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Pros and Cons of a universal military draft

Political Conservatives

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1geneg
May 23, 2007, 8:34am Top

This is a continuation from another thread in this group, Conservative thoughts on out-sourcing war-making.

2geneg
May 23, 2007, 9:18am Top

,

If young people don't participate, they won't be able to register to vote, their only hope for legal employment will be to create their own business and they will not be allowed to continue their education.

On the other hand, the military has its own end of this bargain to keep up. They must be as efficient as possible in matching draftees with skills. I spent a good deal of time in the mud in Vietnam with guys who were their for the G I Bill because that was the only way they were going to get to college. Back in the Vietnam days there were draft resisters, conscientious objectors and so forth.
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church peaceful institution and does not believe in war, but in order to do their duty as citizens they offer themselves up to the draft and the government brings them in as medics. This is a reasonable compromise on this position.

Once again, liberal parents would bitch, but look at this as something we no longer have in our culture that is essential to a sense of national (tribal) identity, the rite of passage. There are issues of teamwork and discipline involved here as well. Children of families from all poltical backgrounds would benefit.

Of course all eighth and ninth graders (13 - 15 year olds) would benefit from a civics class, not just American History.

Once again, the purpose is not to have a 50,000,000 person military, although it work out that way, but to insure the government makes its case to the people based on accurate information before we all send our children off to war. Aeschylus knew this, Shakespeare knew this.

Nearly 2500 years ago Thucydides taught us what happens when you undertake expansionist military policies when a nation confuses its own best interests with those of powerful commercial interests. Every world power since has had to learn this expensive lesson for itself. I would hope a universal draft would engender enough discussion that that kind of thing wouldn't happen.

Another benefit would be to identify the very best officer material, and only retain those draftees that make the best soldiers, if they want to make a career.

I'm just beginning to think this through, so please, if you are interested, let's discuss.

As far as the economics I will have to think about them.

3KromesTomes
Edited: May 23, 2007, 11:12am Top

It looks like the very beginning of post #2 might be missing ... but I consider myself a liberal and I think a universal national service program would be an excellent idea, provided those serving weren't limited to traditional national defense roles ... that is, some of the people could be involved in kind of internal Peace Corps-type projects here in the U.S. ... and homeland defense ... "servees" could help as airport screeners, etc. ... if the 50,000,000 number mentioned above is correct, there should certainly be enough people to go around ... I also think this kind of thing would help the reputation of the armed forces, which wouldn't be bad.

4JPB
May 23, 2007, 11:17am Top

We won't have a draft in the United Statesor anything like it.

Every time we do, the country starts turning decidedly liberal, as people understand, at a personal level, the cost of mindless jingoism.

Then, there is a period of hyper-liberalism, where we stand up for nothing, people start feeling defeatest, the draft is ended, and we feel so badly about ourselves, we elect a president who promises to make America feel "proud of itself" again... then we start flexing our muscles...

and the cycle repeats.

59days
May 23, 2007, 11:30am Top

if the 50,000,000 number mentioned above is correct

Even if it is technically correct, I suspect that number is inaccurate in that it's doesn't factor in those who are excluded (under current guidelines) because of physical and psychological issues.

Is this something that would need to be changed? If I'm remembering correctly, as it is right now, a person is excluded from service if they're dependant on a medicine that they can't go without for a certain period of time (I'm imagining this has something to do with the possibility of not being able to get ahold of meds while in combat or whatnot). Wouldn't that exclude a large chunk of people from service, as common meds such as antidepressants are very widely used these days?

I always thought that when it comes to that rule, the person's position should be factored in.

6lriley
May 23, 2007, 11:43am Top

I can see some sort of draft--but mandatory servicetime I don't think would be economically feasible. Not at today's costs. I have a concern that a smaller and smaller percentage of the American population is serving in the armed forces. I don't think this is healthy especially when those same armed forces are being sent here and there--whether it's Vietnam, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Afghanistan or Iraq--on aggressive overseas missions for the most part having little or nothing to do with 'national--as in the USA--security. As is all to obvious now the numbers of available troops are too small for the overly ambitious projects of those who send them. A totally voluntary force--the one being used in Iraq has all the sacrifice for the so-called 'war on terror' put on their shoulders. It's not fair. Especially not fair that the same are called upon again and again.

7geneg
May 23, 2007, 2:00pm Top

Kromestomes # 3,

Message 2 assumed (never the right thing) that people coming here would have been following it from the original thread, my mistake. The question was should we have a universal draft with ho exceptions except for metal disability and a very few physical disabilities.

For you and 9days,

50,000,000 was just a number off the top of my head representing all young people plus a professional core in the country between high school graduation and hsg+3 years. There might be some, or a lot of hyperbole in this number. Actually I would like to see a smaller number and I don't like the idea of a natio0nal work corps.

JPB #4 ,

The purpose is to put everyone's children in harm's way to engender serious conversation about the necessity of war when the gov't wants one.

If you want to see the beginning of this thread go to the outsourcing military functions thread.

8OldSarge
May 23, 2007, 3:29pm Top

Having been a soldier for the last twenty-three years, I am totally against conscription.

I consider myself and my brothers and sisters to be professionals without peer.

I could never bring myself to fully trust anyone forced into my profession for a short amount of time.

The current type of fight we're into requires long service professionals who have the intelligence required to master the technical and tactical skills needed to fight dirty small wars. For historical examples I point to the US Marine Corps' operations in the Banana Wars of the early 20th century.

