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Would more people pay attention if the chance of draft was there?

By Andrew J. Polsky

The long conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have prompted a number of politicians and pundits to recommend a return to conscription. On several occasions Charles Rangel, the Democratic representative from New York City, has introduced bills to revive the draft. Stanley McChrystal, former military commander in Afghanistan, has urged that the country not fight another war without a draft. His call was the point of departure for noted journalist Thomas E. Ricks, who proposes a law mandating universal service for all 18-year-olds, with an option for either military or civilian public service.

Advocates offer a number of justifications for conscription, including the idea that a more representative military is healthy for American society and the notion that we should spread the risk of casualties across the entire population. One particular justification, though, calls for close inspection—the notion that a conscript military might, as Ricks puts it, “make Americans think more carefully before going to war.” At a time when the public has become disenchanted with recent military interventions, the assertion that a draft would give leaders pause before they resort to the use of force resonates.

There is, however, no reason to place any confidence is conscription as a war prophylactic.

The root of the problem as I see it is that there are many economic incentives to create war.

And yes, a draft would make more people pay attention to the problem, I believe.

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