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End the draft! Why the draft is unjustifiable and should end

Updated on April 21, 2014
American soldiers in Iraq
American soldiers in Iraq | Source

What am I talking about? Ending the military draft

By draft, I mean a military draft, and in this hub, specifically the U.S. military draft. A lot of it can probably be applied to other draft programs as well, but seeing as I don't know much about drafts outside of the USA, the details come from the American Military.

The draft is a program that is currently not active, and has not been since 1973. Today, the U.S. Army is all-volunteer. However, the Selective Service System (from here on called the SSS) still mandates that all males, including non-citizens, between the ages of 18 and 25 register, so their names are on file in case a draft is called.

If you wish to have a more complete understanding of the SSS and the draft, here is a link to SSS Official Website. And here are parts 1 and 2 of the best summary on the U.S. Military draft that I've ever read. No, I'm not getting paid to refer you to either of these; I just think they're great.

If this hub seems oddly random to you (after all, the chances of a draft being called today are very small, for various reasons), the reason I'm writing it is because of a discussion I had with a friend about the justification for a draft. It turned out to be more nuanced and interesting than I had originally thought, so I decided to publish a hub and share our thoughts here. Enjoy!

Why the draft should end

The draft is opposed for several specific reasons, but it boils down to a couple. The first is that wars are not a good cause in the first place, and the draft, along with other procedures, encourages what society should be getting rid of. The second is that the government does not have the right to force citizens into fighting a war, especially as they may not even support or agree with it.

There can be no justification for overriding individual rights and forcing citizens into a sort of involuntary servitude, especially for a morally controversial reason. (Note: the reasons I stated above are moral or politically philosophical reasons. For the many practical reasons that a draft wouldn't work, refer to the article I linked to above, Are you going to be drafted? .)

But wait... (Counterargument)

"But wait!" say draft proponents. "We've got fancy-ass reasoning too!"

The draft is part of a social contract that citizens agree to by living in this country and enjoying its benefits and services. It's the country's (read: government's) responsibility to provide for the "common defense" of its people, and the minority (non-war) can't enjoy the benefit of safety without sacrificing for it.

After all, what about taxes? Though some might not want to pay them, they are required to if they wish to stay in this country, use the public roads, and enjoy other services. How is the draft any different from that?

Source

Nope, we're still right. Why we should end the draft

Though the justification took longer to pull together than I had originally thought and took more effort to articulate, I'm still solidly anti-draft. Like I said before though, I found it a little difficult to wrestle this into something cohesive, so please bear with me.

The counterargument is completely right; the justification for taxes and the draft are the same. That's not to say I'm against taxes. I'm not. The reason behind that is that taxes lead to an increase in collective happiness while the draft does the opposite. I will elaborate a bit more later on.

First, we have to establish that in today's world all wars are pointless to begin with. Reason 1: With technology, there are, or at least can be, enough resources to render "survival' wars pointless. I'm not saying that it will be easy to make distribution of resources fair, but I believe it can be done justly and without war.

Reason 2: Dissolving of nationalism and borders. This is not so much of a current reason as a long term projection one. As technology spreads and resources are more abundant (in terms of centuries), nationalism will ebb in favor of common humanity. At least, that's my hope.

Reason 3: Weapons of mass destruction. If we all wanted to kill each other and the world, we now have the technology to do it. We've gotten too good at violence for technology to restrain us anymore. We now have to restrain ourselves, through empathy, logic, and compassion, among other things.

Some people mention terrorists and self-defense. I do believe nationalistic defense is justified in that case, which is why I don't support the dissolution of the military - though in a better world, I feel that the military should be inseparable from law enforcement, as all laws would be relatively fair and international. However, that point provides no support for a draft.

As is mentioned in one of the articles I linked to above, no one suggests drafting people for fire departments or police work. I don't think very many feel undecided about the morality of fighting terrorists. Though there are certainly draft-dodgers and cowards, I don't think the world would lack in volunteers if the military was solely for true self-defense and for fighting terrorism.

Are we agreed that war is not a good thing? (If you see any flaws, please feel free to point them out in the comments.) I'll assume that we are. Now let's move on to how the defense for taxes doesn't apply to the draft.

U.S. Army recruiting poster
U.S. Army recruiting poster | Source

Difference between military draft and taxes

Taxes, ultimately, lead to greater happiness for everyone. How? Of course there is the obvious answer, which is that they lead to funding for projects for the common good, like public roads and education. These are universally beneficial, and simply aren't all that controversial. There is also an additional reason, which I think becomes obvious upon reflection.

Though not often stated outright, I believe the reason taxes and public projects and security nets are good for individuals, besides direct benefits, is that people are by nature happier when others are as well. Imagine you saw a child drowning. Would you save him, if you could? Do you think most others would save him? This is a fundamental belief of mine, and it affects my political philosophy. Assuming that we're still in agreement, we can confidently summarize that taxes (should) make people happier.

