All-volunteer armies sound like a good idea but that’s an illusion. They’re extremely expensive to maintain and the primary beneficiaries are Defense Contractors like Haliburton. All-volunteer armies are an easy stepping stone to war. If you have them and pay for their upkeep and training it makes it easier to justify using them. It’s been too easy to maintain the criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq because everyone points to the volunteer and says “this is what you signed up for.” In too many cases it wasn’t. In an economy like ours countless 18 to 20 year olds signed up because they couldn’t find jobs or afford to continue their education after high school.
The all-volunteer army feels an obligation to “do their duty” without challenging authority so they are much easier to deceive. Viet Nam was a 1 year committment; after 12 months in hell you got to go home. The all-volunteer army has been conned into going through seemingly endless cycles of redeployment lasting many years because the burden of combat is placed on the backs of the few. Because of that we have astonishing levels of PTSD that have destroyed marriages and allowed children to grow up without parents. Worse, we now see an average of 18 Iraq/Afghanistan veterans a day killing themselves as a result.
The All Volunteer Army scam has allowed the US to rack up at least $4 Trillion in debt and it’s not over yet. That money went to a handful of defense contractors who charged hyper-inflated prices and have now developed their own army of mercenaries like Blackwater that they “lease” back to the US government as “security forces.” Those mercenary armies are beyond civilian control and don’t negotiate price.
The plan proposed in the Times Op-ed has a lot of merit and should be considered. Draft is a hotword that implies war and death and Compulsory Public Service sounds ominous too but a large number of modern, industrialized countries have obligatory service requirements that are beneficial to society and, in this economy, with millions of young people with no forseeable job prospects or the ability to pay for higher education, it’s worth a try. With our current military-industrial complex and an all-volunteer army endless war is just about inevitable.