Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Friday, January 07, 2005

The draft that's not a draft?

Townhall's Ross Mackenzie has this to say regarding the possibility of a draft:
A standard line says, I told you so, and the force augmentation takes us another step toward the inevitable resumption of a draft. There can be no doubt the nation requires a larger military cohort and greater appreciation of what the military does. But a draft is not the way to go. Reason: Because some serve and some do not, a draft is inherently unfair.
Ok, I'm not so sure about the "no doubt the nation requires a larger military cohort" part, but I'm with you on draft=bad.

Then he does a 180:
A fundamental lesson of the 1960s was that in a modern liberal democracy, the fairness issue renders politically unsustainable any draft that is substantially less than universal. What the nation needs is a one-year civilian-based program of universal service for all men and women 18-23, no exceptions, with a front-end military component - the equivalent of boot camp. The nation would receive one year of give-back from the young, with the added benefit that the military would win (a) greater appreciation and (b) a partly trained manpower pool from which it could draw in times of a stressed and stretched military - such as now.
Huh? So a draft is bad not because it's involuntary servitude, but because it's applied randomly rather than on everyone equally? So much for logic in the defense of freedom.

Here's an idea that will allow the military to augment the force in Iraq without instituting any kind of draft, gussied-up or otherwise: pull the needed troops from the 100 countries where they're stationed and not fighting a war (read: where U.S. military presence is not required). The length and breadth of the U.S. armed influence is staggering - there are American troops stationed in 135 countries (!), or 70% of the 192 countries in the world. Here is a DoD source in case that number is doubted. Like I said, staggering. I just don't understand how conservative hawks can suggest with a straight face that they need more personnel to fight the insurgents in Iraq, and that they'll take them from anywhere they can get them, provided it's not from anywhere else we've already got troops stationed. Can anyone tell me why we need to maintain a troop presence in any of the European countries - especially England - or in out-of-the-way who-cares places like Cote D'Ivoire, Malawi, and Trinidad & Tobago (though I do envy any servicemen and women stationed anywhere in the Caribbean)?


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