(If you wonder why I used the word happiness so many times in the above section, please take a look at this hub, which discusses goals for society.)

The draft decreases general happiness. First, in reasoning, it tends the country towards a slippery slope for muffling the rights of the minority, or individual. By this, I mean creating a precedent for the majority to force its will on the minority, a danger especially apparent in controversial topics. Secondly, war is not a positive thing, nor will it ever be. So the draft risks a negative consequence by creating another negative consequence.

In defeating the earlier counter-argument, I, at least, am satisfied that the draft is indefensible and should be phased out. As always, comments and opinions are welcome!

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    • Josak profile image

      Josak 5 years ago from variable

      Agreed completely, I would say that citizens have a moral duty to defend their country in times of great need but that means they should either join voluntarily or participate in the DEFENSE of the nation in some other way but the law has no place mandating to people that they have to and besides most of our wars have been very much offensive rather than defensive wars. Voted up and interesting.

    • junkseller profile image

      junkseller 5 years ago from Michigan

      On the other hand, I sometimes think it is a lot easier to vote for or accept war when you know you won't have to actually go fight it.

      How about a policy where any offensive action waged by the military requires a civilian vote and anyone who votes yes to it is than open to be drafted. And while they are at it, how about those who voted yes are the only ones taxed to pay for it.

      Or better yet, how about any politician who votes yes to a war are the first ones on the front line. That should end war pretty quickly.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      Exactly, Josak. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      Hi junkseller. Hahaha, I loved your comment. Those all sound like great ideas to me. Don't vote for wars you personally aren't willing to fight in, don't shove others to the front line to protect your own cowardly behind. Great plan, should implement immediately :D

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 5 years ago from California

      This country better not fight anymore wars, with or without draftees; they're simply too expensive. Wars of the future will be fought with drones, robots, smart bombs and cyber worms. Thank you very much, high-tech world, for saving our blood. Later!

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      For too many reasons, it's time for war to end. Thanks for stopping by, Kosmo.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 4 years ago

      I think the draft should be back on. The more money you have the more likely your children should be drafted. We should start drafting all the children who's parents are CEO's and Politicians. Of course they probably do not care about their children any way. I could only guess what the pay would become and the tax loop holes they will create then. To be honest Americans will only care about its citizens when they serve. Today's Military is a hired mercenary program for rich people who do not know what its like to be a human on the bottom rung. Things will only change when we are all forced to experience the Greed and corruption of our country. Oh I almost forgot, we already our experiencing it.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Sanxuary- I'm not completely certain what you're getting at, though I'd guess that your comment was more of a rant than an suggestion. While I sympathize with your comment, discussions about the problems with our growing wealth gap and how crappy our politicians are aren't actually on topic with this article. Love to discuss those with you though, so if you've published anything on those, send a link to me.

    • djashburnal profile image

      Doug 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Id say keep it and limit the exemptions. This way senators, congressmen, and presidents have to think of their own family. If they start a war and initiate a draft, their own children could be picked to serve and potentially die. It'd actually deter war.

      One comment of the SSS. I think it should be changed to include all sorts of civil service, not just the military and force people to do a year or two in service of this country. Whether its public projects, teaching, hospice care, non invasive research etc. If your not qualified to teach, cool, the program will help you get a degree. That way it benefits a peacetime nation

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, djashburnal. I'm 100% on board about morphing the SSS into a civil service program. Seems to me like building infrastructure or teaching the new generation is a much better way to serve your country than killing people.

      Wow, that sounded a little cynical. I think it was due to watching too much news while I was abroad - usually I avoid it as much as possible. Thanks for your comment, djash!

    • profile image

      Thomas M Taylor 3 years ago

      If our country was ever attacked, I don't think that there would ever be a shortage of volunteers to join in the fight, but incase we do I think it would be a good, if all else fails, idea.

      While I think every American should serve their country that can, I agree with djash that there are many ways to serve outside of the military.

      In my own opinion, I think nationalism is vital to a country's growth. If you do not have pride in your country why would you want to improve it? Why would you want to serve it? Or even why would you want to preserve it? I believe that all people are equal, but if you do not feel the need to improve and strive to be the best that you can be, would you?

      Great Hub

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 3 years ago from California, USA

      Thanks for stopping by, Thomas. Actually, I've lately been thinking about nationalism, as it seems healthy to me to see people of different nationalities as just your fellow human beings. [I'm going to drag my own comment section off topic here.] Does patriotism mean believing that your country is superior to others, or does it mean loving and taking pride in your home just because it's yours? Same goes for cultures and cultural relativism. The two views result in different conceptions of "serving your country" and "split loyalties" between different nations (immigrant history, cultural loyalty, dual citizenship, etc.).

