Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Given the fact we will have a lot of soldiers in Iraq
September 23, 2002 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Given the fact we will have a lot of soldiers in Iraq for a long time after we invade them, not to mention in Afghanistan and other places all over the world, what do you suppose the odds are of the draft being reinstated in some form?
posted by QuestionableSwami (89 comments total)

 
uh...zip?

A war fought by an all-voluteer military is a politically qualitatively different beast than one that demands conscription. To call reinstatement a political party's suicide would be an understatement.
posted by goethean at 1:30 PM on September 23, 2002


Good question.
Actually, it's been less than 30 years since Nixon abolished the draft. "It will be a long war", the president and his men always repeat.
Anybody here willing to go to Canada, if the shit hits the fan (if of course you can't get a college deferment or a National Guard sinecura pretending to fly planes or something)?
posted by matteo at 1:31 PM on September 23, 2002


I think the US will start using bigger bombs before they start drafting soldiers.
posted by stifford at 1:33 PM on September 23, 2002


There isn't just a demand on U.S. troops, several friends in the United Kingdom feel that its unavoidable that a draft will be coming in the U.K. as well. I'm too old (33) for the draft, but I still would find it very objectionable if it does come to pass. George Bush went AWOL from his relatively cushy position as an Air Force poster boy during wartime yet he's now he's pushing for what will effectively be a never-ending war.

There will always be more terrorists, so the war on terrorism won't ever be over until there's a regime change. I hope that the U.S. doesn't waste too many young people who would otherwise have had a promising future before it happens.
posted by substrate at 1:35 PM on September 23, 2002


I don't think it will happen either. However, I will admit that in the past year I have read up on conscientious objection.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:36 PM on September 23, 2002


Of course they'll reinstate the draft if military needs outstrip voluntary recruitment (which they will if the Iraq invasion proceeds as scheduled). If anyone wants to borrow my I-O draft card, I think it's in the bottom drawer. I'm older than substrate, so I probably won't be needing it.
posted by languagehat at 1:37 PM on September 23, 2002


I love maple syrup. I can learn to love hockey. I'll never say "aboot".
posted by owillis at 1:38 PM on September 23, 2002


...if it were to occupy and reconstruct those nations on the scale that occurred in Japan and Germany after World War II.
...no one inside or outside the Pentagon is proposing anything close to post-World War II occupation forces in either Afghanistan or Iraq...


So...why is this part of the issue? Shouldn't the real goal be to determine about how many troops we'd actually need in Afghanistan and Iraq, and base any speculation about reinstatement on that? It seems like a cheesy scare tactic to say that we won't have enough troops relative to an irrelevant figure.
posted by hippugeek at 1:38 PM on September 23, 2002


In my darkest moments, I feel like this is where we're headed. Bringing back the draft would tidy things up a bit, yes?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:42 PM on September 23, 2002


Reading all the info from Selective Service, note that one can only have a semester's or at most a year's postponement due to college education: finishing the current semester or finishing one's final year at college. I also see that religious ministers and those studying for the ministry can be "reclassified", but that probably means one would get drafted into the armed services chaplaincy -- I =do= wonder how many people would suddenly find their calling as ministers whould the draft be reinstated?

However, I think the likelihood of the draft is very low. If Bush made a speech saying "We have to get Iraq, and to do it, we will have to reinstitute the draft," you would find the support in America for invading Iraq to shrivel up and blow away with the tumbleweeds. I can think of wars in which the draft would beinstituted and the American public would be happy with it (except for the 18-25 yr-old guys) -- say, in which another country kept attacking America or trying to invade. A pre-emptive war, on the other hand, simply does not inspire patriotism.
posted by meep at 1:46 PM on September 23, 2002


"Anybody here willing to go to Canada, if the shit hits the fan"

I, like some others who have commented, am too old (and busted). Thank God.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:47 PM on September 23, 2002


I love maple syrup. I do say "aboot" occasionally (cuz I watched a lot of Polka Dot Door when I was a kid). However I cannot ever learn to love hockey.

What they need in the Middle East is more beer. If they just had more beer over there, and some snow, they'd be less cranky, eh? So all we need is to fill up all the planes of the world with Canadian snow and dump it all on Iraq. A few snowmen later, and Saddam wouldn't be into this violent behavior. And we should send him a tuke! And pork rinds! Shower Saddam with Canuck Love!

I for one welcome our Canadian Overlords! eh?
posted by ZachsMind at 1:49 PM on September 23, 2002


I think it would be incredibly hard to reintroduce it to countries that have lived without it for such a long time. Once you've demilitarised a country it's going to be hard to get its citizens back into uniform. Especially in support of an enterprise that around 50% (in the UK) don't support (source: Sky News today). I look at the youth of this country and I can't see them putting up with it. Not when they've got soft jobs in service industries to look forward to.
posted by Summer at 1:49 PM on September 23, 2002


If the War on Terror is going to be like the War on Drugs, it'll go on forever, and therefore stay ineffectual and become boring.
posted by agregoli at 1:53 PM on September 23, 2002


"Anybody here willing to go to Canada"
How about showing some real balls. Think that war is wrong? Stand up for what you believe in and go to jail. This country gave you an education. Give something back.
posted by keithl at 1:58 PM on September 23, 2002


I agree that there will be no draft for an Iraq/Afghanistan occupation. I believe that our political leaders and military have generally learned the lessons of Vietnam -- one of which is maintaining public support for whatever actions we become involved in. At this time, a draft would undercut that support. Young people of draft age today are too self-centered to see any benefit of mandatory military service, and their parents are all baby boomers all remember the Vietnam era. It's not going to happen.
posted by Durwood at 2:06 PM on September 23, 2002


"How about showing some real balls. Think that war is wrong? Stand up for what you believe in and go to jail. This country gave you an education. Give something back."

