We Need A Draft to Have a Reasonable Debate about Our Wars

We Need A Draft to Have a Reasonable Debate about Our Wars

George Washington wrote at the end of his Presidency: It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal service, to defense of it.

Benjamin Franklin said much the same thing though a bit differently two decades earlier at the beginning of our future nation’s discussions over going to war against the British Empire. There is nothing like the thought of being hung to focus the mind.

The issue at the heart of both statements is identical. Not to have some kind of personal involvement and even risk in issues of war and peace is to allow a kind of indifference or recklessness to enter the discussions that does not serve any real national purpose and is sure to end in both political confusion and personal tragedy.

Decisions of going to war without the majority of a nation being willing to actually fight result in what can only be called “political wars”, wars that are not fought for national security, but wars that are put into place for political or policy reasons rather than out of real necessity. These political wars, usually trumpeted by political hacks, offer only vague reasons for committing our armed forces, where any kind of winning is always hard to define and ultimate victory is presented as some kind of distant far-off illusion. Because there is ultimately nothing important at risk, these wars are what politicians can offer up as wars that can be fought on the cheap. While real wars of necessity end in military victory or military failure, political wars usually end by everyone losing interest. Eventually, the tedium and casualties and the loss of treasure become too great to ignore, and the wars are simply abandoned and closed down while everyone pretends it wasn’t all that important. Or that none of it ever really mattered much anyway.


Read more about our wars in Broken Bodies / Shattered Minds