Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

November 19, 2006

Prominent Democrat Wants To Reinstate The Draft

by Doug Mataconis

Rep. Charles Rangel, who is set to become the Chairman of the House Ways And Means Committee (or, as I like to call it, the Ways-To-Be-Mean Committee), has called for the reinstatement of the military draft:

WASHINGTON — Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 if the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has his way.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars and to bolster U.S. troop levels insufficient to cover potential future action in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.

“There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” Rangel said.

Rangel’s evidence for this ? Nothing, it seems but his own mind. Does he forget the fact that the badly-executed Vietnam War occurred in an era when we had the draft ? Not to mention the very Korean War that Rangel fought in. The idea that war would be less likely if there were a draft in place quite simply has no evidence in history.

More disturbing than Rangel’s misunderstanding of military history, though, is his collectivist rhetoric, and the idea that you “owe something” to your country.

He said having a draft would not necessarily mean everyone called to duty would have to serve. Instead, “young people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it’s our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals,” with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.

Since when does the state have the right to ask anyone, young or old, to “commit themselves” to the service of others for any period of time ? If you thought liberty was under assault with the Republicans in control of Congress, it looks like things will only get worse in 2007.

Further coverage of the story here.

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  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Viet Nam was not started because there was a draft.

    Just when is one expected to protect their own liberty? Since Iraq it seems that too many people are saying let some else do it. What happens when no one is willing to serve? Are we still a nation? If the enemy were on our shores would it be right for the government to ask anything of you?

  • Mike W

    I think it’s a great idea. Too many people today are out of touch with reality. They don’t care what decisions our politicians make even when it puts us on a self-destructive course.

    Iraq was an unnecessary and extremely expensive war. We invaded a country which posed no threat to our own security. Most Americans basically yawned because it wasn’t being fought in their own backyard and they (or their kids) weren’t in the military. The majority of Americans like you Doug have been sitting on their lazy butts in a nice cozy, warm home disconnected from the realities of war. Our news organizations show santized videos and those killed or injured are kept mostly hidden.

    IMO EVERY single man and woman in the US should spend at least two years in the active duty military overseas. Perhaps then many here will stop thinking a foreigner’s life is far less meaningful than theirs. Perhaps then they will understand war is ugly. Perhaps then we will hold our politicians accountable far quicker for waging elective military actions against others. Thank God a few states showed some backbone this time to stop the Republican dictatorship. It’s too bad we don’t have a viable third party to kick out the Dems and Reps who both like to pander to their extremes.

  • Tim

    There should be a bill introduced that states that any member of the legislative or executive branch who knowingly deceives the American people in order to gain national support for war shall be guilty of committing high treason.

    Probably more symbolic of a bill, but it may make these baby-killing politicians think twice before being so unappologetically deceitful.

  • JK

    How about the back door draft? A draft already exists that pulls the poor in who have no other job opportunities because of the faults of our recent administration and previous administrations. The rich and powerful congress do not know these people. An all inclusive draft will bring the realities home to the people who make the decisions.

  • Bill Stewart

    There are lots of things you can do with an army of slaves, but protecting freedom is not one of them. People will volunteer to join the army to protect freedom, at least if you run the army well enough that you don’t alienate too many volunteers. What a draft really accomplishes is that it lets politicians have a war that they can’t sell to the public even with the kinds of egregious lies Bush was telling, and that needs more soldiers than the number of volunteers they can normally sustain in peacetime.

    Rangel’s big issue has alway been that poor people end up being the regular volunteers, who join up to get out of the ghetto and see the world, so they end up fighting the small bogus wars, and that if you had a draft, the middle-class voting public would be more reluctant to allow the politicians to send their boys off to fight the next War in Albania, and that when the politicians did it anyway, they wouldn’t always be killing so many poor black kids. He’s partly right – but mostly what happens with a draft is that the politicians can draft enough people to fight bigger bogus wars.

  • Jon H

    Its good to see the comments from this post. As a member of the services and a veteran I find the sentiment stated by Doug to be rather irresponsible. It was the presence of the draft which caused the good citizens to raise their voices against the Johnson administration in order to stop the war. If we had a draft now…how long would it take us to come up with a time table then? Would we have ever invaded Iraq?

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    I want Bill to know that the US didn’t expand into others wars during Viet Nam because of the numbers drafted, most of the excess draftees raked sand for months.

    It is interesting that during WWII, there was a draft, but many citizens volunteered, because they felt an obligation to their country.

    The way some libertarians express themselves about their liberty I would think they would live on some island where they can live and only be responsible for themselves. I don’t know how they live in a society.

  • L Ray

    The military draft does not create “an army of slaves” and this kind of mentality is, in large part, why our US Military forces are spread so thinly around the globe today. With all the postings to the DMZ in Korea, all over Europe, and certainly in the Middle East we would be in real deep doo doo if we actually had to repel an invasion on our shores. Our government could barely could cope with the ravages fo Hurricane Katrina . . . and not enough National Guard troops were available because they are almost fighting Bush’s insane invasion of Iraq . . some on their third tour of duty. God forbid a huge peril should threaten the whole country.
    The draft sharpens the focus of the average American and makes the need for a ready military quite real. Deadbeat wimps wouldn’t have to worry about actually having to serve because they probably wouldn’t meet basic qualification standards. Get used to it . . . the neocon greed mongers have had their tails trimmed. Time for reason and hard decisions to finally previal.

