WHY I'M IN FAVOR OF A MILITARY DRAFT - Complications Ensue
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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

We're a week behind in our Over Theres because of the New York trip, so we watched the one about the military contractor last night. There were any number of plotholes -- would the wife of an imam really argue with him in front of the entire village? -- and go-to's -- gee, people on the street in L.A. are dangerous and can't be trusted with your wallet! But it was compelling television nonetheless.

One thing I took away from it is how the people who serve in the Armed Forces live in a different world than the rest of us. If most of us had been to war, we might not bandy terms like "I'm getting killed here" so easily. Most of us have never depended on someone else for our actual survival, unless you count our parents. Most of us have never faced real physical danger out of a sense of duty.

I think we might treat going to war differently if most people had a real chance of having to serve. We would not have gone into Iraq so cocksure if the sons and daughters of Congressmen were serving. (And we all know that the sons and daughters of the current Administration do not serve.) We might be fighting the war differently.

(We might be fighting the war with enough soldiers, for one thing.)

I don't think it's healthy for a republic to have such a dividing line between those who serve and those who do not. We probably aren't going to face a military coup or a barbarian invasion. But it is unhealthy, I think, for a democracy to go to war with an army of hired volunteers. It puts the burden of war on only a few backs.

(And don't even get me started about stop-loss orders.)

I don't like war. Not many people do, outside of a few Washington think tanks staffed by chickenhawks. I would be horrified to see my daughter go to war. But we are at war, and likely we will over the years continue to be in wars. Offhand I can think of a few places the President ought to send troops, if we had any to spare. Darfur, for example. But I think the nation should bear the burden, not just the few whose sense of duty and/or whose financial need put them in uniform. If we are going to be at war, no one should be exempt.

See what a good TV show does?

Lisa reminds me that she and I are one draft into a remarkable screenplay about this divide between the families that serve (and really, the whole family serves) and those who don't, but the margin of this page is too small to contain it.

5 Comments:

http://blogs.ohio.com/beacon_tv/2005/11/bad_news_for_ov.html

Over There won't be renewed. Shame.

By Blogger Stanoje, at 12:59 PM  

The American people might not fall so easily for facile soundbites about the necessity of waging war if every single family had a more direct stake in the inevitable casualties of combat, that's true. But as for the children of congressmen and other officials, remember the service records of Dan Quayle and George W. Bush. During the Vietnam draft, they served stateside, well out of harm's way. Al Gore went to Vietnam, but as a journalist, not an infantryman. Some say his father got him this plum assignment, others say the Army routinely handed such duty to the "sons of Harvard" and other elite schools. Either way, privilege marches on, draft or not. Unless maybe you're John Kerry...

By Blogger Melanie, at 10:25 AM  

"But it is unhealthy, I think, for a democracy to go to war with an army of hired volunteers."I've always found this argument a bit odd.

For a start, a random draft might be 'fairer', but would it be a better army? Would the army be more likely to win, with fewer bodybags needed, if they used a random bunch of overweight accountants in the front line?

Also, you are assuming that being in the military is a dangerous job. Sure it is - but compared to what ?

Let's look at the facts. In 2004:

* Logging workers had a death rate of 92.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.
(Ref: http://money.cnn.com/2005/08/26/pf/jobs_jeopardy )

* Of the 200,000 US military workers cycled through Iraq in 2004, there were 848 fatalities - that's 424 deaths per 100,000 workers.
(Ref: http://icasualties.org/oif/ )

So even taking the worst of the worst areas - we get an increase in death rates by less than 5 compared to forestry.

So why would have a draft to 'equalise' the deaths for the war in Iraq, but not a draft for logging workers?

Perhaps the American people might not fall so easily for facile soundbites about the necessity of using timber if every single family had a more direct stake n the inevitable casualties of logging.

Mac.

By Blogger Mac, at 2:45 AM  

Wow. "Only" 5 times more deadly than logging (not particularly safe business).

I'm going to guess you aren't a soldier and don't know any soldiers, or you wouldn't make the comparison. Death isn't the only thing a soldier faces. Killing, for examlpe, is another risk that a soldier faces. Killing is not particularly good for the soul.

Lisa's dad, a retired US Army colonel, says that in a draft you get all sorts of people, some of whom are much more qualified than any you'd get in a volunteer army. So he thought the draft wasn't a bad thing.

As for the "overweight accountants"... well, past basic training, they're not overweight any more, are they?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 9:35 AM  

>Wow. "Only" 5 times more deadly than logging (not particularly safe business).

Yeah - I didn't exactly start with my strong argument, did I? My implicit meaning was that Iraq was an example of the MOST dangerous place for US military workers, whereas the logging statistic was over the entire logging industry.

Taking this into account means that a US soldier (pilot/etc) has about the same risk of being killed on the job as a logger.

>I'm going to guess you aren't a soldier and don't know any soldiers, or you wouldn't make the comparison.
Well, I'm not a soldier, but I have talked this over a friend who HAS returned from Iraq. Yes, despite what the US thinks, it's not just the US & England who are fighting in Iraq.

>Death isn't the only thing a soldier faces

I know - but that is the main argument that everyone uses. I was pointing out that this argument logically should apply to other industries too. If that isn't a strong argument, then people shouldn't use it!

It's always amused me that if you ask who is willing to die for the country, you'll get a huge show of hands.

If you ask who is willing to pay an extra 38% tax for their country - no one volunteers...

Any theories why not ??

Mac.

By Blogger Mac, at 11:14 PM  

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