Point/Counterpoint: Reinstating the draft

EDITOR’S NOTE: Evening Sun reporters love to argue. The sides taken in this argument were chosen arbitrarily and do not necessarily reflect the true opinions of the authors. This week, Tyler Murphy and Jessica Lewis discuss the reinstatement of the draft.

A long and sacred tradition in this country has been the willing participation of its citizens to become part of the armed forces. However, there have been great affronts to America’s efforts to endure the centuries. Wars, from the revolution to Vietnam, have forced our free and democratic society to place the burdens of civic duty upon those who did not volunteer – conscripts pulled up from the people randomly chosen from all walks of life to serve our nation in its hours of great need. In ancient Rome, the title of citizenship was earned and held in great esteem, as it was the duty of every citizen to die in order to preserve its republic. In fact only citizens were allowed to serve in her legions. Through the ages, the notion of a citizen’s obligation to fight or die for their nation, especially a free nation, remains a required duty. Today instead of conscription we call it the draft. The survival of our county’s ideals and institutions are more important than the survival of its citizens. We can not live in fear. If we as a people do indeed decide we are entering another dark hour of need, then it is our obligation to reluctantly reinstate that duty. –TDM

Just because something is part of a long tradition does not make it right. The ancient Romans also used to make gladiators do battle in the Coliseum for the amusement of the citizens. Would you like to see that tradition brought back as well? The truth of the matter is that reinstating the draft would weaken our military and the country as a whole. The cost of training and equipping the new recruits would cripple a military budget spread so thin, that in recent years, soldiers serving in Iraq were forced to purchase their own body armor or go without. The military does not have the resources to train the drafted soldiers, and prepare them for war. Furthermore, our country is divided enough without bringing back the separatism of the Vietnam era. We are already fighting a war that many Americans do not support. Reinstating the draft would only serve to further the divide, and increase people’s belief that the government has failed them. –JLL

Democratic governments fail because people stop participating in them and the same could be said for our military. The United States spends more on military spending than on any other country in history. Our soldiers are the most highly trained and best equipped in the world. Roman citizenship traditions echo strongly in America because they represent honor, sacrifice and devotion; not everything about Rome was good, but I think this we can agree on. Look at any local court house or capital building and you’ll see monuments imitating Roman architecture, even the White House. They were designed that way on purpose to pay homage to those ancient ideals, in hopes America might one day reflect such a legacy. I don’t doubt there are errors in our bureaucracy but that is a separate argument, we have the resources and we have the need, all we require is manpower. Like it or not we are in Iraq. It doesn’t matter at the moment how we got there, we as a country must deal with it. The reality of the situation is an escalating threat to our nation’s armed forces. America has endured far harder circumstances preparing it citizens for war than presented to us in our modern times, and even if that be the case, it still should not act as a deterrent in doing what is right. The state at times must impress civic duty on its people. –TDM

Today, you say, the state must impress civic duty on us. What must they impress upon us next? Democratic governments fail because they become consumed by power and forget the needs of their citizens. We live in a free country. That is what makes the United States such a wonderful place to live. Our citizens have the right to think for themselves and make up their own minds. Taking those freedoms away from U.S. citizens in order to bring freedom to another country is not only wrong, it is hypocritical and short sighted. The reason our military works so well is because soldiers participate on a volunteer basis. Filling the armed forces with drafted soldiers provides only more bodies. It endangers the soldiers who enlisted of their own volition, by surrounding them with individuals who do not want to be there, and have no passion for what they are doing. Who has more reason to fight, someone who joined the military out of a sense of duty to their country, or someone who was forced into the position by a parental figure who has no idea what combat is really like? – JLL

Our country and the world at large is free because other men sacrificed their lives and their freedom to bring it to us. It may be unfair for a generation to pay for the freedom of the next, but that is the American way. We put ourselves and our needs behind those of the people and the future of our nation. The United States would never have made it this far without the draft. Britain, France, Germany, Israel all require some sort of civic enlistment. America is not perfect, and our leaders do make mistakes like all others. The beauty in America is leaders are always temporary. Some may be inexperienced, but they are elected by the people, and many however in our history have seen combat. One does not need to be in combat to understand how to rule a nation. You may feel our current cause unjust, and you may think our current leaders incompetent, but they are nothing but a heartbeat in American history. People serve the American ideal and its 300 year old legacy of truth, equality and justice. Like I said we have made mistakes but do not push aside America because of bad American leaders. They will pass and our system is designed that way on purpose. If everyone had civic virtue, we wouldn’t need a draft and if everyone participated in our government, we wouldn’t have bad leaders, but this is our world today. You have a choice in America and that’s your vote, and if the country decides a draft is needed, then the people have spoken and even if you disagree you must honor it. –TDM

Our country may be free because of the sacrifices of other men, however, the reason for reinstating the draft at this time would not be to protect the freedom of the people of this country. The war in Iraq is not about our freedom. The fighting in Afghanistan may be about protecting Americans, but the war in Iraq is about something else. The reason reinstating the draft is even being discussed is because this administration has spread our troops all over the world. You do not need to have combat experience to be a good leader; many have lacked that qualification, but perhaps if this president had had some military background, he would understand the importance of prioritizing. If Sept. 11 did nothing else, it proved that Taliban forces in Afghanistan posed more of a threat than the imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Our government needs to learn to work with the resources they have. You cannot force people to believe in a cause. By doing so, we become no better than the extremist terrorists we fight against. –JLL

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