Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another call to bring back military conscription


Tony Blankley has an op-ed on p A21 of The Washington Times, “Bring Back the Draft.” Actually, it is excerpted from the book “American Grit: What It will Take to Survive and Win in the 21st Century” from Regnery Publishing Company. There’s more to say about the origin, too. It’s the second of three excerpts run in the newspaper, and Regnery is a well known and controversial publisher of “Conservative” books (associated with Eagle Publishing). (I’m reminded of H. Ross Perot’s “Eagles don’t flock.”) The author is a vice president of Edelman, a public relations firm in Washington.

The Amazon link for the book makes it look as though introducing a universal military draft is one of the three main arguments in the book.

The link to the op-ed is here.

Blankley, in the excerpt, goes against Pentagon statements and claims that the military actually needs the draft again (and I guess we can get into discussion about stop-loss -- itself the topic of a major movie from Paramount last year -- and the “backdoor draft”). He is also skeptical of President Obama’s desire to offer strong carrots (but no sticks) for national service. Here’s an interesting quote: “Yes, national service would be a costly endeavor and would undoubtedly provoke libertarian outrage from a number of eighteen-year-olds who've become estranged from the very idea of a citizen's obligation to his country. “ It’s interesting that he uses the word “libertarian” in this sentence. (Great work on a high school English vocabulary test, maybe.)

The extract doesn’t mention how the draft would jive with ending (or not ending) “don’t ask don’t tell” for gays in the military. In time, I’ll have to check out the book and see if it does.

The Washington Times, and for that matter conservative “movement” as a whole has tended not to favor bringing back the draft. The 2008 Republican Party platform emphatically supported the all-volunteer military (but keeping don’t-ask-don’t-tell). The Democrats (like Charles Rangel and Carl Levin ) have been much more vocal about this, especially since 9/11. Charles Moskos, the Northwestern University sociology professor who helped author “don’t ask don’t tell” but who has since come out in favor of ending it, wrote pieces in favor of conscription shortly after 9/11.

This whole idea of an obligation to serve used to be at the center of our moral debates when I was growing up. Now, it’s off in a corner, out of sight from many people. One of the underlying concerns is karma, and depending on the invisible sacrifices of others.

On Thursday, Feb. 12, the Part 3 op-ed was "Yes, we need censorship: Like colonels, censors helped us win WWII".

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