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Ending Ending the Draft

Vox have recently published a series of articles asking various people what they think will be considered barbaric or unthinkable in 50 years time, in a similar way to the attitude towards smoking has changed in the past 50 years.

There were the sorts of predictions I had expected to see in such a list including better end of life care, an end to conspicuous consumption, someone else predicting that most folk will be vegan. I haven't read all of them yet, but one in particular has surprised me and made me reconsider my points of view.

The prediction that surprised me was that the idea of ending the draft would be considered a bad idea. Or rather that the volunteer army will be widely considered a mistake.

My initial point of view is that the draft is a bad thing and you shouldn't force people to join the army and fight if they don't want to. So clearly the volunteer army must be a good thing. The panelist argues that in the past when the draft was in force, you had a complete mix of people entering the armed forces from all mixes of life. What is more, every family had a stake in what the military were doing so everyone paid attention to what they were being asked to do.

Now, only those that want to, do go into the armed forces. You have lost out on the mix of views. Perhaps you now only have a higher proportion of those signups who seek out fights. It is also easier to ignore the fighting on the evening news when you don't have any loved ones involved. As a result the military are able to operate with less scrutiny from the public.

I am not sure if the reasons given would work out that way in practice, but it is an interesting idea. There may have been a significant unintended consequence to changing the military over to a fully volunteer operation. I am not going to start calling for the draft to be reintroduced and enforced. But it has caused me to at least re-evaluate the policy.

I will suspend judgment for now.

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