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Maybe we would go to war less often if we all had to serve

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,
As a recipient of a draft card under the old draft system (I enlisted anyway), if you had asked me then or even 10 years ago, I would have strongly opposed a military draft. Now, however, I am seriously reconsidering my position.
I cannot help but wonder if we did have conscription again, would we be so eager to go to war except when it was absolutely necessary? Of course, such a draft would have to be fair, much more so than the Vietnam era draft which favored the sons of the rich and influential. A new draft would have to include the sons — and daughters — of the powerful and politically-connected. That includes every member of Congress's kids as well as the Obama girls.
While our servicemen and women are certainly brave and patriotic, there is already a sort of "economic" draft where many middle and working-class young people join the military for either a job or educational benefits. The top echelons of American society do not have to put their lives on the line to get a job or an education.
Most people like to remember the Vietnam-Era "draft dodgers" who burned their draft cards and fled to Canada but the old draft allowed a lot of people to LEGALLY avoid going to Vietnam. If you could afford to stay in college and keep a C- average, you could defer service. Or, if you could afford a private physician or psychiatrist to overrule the induction center medical staff, you could get out of serving.
Then, there was the National Guard. Unlike the present, when the National Guard is regularly deployed and bravely serves in combat, during the Vietnam War, everyone knew that serving in the Guard was a way to avoid service in Vietnam, drink beer all weekend, and still allow one to claim he had "served." Very few National Guard units were sent to Vietnam.
As a result, there were long waiting lists to get into the Guard. But, if you had strong political connections, you could "jump the line" and get into the National Guard and still get your "military ticket punched" so you could tell your campaign supporters that you served your country. Included among these was George W. Bush, who did not even make all of his required drills. Then there was former Vice-President Dan Quayle who was a "hawk" in 1968, publicly saying on college campuses that we should "kick butt" in Vietnam. Quayle's dad, however, was a good friend (and perhaps business associate) of the general commanding the Indiana National Guard. Guess what happened?
A renewed draft would have to be fair. Of course there should be exemptions of conscientious objectors and those with medical disqualifications. But students should not be exempt. Let them finish the semester and then get inducted.
Of course, I do not want our young men and women to go to war at all. Perhaps we would go to war a lot less if everyone was equally vulnerable to such decisions. Young people themselves would not be so apathetic and oblivious to U.S. foreign policy decisions.
An even better idea would be to require every young man and woman to perform a couple of years of SOME sort of national service after high school. A number of countries do that already. Perhaps it would not have to be military service in peacetime. Perhaps it could be some other sort of community service where young people learn teamwork, duty, selflessness, and responsibility.

E. Scott Cracraft