  • http://noangst.blogspot.com mike

    Ugh. So many incorrect yet convenient talking points here, so let’s get started.

    We’ll start with L Ray. Since when is disaster relief ever a chief mission of the military? The purpose of the military is to fight wars, not be waiting around so we can pull people from rooftops after their local government completely and utterly fails them. As far as the NG is concerned, there were plenty of troops from neighboring states who were ready to respond in place of the LA NG, per SOP. Unfortunately, due to incompetence at the state level, these NG troops were never requested by the LA state government. Again, incompetence at the local/state level, really nothing to do with the number of troops in the military or the war in Iraq.

    Regarding the “army of slaves” comment, that’s exactly what a draft would produce. People who don’t want to be in the military and who, accordingly, will do their job like someone who doesn’t want to be in the military. We have the best and most professional military in the world today precisely because it is a volunteer force. When I commission as an officer in the USAF, I’ll know that every single Airman under my command WANTS to be there. Institute a draft and I’ll have a helluva lot more problems due to people that don’t belong and who never should’ve been in the military in the first place.

    JK, there is no such thing as the “back door draft.” If you look at the actual enlistment statistics, you’ll find that, surprisingly, the military has a cross-section very similar to America’s, with one glaring difference: the average educational level in the military is actually rather higher than the average level of education in the country as a whole. Racially and economically each group is represented in the military quite closely to their percentage in the total population. Educationally, something close to 98% of all personnel in the military have at least a high school degree, and almost all officers have at least a bachelor’s degree. Compare that to approximately only 60% of the civilian population holding at least a high school degree. The belief that the military is a haven for stupid poor minorities is a common one, but it is completely wrong.

    Finally, I sense a lot of “chickenhawk” sentiment in these comments, in that people seem to think that unless you’re willing to serve, you can just “git out.” While I most definitely cannot speak for the military as a whole, I know that the reason I’m serving is so that they don’t have to. Frankly, the day that it is actually necessary for every military age male in this country to be pressed into service is a day on which your current professional military has failed you.

  • Ashley

    I don’t know if you could say for certain that things are going to get worse based on one crazy democrat.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Mike, I guess you speak for all the military.
    My statement about living on an island is about more than military service. It has to do with only wanting to be only responsible for oneself. Your stated reason for volunteering is an altruistic act, even if it may be a selfish one.
    If we had another world war which required more troupes than were enlisting, do you think the government could not demand others to serve.

    I happen to think that the conflict with the terrorist will go on many years and at other places other than Iraq; that in the long run there will more people needed. Those who say that this is really serious have no compunction to serve bothers me. Even during Viet Nam there were many who volunteered because they thought they thought the war was necessary and wanted to serve their country. I am not saying this isn’t happening now, but I think those who are arm chair soldiers and pretend to be everything military is disrespectful to you. I think the proper word is not Chicken Hawk, but Chicken Sh*t.

    This is the statement that prompted to respond.
    “Since when does the state have the right to ask anyone, young or old, to “commit themselves” to the service of others for any period of time ?”

    In this statement would it be fair to say, that the government could not even ask for volunteers.

  • sjdoc

    “No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has.”

    — Robert A. Heinlein

    Apart from the moral case against the walking stench inflicted upon the nation by the Fifteenth Congressional District of the Evil Empire State, there’s the fact that if you simply ask the lowest-level presently all-volunteer troops in the combat and support arms of the United States military whether they *WANT* to share barracks, training, and battle with even a slender minority of unit members who had to be dragged into uniform by their draft boards, the answer will be “Hell,no!”

    As for Rep. Rangel’s crap about how “young people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it’s our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals,” there’s something even more odious.

    Rep. Rangel wants slave labor to hammer under the command of government bureaucrats. Not even the excuse that national emergency – violent enemies threatening the safety of American citizens – but merely that highly senior career politicians like Charlie Rangel perceive *their* vision and *their* plans superior to the individual rights of the young men and women of this nation, and feel free to thieve away their lives and their liberties simply for the glory of a lifelong political prostitute from the Fifteenth Congressional District of the State of New York.

    Manhattan and Queens, the question is no longer why you keep re-electing this whore, but rather why do you suffer him to continue breathing?

  • sean

    I’m 15 and I hope I get drafted. That would be really cool.

  • http://none Michael

    I served in Vietnam and although now older and wiser, I would serve again if asked. However, to keep from getting us into these needless wars and sending our materialistically less endowed to take care of it, we should make it a requirement that any Congressman or President that is for a war, would be required to have served in or at least send one of his children into harms way, to gain a better understanding of the conflict.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    sjdoc,
    Our nation survived with conscription. Heinlein wrote science fiction. There are more reason than that, that have caused nations to fail.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    VRB,

    In all your posts, I haven’t seen a convincing answer to a very simple question

    Does your apparent support of the draft mean that you think that my life belongs to the state, to do with as it wishes ?

