Tom Ricks says we need a draft. This is nonsense. If we want to prevent stupid wars, make the country pay for them.
Since the end of the military draft in 1973, every person joining the U.S. armed forces has done so because he or she asked to be there. Over the past decade, this all-volunteer force has been put to the test and has succeeded, fighting two sustained foreign wars with troops standing up to multiple combat deployments and extreme stress.
This is precisely the reason it is time to get rid of the all-volunteer force. It has been too successful. Our relatively small and highly adept military has made it all too easy for our nation to go to war — and to ignore the consequences.
Conscription is bullshit. From the Revolutionary War to 1973, the draft never worked. The Continental Congress tried to conscript men and the states wouldn’t do it. The War of 1812 was fought by an all-volunteer military. Neither the Union nor the Confederacy could make conscription work: every such effort led to riots. By the numbers, of the 2,100,000 Union soldiers, only two percent were conscripted and six percent were substitutes for rich boys whose fathers could afford to keep their dainty sons out of the military. The rest were all volunteers.
WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, the scions of the rich managed to avoid the fighting and dying. There were a few exceptions, glory hunters and patriotic types but they were few and a good many of them got killed in the process.
Even if we did institute a draft, as Charlie Rangel has proposed, how long would we want to keep a draftee in the service? Rangel served with distinction in Korea. Rangel was seriously wounded and earned a Bronze Star with the V device for valour. But Charlie Rangel was a volunteer, not a draftee. He served from 1948 to 1952, leaving the Army at the rank of Staff Sergeant. Lt. General Douglas E. Lute advocated a draft in 2007 as a way of relieving stress on overcommitted troops but quickly backed away from that position, saying it would be a major policy shift. Yeah. And George W Bush knew exactly how the country would react if he tried to institute one. It really doesn’t matter, the country wouldn’t stand for it.
Want to quit fighting stupid wars? Make Americans pay for them up front and not borrow those sums. Want a war? Raise taxes to support it.
A few more suggestions for improving things:
Quit hiding the reality of military and intelligence budgets behind firewalls of national security. Stop funding weapons systems the military never asked for and can’t use in the wars we’re fighting. Get rid of the untold tiers of military contractors. Shoot a few profiteers. Stop bribing warlords and corrupting the countries we’re occupying.
Start listening to line unit commanders and their supply sergeants: they know what’s needed. Sixty percent of everything our military needs in the field can be gotten off the shelf. The other forty percent ought to be the product of bottom-up needs assessment, not some fat ass Congress Critter prostituting himself to the military-industrial complex.
Americans know our troops have endured the unendurable. Ricks is wrong: if the all-volunteer force has been too successful, this comes as news to the troops who fought and are fighting. Our military is not relatively small: our military is enormous. Nor is it highly adept: our military never learned Arabic or Pashto or the rudiments of how to fight the war of counterinsurgency they were sent to fight. If is has proven too easy for our nation to go to war and to ignore the consequences, the financial consequences would provide the necessary obstacle to reckless and interminable war making.
Sun Tzu, Art of War, Chapter 2.
When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardour will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.
Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardour damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.