we wrong about the draft?
against your will saps the will for fighting
draft, in Britain known as National Service, is wrong. Most of the
readers of antiwar.com will agree on that whether libertarians,
conservatives or left wing radicals. The idea of taking
unwilling kids to fight and very possibly die for causes they don’t
believe in is repellent, at least when the wars involve no threat
of invasion. However, have we lopped off one head of this big state
hydra to see another more sinister one come in its place? Has the
end of the draft made foreign wars that much easier?
of the most watchful constituencies against ill advised foreign
adventures have often been the
relatives of army men, or the veterans themselves. This could
be seen particularly in the case of Vietnam. How many of the anti-Vietnam
protestors were Ho Chi Minh fans, small government conservatives
or foreign policy wonks who just thought that this was the wrong
war? And how many were those about to go to Vietnam, whose sons
or brothers were either in Vietnam or a cemetery, or who were wounded
in the war? Although a minority of veterans and relatives were opposed
(as a minority of Americans were), they made up a vital
part of the anti war coalition. One of the reasons why war is
more popular than before, or is less repellent to its opponents,
is because outside certain communities and certain parts of the
country, army life no longer has the potential to reach every family.
If the voters don’t care, the politicians won’t do it for them.
of the consequences of the full professionalisation of the army
is the way in which the media now treats war. The
media has now sanitised war. The Gulf war showed the way. The
shows that were ever present on the BBC and CNN showed no inkling
of the misery within Iraq, or the very real – and happily insubstantial
– fears for our soldiers. It may be possible to blame the governments
for their heavy-handed censorship. However the media were not prepared
to rebel on this, because the public were not demanding to
know what was going on in the camps were their sons could very soon
be. We must remember that in a free society, the media are our
creation. We get the mirror that we deserve. The only reason why
the media is so bad is not the press barons – they would provide
decent media if it made them a decent profit – or the government,
but us. In the end if we don’t demand to know what’s going on they
aren’t going to tell us for our own good. If we demand film star
romances and football scores, this is what they will provide us.
The war in Vietnam was covered well by American television networks
precisely because John and Martha Doe’s oldest son was over there.
There was in short a demand for factual news, and no amount of news
management could stop the press trying to find that story.
defect of a totally professional army is that there are no prizes
for peacetime. In war officers are created and promoted on merit,
that is the necessity of war. In peacetime officers are created
and promoted through connections and political correctness, that
is the necessity of bureaucracy. Now, what do you think is going
to be the natural bias of ambitious and talented officers who did
not have the right father?
the officers are there as a distraction, before they pass back in
to civilian life, this is less of a problem than when they see the
services as their long-term career structure.