  • void

    Rangel, who is a nice guy, is wrong on this one. If he wants a draft, call for one, but don’t try to say we should have a draft to deter wars that can’t be supported. I was and am against this war, but I do believe that enough of Bush’s people thought this was the right thing to do, and that it had objectives (I don’t think the objectives were oil, or democracy either). Rangel is way off on this one, in my view, and we don’t need a draft; we need to get the hell out of Iraq, and concentrate on security at home, and taking care of our citizens properly and not the whole world.

  • http://dj.waletzky.com/ D. J.

    “Since when does the state have the right to ask anyone, young or old, to “commit themselves” to the service of others for any period of time ?”

    Um, is this how you plan to get yourself out of jury duty? I’m a conscientious objector, myself, but you ‘ve got to be kidding.

  • Jay

    We can not protect persons from themselves. Those in the military now are not volunteering for numerous tours of duty in Iraq with full knowledge of what that deployment will expose them to or what they are enabeling by going without protest. Complicity in the present campaign only furthers to legitimize the lies that sent them into these liars’ wars. Don’t we demand too little of our government?

  • charles frederick

    Reinstate the draft,Yeah buddy,they can start by drafting from the “overcrowded prisons”thru out
    this country afer all they are already serving out a
    commitment

  • t wagenor

    The only reason we are short of troops is because over the years  cut backs in the active military there was no choice but to use reserves. The roll of reservists was in case a “real” war did happen or the country itself was under attack.Lets face it it is the politicians who get us in wars to begin with.The average guy just wants to work and  care for  his family.We (U.S.) sometimes get in to every one elses business when we should stay out. The far east has been fueding for hundreds of years,what makes us think it’s going to change because we got involved with it.There way of parculiar thinking there happened far further back than Saddam Husein was in power.Has anything changed on the dependency on foreign oil when we realized this 40 years ago.We pay and pay and pay!!!!!

  • sjdoc

    VRB, Heinlein was a career naval officer (U.S. Naval Academy, class of 1929). He contracted pulmonary tuberculosis while serving aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Roper, and despite having been medically discharged from the Navy in 1934 as permanently disabled, he gave up his flourishing writing career in 1941 to spend the war years as a civilian aeronautical engineer at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

    [Just to give you a bit of a medical sidebar for the sake of perspective, that was a time during which we had no effective antibiotic therapy for tuberculosis, and a diagnosis of "the White Plague" the way Heinlein had developed the disorder had a prognosis not too different from that of T1N1 or T2N1 bronchogenic carcinoma today.]

    He did a helluva lot more than write science fiction, and when he spoke on the subject of conscription he spoke from the perspective of a man who began his adult life as a professional naval combat officer, and had freely given over a big chunk of his life as a writer – possibly all of it he was ever going to have, insofar as he could have known at the time – to the defense of his country at a time of crisis.

    As to whether our nation can be said to have survived *with* conscription, the jury’s still out on that question, isn’t it?

    On question on which the jury has consistently ruled in favor, however, is the fact that the most effective military forces our nation has ever fielded – from the regiments that marched to Monmouth to the Submarine Service in World War II to the divisions which swiftly and utterly destroyed Saddam’s army in 2003 – were all (and I mean *ALL*) wholly volunteer forces.

    At a time when the Army of the United States is presently meeting all of its enlistment and re-enlistment goals, and when the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force are both *downsizing* their ranks through attrition and more selective recruitment policies, don’t you find it just too ghoddam suspicious that a career socialist scumbucket like Charlie Rangel is calling for the resurrection of a slave labor policy guaranteed to *reduce* the qualitative edge of U.S. military forces?

  • Max

    I agree with sjdoc 100%.
    The members of the US forces are all loyal, hardworking people, and are all there because they believe in what they do. They are not stupid like so many Liberals, including the likes of John Kerry, constantly state. They outperform their civilian counterparts in all aspects of educational scores.
    They are also not in poverty. We have 5% unemployment in this country that the Liberals love to bitch about. The men and women that sign up for the military could easily find alternate jobs if they wanted to. They do it because they believe in what they do.
    A draft would be necessary if we did not meet the minimal resources needed to protect our democracy, or if we had a situation like Israel, where they have no choice. Interesting how in Israel, where they see war daily, they don’t have these ridiculous Liberals whining about everything. I visited there and saw firsthand how they ‘get it’.

    Leave the military alone, and let them do their job.

  • stevem

    o Max,
    Wow. I am convinced by the brilliance of your logic and rhetoric. You sound intelligent enough to serve in the Bush White House.

    BTW, perhaps you should read and understand exactly how the unemployment rate is figured.

  • stevem

    Mike,
    Where did you find the figures for the army? I have been searching the internet and cannot find any information on the ethnic or socio-economic breakdown or educational level of the army.
    Stevem

  • Tim Flynn

    “No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has.”

