Elias Isquith finds Tom Ricks of The Washington Post calling for a return to the draft, for all the usual reasons:

Since the end of the military draft in 1973, every person joining the U.S. armed forces has done so because he or she asked to be there. Over the past decade, this all-volunteer force has been put to the test and has succeeded….

This is precisely the reason it is time to get rid of the all-volunteer force. It has been too successful. Our relatively small and highly adept military has made it all too easy for our nation to go to war — and to ignore the consequences.

… One percent of the nation has carried almost all the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the rest of us essentially went shopping….

Elias seconds the notion, and adds:

I’d like to see the draft come back for more abstract, public-minded reasons. There are precious few institutions nowadays that bring together Americans from disparate social spheres; the military used to be one of them. Implementation in this regard was never perfect, of course; there were fortunate sons. But the general principle that the military was a product of our collective labors, spurred by our collective interests, this was more influential during the time of a draft than it is today.

I understand why people say these things. But is there any reason whatsoever to have any faith at all in this country’s ability to bring back a draft in a fair, genuinely sacrifice-sharing way?

Do you honestly believe that the children of hedge fund managers and oil billionaires would serve as equals alongside the children of janitors and Walmart clerks? Do you honest believe that this inequality-saturated country could bring back conscription without building massive loopholes for the privileged (and probably a large number of loopholes for the merely well-off)?

Don’t you think we’d wind up about where we are now, with low-income conscripts on the front lines (commanded, perhaps, by gung-ho Southerners), while upper-middle-class kids were far from combat and superrich kids were still partying in Biarritz?

And don’t you think this new state of affairs would just become a new front in the culture wars, as right-wingers waged class war against the “liberal” upper-middle-class kids in the rear echelons (exempting the superrich, of course) while claiming kinship with the genuinely patriotic grunts? Wouldn’t a draft just become part of this problem, rather than part of the solution?

(X-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)

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