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Should military conscription be banned? Show more Show less

Conscription, also known as compulsory military service, is the practice of requiring military service of all qualifying individuals within a nation. Chiefly known for having been employed during the First and Second World Wars, the duration of modern-day conscription can range anywhere from two weeks to two years. But does conscription foster hyper-nationalism and unhealthy aggression? Is the government sending the message that war is inevitable? Or is conscription simply a means of building character and strength?

No, military conscription should not be banned Show more Show less

Military conscription provides more benefits than otherwise and acts in the greater interest of a nation's security and welfare
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Conscripts are trained in useful disciplines and skills

Conscripts learn valuable life skills.
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Context

The Argument

Reports indicate that 98% of students who took a gap year between high school and college found that they were able to truly reflect on their own identity during this period— 97% indicated that this deferment increased their maturity; compulsory military service results in comparable statistics.[1] Keeping in line with this idea, not only do individuals profit from this gap of time, but they also benefit from the numerous skills they develop while engaged in their service. Physical benefits aside, some of these skills include: leadership, self-sufficiency, ability to perform under pressure, adaptability, as well as problem-solving, and conflict resolution.[2] Of course, these skills can be learned outside the context of the military. However, it is only in enlistment that individuals are put in a position to quickly develop these skills in the training environment. Additionally, many of the aforementioned skills cannot be taught in a formal setting, it is only through experience that these skills can be truly learned. Best of all though is that these skills can be transferred into everyday civilian life. Especially in times of peace. In other words, in peacetime, military training moves to focus more of its attention on civic education. Thus, through lectures and group discussions, young men and women of varying educational backgrounds are given a deep political perspective and appreciation for the country they live in. [3] For example, this is specifically evident in a 2011 TED talk given by four-star general Stanley McChrystal, who experienced the terrorist attack of 9/11 first hand and was subsequently deployed in Afghanistan: "And you have to watch and take care of each other. I learned the most about relationships [in the army], things I couldn't have learned anywhere else..." [4]

Counter arguments

Let the individual decide whether or not they even want to engage in learning these sets of skills. Yes, military conscription can provide an avenue to learning helpful disciplines, but it is at the cost of individual freedom— an element of our lives that our ancestors have tirelessly fought to obtain and protect. We cannot give it back so carelessly. In summary, military conscription destroys freedom in the hope of protecting it.[5] In keeping with this point, why is usefulness emphasized as a justification for mandatory conscription to begin with? Why is an individual's human worth measured by the usefulness of the skills they acquire? Those that are considered strong by society are typically those that are similarly deemed most useful. In contrast, those that are considered weak are deemed to provide no contribution to the world around them. But why does that measure their human worth? That is to say, the military can provide its enlisted soldiers with the opportunity to learn wonderful skills, however, by making such activities mandatory to everyone a cycle of exclusion and marginalization is perpetuated. Those that are unable to participate, like individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses, are once again looked down upon in the process.[6]

Framing

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.gapyearassociation.org/downloads/GYA-Resources-For-Underrepresented.pdf
  2. https://militarybenefits.info/soft-skills-military/#:~:text=Highly%20sought%2Dafter%20soft%20skills,Dependability
  3. https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/gi-roundtable-series/pamphlets/em-21-shall-we-have-universal-military-training-(1944-censored)/arguments-for-universal-military-training
  4. https://www.ted.com/talks/stanley_mcchrystal_listen_learn_then_lead/transcript?language=en
  5. https://www.cato-unbound.org/2013/09/16/jacob-hornberger/destroying-freedom-protect-freedom
  6. https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2019/02/22/dignity-human-beings-must-not-be-measured-usefulness

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 15:34 UTC