    – Robert A. Heinlein

    It takes a real moron -or someone who is being terribly disingenuous – to provide this Heinlein quote without providing further information on his actual views.

    Heinlein put off finishing ‘Stranger in a Strange Land” to write ‘Starship Troopers’ in response to an advertisement urging the U.S. to unilaterally discontinue nuclear bomb testing.

    As written in that book, if you did not volunteer for Federal Service, i.e., the military, you would never have the right to vote or hold public office.

    So, in essence, Heinlein believed that anyone who did not serve in the military should be relegated to less than full citizenship.

    Did you ever read Heinlein’s Starsip Troopers, sjdoc?

    If you had, you would know that only by “volunteering” for Federal Service was an individual able to enjoy all rights of citizenship.

    And, that Federal Service was not purely combat oriented.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Doug,
    When the volunteer Army came into being, I thought it was best. I had been in the Army, and I had tried to imagine if I were male, how I would feel about being drafted. Some thirty five years later I am becoming ambivalent about whether the draft would be best now. I have been thinking about this lately, because there are so few people voting. How will this country survive if nothing is required of an individual to retain his freedom? I interpreted your statement to mean that nothing should be required of you, not that your life belongs to the state. Is that clear enough for you.

  • sjdoc

    Sure, I’ve read Starship Troopers. I’ve also read considerable of the literature written over the years on the subject of Federal Service as depicted in Heinlein’s novel. It sounds as if you’ve at least skimmed through Gifford’s essay (see http://www.nitrosyncretic.com/rah/ftp/fedrlsvc.pdf), though you don’t appear to have digested the whole thing. You might want to add a bit more reading to your Heinlein background, and for that purpose one of the better starting points is Jim’s archives (see http://www.nitrosyncretic.com/rah/srah-archives-commentary.html). His collection of links is also worth examining.

    As for your view on the privilege of the political franchise, do you *really* want to ride this hobbyhorse until it goes to splinters all up your tender tochus? Both the vote and the ability to slop at the public trough aren’t yours (or anyone else’s) by right but rather limited privileges to which certain citizens can lay claim while others cannot.

    A convicted felon, for example, most certainly has the right to life, liberty, and property – but under the laws of most jurisdictions he definitely does not have the privilege to vote without having first gained some sort of special dispensation from local government. He is also commonly limited in terms of what positions he may hold as a civil servant or government contractor, what occupational licenses he is permitted to hold, and even in what trades he may engage.

    Not that I agree with any of that stigmatizing crap, but you won’t find much in either statute or case law that supports your contention that such a person has a “right” – an inalienable right, held in the teeth and to the despite of civil government – to vote in elections or hold public office.

    Finally, just so you don’t wear yourself out repeating a single Heinlein quote on the subject of the draft, here’s what he said in his Guest of Honor speech at the 1961 World SF Convention:

    “I also think there are prices too high to pay to save the United States. Conscription is one of them. Conscription is slavery, and I don’t think that any people or nation has a right to save itself at the price of slavery for anyone, no matter what name it is called. We have had the draft for twenty years now; I think this is shameful. If a country can’t save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say: Let the damned thing go down the drain!”

  • http://littlehop.clanservers.com Slg

    i think it’s a good idea, it would give purpose to people who need exactly that in their lives, let’s just hope another catastrophe like this doesn’t happen

  • Eric

    Okay, a few points for folks to consider.

    1. Most Vietnam vets I personally know and all vets of the volunteer army’s wars believe the draft is the worst possible thing that could happen to the army. This includes, for those who don’t know, me. I am a Cold War and Desert Storm vet and I think that gives me some insight that you can’t have otherwise. The draft is a hideous thing, a bare step above slavery.

    2. About Heinlein, Starship Troopers, etc. If you think that Heinlein’s beliefs on government, military service, etc. are defined solely by that book then you really don’t know much about him. Yes, he believed in military service. Yes he proposed, in that book, that citizenship require federal service. He also proposed, in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, that we have a bi-cameral legislature that required 2/3 vote in one house to pass a law and a 1/3 vote in the other house to repeal it. What comes through loud and clear in his writing is that he firmly believes that government will inevitably usurp its authority and citizens will be ground under the heel of that authority.

    3. Heinlein was correct, there is a connection between the use of conscription and the decline of a free society. Rome and Civil War America are two good examples, Britain from WWI onwards is another. In fact, he was speaking out against the draft that the USA had instituted AFTER WWII when he wrote Starship Troopers, for those who don’t know, among other things.

    4. Why shouldn’t service to society, of some sort, be a requirement for full citizenship? So long as the service is voluntary, of course. I’m not saying it should, or should not, be, just want to see it debated on its merits.