Uhh...I'm Canadian, so maybe I have this wrong, but I kinda thought that democracy was all about not having to go to jail to defend your beliefs.

Maybe democracy's a little different for you guys.
posted by SoftRain at 2:06 PM on September 23, 2002


How about showing some real balls.

I sense an injured ego. Ex-military?

Think that war is wrong?

When it's instigated by a bunch of unelected neo-con chickenhawks, and foisted on a populace with what amounts to a scare campaign, yes.

This country gave you an education.

Yeah, it was a steal at $50,000.

Give something back.

Does dissent count?
posted by goethean at 2:07 PM on September 23, 2002


owillis, Canadian football is frequently as exciting as American (moreso if the 'Skins' are playing *wink*).

This country gave you an education.

WTF? How 'bout a little support for that, mister? (I put myself through college, thank you very much. And because I'm eductaed, I have an obligation to kill on behalf of Bush? 'choo got some 'splainen' todoo.)

BTW, I'm too old to be drafted, or enlist. But I would happily go to jail protesting an unjust war, like the WFO (war for oil) or the WBSWTWMP (war because Saddam wanted to waste my pappy).
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:09 PM on September 23, 2002


I'm too old to be drafted, and I was born after the draft was done away with. I think that, for the most part, American's sudden enthusiasm for the forceful subjugation of other nations would not survive basic training, so perhaps reinstatement is a good plan.
posted by hob at 2:10 PM on September 23, 2002


If the draft were reinstated, you could always follow the Commander in Chief's example, assuming you have the right connections.
posted by homunculus at 2:11 PM on September 23, 2002


(In case anybody wondered, the misspelling was intentional.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:11 PM on September 23, 2002


Thoreau didn't go to Canada. Martin Luther King didn't go to Canada. Nelson Mandela did not go to Canada. They went to jail and made a far larger statement statement about what they believe in.
posted by keithl at 2:14 PM on September 23, 2002


Anybody here willing to go to Canada

I may not agree with the Administration's stance here (and to be honest, I don't think we're going to invade Iraq), but I certainly would not stain the service of my father, uncles, both grandfathers and two great-grandfathers with my cowardice. If called, I would serve.

But at 34, if they're calling me, this country's got problems.
posted by UncleFes at 2:15 PM on September 23, 2002


Gothean guess you've not traveled the world much.
"Does dissent count?"
Being part of a society is giving back. Running away is not dissent. It is self indulgence cloaked in morality.
It was a steal at 50,000.
Really? What public school did you go to. There are plenty of countries where you would not have even had the option.
posted by keithl at 2:18 PM on September 23, 2002


It's times like this I'm glad I went to a Quaker school. The Quaker Mafia has whole organizations set up for the sole purpose of helping ignorant young saps like myself declare C.O. status. They take their non-violence VERY seriously.
posted by leotrotsky at 2:19 PM on September 23, 2002


I am 18.

I can also drop my weight below the 5th percentile without blinking an eye. This is one of the ways my father avoided the draft (others included being in college, then doing gradschool work for the DoD).

I honestly can't say I'd try to dodge. It depends on the situation in which the draft was reinstituted. But my concern would be purely academic, anyway. I also have a heart condition and flat feet, so whaddaya gonna do?

A draft would be a horrible idea, though. America's per-man military quality would drop through the floor. The draftees would be good for nothing but cannonfodder. Hell, per-man quality was crap in the US until the late eighties and the major reformation of military training practices that took place then. A draft is the last thing the generals want.

But then again, I guess this is all about the chickenhawks, isn't it?
posted by Ptrin at 2:19 PM on September 23, 2002


Durwood; I'm not sure that you can say that the "lesson" of Vietnam was the necessity of maintaining public support. The anti-war movement, after all, was a relatively small movement, and a large majority (a silent majority, if you will) of the American public supported involvement in Vietnam well into the bloodiest days of the conflict (with the draft in full effect). If anything, you could argue that one lesson of Vietnam was that military strategy should not be subordinated to public opinion--there's a school of thought that argues that the defeat in Vietnam was due to an unwillingness to risk casualties that might horrify the folks back home.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:21 PM on September 23, 2002


Whoa. I'm thinking this is a mute issue till (if) we go to war and if we even need to draft. The whole dynamics of a war could change by then. Right now it seems like everyone is engaging in pointless naval gazing. Besides, 30 years from now when you have your grandson on your knee do you want to be saying, "I shoveled shit in Louisiana"? Now you sons of bitches know how I feel.
posted by geoff. at 2:22 PM on September 23, 2002


keithl, you still miss the point completely. How on earth does an education with support from the state obligate you to kill on behalf of its elected officials? Please, I'd really like to know.
(or unelected as the case may be.)

