Monday, December 02, 2013

Bring Back The Daft

In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank has another one of those bring back the draft pieces*.   I've said it before and now I have to say it again--this may not be the worst idea ever, but it's probably in the top ten.  The armed forces are not primarily a social experiment.  Their main purpose is to protect and defend the United States.  A volunteer army has much higher morale than one that's been forced to serve.  Really we don't need to go any further than that.

But then there's the concept of stripping away everyone's freedom for two years because some people (usually not the people losing their freedom) think it's a neat idea.  For this alone it's such a horrible idea I don't think it's worth it even if the results approached the magical world Dana Milbank apparently lives in.

And magical it is. He honestly believes reviving the draft might "reverse the problems that have built up over the past few decades."  I wish he'd be more specific as to what problems, because there have been good and bad things happening over the past few decades, just like there are in any decades.  (Among the very good things--we got rid of the draft.)  Does Milbank honestly think things are worse now than ever?

But let's assume even that's true. How is it tied to lack of military service?  He notes that the percentage of veterans serving in office are far lower than it was not so long ago**.  (By the way, he discounts George W. Bush's veteran status since his service was no good according to Milbank--so when we get this new draft, we'll have to follow special rules to make sure everyone's service helps them become better politicians.)  He notes it's "no coincidence that this same period has seen the gradual collapse of our ability to govern ourselves: a loss of control over the nation’s debt, legislative stalemate and a disabling partisanship."

Oh, I think it's a coincidence.  For one thing, the parties' composition has changed over the years so you don't find as many liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats, and I don't see how that can be traced to military service.

Of course, the bigger point is Milbank whining because Congress isn't passing laws he'd like to see.  Funny, since quite a bit more Americans are crying over laws Democrats passed when they were completely in charge. Which is why the public sent a bunch of Republicans to office--to stop all this, which they've been doing (somewhat).

As far as losing control of our national debt, a lot of that is because Congress keeps spending money through all that legislation I thought they weren't passing.

He goes on to explain his wisdom:

Because so few serving in politics have worn their country’s uniform, they have collectively forgotten how to put country before party and self-interest. They have forgotten a “cause greater than self,” and they have lost the knowledge of how to make compromises for the good of the country.

There's a lot wrong with this reasoning (in fact, I'm hard-pressed to find anything sensible in it), but my favorite point is how fighting wars apparently teaches you how to compromise.

Milbank gives a number of generic positive effects a draft would create.  Among them:

future leaders, unlike today’s “chicken hawks,” [would be] disinclined to send troops into combat without good reason;

Let's ignore the cheap shots and ask ourselves, do veterans actually have a record of voting against war at a higher rate than non-veterans?

Speaking of which, I would think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were great moments for Milbank--who complains of Washington's "disabling partisanship"--since they both had solid bipartisan support. (And let's throw in the Patriot Act while we're at it.)

Another benefit:

above all***, giving these young Americans a shared sense of patriotism and service to the country.

Interesting. So imprisoning**** every young adult for two years when they're just getting started will make them grateful.

I have nothing against service. It's good when people volunteer to help others. But that's what it should be, voluntary. Meanwhile, if Milbank is unhappy with D.C., does he really need to pass a law affecting everyone?  Why not cut out the middleman and just send every newly-elected politician into a Milbank-approved sensitivity training seminar

*The left can't get enough of this idea--it's like they say, liberals don't mind what you do as long as its mandatory.  Of course, they were also the ones who kept threatening that George W. Bush would bring back the draft, even though they seemed to be the only ones calling for it.

**He doesn't note one of the reasons might be that more women are in office.

***He writes "above all" but I wouldn't be surprised if the main reason is he figures it'll be much harder to wage a war if everyone's drafted, though that's probably not true and even if true could end up being a bad thing.

****If you don't think it's imprisonment just try leaving and see what happens.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well threatening a draft might get more young people politically engaged.

In 1980 the democratic threatening a draft (ie. registration) were doomed because a) no hawks liked them anyway and b) it eroded support from the young who would otherwise be predisposed to be afraid of trigger-happy republicans (who might bring back the draft). One of the unstudied aspects of Reagan's 1980 landslide might be how he casually prevaricated that he would do away with draft registration and took enough edge off the issue to keep suburban parents largely calm.

How is it a cheap shot to call a chicken hawk, a chicken hawk? They're probably teabaggers as well

6:19 AM, December 02, 2013  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

It's a cheap shot because the lack of military service in no way deprives someone of the right to have an opinion on military matters, particularly someone elected to make those decisions. If only those who served could vote on going to war, the US would not have entered WWI or WWII.

And chicken hawk is not even as offensive as calling Tea Party members "teabaggers," given the chortle it invokes among the "sexually in the know" left that find it so enormously amusing.

9:10 AM, December 02, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The Chicken Hawk line had several cheap shots which tell you more about Milbank's casual arrogance than anything to do with the political situation. First, the term itself is insulting a class of people for no good reason, people who care about this country as much as anyone else and have even in some cases sacrificed a lot for it. Second, your military status tells one little about whether or not you'd favor or oppose a Milbank-disapproved military action. Third, the line says those who have gone through required military service would be "disinclined to send troops into combat without good reason" as if "chicken hawks" lightly entered into sending troops into combat.

10:19 AM, December 02, 2013  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
    –  13th Amendment

“I was sworn in first in 1923, and have not been off the hook since that time. My principle pride in my family is that I know of not one in over two centuries who was drafted; they all volunteered. But the draft is involuntary servitude, immoral, and unconstitutional no matter what the Supreme Court says.”
    –  Robert A. Heinlein, navy veteran

5:59 PM, December 02, 2013  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Anon: I remember a lot of folks who thought Reagan would bomb Iran in 1980, but I don't recall anyone fearing he would bring back the draft.

Carter's draft registration wasn't unique. The WWI draft was started by Wilson (D) and ended by Harding (R). The three-decade long draft from 1940 to 1971 was started by Roosevelt (D) and ended by Nixon (R).

Oddly, the best anti-draft folk song was sung by the Almanac Singers, a group of Communist party members (including Pete Seeger) who held to the party line in 1940 that the war against Hitler was just a capitalist ruse.

It was on a Saturday night and the moon was shing bright
They passed the conscription bill.
And the people they did say for many miles away
’Twas the President and his boys on Capitol Hill.

Oh, Franklin Roosevelt told the people how he felt
We damned near believed what he said.
He said, “I hate war, and so does Eleanor –
But we won't be safe 'till everybody's dead.”

When my poor old mother died, I was sitting by her side
A-promising to war I’d never go.
But now I'm wearing khaki jeans and eating army beans
And I’m told that J. P. Morgan loves me so.

I have wandered o’er this land, a roaming working man
No clothes to wear and not much food to eat.
But now the government foots the bill, gives me clothes and feeds me swill,
Gets me shot and puts me underground six feet.

Why nothing can be wrong if it makes our country strong
We got to get tough to save democracy.
And though it may mean war, we must defend Singapore –
This don’t hurt you half as much as it hurts me.

6:12 PM, December 02, 2013  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Well done, LKGuy.

7:52 PM, December 02, 2013  

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