Author Topic: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank  (Read 783 times)

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Offline mystery-ak

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Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« on: December 01, 2013, 08:39:49 AM »
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-restore-conscription-restore-america/2013/11/29/8d5f7ef8-5935-11e3-8304-caf30787c0a9_print.html

Save America: Restore the draft
By  Milbank, Published: November 29

At this time of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the U.S. military — not just for the usual reason that it protects us from our foes but also because it has the potential to save us from ourselves.

As I make my rounds each day in the capital, chronicling our leaders’ plentiful foibles, failings, screw-ups, inanities, outrages and overall dysfunction, I’m often asked if there’s anything that could clean up the mess.

My usual answer is a shrug and an admission that there’s no silver bullet. There are many possibilities — campaign spending limits, term limits, nonpartisan primaries, nonpartisan redistricting, a third party — but most aren’t politically or legally feasible, might not make much of a difference or, as with Harry Reid’s rewriting of Senate rules, have the potential to make things even worse.

But one change, over time, could reverse the problems that have built up over the past few decades: We should mandate military service for all Americans, men and women alike, when they turn 18. The idea is radical, unlikely and impractical — but it just might work.

There is no better explanation for what has gone wrong in Washington in recent years than the tabulation done every two years of how many members of Congress served in the military.

A Congressional Quarterly count of the current Congress finds that just 86 of the 435 members of the House are veterans, as are only 17 of 100 senators, which puts the overall rate at 19 percent. This is the lowest percentage of veterans in Congress since World War II, down from a high of 77?percent in 1977-78, according to the American Legion. For the past 21 years, the presidency has been occupied by men who didn’t serve or, in the case of George W. Bush, served in a capacity designed to avoid combat.

It’s no coincidence that this same period has seen the gradual collapse of our ability to govern ourselves: a loss of control over the nation’s debt, legislative stalemate and a disabling partisanship. It’s no coincidence, either, that Americans’ approval of Congress has dropped to just 9?percent, the lowest since Gallup began asking the question 39 years ago.

Because so few serving in politics have worn their country’s uniform, they have collectively forgotten how to put country before party and self-interest. They have forgotten a “cause greater than self,” and they have lost the knowledge of how to make compromises for the good of the country. Without a history of sacrifice and service, they’ve turned politics into war.

Compulsory military service, as old as Athenian democracy and common in countries such as Israel that live under threat, has been in decline in Western Europe since the end of the Cold War. But an exception, Switzerland, is instructive: On Sept. 22, the Swiss voted 73?percent to 27?percent to keep their conscription army. It has less to do with security than with national identity in a land of 26 cantons and four official languages. The government argued that military service teaches people “how to live and work with compatriots from all regions, all linguistic groups and all social strata,” which “contributes enormously to the national cohesion.”

In Switzerland, the sons of bankers and farmers alike do basic training for several months and then are recalled to service for brief periods. But the structure is less important than the service itself. My former colleague Tom Ricks proposes bringing back the draft in the United States but allowing for a civilian national service option — teaching, providing day care and the like — for those who don’t want to join the military.

There’s no mass movement for mandatory service, but the idea has gained a diverse group of supporters, including retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y). Gun-rights groups would cheer an armed citizenry, and an article published by the libertarian Cato Institute argued that compulsory service “can be a pillar of freedom.”

The costs would be huge. But so would the benefits: overcoming growing social inequality without redistributing wealth; making future leaders, unlike today’s “chicken hawks,” disinclined to send troops into combat without good reason; putting young Americans to work and giving them job and technology skills; and, above all, giving these young Americans a shared sense of patriotism and service to the country.

It would take some time, but this new generation of Americans, once again asking what they can do for their country, would undo much of the damage today’s crop of self-interested leaders is doing to our politics.

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Offline DCPatriot

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2013, 09:20:43 AM »
Well, it's one way to get a lot of young Americans to stop thinking about the shitting job market.....
"It aint what you don't know that kills you.  It's what you know that aint so!" ...Theodore Sturgeon

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Offline jmyrlefuller

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2013, 05:54:34 PM »
Well, it's one way to get a lot of young Americans to stop thinking about the shitting job market.....
It worked for FDR and LBJ.
"Just because people in positions of authority are stupid, it doesn’t mean you have to go along with it." —Arlo Guthrie

"In the excitement of great popular elections, deciding the policy of the country, and its vast patronage, frauds will be committed, if a chance is given for them." —Richard Henry Dana, Jr.

Offline mountaineer

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2013, 06:26:17 PM »
I'm guessing Oceander doesn't have a 17-year-old son.
 Let those poor people get drafted! That's what they're there for (right, Oceander?)
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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2013, 08:27:49 PM »
As either the lone (or one of just a few) conscript here, I believe that mandatory service is a positive.

With a population of 160 million during WWII, about 16 million American people served in uniform during the war.

We won two major wars against formidable opponents, contrasted to our 11+ year fiasco, against Afghanistan.

