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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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It promotes equality amongst citizens

As conscription mandates that anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or background, can be conscripted, it promotes social equality
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Context

The Argument

The military draft allows for a country's fighting force to be truly representative of society. This is in strict contrast to the system that is exercised in times of peace. Specifically, many countries adopt varying forms of an all-volunteer force. Yet, this hardly allows for equality. Instead, volunteers are more likely to come from a working-class and minority background.[1] However, a solution to this inequality is found in the adoption of a modern-day military draft. As a result, an individual originating from any socioeconomic status or ethnic background has an equal chance of executing their civil duty. Such an effect is heightened with the inclusion of women, thus allowing mandatory military conscription to be democratizing.[2] In summary, mandatory service will not only strengthen the military, but it will also reduce the burden of the disproportionate number of minority and working-class soldiers making sacrifices.[3] In turn, by bringing about a more equal divide in service, mandatory work also promotes a sense of unity among individuals from an array of backgrounds.[4] This idea is championed by conservatives and liberals alike. For example, both Charles Rangel (D) of New York and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) of Nebraska not only lobbied for the implementation of mandatory conscription, but they also contended that a draft would equalize the burden of sacrifice more justly.[5]

Counter arguments

The idea that a mandatory draft promotes equality appeals to a traditional concern for equal treatment— However, it romanticizes the extent to which conscription is and has been an equitable practice. For example, simply looking to the American Revolutionary War indicates that although select states drafted soldiers, they let well-born conscripts hire replacements. These replacements were most often those who were poor and jobless.[6] Later, the American Civil War also saw an implementation of a draft by the Union. Yet, even here conscription was hardly fair. Instead, draftees could escape service if they could pay a $300 notice, a large sum for individuals in the 1860s. Apprehensiveness regarding the draft continued in both World War I and World War II until finally reaching its peak during the Vietnam War (1969).[7] It was here that the "jerry-built system of deferments" forced the lower classes to face combat disproportionately. [5] Although draft reform eventually did occur (and was altogether dismantled), military conscription has historically been unjust. It simply operates under the illusion of equality.

Framing

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2013/01/25/opinion/rangel-military-draft/index.html
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/us/women-military-draft-selective-service.html
  3. https://www.nhpr.org/post/history-conscription-current-debate-over-reviving-draft#stream/0
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/03/us/military-draft-world-war-3.html
  5. https://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0426/p09s02-coop.html
  6. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/app/uploads/2014/03/Timeline-of-of-conscription.pdf
  7. https://go.gale.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA462983611&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=1040788X&p=AONE&sw=w

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 17:42 UTC