Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Serve with pride...er, fear of jail time

In trying times such as these, talk often turns to a resurrection of the draft or some form of community service. Is the prospect actually looming, or is it just more spooky talk designed to keep us in line? More than likely, it's the latter. But that doesn't mean Americans should look the other way when these issues come up. Just because nothing's been asked of us yet doesn't mean we won't be eventually asked to put two magnetic ribbons on our cars. So to speak.

The draft is a double-edged sword. On one hand, its implementation would all but spell the end of our current multi-tasking in the Middle East; once Jenna gets her draft notice, the jig would be up. On the other hand, it's the freaking draft. It means that young people would be conscripted regardless of socioeconomic status or priorities. And the age would be likely would be raised past its traditional ceiling of 26, which I am against for obvious reasons. And they'd probably be less picky about bad backs and weak ankles, which also bothers me.

Selfish reasons aside, the push toward a draft and mandatory community service highlights a gaping wound in our national pride. Namely, what do such options say about Americans' desire to fill the national ranks? Put more succinctly, who the hell wants to go to Iraq or aid in the continued destruction of U.S. infrastructure?

Resistance toward the draft has been a hot-button issue for at least the past four decades. Its alternative, community service, often gets lost in the shuffle. Compared to military conscription, the concept seems almost too benign to think about. But in its own way, the motivations behind forced national duty can be as sinister as those behind the draft.

Historically, the draft targeted the 18-26 age group; that demographic would most likely bear the burden of forced community service as well. But what is so special about, say, the 18-20 age bracket? Ability-wise, this group doesn't have much life experience. They haven't yet carved out their niche; do not have higher education; and are generally at an awkward transition phase that leaves them impressionable. On second thought, maybe that's exactly the point. Foist it on the young, because older people can't be bothered to drop their settled lives for something as trivial as helping the nation in a time of crisis.

Such a proposal would also hurt the already-wounded state of higher education in this country. Colleges thrive on new blood, and depriving them of students (in some cases, permanently) would forestall professional development. Even with college out of the equation, putting an entire age bracket in a state of involuntary servitude goes against the individual spirit instilled in U.S. citizens. Furthermore, the conservatives who push for this sort of thing apparently haven't considered the big-government implications of adding millions of college-age kids to the federal bankroll. They despise the SCHIP program for poor children, but have no problem subsidizing every 18-to-20-year-old in the United States? Has any thought been put into this?

Mandatory national service would be a perilous extension of the current doctrine that dictates enforcement of things that, in a better world, people would clamor to do. Just as the Iraq war has taught us, the U.S. needs to lead by example rather than force hypocritical ideas down everyone's throats. Public faith in government is at a historic low at the moment, and no forced servitude is going to spur any patriotism. If the current dust crop of leadership has taught us anything, it's that a nation needs a strong sense of civic obligation to triumph. That doesn't come about through force or subjugation of others; it thrives when a nation lives up to its ideals and its people want to participate.

It's a sad testament of the selfishness of the Bush administration that mandatory service is even being considered. That's about the only way they'll get anyone to fight for their wretched ends anymore.

5 comments:

Nick said...

Hasn't Charlie Rangel also proposed the idea of a draft, mostly as a way to bring down support for the war?

The thought of a draft should never be used as a political tool/intimidation method.

Col. David Hunt has advocated a national service program of 2 yrs., which can range from military service to working at a Veterans' hospital, absolutely no deferrments.

However, Col. Hunt has also said that the War on Terror can and should be fought with about half the current number of troops on the ground, involving more precision bombing and more reliance on intellegence.

Obviously, I don't want to be sent to Iraq, or anywhere else away from my family. However, our leaders need to decide if we can in the War on Terror, with the current strategy at our current military numbers. If we can't, then either a severe change in strategy needs to be made or a draft would need to be instituted.

Either way, the fools in D.C. need to make their decisions without worrying about re-election, but rather for the good of the country. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that.

Nick said...

And I will say this, "staying the course" is not the best strategy, in my asinine opinion.

Cajun Tiger said...

Would you please show me one place where anyone in the Bush administration or conservative circles have even slightly hinted of a draft? Save your time b/c you can't. It has only been Dems like Rangel and others, so I have no idea where you are coming up with this is a conservative idea. Sources please?

Ian McGibboney said...

I said nowhere in my post that Bush has discussed the draft. In fact, only Democrats have. My precise point is that the GOP wouldn't consider the draft because it would end all support for their endless aggression, but they still need fresh blood somehow.

So instead, they talk about "national service," which is just another way of enforcing unenforceable patriotism. Drafts and national service are both merely ways to make people subservient to the government.

My post is mostly about how the logistics behind national service are flawed, and foster the wrong qualities in the first place. Do you have anything to say about that?

Cajun Tiger said...

Your last paragraph seems to say as much by including mandatory service and fighting. And I also challenge you to source the call for mandatory national service by Bush admin when in fact those calls have also come from Dems.

As far as your question, I agree 100% with your post in that it would be a disaster and have major negative consequences.