If draftee families were involved, perhaps we would have tried different ways of ending it, like killing more enemy people (instead of waiting years for a surge, or negotiating with the enemy, or tolerating Pakistan's two-faced posture).

Truman had incentives to drop nukes on the Japs, to save American lives, and get it over with.

 

Offline Cincinnatus

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2013, 01:36:16 AM »
You are not the lone conscript. I, too, was drafted and am adamantly opposed to its resumption. Our young men are NOT a national resource to be exploited by government. Moreover, as Milton Friedman noted, do we really want to be defended by an army of slaves?

The presence of draftees would not alter this: contrasted to our 11+ year fiasco, against Afghanistan. What is needed to resolve Afghanistan is not conscripts but better political leadership.

In addition the historical precedent you do cite to support the draft, Truman had incentives to drop nukes on the Japs, to save American lives, and get it over with., happened when the country's very life was in danger. No war we have fought since, neither Korea or Vietnam (when we had a draft as I well know), fuffills that criterion; and none of them have we fought to a satisfactory conclusion.
We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid ~~ Samuel Adams

Offline Slide Rule

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2013, 06:03:59 PM »
Oceander Milbank proposes to establish the draft for all able bodied over 18 citizens.  I say add illegal or whatever you call those who are here by hook or crook.

It is a basic Conservative principle.  I endorse her recommendation.
All the best,
Al

Disclosure:
I am 3% Neanderthal and 97% Conservative.

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Offline Fishrrman

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2013, 10:52:00 PM »
[[ You are not the lone conscript. I, too, was drafted and am adamantly opposed to its resumption. Our young men are NOT a national resource to be exploited by government. Moreover, as Milton Friedman noted, do we really want to be defended by an army of slaves? ]]

Would you say the same of Israelis, who have a high level of obligatory military service?

Are they "slaves" by your definition?

I, too, was drafted -- not once, but TWO times. Once in October 1969, and again in May of 1970. I wasn't particulary happy about going, but I had nothing else going on in life at the time. I did ok, got by, got sent to Germany for a year, got discharged early due to force reductions. In retrospect, being in the military was an important part of my maturing in life, on a pathway which was eventually to bring me to conservatism.

A lot of young folks now could do worse.
And they _are_ doing worse....

Offline olde north church

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2013, 06:00:20 AM »
The problem with any draft, going forward, any men and women wouldn't be killing and breaking things.  They would be bringing food to the infirm and pulling survivors from fallen buildings.
Why?  Well, because I'm a bastard, that's why.

Offline jmyrlefuller

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2013, 11:53:49 AM »
[[ You are not the lone conscript. I, too, was drafted and am adamantly opposed to its resumption. Our young men are NOT a national resource to be exploited by government. Moreover, as Milton Friedman noted, do we really want to be defended by an army of slaves? ]]

Would you say the same of Israelis, who have a high level of obligatory military service?

Are they "slaves" by your definition?
I certainly would.

Besides, the current draft system-- which subjects men to huge penalties but leaves women totally off the hook-- is wrong. I suspect that's exactly what led to the rise of feminism during Vietnam-- all the moral, upstanding young men were taken from their homes and shipped off to the military, leaving no one to defend against all the special interests.

Israel, on the other hand, subjects all citizens equally.
"Just because people in positions of authority are stupid, it doesn’t mean you have to go along with it." —Arlo Guthrie

"In the excitement of great popular elections, deciding the policy of the country, and its vast patronage, frauds will be committed, if a chance is given for them." —Richard Henry Dana, Jr.

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2013, 12:39:33 PM »
The Draft would not be good for today's high tech military. Training a soldier now is a costly effort. Soldiers, even front line grunts, and no longer just there as another body to hold a firearm. They are trained with high tech equipment and skills. Recruiting is focusing more on aptitude than just getting manpower. I doubt a third of the citizens drafted could pass a ASVAB.

Offline DCPatriot

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2013, 05:15:05 PM »
Oceander Milbank proposes to establish the draft for all able bodied over 18 citizens.  I say add illegal or whatever you call those who are here by hook or crook.

It is a basic Conservative principle.  I endorse her recommendation.


...just a note....Oceander Milbank is not a female.   :beer:
"It aint what you don't know that kills you.  It's what you know that aint so!" ...Theodore Sturgeon

"I am responsible for what I say.  I am not responsible for what you understand."  ...me

Offline Fishrrman

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2013, 12:06:46 PM »
[[ The Draft would not be good for today's high tech military. Training a soldier now is a costly effort. Soldiers, even front line grunts, and no longer just there as another body to hold a firearm. They are trained with high tech equipment and skills. Recruiting is focusing more on aptitude than just getting manpower. I doubt a third of the citizens drafted could pass a ASVAB. ]]

Huh?

What about all those college graduates out there working "below" their education levels, or those who claim they can't find work at all?

