Friday, January 2, 2015

     In the twilight of thirteen consecutive years of war in which less than one percent of Americans have served, a number of national security luminaries have lamented the widening civil-military gap and the rise of American militarism.  Among those recently expressing these concerns are James Fallows, Dr. Andrew Bacevich, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, and Gen. Stanley McCrystal.  All of them clearly identify the risks to national security and our country's social fabric that these trends present.  The writers identify the sacrifices that of those who serve thoroughly and compassionately: suicides, multiple deployments, PTSD, homelessness, etc..  These sacrifices were aggravated by an All-Volunteer Force concept that exempts every American citizen from any obligation to protect and defend the security and liberties to which they all lay claim. 
     What concerns me about these writers is their shared rejection of military conscription as a remedy to the widening civil-military gap and rising militarism in America.  The All-Volunteer Force makes it too easy for limited liability patriots, chicken hawks, and a disengaged citizenry, none of whom have "skin in the game", to go to war.  These writers all argue that military conscription is a "political non-starter".  By buying into this argument these writers are surrendering to a discredited political elite the moral high ground in what should be an important national dialogue.  In 1783 George Washington wrote that "it may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government, owes not only a portion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it".

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