Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Draft

A few weeks back I read "The Things They Carried", by Tim O'Brien. The books is largely about how Vietnam vets carried much more than weapons and required goods. They also carried memories, dreams, and fears. These wieghts not only were with them on the battle front, but came home with them when the war was over. The book is a fiction, because even though they are stories based on fact, and actual experiences of Tim in Vietnam, he changes them to help the reader more understand the individual situations. A very interesting read, and very well written.

A major theme is in regards to the draft. When the draft was implimented and it finally cast its die on Tim, he comtemplated dodging it and going to Canada. So much so that he found himself a few feet from its edge. He didnt want to go for many reasons, but mostly because he was scared. However Tim turned back and went to Vietnam. Why, largely because Tim was ashamed of what others may think of him. It was what he ought to do. It was his duty to his country, so forth and so on. He didnt want to fight, and he didnt believe in what was happening, yet he went. He took up arms, and in the same act agreed to kill and deystoy others lives, because it was what he 'ought' to do.

The draft raises serious question with me. First of all it raises a question of constitutionality. The fourteenth amendment of the U.S. constitution states: "niether slavery nor involuntary servitude except as a punishment for crime whereof the part shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Now the 14th amendment abolished slavery we all know that, however the part on involuntary servitude raises interest with me. The draft seems to nudge a little too close to this for comfort.

Next, It seems largely wrong and converse for a society, who values giving its society such choices such as education, occupation, and mobility of the social stucture to require these same citizens to fight. A volunteer corp would seem much more aligned with such ideals.

I have gone on for a bit so I will finish with this. Arguably there are times when a country such as ours would need a force larger than that which would be supplied by regular volunteers. I see to possibilities. One the conditions become clear that there is a need, and danger is iminent and citizens volunteer. Two, the countrys other option is to spend the time and energy convincing and educating its people why it needs such a force. They still volunteer.

One should never do anything as serious as war becuase you feel others want you to. It is a serious matter, involving dire consequences both to individuals and long term geo-political climates. So what do you do in such a case as a draft? That rests on your own personal integrity. hint hint I propose CD


At 12:09 AM, Blogger That one guy said...

I don't have much time, but I am going to write a summary of my thoughts on the draft.

I don't think that the draft, in theory, violates the rights of a person--even in a democracy. I don't think, either, that conscription violates the rights of all Americans, as laid out in the Constitution. Rather, I think that the draft is a responsible tool of last resort that our government may use if the situation is dire. Do note, that conditions for such an action are rare; one author recommended only if there is a new cold war (end of the world scenario 1) or a new world war (end of the world scenario 2).

The primary task of a government is to protect its citizens. It is to protect them from outside threats, from domestic threats, and, yes, even from itself (lest it become tyrannical). Thus, such a tool as conscription should not be left out as a means of fulfilling this primary responsibility. To deny such a tool to the government would be irresponsible.

The analogy that conscription can be compared with slavery or involuntary servitude is broken, largely, by the fact that one is paid for the position and, thus, not being taken advantage of. Servitude implies that the person is not being compensated; this would not be the case.

I would argue that your scenario of how to fill the corps when the general volunteers do not fill the ranks (which, of course, is how the ranks should be filled), begs the question of: "what if people don't volunteer?" The second scenario is dangerous because it commands the government to focus its attention on convincing its people to be so scared that they volunteer to be violent, rather than focusing on the enemy at hand. The enemy should never be a lack of soldiers. Ever.

I ask the question again, for the first time, how are you going to fill the ranks if the volunteers do not meet the need?

I've said enough and it is time to sleep.




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