Get them out of fast-food and give them a real job. Their education levels would be perfect for the "high tech" military that you describe above...

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2013, 01:00:09 PM »
The Draft would not be good for today's high tech military. Training a soldier now is a costly effort. Soldiers, even front line grunts, and no longer just there as another body to hold a firearm. They are trained with high tech equipment and skills. Recruiting is focusing more on aptitude than just getting manpower. I doubt a third of the citizens drafted could pass a ASVAB.
During Vietnam, tests were also used. The main component of aptitude for Infantry was IQ.

Draftees had equally high, or higher tests, than volunteers. Draftees fought and gave their lives willingly for our country. Don't forget, a lot of young men were hiding in college, to avoid the draft.

A friend of mine entered the Army as a draftee, and left 37 years later as a Lieutenant General, in combat arms, Airborne Ranger along the way.

The crazy idea that draftees were/are inferior is not proved. Draftees served nobly in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam.

BTW, standards have been lowered or waived during this conflict, to get enough people to serve.

Offline sinkspur

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2013, 01:10:18 PM »
As either the lone (or one of just a few) conscript here, I believe that mandatory service is a positive.

With a population of 160 million during WWII, about 16 million American people served in uniform during the war.

We won two major wars against formidable opponents, contrasted to our 11+ year fiasco, against Afghanistan.

If draftee families were involved, perhaps we would have tried different ways of ending it, like killing more enemy people (instead of waiting years for a surge, or negotiating with the enemy, or tolerating Pakistan's two-faced posture).

Truman had incentives to drop nukes on the Japs, to save American lives, and get it over with.

Absolutely not.  Have we, as conservatives, not had ENOUGH of government mandates and interferences in our lives?

We had a draft in WWII because we HAD TO, to defeat an imperialist enemy. 

The purpose of war is to break things and kill people, both of which can be done with drones and a few strategically delivered missles. 

Drafting people because "it would do them some good" is a vacuous and epically liberal manipulation of human beings.

No draft. 
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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2013, 08:08:44 AM »
During Vietnam, tests were also used. The main component of aptitude for Infantry was IQ.

Draftees had equally high, or higher tests, than volunteers. Draftees fought and gave their lives willingly for our country. Don't forget, a lot of young men were hiding in college, to avoid the draft.

A friend of mine entered the Army as a draftee, and left 37 years later as a Lieutenant General, in combat arms, Airborne Ranger along the way.

The crazy idea that draftees were/are inferior is not proved. Draftees served nobly in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam.

BTW, standards have been lowered or waived during this conflict, to get enough people to serve.

It is not about inferiority or superiority, it is about the type of jobs the modern military needs and ROI (return on investment). We no longer use masses to storm beaches. We have masses behind computers. We have more Fobbits than Grunts, and the latter has a hundred grand of computer equipment strapped to him for sighting or logistics. A draft now would just be a waste of money, they would be sitting in barracks filling space.

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2013, 08:10:57 AM »
Absolutely not.  Have we, as conservatives, not had ENOUGH of government mandates and interferences in our lives?

We had a draft in WWII because we HAD TO, to defeat an imperialist enemy. 

The purpose of war is to break things and kill people, both of which can be done with drones and a few strategically delivered missles. 

Drafting people because "it would do them some good" is a vacuous and epically liberal manipulation of human beings.

No draft.

Ditto to all that.

Offline jmyrlefuller

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Re: Save America: Restore the draft By Dana Milbank
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2013, 10:21:25 AM »
[[ The Draft would not be good for today's high tech military. Training a soldier now is a costly effort. Soldiers, even front line grunts, and no longer just there as another body to hold a firearm. They are trained with high tech equipment and skills. Recruiting is focusing more on aptitude than just getting manpower. I doubt a third of the citizens drafted could pass a ASVAB. ]]

Huh?

What about all those college graduates out there working "below" their education levels, or those who claim they can't find work at all?

Get them out of fast-food and give them a real job. Their education levels would be perfect for the "high tech" military that you describe above...
I purposely rejected military service (even though my field of study, meteorology, has a lot of use there) because I had experience with teachers who were in the military reserves. In both cases, they insisted so much on procedure over learning that although I learned much, I got poor grades. I had one reserve sergeant, an economics teacher, throw out my final exam and give me a zero because I didn't take notes the way he liked. In another, a Spanish teacher found out I managed to pass her classes despite not being able to finish her exorbitant amounts of homework, so she adjusted the grading system so I would fail. I still barely passed, but only by getting a perfect score on the state exam. I was left with a very bad opinion of the military after those experiences.

Not all of us are cut out for the service, and trying to force us into the service is a recipe for creating miserable, ineffective servicemen.
"Just because people in positions of authority are stupid, it doesn’t mean you have to go along with it." —Arlo Guthrie

"In the excitement of great popular elections, deciding the policy of the country, and its vast patronage, frauds will be committed, if a chance is given for them." —Richard Henry Dana, Jr.


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