Gotta make dinner, more later.

9barney67
May 23, 2007, 6:35pm Top

With a draft, you get a lot of people who don't want to be there. That makes for a poor fighting force.

Regardless, I don't see us returning to a draft.

10Jim53
May 23, 2007, 7:10pm Top

It would be interesting to see whether a draft could possibly be instituted that did not include women. I suspect drafting women would set off a whole new group of folks.

11ocianain
May 23, 2007, 8:21pm Top

A draft is un-American, it's forced labor for the state. If the state wants more soldiers, pay for them.

12cbaker123
May 23, 2007, 10:19pm Top

I'm a liberal and I support some kind of national service. But here's the rub: Are large standing armies compatible with peace-seeking democracies? I shudder to think where we'd be now if Bush had access to an unlimited supply of troops.

13Doug1943
May 24, 2007, 1:36am Top

The anti-all-American-wars argument for the draft is that no American government could wage war if there were near-universal military service, since all families would have members exposed to danger.

The hope of the anti-all-American-wars people is that this would effectively end all American military action, except for some hypothetical situation in which we are actually physically invaded, which they know will never happen.

No one should be forced to serve if they don't want to. It is forced labor for the state, as Ocianain notes, and results in sullen, unwilling forced laborers, as Deniro notes, backed up by OldSarge.

The answer is: in order to vote, and have a voice in directing the state, you should be willing to risk your life for it, in military service, which could include provision as combat medics for those who do not wish to kill directly.

Completely utopian, of course.

14lriley
May 24, 2007, 1:37am Top

Well it's questionable to me whether we're a peace seeking democracy. Every president we've had going back to FDR has sent troops overseas for one reason or another.

To comment on what OldSarge said--I understand very well what he's getting at--but the price of that professional army comes back to apathy at home especially in the area of people's knee jerk reactions in respect to foreign diplomacy--their kid isn't involved and it's fine to play policeman of the world and send someone else's kid to kick some a**. When such a large % of the country has no real direct involvement--nothing personal to sacrifice it's very easy for them to complacently sit on their hands and let their leaders do whatever they want. It would be good in any case for more young people to see what the military is about. I myself did--though I had no ambition of staying in--I consider it to have been in retrospect a very positive and formative experience.

15margd
May 24, 2007, 6:08am Top

I've been impressed by the British Royal Family's service--Prince Andrew in the Falklands, Prince Harry's application for Iraq, and, in WW II, the King & Queen elected to stay in England, premium targets for bombing campaigns.

I wonder if that willingness to serve is also seen in British middle and upper classes?

16Doug1943
May 24, 2007, 6:41am Top

From the British middle classes I know, military service by their young people is seen simply as a respectable career choice. There is very little patriotic sentiment, but neither is there any denigration of the military.

But anecdotes are not evidence, so perhaps someone has some more systematic evidence?

17geneg
Edited: May 24, 2007, 6:45pm Top

Doug1943 # 13,

"The anti-all-American-wars argument for the draft is that no American government could wage war if there were near-universal military service, since all families would have members exposed to danger.

The hope of the anti-all-American-wars people is that this would effectively end all American military action, except for some hypothetical situation in which we are actually physically invaded, which they know will never happen."


I fear you misunderstand me. I don't advocate a universal draft so we will never fight another all American war anywhere. I just want to make sure people understand what the motives are for going to war, what the goals are, what the risks are and what the sacrifices will be. War without sacrifice lulls people into accepting war unreservedly. We, all of us, instinctively knew what had to be done in Afghanistan, it took about ten minutes to come to the conclusion that Afghanistan needed to be cleaned out. As a nation we supported that position. We could not have this conversation about Iraq because of the jingoism our leaders were putting forward. Is it a conservative value to move forward to war as a first recourse rather than a last?

The difference between WWII, our last "Good" war and Vietnam and Iraq is that on December 8, 1941 the military recruitment stations couldn't keep up with demand. We just didn't see the point of Vietnam, nor do many Americans see the point of Iraq. Unfortunately, victory in Iraq has assumed more importance because we destabilized it, effectively creating a terrorist breeding ground there, but it would not have been a problem if we had left Saddam alone.

I don't give up the right of nations to go to war on their own provided the war is demonstrably to protect the nation from other ideologies (radical Islam) or imminent attack or for retaliation a la 9/11. I just want the American people to commit to the war. I suspect this will make it easier to keep their support. If not everyone is personally engaged in the need for war, you wind up with what we have today, a government divided from the nation, on the need to continue. Of course this is only one of the reasons Americans are finding it harder to support the war.

Another reason I support a universal draft is the need for a cultural rite of passage. We are not a united nation. While we share much of our society, we don't have shared cultural experiences. All through history, human cultures have included rites of passage that officially seal individuals as members of the community, bestowing rights and privileges of complete participation in the community. The purpose of this is two-fold, first, to ensure the continued ability of the community to survive in its environment, second to create a shared sense of identity. A byproduct is the sense of achievement the individual gains by successfully proving their worthiness to be a member of the community. The closest thing we have in this country is graduation from college and that is a poor excuse for a rite of passage bestowing national membership.

As far as concerns about the quality of troops, a pre-requisite of completing this rite of passage is an honorable discharge. Only with successful completion of this three year hitch does one win the benefits: being able to obtain employment, being able to continue one's education, being able to vote. These are pretty big things to give up just because you don't feel like participating.

