Enough with the lefty pro-draft talk already
Katha Pollitt explains why it's a terrible idea
Katha Pollitt has an excellent Nation column ("Do You Feel a Draft?") on why the new liberal/leftist romance with the idea of a draft is so misguided. Please read it, think about it, and email it to all your lefty friends who suddenly seem to think forcing thousands of young men and women to put on uniforms and kill people is a progressive thing to do.
As you probably know, the basic liberal pro-draft argument has two parts. First, the current army is largely made up of Have Nots, which allows the Haves to make decisions leading to war without worrying about the safety of their own children (you know, the whole chickenhawk thing). Second, a draft would create opposition to war. Pollitt rebuts both these arguments (go read her piece to see how), but she takes it a step further:
Supporters of the draft are using it to promote indirectly politics we should champion openly and up front. It's terrible that working-class teenagers join the Army to get college funds, or job training, or work--what kind of nation is this where Jessica Lynch had to invade Iraq in order to fulfill her modest dream of becoming an elementary school teacher and Shoshanna Johnson had to be a cook on the battlefield to qualify for a culinary job back home? But the solution isn't to force more people into the Army, it's affordable education and good jobs for all. Nobody should have to choose between risking her life--or as we see in Abu Ghraib, her soul--and stocking shelves at Wal-Mart. By the same token, threatening our young with injury, madness and death is a rather roundabout way to increase resistance to military adventures. I'd rather just loudly insist that people who favor war go fight in it themselves or be damned as showboaters and shirkers. I'm sure the Army can find something for Christopher Hitchens to do.
The main effect of bringing back the draft would be to further militarize the nation. The military has already thrust its tentacles deep into civilian life: We have ROTC on campus, Junior ROTC in the high schools, Hummers in our garages and camouflage couture in our closets. Whole counties, entire professions, live or die by defense contracts--which is perhaps one reason we spend more on our military budget than the next twenty-five countries combined. (Did you know that the money raised by the breast cancer postage stamp goes to the Defense Department?) Conscription will make the country more authoritarian and probably more violent, too, if that's possible--especially for women soldiers, who are raped and assaulted in great numbers in today's armed forces, usually with more or less impunity.
If we want a society that is equal, cohesive, fair and war-resistant, let's fight for that, not punish our children for what we have allowed America to become.