What do I, as a man in America, owe this country save support for furthering the education of those after me?
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:27 PM on September 23, 2002


hey, I'll admit I'm a little pansy, and that I don't want to fight in a war primarily because I'm a selfish little prick.

narf!
posted by trioperative at 2:27 PM on September 23, 2002


I'm not saying it obliges you to kill. I'm saying if you're against war stand up for what you belive in.

"What do I, as a man in America, owe this country save support for furthering the education of those after me?"

Its my opinion that part of the strength of a society is individuals surrendering something for a greater good. If you don't think that others have just that to make your world a better place that I don't know what to say to you.
posted by keithl at 2:35 PM on September 23, 2002


Scaremongery.

First, we have an all-volunteer force. Second, that force is deep enough to absorb even a 250,000-man deployment. That's what it's designed for. Third, in the wake of Vietnam, US armed forces reconfigured for greater reliance on reserves, as happened during the first Gulf War. Though reserve units are chronically short of full fighting force, they provided a needed bulking up of our forces in the region, ultimately about half of the total personnel deployed. Since reserves are generally older, have more experience, represent desired specialist skill sets, and actually in practice devote more of their service time to training, in many ways the reserve forces were just as effective as active-duty. Today's military has fully internalized these lessons and completely backs a volunteer force supplemented by reserves.

There is even criticism of Johnson for fighting Vietnam with the draft, as well as long-standing lessons learned regarding personnel rotations -- and ongoing debates about same. Johnson had the opportunity to use reserves, but chose a gradual escalation using the draft instead. This ultimately put the greater burden of the war on certain demographics, largely poor, largely black, and largely college-aged. It is now widely believed to have been a mistake, if only because of the way it concentrated opposition to the war, but ultimately affecting the fighting capabilities and unit cohesion.

That isn't to say an all-volunteer force is ideal -- but do believe me when I say that I sincerely doubt a draft is in the offing by any means. We would have to tax the active-duty and reserve forces to their maximums before that would happen, and as noted, political support for the war could wane. But that isn't likely soon. The Pentagon has clamped down on discharges since 9/11, and if you have any kind of specialty you're pretty much guaranteed to get out only under hardship circumstances. This goes double for the lieutenants through colonels, the core of the army's knowledge base. Reserves activated at this moment are some 72,000, with over 500,000 personnel in both the National Guard and Army Reserve alone.

The major risk with a reserve fighting force is that the removal of personnel from their jobs can mean an impact on the economy. This is a major problem for Israel, and means strict limitations on call-ups, and reliance on reserves in many cases where any other army would use active-duty personnel. We're not nearly at that point, though.
posted by dhartung at 2:36 PM on September 23, 2002


The law requires that you notify Selective Service each time you have a change of address.
I wonder how many do this, I never knew. I'm sure they know where to find me, the IRS does.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:42 PM on September 23, 2002


"The war on terrorism won't ever be over until there's a regime change."

Yeah... I'm hoping there will be a regime change soon, but Bush isn't up for reelection for another two years!
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:44 PM on September 23, 2002


Bush was not AWOL. "AWOL" is not a description, it is an official military term -- if he was not declared AWOL, he was not AWOL. AWOL stands for "Absent Without Leave". What really happened is that Bush missed some drills in '72, and made them back up in '73. My friends in the reserves say it happens all the time. I also STR reading that he had explicit permission for these absences -- hardly "without leave".

Doing my part to dismiss yet another ad hominem attack posing as a reasoned point of view.
posted by jammer at 2:51 PM on September 23, 2002


It was a steal at 50,000.

Really? What public school did you go to. There are plenty of countries where you would not have even had the option.


um, public education may be "free" to the child attending said school, but the parents pay taxes to fund that school (and in some heavily taxes states, such as here in Maine, parents and other property owners pay an inordinate share of school funding, because the state's too broke to cough up its share).

also, any public-school attendee who becomes an adult and stays in the US will eventually pay for "their" public education, through the income, property and sales taxes they contribute to their state and community to pay for the education of the next generation.

so really, there's nothing free about a public education.
posted by damn yankee at 2:56 PM on September 23, 2002


This country gave you an education.

The country gave me an education because its system requires me, as a voter, to make decisions about how the country is run; therefore it is in the best interests of the country that I be educated. I don't owe for my education.
posted by hob at 3:02 PM on September 23, 2002


If the case for war against Iraq were put forth persuasively enough, it is my belief that enlistment would meet the need. I am naive enough to believe that today's draft-age young people would desire to serve if they felt the cause was just.

This isn't academic to me. I have a son just shy of turning 18.

But to answer the question originally put, I doubt that the draft would ever get reinstated unless things were drastically worse.
posted by konolia at 3:08 PM on September 23, 2002


One advantage of a draft would be a fiscal one. Right now, every new recruit is very expensive. In most cases, the government has already paid for education (officers from the academies or ROTC) or will pay for an education (enlisted on the GI Bill).

