Thursday, April 22, 2004

Feeling a draft

With all this talk of bringing back the draft, Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias provides some interesting perspective from those who would be most directly affected by the proposal: men of draft age. They both state that, while they don't want to be drafted, they wouldn't object to it either if it came down to that. My wife tells me that her draft-age nephew has said similar things.

Oliver Willis appears to be on the opposite side of the fence.

I feel conflicted over this. I am no longer of the draft age and, when I was (in the 1980s), the prospect of the draft seemed pretty remote so I just didn't think about it that much. However, I did have a general "I don't want to do it" attitude.

But now, as I get older, I have to wonder if that was the correct position to take. I sometimes thing this country could stand a little bit of compulsory service (whether it be in the military or in some other non-combat role) in order to instill a stronger sense of citizenship. But the libertarian side of me quails a little at the idea of forced servitude to the state.

There is also the concern that an all-volunteer army will eventually produce a military service that is overwhelmingly gung-ho and reactionary (since those are the types that would be most likely to volunteer). That's the kind of situation that could eventually lead to the military being led by types who lose an appreciation for the idea of a citizen led army. A draft could dilute this attitude within the military ranks and reduce the risk of some future military coup (don't think it can't happen here).

I think, for now, I come down on the side of Ezra and Matthew. I don't want there to be a draft. But I don't necessarily consider proposals for such to be beyond the pale.


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