    5. 9/11 was 5 years ago now. The longest normal term of service you can enlist for is 4 years. Iraq was invaded 3 1/2 years ago. So, that means EVERYONE who is currently serving knew that we were in a serious war when they enlisted (i.e. Afghanistan, 9/11) and almost all knew we were in Iraq when we enlisted. Interestingly, the military, including the Army and Marines, are meeting their enlistment and re-enlistment quotas even though we are at war. This suggests that people are not serving to get money for college, a job or “3 hots and a cot”, especially not in an economy where I cannot find enough qualified staff to fill all of the positions I currently have open (regardless of how any job statistics are calculated, that is the real situation hiring managers face right now). The idea that the military is full of poor minorities that have no other choice seems highly unlikely based on that.

    6. The mythology of WWII as a war fought by conscripts. The reality, after Pearl Harbor, is that recruiting stations turned volunteers away in droves. The draft was used as a mechanism to manage troop strength, it was not needed to provide enough combat strength on the ground. The statistics are there, you can find them if you look.

    7. The mythology that the draft prevents unpopular wars. The most “popular” wars the US fought in the 20th century (WWI, WWII, Desert Storm) were fought with a volunteer army, or one that didn’t actually need the draft to maintain appropriate troop strength. The most “unpopular” wars the US fought in the 20th century (Korea, Vietnam) were fought with conscript armies. This seems rather conclusively to give us evidence that conscript armies make unpopular wars, disconnected from what the citizens want, more likely, not less. In fact, Iraq is not good evidence to contradict this. This is the first war in our modern history that the intelligentsia and media opposed from the very beginning (they didn’t oppose Vietnam until 1968) and yet the war enjoys more popular support after 3 1/2 years than Vietnam did in 1969, 1 year after the media turned against the war. Interesting anecdotal evidence to suggest that the liberal elites are very out of touch with the mainstream of the US.

    So, what’s the bottom line. The draft is a horrific thing, from the perspective of liberty and quality of the military. It makes unpopular war more likely, it serves the interests of those who wish the government to have more power. If the war becomes unpopular and you have a volunteer army, you will have a problem fighting the war, or have none of you people thought of that? When the war is unpopular, the volunteers decline, the military can’t meet its strength requirements, seems like an obvious connection, but apparently it isn’t.

    The reality is that if people don’t want to serve their society, no amount of conscription will change that. If they do want to serve their society, conscription will not be necessary. The issue here is the breakdown of a society that believes in duty, and no amount of force will re-instill that sense of duty. And you can actually thank the leftist elites for that much more than the libertarians. Most libertarians (except the ones who are way out on the edge) give service to society, in my experience. They simply recognize that you cannot compel a sense of duty and service. I owe nothing to my government, I owe much to my society.

  • http://brainwashedgod.blogspot.com BWE

    “Does he forget the fact that the badly-executed Vietnam War occurred in an era when we had the draft ? Not to mention the very Korean War that Rangel fought in. The idea that war would be less likely if there were a draft in place quite simply has no evidence in history.”

    Does he forget how pissed off the whole country was about vietnam? He may not know my family members who died there for lies, incompetence, misguided ideals and, most importantly, profit to the war industry but he knows someone.

    “More disturbing than Rangel’s misunderstanding of military history, though, is his collectivist rhetoric, and the idea that you “owe something” to your country…Since when does the state have the right to ask anyone, young or old, to “commit themselves” to the service of others for any period of time ? If you thought liberty was under assault with the Republicans in control of Congress, it looks like things will only get worse in 2007. “

    Since there was a thing called a “State”, er, no, before that too.

    You are really a moron.

    Mike said:

    “Regarding the “army of slaves” comment, that’s exactly what a draft would produce. People who don’t want to be in the military and who, accordingly, will do their job like someone who doesn’t want to be in the military. We have the best and most professional military in the world today precisely because it is a volunteer force. When I commission as an officer in the USAF, I’ll know that every single Airman under my command WANTS to be there. Institute a draft and I’ll have a helluva lot more problems due to people that don’t belong and who never should’ve been in the military in the first place.”

    Which I wholeheartedly agree with. Ceasar too had the best professional army in the world. There is an obvious downside to this. If any one party gets control of legislative, executive and judicial branches of congress, that is too awesome of a power to be wielding. Or if a general or whatever (like Ceasar) has ambitions…
    There has never been a single ideology that isn’t better tempered, muddied, harried, confounded, made inefficient and AUDITED by the opposing side wielding approximately equal power.

  • Derek P. Moore

    Things should get as horrible as possible as fast as possible so that the Second Coming Of Jesus(tm) will happen as soon as possible and we can all live in peace. If Jesus fails us, at least we will achieve punctuated equilibrium.

  • Derek P. Moore

    Things should get as horrible as possible as fast as possible so that the Second Coming Of Jesus(tm) will happen and we can all live in peace. If Jesus fails us, at least we will achieve punctuated equilibrium.

  • http://brainwashedgod.blogspot.com BWE

    Hmm. On reading my last post I think I was unclear. The state is a “collectivist” union of groups of the homo sapien animal because, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, “Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

    So if you can tell the state and the rest of us to take a flying leap, then the fire and police dept’s can tell you the same thing. Same with schools and etc. Hope to hell you never get really sick. I bet your family doesn’t visit much, eh?