If we needed to increase significantly the size of the military (say, to a Vietnam War level of manpower) it would cost a ton of money to do so with the kind of incentives that the all-volunteer force would require. We would probably have to increase the incentives, since there would be the small matter of the risk of death or dismemberment, which most enlistees these days seem not to afford close attention.

Prior poster's points about reliance upon the Guard and Reserve are well taken, too ... there are a lot of substitutes on the depth chart, if it comes to that.

My guess is that it would take a broaded war before we'd have the combination of the exhaustion of Guard and Reserve resources, dimunition of volunteerance at affordable incentive levels, and unmet needs, to need conscription. These are the doomsday-less-one-hour scenarios where we invade Iraq and most of the Muslim world decides to go to war against us and Israel, including our ostensible allies (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kazakstan, Turkmenistan) and those we thought would stay out of it (Iran, Libya, etc.) If we have to garison Israel and conquer most of the Middle East and then occupy / reconstruct it, than we're going to be drafting, and by the millions, not tens of thousands. And the draft will be the least of our concerns.
posted by MattD at 3:13 PM on September 23, 2002


Er hold on. Don't we (US and Europe) get other people to do the really dangerous, dirty fighting for us? Haven't we left Afghanistan to the Turks and the Northern Alliance? Bush has said he'll be in and out of Iraq as quickly as an adolescent in a brothel. Our boys won't be hanging around there for very long.

therefore it is in the best interests of the country that I be educated

Yes. And in the interests of your own personal happingess. The state exists for the benefit of its people, not the other way round. I think we're beyond the stage where a country's inhabitants are merely cannon fodder for the rulers.
posted by Summer at 3:18 PM on September 23, 2002


At my school, the paperwork for qualifying for in-state tuition includes the questions "Are you registered with selective service?" followed by "in what state?". Being more scared of losing 8k/semester than being drafted, I called to update my address.

me: I want to update my address.
SS: Why?
posted by eddydamascene at 3:24 PM on September 23, 2002


I think military service should be manditory, and the term should be twenty years. I'm pretty sure we're going to need the manpower for the Muslim Pacification Campaigns(tm).
posted by moonbiter at 3:44 PM on September 23, 2002


I will serve in the military rather than go to Canada!
posted by Postroad at 3:56 PM on September 23, 2002


how old is too old for the draft?

if i lived in the UK i'd be pissed if i were drafted to fight a war for the USA. this whole war with iraq is the most insane idea i've ever heard of and it amazes me that people support it. has anyone figured out why they hate us? is there anything we can do to make these people less hostile towards us? why do we care about what goes on over there anyway? is it maybe b/c they have oil? hmmmm... i wonder what wonderful things we could do if we took all the cash we're about to spend on this war and spent it on making our nation more self-sufficient. gee, maybe one day we could actually learn to live within our means. then what importance would that region hold for us? probably not much. but that's stupid talk - let's fuck a bunch of stuff up so we can all live like rockstars!!! screw the rest of the world.
posted by ggggarret at 4:16 PM on September 23, 2002


also, any public-school attendee who becomes an adult and stays in the US will eventually pay for "their" public education, through the income, property and sales taxes they contribute to their state and community to pay for the education of the next generation.

so really, there's nothing free about a public education.
posted by damn yankee at 2:56 PM PST on September 23

...Like how 'socialised' medicine works in the UK. Nice.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:32 PM on September 23, 2002


Unfortunately, national defense is something we all need to take seriously. I don't know if Saddam has biological and/or nuclear weapons-he has already proved he is three bricks shy of a load and heaven knows what he would do with weapons of mass destruction.

Having said that, I am not particularly in favor of tampering with him right now-

But I would hope that if this country were ever truly under credible threat that even those who are not thrilled with the idea of military service would consider defending the freedoms they enjoy-and before I hear a spiel about how we are losing our freedoms daily-I only want to hear that from those who have ACTUALLY BEEN to other countries and can make a decent comparison.

I will say this. I hope all the people who are criticising this government's actions-which they have the right to do-are active participants in the political process. We do have the privilege of selecting our own leaders. Unlike certain other countries I could name.
posted by konolia at 4:46 PM on September 23, 2002


what, konolia, i should only complain about my freedom being taken away if i find myself with less freedom than someone else? i tell you what, i'll start taking money away from you, and you can start squealing if you find yourself with less money than than the average guatemalan.. whadaya think? want to take me up on it?

if you could make me a credible case that iraq is threatening my freedoms, i might be interested in defending them from him. as far as i can see, it's the republican party that's threatening my freedoms.
posted by hob at 4:55 PM on September 23, 2002


Mr. Roboto: Good point. I didn't mean to suggest that the only "lesson" of Vietnam is that public support for military action is essential. The necessity of public support must be balanced against the necessity of acheiving the goals of the mission (or dare I say "victory"). I would never argue that we subject our foreign policy and military strategy to the ridiculous CNN "town meeting" that Clinton used to try to stimulate public opinion.
posted by Durwood at 5:04 PM on September 23, 2002


In all honesty, a country that would institute a draft to fight a war of aggression is not one I want to be part of anyways. If they start drafting to go fight Iraq (or somewhere equally stupid) I'm going to Canada, and I'm staying. Hell, I'd consider moving even if they weren't trying to draft me personally.

