By Larry Gara
This commentary is unpublished.
If the United States continues on its path toward the militarization of society, sooner or later there will be serious calls to reactivate the draft. Indeed, the law now requires all young men to register with Selective Service at age 18, and draft boards wait on a standby basis. The military is stretched to the limit, the country is in a state of nearly permanent war, and reactivating the draft offers a tempting solution. It would be a tragic mistake...
....The Supreme Court has rejected arguments that the draft is unconstitutional, even though the 13th Amendment specifically outlaws “involuntary servitude.” Despite the fact that dictatorships inevitably impose conscription, some still insist that Selective Service is inherently democratic. Some also argue that a draft makes peace more likely because, when every family is affected, everyone resists the idea of going to war. History and experience do not support this idea. The draft certainly did not keep us out of war in Korea or Vietnam, for example. Indeed, having a reliable and renewable supply of manpower is more likely to encourage elements in any government that support military adventures. Instead, we need an imaginative foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy and strengthens international agreements...
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Larry Gara, Emeritus Professor of History at Wilmington College, is the author or editor of six books and numerous scholarly articles.