  • MEH

    Oh, wonderful. The Dems haven’t even taken their seats in the new Congress and already they are talking suicide! But then, maybe the Republicans will jump on the bandwagon, making conscription a “bipartisan” proposal.
    I predict that the justifications we are about to hear will, in one way or the other, be based on some vague concept of social justice in which some of the more deadly consequences of oppression are spread around a little more evenly, while doing absolutely nothing to alleviate the economic injustices at the root of that oppression. Let’s not kid ourselves: The draft is just a solution to a personnel problem.

  • Charlie

    The DEMS are damn fools”saying would we be so quick to go to war if law makers kids were to get drafted”.They would pull a B.S stunt like Bill Clinton and wouldn’t go anyway.You would still have the same people fighting the war.Jan. will be a sad time in american history when the dems. take over again.Right after 9/11 where were they at,backing PREZ Bush.DEMS don’t try to run my life I can do that

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  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Eric,
    If society created government, then why would you not owe any service to it.

  • Robert Matheson

    It appears that we have a lot of people speaking who must be children of parents that fought against the Vietnam War. I would bet that if we do have a full attack on our shores the first thing that comes to their minds is where is the army, help me. Most of this country’s wars were fought with a blend of drafted and volenteers and even illegal immagrints looking for citizenship and some who generally worried about the country’s protection. I for one think that you need to look within your own heart and not listen to solicalist, historians, authors, and make the decision for yourself and your family.

  • http://brainwashedgod.blogspot.com BWE

    It appears that we have a lot of people speaking who must be children of parents that fought against the Vietnam War. I would bet that if we do have a full attack on our shores the first thing that comes to their minds is where is the army, help me. Most of this country’s wars were fought with a blend of drafted and volenteers and even illegal immagrints looking for citizenship and some who generally worried about the country’s protection. I for one think that you need to look within your own heart and not listen to solicalist, historians, authors, and make the decision for yourself and your family.

    Anyone who didn’t speak out against the Vietnam war by at least 1969 was unable to comprehend what was happening for one reason or another. I would be very concerned that such a person could, thirty some years later, not recognize that it was a collossal blunder and a terrible thing to do to our country and our citizens. The draft was largely responsible for ending it. I think that is the guy’s point.

    -For whatever reason he is advocating the draft, misguided as he may be, he will not succeed. I wonder if he even thinks he will. To suck up to the ideological trough and shout about “Socialism” or “Collectivism” or whatever, rather than consider the implications is why we lost the darn vote this time. It’s also shamefully why we deserved to lose. Shouting insults to win debates works for a while but you need thoughtful, substantive reasoning to make good policy and, like it or not, it will need to come from the center. The reason we were able to stop Clinton’s health care ideological initiative was that we had opposing parties in both parties. We had a lot of rhetoric too, and the rhetoric was designed to inflame rather than educate, but education is what helped stop an ideological system from being set up.

    Through a miracle, we also managed to stop Bush’s social security program thesame way but it was by no means a forgone conclusion. And it was a good debate to have.

    Invading Iraq, No Child Left Behind, the disasterous tax cut, stratospherically increasing the National debt, running deficits at a level never seen before and many other blatantly ideological policies of the Bush administration were a product of not being able to balance ideologies though.

    This is an important question whover it’s raised by. I don’t know this guy from Adam but I do know a little history, and in a free republic, a mercenary army is a little scary. It’s all one ideology. Ceasar had the same kind of Army. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong but I do know that the issue needs to be discussed now that we are trying to figure out a way to get out of this mess that our own party got us into.

  • Eric

    VRB, do you think that this government represents society? I don’t.

    BWE, are you saying you think our current army is a mercenary army? As a veteran, I have to strongly disagree if that’s what you are saying.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Eric ,
    I was confused by this statement.
    “The reality is that if people don’t want to serve their society, no amount of conscription will change that. If they do want to serve their society, conscription will not be necessary. The issue here is the breakdown of a society that believes in duty, and no amount of force will re-instill that sense of duty.”
    “Society” seemed synonymous with “government.”
    There would have to be some organ to outfit and raise money.
    Then you say “I owe nothing to my government, I owe much to my society.”

  • Eric

    government is part of society, derives from it, but it is not the same thing. Of course some means of allocating work and wealth for activities of the society as a whole are needed. I don’t say they aren’t, I don’t deny the need for some sort of government.

    However, society is a larger thing than the government.

  • http://dj.waletzky.com/ D. J.

    It’s funny, the free market price for mercenaries in Iraq is something like $60,000 to $175,000 per year. The U.S. government only pays $15,282 – $54,036 for active duty soldiers doing the same work. Doesn’t it seem like the Army should get out of Iraq and leave it to “private security contractors” charging what the market can bear?

  • Eric

    the soldiers in the army receive compensation other than money. Regardless of whether you or I agree or disagree, for them there is non-monetary compensation. The majority of them don’t want to be private security contractors.