I've always liked Canada anyways.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:13 PM on September 23, 2002


Coming from an extremely pacifistic background and several generations of avoiding military service, plus the fact that I'm turning eighteen in just a few months, the idea of a draft absolutely gives me the willies. I'm not going to kill and die because Bush and his cronies are antsy about oil interests in the region.

...that came out a lot more inflammatory than I intended. I know the underlying causes of the potential conflict are more Byzantine than a poorly-organized wiring closet, but the state exists to protect the people; we don't exist to protect the state. The people, as of yet, are not threatened, and probably will be considerably less so if the storm of rhetoric from the White House lessens.
posted by teferi at 5:13 PM on September 23, 2002


keithl, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela were activists who chose to fight back against unfair systems and were unjustly jailed for their beliefs.

They weren't forced into violent combat for something they don't even necessarily believe in.
posted by SoftRain at 5:30 PM on September 23, 2002


One thing that the United States military establishment learned well from Vietnam is that the nation's willingness to carry on a long, drawn out war is very minimal. Even by the end of World War II there were calls to "get the boys home."

As a result, the Pentagon has focused its energies (and rightfully so, I believe) on building the most astronomically powerful force imaginable to complete the task in as little time as possible. This reduces the chance for domestic unrest.

Is this strategy always good for every action? Clearly not. Our forces are still best prepared to fight a Soviet onslaught across Germany, not a group of mountain fighters. But the overall theme remains the same: do it big, do it fast, and keep the people back home from bitchin'.
posted by tgrundke at 6:34 PM on September 23, 2002


All I am saying is that if ANY country for some reason wants to send a missile or biological weapons or nuclear whatever to the US of A I expect our government to look after our national interests and defend our country. I am not going to sit here and say every military action we contemplate is justified; I remember the Vietnam era very well, thank you.

I would hate to think that people would be so selfcentered they could not imagine defending their friends and neighbors if the cause were just.

By all means hold the politicians' feet to the fire; war is a Very Bad Thing and should be contemplated soberly and as a last resort. Again I repeat I am still not convinced that rattling Saddam's cage is the greatest of ideas. But if he turns out to indeed be a real threat to our nation we should bomb him into oblivion.
posted by konolia at 7:16 PM on September 23, 2002


Teferi, you are young, so I hesitate to call you an idiot, but really: "the state exists to protect the people; we don't exist to protect the state"?

Who, pray tell, should fulfill the duty of the state to "protect the people" if not the people themselves? By what instrument are we to effect this collective defense if not a people of, by and for "the people"?

Perhaps by "pacifist" you simply mean "cowardly freeloader," just like your father, and grandfather?

I for one hope (and intend) to make sure if there is a draft in this war, that your ilk are not given any easy ways out. You go to the front line, or you go to slam with the rapists and muggers (who, doubtless having less criminally-minded brothers and cousins on the front lines, will likely welcome you to prison life with some zeal...)
posted by MattD at 8:11 PM on September 23, 2002


"Yeah... I'm hoping there will be a regime change soon, but Bush isn't up for reelection for another two years!"

What's all this about reelection? Sounds like something a Republican would say....
posted by ruggles at 8:18 PM on September 23, 2002


How can anyone who claims to support our (US) form of government even consider a draft? They may call it a draft but in reality it's slavery. Did we throw out the Constitution while I was serving in the (first) Gulf War?
posted by peterbaer at 8:56 PM on September 23, 2002


peterbaer: Nice try.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:16 PM on September 23, 2002


That oughtta give the little pussy a start MattD.

Undoubtedly, I hear the argument that who, but the people, can defend the land in which they live? But have we suddenly devolved into a modern day Sparta? Where do you get off calling pacifists "cowardly freeloaders"? Do you have any idea what kind of courage it takes to be a true conscientious objector? Groupthink=Dubya/Hitler/Stalin's war is easy. Try allowing others the freedom to think for themselves as you obviously, all jingoism implied, are not free yourself to do.

You're sick. Much like many other clear and obvious signs this culture that sustains your hatred with a grin and a nod to "doing a good job for the Homeland" is sick and hardly anything else. Where will you be Sr. Over-30? Greeting the bodybags as they arrive to port somewhere near your Manhattan pad, blessing them with giving you the profitable ability to tear the world to shreds with your capitalistic technology and finance law acumen?
posted by crasspastor at 9:21 PM on September 23, 2002


Perhaps by "pacifist" you simply mean "cowardly freeloader," just like your father, and grandfather?

Nope. The only "cowardly freeloaders" in America are those calling for more and more bloodshed while safely hiding behind their secure little corporate jobs. You know the type.

Those willing to resist military service out of conscientious objection to violence are the bravest of the brave. They, and not the mindless soldiers whose sole claim to virtue is talent at "following orders", are the true American heroes.

I for one hope (and intend) to make sure if there is a draft in this war, that your ilk are not given any easy ways out. You go to the front line, or you go to slam with the rapists and muggers (who, doubtless having less criminally-minded brothers and cousins on the front lines, will likely welcome you to prison life with some zeal...)

