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Emerald Takes Bold Stance Against Military Draft

Today’s Emerald editorial discusses the impending involuntary military draft. Charles Rangel (D-NY) recently stated that he’ll attempt to introduce a bill to reinstate the draft, claiming that if it made a comeback lawmakers would be far less likely to, say, start an unnecessary war. Hmmm… I wonder why he didn’t talk about this before the election?

Unsurprisingly, the ODE opposes Rangel’s proposal. And unsurprisingly, House Dems have already killed the proposal since they’re hoping to not play Glass Joe in 2008. But what is surprising is the Emerald’s refutation of Rangel’s logic:

We should not need a draft to make lawmakers thoroughly consider whether the nation should go to war. As a result of the bad intelligence and somewhat shady reasoning that drew America into Operation Iraqi Freedom, Congress should be even more inclined to deliberate any justifications given for war, even above and beyond what the public expects.

Congress tends to take far more stock in current popular opinion than lessons from the past. It isn’t often that I can say this, but Rangel is absolutely correct: it’s difficult to imagine that the Iraq war would have been authorized had the draft been a prerequisite. Public opinion would have been dead set against the war rather than strongly supportive of it. That doesn’t mean that the draft is a good idea– god only knows how poorly the Army would operate with infantry platoons full of Sociology and Gender Studies students– but it does mean that we as a citizenry should not be surprised when a war that a majority of us are in favor of is started. Where Congress did drop the ball is in the examination of prewar intelligence (which the Emerald correctly points out) and oversight of the war’s execution and progress. And you can bet that these problems wouldn’t have existed had involuntary conscription been in effect.

  1. andy says:

    I “chimed” at Ted in the office on tuesday…after 50+ comments things become a little fruitless.

  2. T says:

    I am aware of this. I’m surprised he hasn’t chimed in yet.

  3. Timothy says:

    No no, Andy would be arguing that we need to completely abolish the state.

  4. T says:

    “At the risk of being called ignorant, apathetic, and selfish, I

  5. Niedermeyer says:

    Cool, then we’re on the same page.

  6. Timothy says:

    As for the blog: Eh, it’s a place mostly populated by OCers, ex-OCers, and some other campus denizens. If we wanted lock-step agreement here we wouldn’t have comments. Why do you think my (pathetic, rarely updated) blog doesn’t have comments?

  7. Timothy says:

    We can all agree that helping people out and such is a good thing, Ted, but having the government force you to do it is another matter entirely. A lot of it comes down to differences over the nature of the citizen/state relationship. The state exists solely to protect me from the capricious whims of my peers: to punish those who do me harm, maybe to help with property rights, and to provide a minimum of services that fall distinctly into the category of “public good”*. It is not the government’s duty to enforce fairness, or make me like helping strangers, or teach me the value of whatever our Duly Elected Leaders think is important.

    I agree with you that utopianism is a fool’s errand, but I disagree that democracy really provides good regulatory outcomes per se. There are, well, problems with any voting system so the potential for good outcomes is somewhat limited. Meaning, of course, that we live in a world of second best and that clearly defining the duties and roles of, as well as restrictions on, government is probably the best way to achieve our shared goal of a lot of freedom for everyone.

    The issue is that empowering government to do things you like grants them exactly the same power to do things you hate once somebody else is running it. The only solution to that problem is not empowering government all that much to begin with. As for your axioms, well, I disagree with you on the first but only so far as I think many problems simply don’t have solutions and libertarianism is the only political ideology that recognizes that. As for the second, I think that’s about right and reflecting those values in the editorial direction of the magazine under your tenure is perfectly reasonable.

    Also keep in mind that I do not believe “society” exists in any sort of meaningful way, individuals are the only actors and only individuals are affected by actions. So, I think, to say X or Y helps or hurts “society” is somewhat meaningless: there’s no collective will, I think this might be where we run into issues, I’m sorry if I’m a bit of an asshole at times. I’d make an excuse, but it’s really more of a personality trait than anything else. First couple of rounds are on me when next we get together.

    *I mean that in the technical sense of being non-exclusionary and non-rivalrous in consumption.

  8. Niedermeyer says:

    Just as a general caveat, let me say this.

    I have only taken the 200-level series of Econ classes, and I’m sure it shows. My arguments against free-market ideology are not a reflection of my problem with the free market as such, but rather of my problem with ideology as such. I believe two things with all my being: First, that no one ideology holds all the answers, and Second, that your politics don’t matter if no one cares about them. I have tried to reflect both of those beliefs in what I’ve done with the magazine, and I inevitably bring them to this blog. If the purpose of this blog is simply to be another ideological echo chamber, than I have little interest in wasting my time here.

  9. Niedermeyer says:

    Olly:Note the use of the phrase “one way.” I really wish I thought that the world would be a better place in the total absence of government, but without a single real-world example of a healthy, vibrant economy totally absent any form of government involvement, I can no more take free-market utopianism seriously than socialist utopianism. Given that the historical answer to the tension between liberty (a good thing) and security (also a good thing) is a relatively free market, regulated by a democratic government, my goal is to get people to participate in the single best way to harness the imperfect, yet powerful free market.

    I get it that the draft thing constitutes “slavery” for y’all. That’s cool. I don’t think it will ever happen, precisely because only Americans see one year of sacrifice as an onerous, unfair, cruel and illiberal step towards serfdom, totalitarianism and communism. I guess what I meant to say was “Gee, wouldn’t it be swell if everyone realized that strengthening the community is actually in their self-interest, and decided to step out of their self-satisfied ignorance to do something about it.”