One last comment on this rite of passage issue. If all Americans accept this, and it becomes expected and life is ordered in such a way that this is a necessary step to maturity, then the vast majority will accept it without question and those who question it will be subject to whatever measures society wishes to use to show displeasure.

Now, one last issue. I do not accept the idea that a draft is forced labor by the state. It is a part of the social contract. It is necessary in order for the government to fulfill it's requirement to provide for the common defense. There is a price to be a member of a nation, a price which can legitimately be required by the government, conscription is a part of that price.

Lay on, MacDuff.

18ocianain
May 24, 2007, 8:17pm Top

Geneg, There was a draft during the Vietnam war, it didn't seem to lead to any understanding of, "motives, goals, risk or sacrifice."

Drafting children into the military is a little over the top for a rite of passage, how about graduating high school instead?

You're a lefty correct? Only a lefty would think it OK to qualify rights like voting with conforming to ones political agenda. Your closing paragraphs are amazinly totalitarian, are you a Trotskyite?

Regardless of you accepting it, the government compelling someone to labor for it, is forced labor, semantic argumentation and quoting a non-existent "social contract" is what's bogus. I signed no such contract, neither did my children. If your so hot on elisting, ennlist.

19geneg
May 24, 2007, 10:56pm Top

ocianain # 18,

Au contraire, mein herrn the draft for the Vietnam war was exactly what caused the country to ask itself what we were doing there, and when no one could supply a meaningful answer we left. When we left we had screwed up Cambodia, and given Laos to the Pathet Lao, there were no dominoes left to fall, anyway, so why stay.

The reason we were there in the first place was to thwart the self-determination of the Vietnamese people, after eight years of active involvement, with no progress being made, and the American people loosing patience with the South Vietnamese for many of the same problems we face in Iraq, we pulled the plug. A decision most people and their elected representatives, from the President on down agreed with.

A rite of passage must be difficult, require strenuous effort, and most of all be meaningful in a life or death way or it's just a watered down ritual. I'm not advocating shopping for wars with which to do this, but for each American to have the common experience of being professionally prepared and trained if his country calls is a good thing.

When Athens fought off the Persians, every citizen had a military skill and the duty to use it when war came. Some had the armor and spear of a hoplite, some had oars for naval service, when called they were trained and went.

No, I'm a righty, but my wife is a lefty.

This has nothing to do with a political agenda unless you call making the American people informed enough about a situation so they can make a decision they will be able to live with for years to come political. Something we did in Afghanistan, not in Iraq. Although I can't speak about conservative values, I don't think the mushroom school of thought follows conservative guidelines. (BTW, That's Keep 'em in the dark and feed them B*ll Sh#t). That's how we got into Iraq.

I think of my self as an independent thinker.

The right of the government to conscript soldiers was settled in or before the Civil War. The tension between governments and their citizens is different than that between citizens and between governments. A government and its citizens are bound to one another in a dance of power relations, sometimes government power trumps citizen power. Providing for the common defense is one of those times. You became a party to this contract when you were born American or naturalized.

My closing paragraphs are amazingly totalitarian, that's true, however, I have no desire to impose this idea on anyone. I'm responding to perceived shortcomings with proposed solutions. How and by whom, such solutions are implemented I can't say. I'm not looking for a small cadre of men to guide the American public to compliance. I would like to talk about the idea, talk it through and see what if anything comes of it.

Who knows, this may all be pie in the sky, but it might also solve lots of social problems, as well. If someone wants to start another thread on solving social problems, go for it. I would like to see how that discussion goes.

BTW. I am not a lefty having fun tweaking the conservatives, as I explained elsewhere I am genuinely interested in what conservatives think about some issues. If my questions seem niggling it's only because I want to have a thorough understanding. I have no interest in engaging in politics here, but I am very interested in conservative thought.

20reading_fox
May 25, 2007, 8:32am Top

You still haven't answered the economics question I posed in the other thread when you first mentioned this idea.

The whole demographic of employabe labour gets shifted three years older - wages get shifted three years higher, marrige gets delayed three years, children are born to parents three years later in life.... all of these events have large repercussions throughout the system. France and Germany have (or at kleast until recently had) a draft. By the time they drafted and graduated many were almost 30 before looking for a first job! Still living with parents etc.

Very different from the american dream of white picket fence and 2 kids by 25......

21markmobley
May 25, 2007, 9:32am Top

Actually, those forces are already at work in America. The average age for marriage and child-bearing have been creeping up for a couple of generations, despite the explosion of teenage pregnancy.

The most salient point that you made is the necessity of paying every kid between the ages of 18 and 20 and providing infrastructure for their food, housing, health care, etc.

On the other hand, large public works in a democracy are almost impossible, open the system to graft, saddle generations to come with huge debt, and lean toward totalitarianism in practice. If this generation could be employed in infrastructure construction, it could do several good things.

Infrastructure development is critical to economic growth and bringing financial relief to underclasses.

Practical training could be provided for a lot of kids that will wander around from job to job for years. Peacetime military service is almost universally good for those who go through it.

Sending "military" to do infrastructure development in places like Iraq will promote political stability, economic growth, and hopefully good feelings toward Americans, who do more than blow the place up.