Cool. You might consider discussing your apparent fascination with prison rape with Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of the adminstration Chickenhawks.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:22 PM on September 23, 2002


"Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela were activists who chose to fight back against unfair systems and were unjustly jailed for their beliefs. They weren't forced into violent combat for something they don't even necessarily believe in."

/Softrain, thanks for the education./sarcasm
If you don't want to go, become an activist. Don't run to Canada I think if you read my previous posts you'll see that's what I said(I'm sorry if this was not clear to you). You are who you are and where you are today because of this society. Unless you and hobs are the type of individuals that would be at the same social level even if you were born in a country like cambodia or Angola or a hundred other countries.
Give something back.
posted by keithl at 10:04 PM on September 23, 2002


Those willing to resist military service out of conscientious objection to violence are the bravest of the brave.

That's a pretty decent attempt at justifying the unjustifiable, but unfortunately you can't just redefine words to mean what you want them to mean.
posted by kindall at 10:51 PM on September 23, 2002


Draft? You mean put down my latte, turn off my Xbox and take my thumb out of my mouth long enough swear an oath?

Dude, that army shit's for under-educated blacks and hispanics. I'm a white middle class male! I've got all kinds of options if they draft. Canada. College deferment. Fuck that.


The repeal of the draft was a national tragedy. And it was perpetrated by the same sense of entitlement as half the posts here. The anti Vietnam war movement ended when the draft was repealed, but the war went on for years. And now a disporportional minority military volunteers to fight our wars.

I was in the army. I volunteered for it. It sucked. But it should suck democratically. It's unfair to ask the economically disadvantaged to fight our wars for us. It undermines our national character.
posted by Zombie at 11:03 PM on September 23, 2002


Summer, you are so wrong about Afghanistan it hurts. The United States military continues, daily, to perform in the field along with certain coalition partner forces including British and some other NATO special forces. The Turkish government was persuaded to take on a six-month assignment supervising the ISAF international force, including some 16 nations, which so far has been deployed only to Kabul. ISAF has its share of headaches and casualties, but isn't involved in direct confrontation with what are, somewhat inaccurately, referred to as "Taliban remnants".

Zombie, the egalitarian aspects of a draft are certainly appealing in an idealistic way. My take on it is that a draft ensures that military service does not become unfamiliar to the majority. (Lots of liberals look up to Europe, but qutie a few European countries actually have mandatory military service of at least one year.) The burden of service is spread across a broader population, and the armed forces themselves become more egalitarian and diverse. The extreme risk is that a minority, volunteer force will come to view itself as the only legitimate authority defending democracy; but knowing some of both military types and non-military types, the greater risk is that the latter have little contact with military culture and less understanding of how the professional military thinks today.
posted by dhartung at 11:13 PM on September 23, 2002


If only I were in the US. But alas, I'm in Canada.

I wonder just how they'd pound the shit out of an obese 23 year old with a seriously defiant and pacifist attiude. Maybe put me in jail?

It would make for a great story for the papers when the US wisens up and realises it is only trying to steal Iraq for the oil.

Tell me again which part of the USA Iraq attacked again so I know exactly why the US are fighting them?

I suppose there's Bush's family jewels, and they are American, and in a small way, I guess that's solace for the thousands, maybe millions who will die as a result of a war with Iraq.
posted by shepd at 11:24 PM on September 23, 2002


i like the idea of having a broader national service draft where every citizen has to spend a couple years of their life serving their country, whether it be through the military or some kind of civilian service like AmeriCorps or Peace Corps.

We are too self absorbed in this culture, and a draft might be just the thing to make people more community and civic minded.

As for conscientious objection, i think it has its place in certain contexts, but then again, so does war. nobody can seriously argue that the world would be a better place if our "mindless soldiers" had stayed home from WWII.
posted by boltman at 11:27 PM on September 23, 2002


The United States military continues, daily, to perform in the field along with certain coalition partner forces including British and some other NATO special forces.

The US military is due to stay for one more year, chasing the Taliban across the countryside. The British have already gone. My point is that these activities are not major enough to warrant a draft. If the pattern of Afghanistan is followed in Iraq, it seems very, very unlikely anyone will be called up, particularly if you're British. The idea of a Labour government reintroducing national service is ridiculous. But then the idea of a Labour government supporting a pre-emptive strike on another country is also ridiculous.
posted by Summer at 1:06 AM on September 24, 2002


Wouldn't all the things that society gave me be wasted if I died? Society, if anything, should want me to be selfish and protect all that it has spent so much time and effort on.
Anyway, I wish the aliens would hurry up and attack us so we can band together as a planet and kick some ass. I'd sign up for that.
posted by hellinskira at 2:32 AM on September 24, 2002


Perhaps by "pacifist" you simply mean "cowardly freeloader," just like your father, and grandfather?

What about his great-great-grandad?
posted by matteo at 3:42 AM on September 24, 2002


Zombie: The anti Vietnam war movement ended when the draft was repealed, but the war went on for years.

January 27, 1973 - The last American soldier to die in combat in Vietnam, Lt. Col. William B. Nolde, is killed.

