Note: Today’s post is a response to an editorial in yesterday’s LA Times promoting the dissolution of the draft rather than expanding it to include women. In anticipation of the reaction I may receive from some of my readers, please, know that I care strongly about the men and women, who serve and have served in our military. Although I wish their service were not necessary, I respect and honor their sacrifices.
Despite being the second Air Force officer of the Vietnam era to successfully claim conscientious objector status(1), I have long supported a universal draft similar to that employed in Israel. As illogical as it may seem for an anti-war activist to propose, I contend the draft would deter extended participation in armed conflict, if not actually limit it’s initiation.
For the majority that don’t share my views on war, other significant reasons exist for the maintenance and implementation of a draft.
Young Americans required to serve in the military or other qualifying public agencies would be required to associate closely with people of varying ethnic, racial, and socio-economic status, thus offering them a better appreciation and understanding of the experiences, views, and opinions of others of dissimilar backgrounds.
Service to country also provides a lesson in civics—that essential field of study long abandoned by our school systems—and thus potentially acts to motivate greater participation in governmental affairs and voting.
Regardless, of one result I’m most certain: were all of America’s young men and women serving their country at the time of our unjustified invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, our volunteers and reservists would not have endured repeated tours of duty. And, I bet, the rich and powerful—at risk of having their children become cannon fodder—would have hastened to examine the rationale for entering and sustaining those wars.
(1) As I was informed orally at the time, but my “ranking” has not been independently verified.