I think you would have to have "opt-out" conditions, like we did in the Vietnam era draft. College attendance and successful academic success while there would qualify. A lot of that generation use college as a way to delay responsibility, a four year party, if you will. If you open up more jobs, you could do away with a lot of the physical disability limitations.

Of course, the whole thing smacks of socialism.

22Jim53
May 25, 2007, 1:56pm Top

I hope such a system would provide carefully designed exceptions for true conscientious objectors. I can't imagine agreeing to a system that says everybody, no matter what they believe, must go through a rite of passage that includes learning to use weapons and kill other people. Several posters have noted that there are many things that need doing, which could provide alternative national service options.

I can imagine that a tradition of a couple of years of national service, coming after high school, would greatly change the way people think about college. Many might decide that they want to perform work that does not require a college degree. Many would enter college with better ideas about why they are there and readier to address it with a more mature sense of purpose. And many would still go to party and delay growing up, but maybe not quite as many.

23ocianain
Edited: May 25, 2007, 7:12pm Top

Geneg, You are wrong, if the draft could lead to understanding of , "Motive, goals, risk sacrifice" it would have. It didn't so it can't. The truth be told only two people favor the draft:

1. War mongers, a draft affords them a unending supply of cannon fodder on the cheap. If it's a volunteer force and the government engages in pointless war mongering, enlistments decline, this forces higher pay/inducements for soldiers which constrains use of the forces.

2. People of a statist bent, who would of course exempt thm and theirs from the draft.

What the Greeks did 2000+ years ago is also beside the point, they poisoned Socrates after all, do you advocate that for politically unpopular thinkers?

The state compelling citizens to serve the state, makes the citizen a subject. I have no desire for my children to be indentured servants to the state. If you want to serve the state, join the armed forces, join the peace corps, don't drag me and mine along for the ride though.

24OldSarge
May 26, 2007, 3:21am Top

College is no longer a deferment under the current system plans for "Selective Service".

25rawREN First Message
May 31, 2007, 12:07pm Top

A "draft" or "conscripted service" would be a mistake and the hope that it will or could simply inspire conversation, or possibly stop or slow the pathways to war, are definitely among the wrong reasons for wanting them.

The threat of immediate military might, as a deterrent, is as important as the need for communication and talks; as a matter of fact, these talks may depend wholey upon it. So I say those who call for a draft and/or conscripted service are being irresponsible in advocating it.

The American all-volunteer Army is strong *because* it is voluntary, not in spite of it. A proper deterrent requires that the American military be able to move quickly and decisively.

And, about this "talking," are we not talking about the right to wage war already? Were we not already talking about it all along? If so, then what is the real reason, because it can not be to foster more talking. It must be to remove, to the remotest and furthest corner of possibility, the real threat of talking ever becoming anything else.

I am not convinced that the majority of those calling for the draft and/or conscription are doing so for any other reason than the fact that they are against war, in almost any form, and hope that this will simply stop war from ever happening unless America is invaded outright.

As though we can just wish it all away and it will be so. Oh, if only life were that easy John Lennon... it is easy if you try, right?

No matter what your argument is, volunteer soldiers simply do not want, do not need, to serve next to conscripted or drafted soldiers who did not want the job in the first place, definitely are not trained for it, and may have absolutely no motivation to passionately do anything.

These last points are also, most interestingly, a huge part of the problem with a welfare state and socialism in general. In this day and age in America, compulsory service, of almost any sort, is a really bad idea.

26geneg
May 31, 2007, 8:26pm Top

It seems to me, one of the problems we have in Iraq right now is that there are not enough soldiers to put enough boots on the ground to lock down the country, provide security, and maintain civil order. This situation was predicted by Gen. Shinseki, I believe he was a professional soldier, before we went into Iraq. I believe he suggested it would take "several hundred thousand" (several implying more than one) soldiers to "police and rebuild a post-war Iraq".

Now, it seems to me we didn't go in with several hundred thousand for two reasons, the Iraqi's were going to love us and we didn't have that many troops. Even now we have soldiers who are on their second and third tours over there because we don't have any replacements. The surge is being manned by extending tours to as much as 18 months. States are going begging for equipment and NG in cases of emergency, think of Missouri recently. All their men and equipment are in Iraq. Is this the professional army with which we intend to set the world to rights? Had we a draft we would have enough men to march shoulder-to-shoulder from Saudi Arabia to Turkey. That and shutting down the border with Iran completely would go a long way to stabilizing the country and achieving our goals.

I missed something. I can't make the connection how requiring people to serve their country for three years is a problem associated with a welfare state and socialism in general.

Is there a reason why "compulsory service, of almost any sort, is a really bad idea." Or is it that you don't want to participate, or you don't want your children to be bothered?

Is it part of the conservative agenda that we begin wars we can't finish with anyone who makes us mad? Achmedinajehoozits needs to be careful, we might just invade Iran. Oh, I forgot, we don't have enough troops.

Do you think after the disaster in Iraq the Iranians will be afraid of us. Do you think we will be able to shake our sword at Russia and scare them. I hear that if all the Chinese quake in their boots at the United States all at once they will all perish in a huge continental sinkhole. This is the legacy of our misguided adventure in Iraq. Maybe, If we had listened to the professionals and had enough boots on the ground, which a draft would have given us, we could have had a different outcome. Whatever happened to that good ole Republican slogan, "Walk softly and carry a big stick"?