  • http://noangst.blogspot.com mike

    Stevem, here’s a good article with concise figures on the demographics of the military: http://www.militaryconnections.com/news_story.cfm?textnewsid=1767

    I’ll admit, I exaggerated a bit. The actual figures are over 90% of the military has consistently attained at least a high school diploma, compared to 75% or so of the overall population of the country. The 98% figure came from specific data on the Air Force.

  • http://brainwashedgod.blogspot.com BWE

    Eric, I don’t know. I suspect it’s not very black and white. The word mercenary has a lot of emotional connotations that imply a lack of morality while the word soldier tends to be the opposite. I don’t think that works very well. No doubt Caesar’s troops were deeply loyal to him and believed they were working for the best interests of Rome.

    The loyalty inherent in military service is a little bit foreign to me so I am not necessarily qualified to comment on it with any authority but it is extraordinarily creepy to me, a person who admittedly doesn’t understand it.

  • http://brainwashedgod.blogspot.com BWE

    Eric, I don’t know. I suspect it’s not very black and white. The word mercenary has a lot of emotional connotations that imply a lack of morality while the word soldier tends to be the opposite. I don’t think that works very well. No doubt Caesar’s troops were deeply loyal to him and believed they were working for the best interests of Rome.

    The loyalty inherent in military service is a little bit foreign to me, so I am not qualified to comment on it with any authority. But it is extraordinarily creepy to me, a person who admittedly doesn’t understand it.

    I still think the nature of our military needs open debate, Identification of the concepts and repudiation of vicious rhetoric from both sides.

    And until our party can fix the corruption within it, we don’t own the moral high ground.

    Anyone who critisizes Webb or Murtha over military matters had better have a pretty darn impressive military record. Otherwise, we get the last election.

  • Eric

    BWE, I don’t disagree that the nature of our military should have open debate. A free society not only has such debate, it enables it. One of the things I find most troubling about the current GOP leadership, both Executive and Congressional, is their willingness to prevent debate of policy and legislation. I’m strongly reminded of FDR, actually, although he was worse.

    The fact that soldiers receive benefits for service does not make them mercenaries, anymore than mercenaries loyal to their payor are soldiers. I don’t find those terms particularly good or bad, in and of themselves. I look at how they are used, though, and go with that. I’m one of the few people commenting on this thread who can criticize Murtha and Webb based on your perspective. I have “an impressive military record” too, so I guess that makes me an expert commentator.

    I rather object to the idea, actually, that you can’t show someone’s ideas are wrong unless you have the appropriate pedigree. This is part of the “chickenhawk” argument made by the antiwar crowd, that only people who have served or lost children in the war or what have you can make moral judgments. Anyone with a well thought out position can, and should, criticize Murtha and Webb on military matters, regardless of military service. And I don’t think we get the last election because of that. We listen to good ideas, not pedigrees. Reagan (never served) and Carter (naval officer) are good examples of that. Carter had a political and military pedigree that far outweighed Reagan’s, but Reagan won the meme war. What brought about this election was that the GOP lost the war of ideas. That is the first time since 1980, actually, that the Democrats have been in the driver’s seat, idea wise. And they are pissing it away with no real ideas, just being the anti-GOP crowd.

    I assume, when you say “our party”, you mean the one you belong to? I’m not a Republican. Haven’t been since about 1988, give or take. I will agree that the national leadership of the GOP is corrupt, though.

  • http://noangst.blogspot.com mike

    Although I don’t have an “impressive military record” yet, I hope to have one someday, so I’d like to address your discomfort with the loyalty inherent in the military.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but every member of the military swears an oath, first and foremost, to the Constitution of the United States. Yes, they also, as part of that oath, swear to obey the lawful orders of their superiors, but their highest calling is to support and defend the Constitution. It might not sound like much, but most members of the military take that oath quite seriously.

    Something else to consider is that while the U.S. has had conscription off and on from the Civil War until the end of Vietnam, the military’s officer corps has been, at the higher levels at least, completely professional since the Civil War until now. During that time, there’s only been one instance real instance where civilian control of the military was in jeopardy: the MacArthur-Truman showdown in 1951.

    In approximately 150 years of a professional officer corps, we’ve only had one instance where civilian control of the military was threatened, and it was dealt with very quickly and very appropriately by the civilian government, without an outcry from the military.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    I get the impression if you have not have been an officer, your opinion doesn’t count.

    Eric,
    Since those who are be fit to serve, are fewer in our society. Why should society go to hell just because of them?

    Reagan was in the right place at the right time. I am going to be sexist here, I think men just loved Reagan’s style.

  • Eric

    I’ve never been an officer, and as far as I’m concerned my opinion counts a damn sight more than an officer’s does on this subject. I was the sergeant that was going to have to deal with the bloody conscripts that Murtha, Webb (and some folks here) want to foist on the military.