      [Back on topic, kind of.] I do also believe that one should serve the country (or the global community, if you prefer), but I wonder if military service will become less glorified and celebrated as the world shrinks. Honestly, I hope so.

    • profile image

      Thomas M Taylor 3 years ago

      I believe that you must veiw all humans as equal comrades in life no matter where you are from also. I totally agree with you on that.

      I think of patriotism as simply the love for your country and will to do anything that is needed for your country. I saw a quote once that pointed out exactly what you said, patriotism is believing you live in the best country in the world ddue to the fact that you were born in it.

      The way i see nationalism, it is the driving force to make you want to improve your country. You have the same intense love for your country, but you also want it to continue setting the bar higher by example. I don't see it as a we are the best country in the world, but rather we are what we make it. If we want it to be the best then we have to strive for it.

      I see what you are saying about the split loyalties, I hope no one has to ever make that choice. And there is no easy solution to that. I would say if you pledge allegience to a country then you are part of it, if you are within a certain amount of time of being in a country I think it would be compramising to not only the person but also the government if you were forced to serve against your own people. that is the best situation I can see for that in as much of a general political idea. as I said there is no easy way to make it easy.

      Service to me is more than military service. You can help out by many ways, volunteering and so on. I think it would help bring the communities together and people closer from all over the world.

      Will military service be less glorified later on, I think it would take a lot of "conflicts" and the people will just get sick of the fighting. at the same time that would deter people from fighting not really military. As long as you have a strong military presense in the people's culture you will always have glory in service. Even then, I see nothing wrong with service for ones country, selfless service for your country is noble to me. as the world shrinks I think the lines between allies are going to shrink and wars will be faught with monetary sanctions and over the web. Control the money, control the country in a way. If your enemy is the enemy of all then you find yourself in a lesser compramising situation for all peoples partaking.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 2 years ago

      I found sarcasm but no rant in my conversation. When we actually had a draft those with money always found a way to exclude themselves. No draft actually creates a whole new set of problems. Those who serve are now excluded as citizens and the general population. We have no say on the why we are fighting and the general populations could careless. A non-volunteer Army made everyone care and the why was important. Now a bunch of rich guys look at their cut in a war for money program and could careless what happens. Even the intelligence community knew what would happen to Iraq and they ignored it. Afghanistan is a great investment but it's a toss up Somalia was pretty close. The point is Americans would care a whole lot more if it was their kids. The amount of money we spend to convince people to join is unbelievable and Recruiter is the worst job ever. Like Rome its becoming the Pretorian guard and Foreigners' make up a good percentage of the force. A Nation that will not defend its self will eventually be controlled by those who will and the reasons will not be the ones we think they are. Just as unbelievable was the amount of outside contractors working for far more money then your soldiers. They were willing to spy for anyone, kill and torture anyone if necessary and kept off the books if they are a casualty. Just as unsurprising is there lack of loyalty but if violating all ethics is a job requirement their lack of loyalty is probably a good thing.

    • profile image

      Adam 19 months ago

      War is inevitable. Humans always will attack each other without external force. It's human nature. As long as we live, there will be war. Pacifists want to think otherwise, but war will exist and be glorious. Personally in my opinion, this age of peace will never last and war will be glorious. This is because humans will never make peace last. Also who said war was that bad. War helped my country grow, but then shrink. Without war, my country will never grow and will be small. Never will my country stay small

    • profile image

      Steve 18 months ago

      I'm certainly against a draft, basically because it suggests the citizens are tools of the state. That we are slaves who can have our very freedom of movement and occupation taken from us to be made to carry tools of killing against other people. I see the state as serving the people, not vice-versa, so I'm only for a 100% volunteer military. It the citizens don't want to fight...then the cause must not be very compelling and we don't need to be fighting in that war anyway.

      As to the pax-Americana suggestions...I don't think war has gone anywhere, really I think American is probably the most actively militaristic nation on earth and we have been for the last 50 years. Our nation is just prosperous enough to keep it on the other side of an ocean right now. But whether it takes decades or centuries I'm sure that will shift eventually.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 4 months ago

      Technically there is no draft but there are boards just in case we need one. Civil Service is important and I think it could help our country greatly. It would not all be military if we brought back such service. How about a Security and Police force. How about an emergency response team for Earthquakes and such. In most cases the goal is to involve people in our country and to build and recruit people for a future in serving our country. When we serve we often care more about the principals of how our country should function and we have been losing this knowledge since we ended the draft. Imagine a military that no longer understands its mandate to protect the democratic institutions of our nation. Imagine a us verses them mentality when it once was us the people.

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