27lriley
Jun 1, 2007, 1:40am Top

The reason Shinseki was dumped is because more or less his conclusions cautioned the Administration against doing it. Did not have enough troops. His opinion came in far behind those of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. Iraq has been an abysmal failure because almost none of the administrations predictions came true--many are not based on any kind of reality--for instance--we would be looked on as liberators--for instance--the adventure would pay for itself. One prediction I expect will come true is Bush's recent assessment that there are going to be a lot more casualties coming our way. He finally gets it. Mission is not accomplished.

My conclusion--The professional army we have is too small and too select to go about occupying medium size or large countries. Let's examine the 'too select' part. I'll add the comment that it should be the right and duty of practically every American citizen to serve his country in combat when his country truly needs him to--whether this particular scenario qualifies--I think not because the Iraq campaign has almost nothing to do with protecting our own country. In any case deciding to limit the number for whatever reasons goes against the grain of the past. Result--sacrifice for a few--no sacrifice for the great majority. This is not a people's war. No wonder that that majority is more interested in Paris Hilton.

28lriley
Jun 1, 2007, 11:14am Top

Would like to mention a couple things. The post above is composed pretty much on the fly--before I went off to work today. A thing that concerns me though is a kind of elitism that I think we're witnessing from the military. I know it's important to be proud of your accomplishments withiin a small setting of a military unit--I just don't like the whole idea of it as some kind of small exclusive club. After the attack on Pearl Harbor--the whole country united--and literally joined the military in their 100's of thousands--voluntarily or drafted. The trends nowadays seems against large scale land wars but even so the larger part of the population is going about its business--whatever that is--day to day with hardly a thought about what's going on in Iraq and partially because so many think it will all be taken care of for them. Whether it's from effeteness, apathy, poor eating habits whatever--there is a huge disconnect especially among so many young people in this country that I really have to wonder what the hell? The military is a noble occupation as are other forms of public service--though it certainly doesn't help when politicians start using it like it's their own private army. More people should be given the opportunity to serve than what we're seeing now.

29KromesTomes
Jun 1, 2007, 12:55pm Top

Regarding the current "all volunteer" army ... what about the notion that some of those who are doing the volunteering aren't doing so because they "really" want to join the armed forces but because they don't have other choices? Or, before the Iraq war, they were hoping for the benefits of being in the armed forces without having to actually face combat?

30Doug1943
Jun 1, 2007, 2:34pm Top

Kromes: you raise an interesting point. Why do people join the military? Is it pure patriotism, a burning desire to defend the rest of us, at the cost of one's life if necessary? Or is it for the benefits?

The answer is ... it's for a whole mix of reasons, which probably vary greatly from person to person, and which change over time.

Few people are completely self-sacrificing, and most of us are not entirely selfish. Our motives for doing things are mixed. Most of us are not even clear about all the competing, contradictory, and overlapping feelings that motivate us.

Of course, there must be a few people -- I hope very few after 9/11 -- who join the military mainly as the best career choice they can make, motivated primarily by the benefits it offers, and thinking little about the reason the military exists.

There are probably others who join out of sheer patriotic zeal, even though it interrupts what would have been their chosen career path.

And most others are probably somewhere between these two extremes.

I know someone who found himself in the Marines because the alternative was prison. (This was a long time ago.) In the Marines, he turned his life around, got his G.E.D., and went on to go to university and eventually get a Master's degree. He went in a loser and came out a self-confident young man. What were his "motivations"? They were different at the beginning, and at the end, of his service.

A proper military environment can do that. What is sad -- and does not bode well for our future -- is that our military exists within a society where powerful forces work to undermine the very idea of military service as a choice of which to be proud.

A sorry example of this can be found here .

31lriley
Jun 1, 2007, 3:00pm Top

I met several people who went the service route instead of county jail time. Judges used to take young offenders and give them a choice--a year or two in jail or prison or the military service of your choice. I'm not going to say it improved everyone that took the military option but it certainly was beneficial for most. This was back in the 80's though. I could be wrong but I don't think they do it anymore.

32ocianain
Jun 1, 2007, 4:45pm Top

Geneg said, "It seems to me, one of the problems we have in Iraq right now is that there are not enough soldiers to put enough boots on the ground to lock down the country, provide security, and maintain civil order."

If you need more soldiers increase pay/benefits they'll sign up.

"This situation was predicted by Gen. Shinseki, I believe he was a professional soldier, before we went into Iraq. I believe he suggested it would take "several hundred thousand" (several implying more than one) soldiers to "police and rebuild a post-war Iraq". "

Predicted by him and a lot of other people, Rumsfeld et al confused the minimum needed to win the war (which we were stil well above), with the minimum need to be in place to secure the territory. There's no talking to whiz kids.

"Now, it seems to me we didn't go in with several hundred thousand for two reasons, the Iraqi's were going to love us and we didn't have that many troops. Even now we have soldiers who are on their second and third tours over there because we don't have any replacements. The surge is being manned by extending tours to as much as 18 months. States are going begging for equipment and NG in cases of emergency, think of Missouri recently. All their men and equipment are in Iraq. Is this the professional army with which we intend to set the world to rights?"

If you want a larger army, increase pay/benefits. This also has the advantage of increasing cost, which discourages use.

"Had we a draft we would have enough men to march shoulder-to-shoulder from Saudi Arabia to Turkey. That and shutting down the border with Iran completely would go a long way to stabilizing the country and achieving our goals. "

We'd have more men if we paid more also, why compell service when increasing pay would do the same thing.

