al-Qaeda attack), and would have time to put into place a conscription that would be equitable. But a general draft to create a standing involuntary military? No. That is tempting some crazy man like Bush (Cheney, Rummy, Dances-With-Wolfowitz, et.al.) to come up with ways to make use of it.

Ang
digby_tantrum
Oct. 16th, 2004 07:38 am (UTC)
Q & A
Q: Did conscription prevent US participation in dumb-ass military actions?
A: No.

Q: Did conscription prevent UK participation in dumb-ass military actions?
A: No.

My thoughts? Conscription is an expensive way of giving young people something to do in the years between school and their next step. History would seem to demonstrate that it does not act as a deterrent against war.

'Nuff said.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

December 2008
S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

KSU Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (GEC) Lab

Teunciness

Breakfast

Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) Communities

Fresh Pages

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Naoto Kishi