January 27, 1973 - Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announces the draft is ended in favor of voluntary enlistment.

March 29, 1973 - The last remaining American troops withdraw from Vietnam as President Nixon declares "the day we have all worked and prayed for has finally come."
posted by tolkhan at 6:13 AM on September 24, 2002


maybe i should add that January 27th, 1973 is also the date that the Paris Peace Accords were signed.
posted by tolkhan at 6:17 AM on September 24, 2002


Angels dancing on the head of a pin - there won't be another draft, so all this braver than thou talk is moot.

I have an odd question, though, that's been rattling round my head: the main difficulties that people seem to have with a proposed Iraq invasion seem to be three-fold: (a) it's about oil, not WMD; (b) it will destabilize the region, and (c) it will irritate our allies.

(c) seems negligible on its face, although in a global war on terror maintaining good relations with our allies would be appropriate. Yet, the popularity of America(ns) across Eurasia has always been spotty (Russia excepted, oftener than not), we have acted unilaterally when it has been in our best interests, and we are politically strong enough to act so again. There are some questions (EU-wise) as to whether it's a great idea to create economic rifts (eventually the War on Terror will be over - but trade will go on forever), but repairs may be made at the appropriate time.

(a) and (b) are intimately tied together. The region is important in world events for two reasons only: it is the birthplace of the three major world religions, and it has oil. If not for those two, the entire region would be the least popular tourist destination in history. SO: could one not consider the presence of Hussein a destabilizing influence on his own IF ONLY for the attention he garners from the US? It's the Observational Principle - things change just by being observed; Writ large, if Hussein's remaining at the helm of Iraq is so irritating to the US and additionally the US is a Prime Mover in world affairs, doesn't his presence then automatically destabilize the region and therefore bring trouble? And would not his removal (even if replaced with a puppet, provided that puppet was not of Shah Pahlavi-ilk, and certainly the boys down at Langley could come up with some sort of palatable, yet amenable alternative to an outright vassal-state) eventually stabilize the region over time, if only for the elimination of the US "observer"?

Last: Oil. Assuming total concession of point (to wit, that this war is, at its heart, solely about the acquisition of oil and preservation of status quo with regard to maintaining the flow)... One: is not the acquisition of oil in the national interest, overwhelmingly so? Two, knowing that it is oil that makes the region powerful, is it also not in the best interest to pull the teeth of those who would disturb the flow while at the same time extending whatever influence over the region may be had? Three, if a long-term goal is to wean the US off Middle Eastern oil (and I sincerely hope that it is), that goal is obviously neither commercially (South American production not up to capacity, Russian promise hampered by logistical nightmares it'll take years to overcome) nor politically (ANWR) feasible short-term; therefore, considering that the short term is already destabilized (9/11, I/P, etc, ad infinitum - but the crystallizing event was 9/11, it changed a lot), is it not without some internal logic to isolate and preserve current producers short-term so that the ultimate goals (hopefully, abandoning the middle east as an oil source) can be achieved? And all that is assuming that Iraq does not have WMD, was not involved in 9/11, is not actively aiding Al-Qaeda, etc.

Sort of a derail, but I was wondering what everyone thought...?
posted by UncleFes at 7:19 AM on September 24, 2002


Re: the oil question. Doesn't the oil belong to the Iraqi people? Aren't we morally obliged to let those people decide what trade agreements they want to make rather than strongarming them with the use of force into agreements that suit the US/Europe.

Or, as Skylar suggested in another thread:

But I would want to see a rule put in place that any oil interests in Iraq are transfered directly to the ownership of the Iraqi people, a national resource for the benefit of the entire country, not to be sold to any outside interests for the next 15 years while democracy establishes itself.

And that's not even touching on the hypocrisy of playing the terrorist/mad dictator card while eyeing the oil reserves. We're supposed to be moral nations who act in a moral way, not the kind of people who treat other people's countries merely as resources.
posted by Summer at 7:49 AM on September 24, 2002


I purposefully avoided the morality question - it fluctuates individually and subjectively, it is inherently transactional (a man alone in inherently amoral), and it is a luxury that realpolitik often precludes. But you have an excellent point: who owns that oil? I don't think we are trying to steal it, per se - I think we are trying to make sure that the pipes remain open or, at least, the pipes that we want open remain open.

I think the importance of oil to the world transcends the simple give/take of basic economics. It is one of the most (perhaps THE most) important commodity in the world, and the sole reason the middle east is of any importance politically. I would guess that the current administration (and most previous ones since the 1880s, I would bet) believes that oil is important enough to the interests of this country and our allies that just letting trade agreements wend their course is foolish.

One might add that the suppliers of oil have rarely hesitated to use the strongarm tactic themselves (i.e., OPEC). Different arms, perhaps, but the same general effect. The poor Iraqis, et al, are not without weapons in this particular conflict.
posted by UncleFes at 8:07 AM on September 24, 2002


My personal view that conscientious objectors are, by and large, cowards, stands. My view is that, just like any other civil disobedience, draft evasion should be "permitted" in the sense that one is "permitted" to commit a crime so long as one will accept the punishment, which, in the case of draft evasion in time of war, should be prison with other dangerous felons.