"I missed something. I can't make the connection how requiring people to serve their country for three years is a problem associated with a welfare state and socialism in general."

The state taking your labor is pretty much socialism.

"Is there a reason why "compulsory service, of almost any sort, is a really bad idea." Or is it that you don't want to participate, or you don't want your children to be bothered? "

A volunteer army works against an expansionistic foreign policy, that's a good thing.

"Is it part of the conservative agenda that we begin wars we can't finish with anyone who makes us mad? Achmedinajehoozits needs to be careful, we might just invade Iran. Oh, I forgot, we don't have enough troops."

No to the first point, never was. The second point proves my assertion re the volunteer army curbing expansionistic politicians.

Do you think after the disaster in Iraq the Iranians will be afraid of us. Do you think we will be able to shake our sword at Russia and scare them. I hear that if all the Chinese quake in their boots at the United States all at once they will all perish in a huge continental sinkhole. This is the legacy of our misguided adventure in Iraq. Maybe, If we had listened to the professionals and had enough boots on the ground, which a draft would have given us, we could have had a different outcome. Whatever happened to that good ole Republican slogan, "Walk softly and carry a big stick"?

33MAJGross
Jun 5, 2007, 7:57am Top

I think you miss a few points, possibly by believing what the media tells you about the military. I am just guessing you have not served. That is not meant as a slight.

Most people believe we are having trouble recruiting and thus as you say we should raise pay and benefits. What they overlook is that we are not stupid (a natural assumption as we are military) and we have steadily increased pay and benefits over the years and our soldiers are fairly well paid. More recently we have increased enlistment bonuses and other incentives to increase our recruitment. Remember when the media reports we were a few thousand or hundred short a couple years ago, it was during a build up of the military. This was largely offset by reenlistment rates in the active force.

There is not a problem with soldiers doing multiple rotations in itself. The problem is really that we do rotations at all. Many of us have always felt that this was wrong beginning with the Vietnam experience. If we really wanted to boost our numbers and win this battle in the global war, we would not do rotations, we would treat it like WWII (an example of a win) rather than Vietnam. Also the media loves to point out that our soldiers are worn out, another way of looking at it is our soldiers are combat hardened and experienced.

I agree with your point that we don't need or want a draft. You just have some points mistaken in my opinion. Lastly concerning Iran. Iran is scared of the US military. They see firsthand what we are doing, they don't see it through the liberal press and we scare the crap out of them.

Let's keep up the mantra of "listen to the professionals" and not have a draft.

34lriley
Edited: Jun 5, 2007, 11:54am Top

The thing is--the military does not have the numbers of troops needed to control the situation in Iraq (somewhere around 170,000 sq. miles with a population of 25-30 million)--what makes anyone think they could control the much larger area of Iran (630,000 sq. miles) with a population roughly between 65-70 million. The fact is the invasion of Iraq as poorly concieved as it was especially in what to do after so-called victory is simply as Hagel states the worst foreign policy blunder since Vietnam. I can't believe that even as inept as this administration has proved itself to be time and time again that it would be stupid enough to try it all over again in Iran. We seem barely able to contain things as it is in Iraq. For instance--more of our troops into Anbar province--and the insurgents spring up in Baghdad. We move them back to Baghdad--and all of a sudden it's Ramadi or Mosul. The fact of the matter is Iraq is a losing proposition in just about every way imaginable and it's not doing a damn thing to bring the group of people responsible for 9-11 to justice.

To go back to what our military should be. A strictly professional force? A citizen's army? I would choose the latter with consideration for special operations. How affordable that would be is another question. Seems to me though this idea of a professional army goes hand in hand with all sorts of international interventions.

35ocianain
Jun 8, 2007, 8:37pm Top

MajGross, I don't argue we don't have enough, I argue if you want more, pay for it: Indentured servitude is not the answer.

36MAJGross
Jun 9, 2007, 7:42pm Top

Without going back and rereading where we are on this, I completely agree with you. Simple supply and demand and incentives. And I will always be against a draft! Unless the Martian invade and then I would still expect a pretty robust enlistment rate to deal with it.

37rawREN
Jun 27, 2007, 1:24pm Top

Geneg,

Please forgive the lag in response, I was away from home for several weeks. When you first responded, I wrote back and saved my text as a file on my desktop. I reread what I wrote then and updated the response just a little. Here it is:

You wrote: "I missed something. I can't make the connection how requiring people to serve their country for three years is a problem associated with a welfare state and socialism in general."

"Compulsory service" itself is a problem, as I said in another part of my post... and that's where it connects; think about it Geneg. Perhaps you need to meet some former communist and current socialist state workers to know what I am talking about. But, essentially, I said it already with the mention of "...those who did not want the job in the first place, definitely are not trained for it, and may have absolutely no motivation to passionately do anything."

If you're still not following, consider this ~ Geneg, haven't you EVER dealt with government beaurocracies and government employment workers who's jobs are nearly guaranteed, no matter what they do? They are sometimes great, SOMETIMES, but more often than not, they are a major pain in the butt! Worse than HMO and big Insurance beaurocracies which seem intended to slow you down and confuse you. And you want the US Army to have to deal with that compounded "draft" and "conscripted service" problem as well?

You also said: "Is there a reason why 'compulsory service, of almost any sort, is a really bad idea.' Or is it that you don't want to participate, or you don't want your children to be bothered?"

Holy smokes that was bordering on offensive. Is there a reason why you are trying to make this personal? I've addressed the first part already, but to answer the second ~> I left some information out of my first post, because it's somewhat personal but I'll add it here now for the sake of the discussion at hand.

I currently serve in the Army National Guard, and have served since before the war in Iraq even started. I personally spent time serving in Louisiana after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. My wife is currently serving in the active duty Army and just returned from a tour in Iraq just a little more than a month ago. Her father is a retired Army warrant officer and paid a high price to serve, mainly a failed marriage and a lot of time away from his kids. As a side note, my wife and I spent almost our entire first year married apart. I have two close family members in Iraq right now and two of my wife's brothers served in Iraq (in 2004 and 2005). I also have a good number of friends over there, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Several friends volunteered their tours, a few were asked to return for their second tours and one family member is even on his *third* tour in Iraq.

I think this more than qualifies me to say what I have said and answers your otherwise insulting questions (insinuations really) quite clearly. I am obviously not saying what I said before because I am afraid of service, but I will add that YOU or the US GOVERNMENT will not FORCE ME or *MY CHILDREN* to serve, and you definitely will not make us serve with DRAFTEES and CONSCRIPTED SERVICEMEN!

My children can chose for themselves whether or not to serve, if they want, with a healthy dose of parental guidance and advice; with us, my wife and I as parents, giving them as full a picture of the commitment as possible. I personally could handle draftees and conscripted servicemen if I had to. I've met soldiers like them from other nations, while overseas and training here in the U.S., and they're not all bad soldiers. But, I know enough about the US Army and military service in general to know it would be a potential disaster!

I've toyed with the idea of your "rights of passage" thinking, especially after I read Heinlein's book Starship Troopers, where he mentions service as being a requirement for "citizenship." Wikipedia note: "...Heinlein examines moral and philosophical aspects of suffrage, civic virtue, the necessities of war and capital punishment, and the nature of juvenile delinquency." If you haven't read it, it's an interesting read.

When it comes to these *earned* rights ideas, I know what you're talking about, have thought about it a lot, but respectfully disagree. Iriley mentioned military service being offered to "young offenders" as a possible choice, instead of jail time or otherwise negative social, legal judgements against them. Again, I've met such soldiers and it's hit or miss on the effectiveness; sometimes it makes matters even worse when the person is socially maladaptive!

I think boys and young men need Men's Groups, not the military, and I actually designed such a group at my University, as a service project, before graduating. I sold the idea of the group, for support and a vehicle of continuation, to the university's Gender Studies' faculty and local Women's Rights groups. Groups like the one I created are a great way to support men in their development, help with the specific masculine rights of passage, and in the quest to educate more men on the topics of gender equity and social justice.

As for a broader social passage for a full or fuller "citizenship," it's simply NOT going to happen in this society. It goes against the inherent "human rights" issues which are the center of the ideas that founded America.

Genes, I get the arguments but simply have not been convinced of the practicality and usefulness of ANY of them yet. Now, do you really want to get into what we can and can't handle with our current troop levels and strength? Okay, let's do it.

First off, I believe that we could still handle both of the current war fronts, in Iran, AND still present a credible threat potential, for deterrence reasons, in other regions. The American Forces are already functioning in hundreds of areas and multiple hot spots outside of Afghanistan and Iraq. Read "Imperial Grunts" by Robert Kaplan and search for articles by the well known military historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson.

Also, as I personally can attest, fighting on multiple fronts is very possible without severely handicapping our ability to function. For example, I served in Louisiana while my brother-in-law was in Iraq, another was about to leave and a cousin was ramping up for another repeat tour himself. It CAN indeed be done. It’s not pretty, nor fun, but it CAN INDEED BE DONE!

Simply asked, do you *really* think Iran is not afraid of what we might do right now? If we started a war in Iran, could we sustain it for long? No, not really, but do we need to? Inviting the already instable elements in Iran to rebel and giving them just enough means to pull it off is about all we'd need to do. But, that's probably not the argument you were making, you were talking about sustainability. The important note here is that a credible threat and ability of American Forces to move is present and very possible. No matter what you, the radical-left, even the "moderate" democrats, and the anti-war people and pundits think. But, go ahead and post your rebuttals if you like, they won't mean much to me or my friends and family though.

38geneg
Jun 27, 2007, 3:49pm Top

rawREN,

But, go ahead and post your rebuttals if you like, they won't mean much to me or my friends and family though.

Fair enough. I won't bother. I'm sorry we seem to have gotten off to a bad start with one another. I guess what I said might have been too harsh, my intention was not personal. For that I apologize

39MAJGross
Edited: Jun 27, 2007, 5:47pm Top

That was very well put. It has been such a long gap I have lost track of the ins and outs of this thread. An addition to your final para. When we talk about sustainability and going to war with Iran, it is important to remember that we are now using a fairly new system of rotations into combat zones. Prior to Vietnam, people forget that we went to war for the duration. No one was counting the days. If it becomes necessary to go to war in Iran, we will have much more of the force in place and we will have many more allies in place because of the high possibility of WMD. This isn't meant as an explanation to you, you understand this. Best to the family, you are definitely doing your share!

40lriley
Jun 28, 2007, 1:38am Top

Maybe the present administration will try invading Iran to shore up support for it's failed foreign policy decisions in the region but it would be ill advised. Iran has a much larger population--a much larger army and a much larger area to cover. Most analyses of our present situation seem to point out that we are stretched about as thin as we can go in Iraq.

41MAJGross
Jun 28, 2007, 7:54am Top

IRiley, your post when read with a cynical eye says, "maybe the present administration will kill American for the singular purpose of raising its polling numbers". Is this what you mean?

If we invade Iran, we will do it because it is necessary. And most analyses of our current situation rely on an annual rotation schedule. I believe I addressed that. If we invade Iran the rotation schedule would be out the window and my next deployment would be the Middle East and not Moscow.

42rawREN
Jun 28, 2007, 12:59pm Top

Geneg,

What you have to say is important and I will read it, I just may not agree is all. Please forgive *my* harshness, over a month had passed and I was still angry. I've encountered the "what do you know" and "what price have you paid" phenomenon many times, in many forms, before they've even thought to ask why I feel as I do, and it's always infuriating. I've posted more here, for you, than in any other forum.

My continued anger also had a lot to do with the fact that I was away from my wife again, for training with my home unit. I live where my wife is stationed and travel to my home state to train. We know we'll be taking our turn again soon and the tension just builds. It made my feelings that much stronger, putting the emotional exclamation point to my original text.

My wife and I were joking just the other day about how many birthdays, holidays and anniversaries we have already missed, and will miss in the next year or two. We missed both the "official" and the unofficial wedding anniversary; we snuck in an alopement to be sure the paperwork was clear before she deployed several months later (it's good that we did with as many problems as we had). I'm glad we can already laugh about it, but I have found that laughing is often a relief from pain and tension. It's something we volunteered for though, and did so with our eyes wide open.

We do pay a high price but as I said, we pay it willingly, voluntarily ~ please don't make us serve with delinquent kids and goof-offs who just don't care and who simply aren't equipped or inclined to serve and serve well.

I think the real tension in this argument though, is that I, and many like me, believe the real reason behind people asking for the draft, or conscripted service, is usually because they believe it will slow or halt any and all military actions somehow. Problem is, we all know that interventions are sometimes necessary. We need to have a solid and capable military and more, we need good soldiers and leaders.

All we ask is that the American public and politicians please don't undercut and embarrass the U.S. military. Deconstruct our politicians, your political opponenets, and their bad political choices, fine, but please don't deconstruct the American Armed Forces for that same end. I won't invent a Union, in your company, to force bad workers on you (we already have enough of that as it is anyway), so please don't do it to me and my family either.

Iriley,

If Iran is invaded, or momentarily attacked, it won't be to shore up any support for already "failed foreign policy decisions" ~ that's just silly. They'd do it for one reason, and one reason only: because they can and they feel they need to, no matter where the political pieces may fall. I believe that's what MAJGross basically said and I agree completely. I don't think we'll invade though, Iran has too much to lose and their economy is already collapsing under a string of bad decisions by the current Iranian government. It would only take a few strategic strikes and the JENGA stack that is Iran will crumble... they know this and will back-off if pressured at the right moments.

43rawREN
Jul 2, 2007, 7:46am Top

Instapundit.com dropped an interesting Heinlein link which references something I brought up earlier in this thread:

"Almost half a century later, Starship Troopers continues to outrage, shock--and awe. It still has critics, but also armies of admirers. As a coming-of-age story about duty, citizenship, and the role of the military in a free society, 'Starship Troopers' certainly speaks to modern concerns. The U.S. armed services frequently put it on recommended-reading lists."

http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2007/062007/06302007/296085/printer_friendly

44Doug1943
Jul 2, 2007, 11:45am Top

rawREN: We've referred to Starship Troopers two or three times in this Group. Once, I believe, for that wonderful demolition of the idiotic cry that "violence never settles anything"; and I offered my belief, somewhere, that the right to vote ought to be based on the model laid out in that novel.

45BTRIPP
Edited: Jul 2, 2007, 12:32pm Top

#44: "...the right to vote ought to be based on the model laid out in that novel"

I have often described myself as a "Heinlein Libertarian" ... I recently finished reading Libertarianism in One Lesson and found myself strongly disagreeing with the author on the subject of open borders. While I would dearly like to be living in "Libertopia" (that's a joke that any reader of that particular book should get), the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of Citizenship should be reserved for citizens and the "franchise" should be more difficult to obtain than simply being delivered on this side of our borders.

46rawREN
Jul 2, 2007, 2:54pm Top

Doug1943,

I've noticed references and have made them myself, of course, and find it interesting that they come around, again and again... as with the instapundit link to the Heinlein essay. I'm still not convinced that it will, or should, happen as I know that the military would make for a very strange and problematic "right of passage" to citizenship and/or voting rights. It does make me think more about pro-actively earning your keep, fighting for what you believe in, and remembering that "might makes right," often in the worst of ways ~ and that the opposite is just as vulnerable, right does not make might, no matter what the appeasers would like to believe.

47rawREN
Jul 2, 2007, 2:56pm Top

BTRIPP,

I wonder if a "Heinlein Libertarian" is anything like a "South Park Republican" ???

48BTRIPP
Jul 2, 2007, 5:07pm Top

I suspect they aren't that far apart!

49rawREN
Jul 7, 2007, 3:43pm Top

Speaking of Heinlein ~ Happy 100th! (7 July 1907 - 8 May 1988)

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