    As far as Reagan goes, my wife, my mother-in-law, my mother and my step-mother are huge fans of Reagan and really don’t like either Bush. More to the point, all of them detested Carter. I don’t think it’s a style issue, but usually when someone says it’s a “style” thing, it means that ideas won that they didn’t necessarily like. So, I’m going by the evidence I have, which is that it’s not just men that loved Reagan. That said, you made my point, thanks. Carter had the pedigree, Reagan had the ideas. Reagan won, Carter lost.

    Finally, while I don’t find your comment sexist (obviously some people will appeal more to one gender than the other), it does feel like an attempt to lessen Reagan in many ways. The truth is that without him being there, we would have had the wrong man in the right place and the malaise, stagflation, and big government of the 70’s would have continued.

    Last, but certainly not least, conscription is simply an awful thing to do to someone, a bare step above slavery. It’s one of the absolute worst things that you can do to a human. We fought a war with Britain in 1812, in part, because they were conscripting our citizens.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Eric, I was not saying Carter was the right person as a president. The only thing that impressed me was his involvement with Habitat for Humanity. I didn’t dislike Ronald Reagan, but I thought he was living in the ninteenth century. I think the Soviets would have fallen anyway, regardless of who was in power. I believe technology had much to do with it. It jumped ahead of the Soviets ability to control communication. Yes you are correct, that I didn’t like most of his ideads, but that had nothing to do with what I said. One thing I especially didn’t like was his use of sterotypes in discussing welfare.

  • http://noangst.blogspot.com mike

    Whoa, I never meant to imply that officers’ opinions are the only opinions who matter, or that they count more. The only reason I brought up the officer/enlisted distinction regarding professional vs conscription was due to the feeling I was getting that a professional army would be more likely to revolt or otherwise upset the civilian control of the military. At the levels of senior leadership we’ve had a professional officer corps for 150 years.

    Anyway, the distinction I drew really has nothing to do with the actual effects of conscription on a military. Eric’s 100% right when he says that the Sergeants would be the ones who had to deal with training a glut of conscripts.

    In fact, NCOs are the backbone of any good army. But that’s a post for a different day.

  • Eric

    We could debate long and hard about it, but the fact is that only one potential President in 1980 was willing to take a stand against the USSR and not continue caving in to them. As long as we kept propping them up as we had been doing for 20 years the USSR was never going to collapse. It seems obvious in retrospect, but it wasn’t then. What always amazes me is that Reagan’s detractors can see it with hindsight and make him less than he was, but the same people (I don’t know if that applies to you, or not, VRB, so please only consider it pointed at you if it applies) couldn’t see it then. In fact, at the time, a huge segment of the political elite (including the Kennedy’s, who were making secret contacts with Andropov) believed that Regean’s positions were going to cause a war between the two countries, not be the proximate cause of the fall of communism. It is simplistic to say that it would have happened that way without him given that there is little evidence to suggest that the West would have supported the Afghani Mujahideen or Polish Solidarity strongly enough to fracture the USSR without Reagan as President.

    Aside from that, which ideas of Reagan’s were from the 19th century? Most of his ideas on economics were from the 18th century, ideas which, it turns out, were correct and the ideas of the 19th and early 20th centuries were incorrect (i.e. Marx, Engels, Keynes and a slew of others). Reagan actually used the military far less than any other 20th century president, except that he used it in the best way possible, to deter actual conflict. The interesting thing about the stereotypes that people decry is that they fit a significant portion of the group they are applied to, that’s why they’re stereotypes. Interestingly, many of his comments and quotes were taken out of context by the media without the benefit of alternatives like talk radio and blogs to set the record straight, yet he was able to overcome the handicap. Something that Bush 43 never could have done, for example, or Clinton either (to choose from the other side of the aisle).

    But, more importantly than all of that, Reagan’s primary meme, that individual liberty should trump collectivism and big government paternalism, won the day. Now we debate whether government should be allowed to do something, before Reagan we debated whether individuals should be allowed to do something. Failing to recognize this immense change wrought primarily by Ronald Wilson Reagan in the American political landscape is the worst of the many unfair things done to the man.

    Mike, it’s not just training a bunch of conscripts, it is the inevitable destruction of the quality of the Army. It is the outcome that slave labor will bring that I oppose. I would never have chosen to be a sergeant in a conscript Army and be little more than an overseer of indentured servants.

  • Eric

    One last point VRB, I didn’t think you were implying Carter was the “right person”. You were saying that the outcomes of Reagan’s presidency were inevitable. This is really not true, but it seems that way now.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    Eric,
    I lived through the cold war.

    One of Reagans ideas seem to me to be very close to Social Darwinism and another not that man’s resourcefulness would get us through the future, but our infinite physical resouces. I not speaking of when he was running for president; I had seen him in an interview with David Frost shortly after he lost his first bid.

    I’ll just say it, I thought his streotypes were just racist buzz words.

  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    I think I am due enough repect for some one running for president, can use civil language.
    Reagan did understand civility. I know younger people scoff at PC, but it has its uses.

  • Eric

    I’m not sure what you are referring to that were “racist buzz words”. Yes, Reagan understood civility. He also knew how to communicate. Two things that seem to be lost on the current slew of politicians.

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