Friday, June 24, 2005

Few Want the Draft, But What About Other Service?

There is a wide consensus amongst Americans that we should not reinstate the draft. A new poll shows that 70% of Americans are opposed to the draft. Over half those polled also said they would discourage a son from enlisting (2/3rds said they’d discourage a daughter).

For better or worse, the military is now viewed almost solely as a career choice rather than a duty. And it’s pretty rational for people to avoid a dangerous career. But for now, that doesn’t appear to be a problem. While the military has missed a number of recruiting goals (particularly for the reserves), there is no indication that the situation in Iraq will require a draft. In fact, given public opinion, a draft might actually do more to turn the country against the war than help resolve it.

But what about other reasons for a draft? Some argue that the volunteer army has eroded our sense of togetherness. Some say the volunteer army makes it too easy for Presidents to engage in military action because, without the threat of the draft, most Americans are not personally affected by war. Being of the post-Vietnam generation, I’ve always accepted the volunteer army as the better option. But I admit I have no frame of personal reference.

Nevertheless, I do think that, as a nation, we need to reemphasize national service. That doesn’t mean just military service, but all service to community and country. Right now, market pressures lead many of us to jump straight into the workforce after we finish schooling. We feel pressured to get ahead quickly and our perceived financial needs trump our sense of duty to country.

That is probably a good thing for our economy. But is it good for our nation? Perhaps one of the reasons we are so divided these days is that we no longer interrelate while serving together. We could all use a little more selflessness, I believe. We could all do a little more service.


At 3:48 PM, Blogger Joe Weedon said...

An couple interesting notes on military service of Bush administration officials from the June 18 National Journal.

Of the top 100 officials who were young men during the Vietnam War (ages 50 to 60 now), 38 have served in the military (active duty or Reserves).

Of the top 160 officials who are under 50, 10 (8 men and 2 women) served in the military.

Of the 49 top Bush officials who are under 40, only 2 served in the military.

As someone ineligible for military service (diabetic), the issue of a draft or mandatory military service isn't one that I ever gave much thought to. However, I do agree with Alan that our nation should strive to restore a sense of duty and a sense of community to our country through a robust national service program.


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