  10. Timothy says:

    You’re free to do whatever you want Ted, and I agree that the developmentally challenged can lead completely productive lives (many do, one of my dad’s cousins, for example), but it is emphatically not the duty of government to enforce same, I inferred from your earlier statement regarding the draft that it would somehow be good if there were some sort of civil service requirement.

  11. olly says:

    “No. Ignorance, apathy and selfishness are the birthright of every human

  12. Niedermeyer says:

    No. Ignorance, apathy and selfishness are the birthright of every human… I simply think that in order to have a strong civil society which defends the rights and liberties which are truly worth defending, the individuals comprising the society need to be engaged, informed and motivated. Clearly we come up short on these qualities today, as a nation, and national service is one way to revitalize Americans as citizens.

    My experience was also instructive in showing that people with developmental disabilities need help to live full, satisfying and autonomous lives, and that without individuals making huge sacrifices, that help would not be there. Does sacrificing of ones own liberty to ensure the liberty and autonomy of another not demonstrate sufficient dedication to the cause of liberty for you?

  13. Timothy says:

    So you think that we should institute one of the most liberty-chilling devices available to the government in order to…demonstrate that war is bad and people don’t like getting shot at? Alternatively you think I should be given the “choice” of changing the diapers of some invalid instead?

    That’s not freedom. It’s serfdom at best, slavery to the state in all likelihood. And for what? To maybe prevent something like Iraq from happening again? Color me unimpressed. Sponge bathe retards on your own time, I’ve got work to do.

  14. olly says:

    “I worked for a year and a half as a caregiver for developmentally disabled victims of institutional abuse, and not only did it make me a stronger, better person, but it also opened my eyes to the how ignored large sections of society are.”

    Therefore… everyone else should have to as well?

  15. Niedermeyer says:

    I’m gonna agree with Ian… wars like Iraq would be less likely, which is a good thing for two reasons. First, for the political reasons that Ian has articulated, and second for pure military/strategic purposes.

    Yes, conscription armies are typically less effective, and as a result should the invasion, occupation and regime change of a sovereign state take place, military planners would have no choice but to follow The Powell Doctrine. A conscription regular army would also put the brunt of the War On Terror combat on the shoulders of (volunteer) special forces, where it belongs in the first place, making our strategy more focused and effective.

    Also, I think that giving the option for “national service” would have to be an integral part of such a draft. I worked for a year and a half as a caregiver for developmentally disabled victims of institutional abuse, and not only did it make me a stronger, better person, but it also opened my eyes to the how ignored large sections of society are. The tiny, atrophied social conservative inside me believes strongly that serving the community makes individuals and the nation stronger and better. That, and it’s just another step to the Glorious Dictatorship of the Proletariat ™

  16. Olly says:

    “But I think Rangel is absolutely correct that instituting the draft would force lawmakers to be a lot less eager to enter into foreign conflicts.”

    Yeah, but so what? You can come up with lots of policies that would have precluded Gulf II; that doesn’t necessarily mean they should have been put into practice. Replace “instituting the draft” with “disbanding the military” in your last sentence and it doesn’t make any less sense.

    (To take Rangel seriously, just for a brief second: The main reason – even apart from all the liberal-individualist objections I have to it – that the draft is a bad idea is that a conscript army is fundamentally different to a professional one. They do different things. Moreover, the things a conscript army can do just don’t seem to be tremendously useful in the world as it is currently constituted. Finally, as has already been pointed out, recent history doesn’t indicate that a conscript army is any less likely to be deployed in a non-essential conflict than a professional one; in fact, the opposite might well be the case.)

  17. Ian says:

    Three words: Gulf of Tonkin.

    The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is not an apt comparison since the primary reason the draft is so unpopular is because of that very resolution. World War II, a war where the use of conscription was appropriate and widely supported, was the defining event in the lives of most of the people who voted in the mid 1960’s. There is no comparable event involving the draft in the lives of most 2004 voters besides Vietnam. Vietnam is what people think of when they think of the draft, whether it’s appropriate or not.

    And yeah, fuck LBJ.

    Since we already have a volunteer army of 4 million, would the draftees even be needed?

    Probably not.

    Don’t get me wrong– I’m not in favor of the draft by any means. But I think Rangel is absolutely correct that instituting the draft would force lawmakers to be a lot less eager to enter into foreign conflicts.

  18. Andy says:

    Yes, I disagree with you Ian that the draft would have not precipitated the Iraq war. Since we already have a volunteer army of 4 million, would the draftees even be needed? There are Marines on waiting list in my company trying to get service over there, but the ranks are full.

    I heard rangel say he’s more for a “national service” like they have in Germany where you have to work as a little socialist drone for two years. It’s just so sick, the the family is torn apart by public schools and stifling taxes so that the kids are now raised by the state. Mom and Pop have to work just to pay the 50% tax rate on both paychecks so there can be the equivalent of one paycheck for the house.

    Kiss my ass if you think you’re going to enslave me Rangel to do your socialist workers dream.

    You’re right Ian about battalions of social workers – at least the Marines don’t take draftees!!

  19. Timothy says:

    I have to agree with Olly here, Viet Nam happened (and was much more lethal, much more dragged-out) in spite of the draft, LBJ lied his way into a broader involvement not just by buying some bad intelligence but by manufacturing an incident whole cloth.

  20. olly says:

    “And you can bet that these problems wouldn

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