I was 19 during the Persian Gulf War and, despite misgivings about that war, would have served if called. (I personally felt no particular zeal to restore Kuwait to its home grown, as opposed to Iraqi, dictator). I have no such misgivings about the current war; the lesson of September 11, 2001 to me was that self-defense requires that we destroy all the enemies of America wherever they are in the world, without hesitation, and reduce to a fading memory any institution or individual which fosters anti-American sentiment.
posted by MattD at 8:39 AM on September 24, 2002


i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelov├ęd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed
noncoms(first knocking on the head
him)do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments--
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but--though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat--
Olaf(upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ(of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you.


-- e. e. cummings, 1931
posted by dfowler at 9:29 AM on September 24, 2002


I would guess that the current administration (and most previous ones since the 1880s, I would bet) believes that oil is important enough to the interests of this country and our allies that just letting trade agreements wend their course is foolish.

Trampling over peoples' rights and using financial and military muscle to mint unfair trade deals keeps the world poor and breeds trouble. Ultimately you can't sidestep the morality issue. Aggrieved people will do whatever they can to hit back at their oppressors - if they can't fight fair they'll fight dirty and you know what that means.
posted by Summer at 10:55 AM on September 24, 2002


Trampling over peoples' rights

Ah! America does not trample middle easterners' rights. That's something their own governments do, when they bother to give them rights at all.

and using financial and military muscle to mint unfair trade deals keeps the world poor and breeds trouble.

Unfair trade deals? Pshaw! They've got a product that everyone wants, and they have a collective that keeps the prices nice and high. We send all those country buckets and buckets of money - we don't tell their governments how to spend it.

Ultimately you can't sidestep the morality issue.

I agree. If only we could look to enlightened self-interest instead, since for every man, there is a discrete morality.

Aggrieved people will do whatever they can to hit back at their oppressors - if they can't fight fair they'll fight dirty and you know what that means.

If only they fought back against the people who are actually oppressing them, as opposed to convenient targets spun up into the crosshairs by those same oppressors.
posted by UncleFes at 11:33 AM on September 24, 2002


Hold on UncleFes. I was talking about an imaginary Iraqi future, not the present corrupt rulers of Saudi Arabia. If regime change does happen and democracy is given a chance then the US/Europe mustn't undermine everything by asserting oil rights at the expense of the Iraqi people. Exploitation leads to trouble, in the Middle East or anywhere.
posted by Summer at 1:03 PM on September 24, 2002


MattD: I have no such misgivings about the current war...

Hey, you're under the age of 35 if you were 19 during the Persian Gulf Conflict. Nut up, young man, and call your recruiter this afternoon!
posted by Fezboy! at 1:12 PM on September 24, 2002


When the Army announces a commissioning program for overweight 30 year old lawyers, I'm there.
posted by MattD at 1:29 PM on September 24, 2002


If regime change does happen and democracy is given a chance then the US/Europe mustn't undermine everything by asserting oil rights at the expense of the Iraqi people. Exploitation leads to trouble, in the Middle East or anywhere.

I absolutely agree. But I see us not so much asserting territorial rights as cutting greedy deals for the oil. Trade is the lifeblood of any free nation, and an Iraqi democracy has a nice little nest egg sitting there under the ground - they need to get a fair price for it on the market. OPEC will aid them in that.

Keep in mind that the Iraqis can sell their oil to ANYONE, not just the US (I'm thinking esp. Europe and Japan).
posted by UncleFes at 1:45 PM on September 24, 2002


MattD: Army Direct to Commission-JAG program. I've had occasion to sit in a JAG office before and it didn't seem like they were overly concerned with enforcing weight restriction.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:48 PM on September 24, 2002


They got anything for Marketing thugs?
posted by UncleFes at 1:57 PM on September 24, 2002


They got anything for Marketing thugs?

Is there a special "Human Shield" brigade?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:00 PM on September 24, 2002


UncleFes, they sure do. They're called recruiters.
posted by keithl at 2:04 PM on September 24, 2002


I have heard that JAG has a rather rigid seniority limitation; they don't want to retrain lawyers who've already been trained elsewherI'm five years in. And I suspect that the weight limits are flexible on the back end ... you still have to pass a physical coming in the door.
posted by MattD at 2:11 PM on September 24, 2002


Is there a special "Human Shield" brigade?

ha! good one!

*memo to self: Send PinkStainlessTail's contact info to Dept. of Inkjet-Refill Spam and Dinner-Time Phone Solicitation, mark it SPECIAL*
posted by UncleFes at 2:17 PM on September 24, 2002


I absolutely agree. But I see us not so much asserting territorial rights as cutting greedy deals for the oil. Trade is the lifeblood of any free nation, and an Iraqi democracy has a nice little nest egg sitting there under the ground - they need to get a fair price for it on the market. OPEC will aid them in that.

Keep in mind that the Iraqis can sell their oil to ANYONE, not just the US (I'm thinking esp. Europe and Japan).


We agree!
posted by Summer at 2:51 AM on September 25, 2002


« Older The demise of the honey bucket. ...  |  Schplerter. Schplutz! Sklop,... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments