FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Military Draft and Slavery

by Rep. Ron Paul

I rise to introduce legislation expressing the sense of Congress that the United States government should not revive military conscription. Supporters of conscription have taken advantage of the events of September 11 to renew efforts to reinstate the military draft. However, reviving the draft may actually weaken America’s military. Furthermore, a military draft violates the very principles of individual liberty this country was founded upon. It is no exaggeration to state that military conscription is better suited for a totalitarian government, such as the recently dethroned Taliban regime, than a free society.

Since military conscription ended over 30 years ago, voluntary armed services have successfully fulfilled the military needs of the United States. The recent success of the military campaign in Afghanistan once again demonstrates the ability of the volunteer military to respond to threats to the lives, liberty, and property of the people of the United States.

A draft weakens the military by introducing tensions and rivalries between those who volunteer for military service and those who have been conscripted. This undermines the cohesiveness of military units, which is a vital element of military effectiveness. Conscripts also are unlikely to choose the military as a career; thus, a draft will do little to address problems with retention. With today’s high-tech military, retention is the most important personnel issue and it seems counter-productive to adopt any policy that will not address this important issue.

If conscription helps promote an effective military, then why did General Vladisova Putilin, Chief of the Russian General Staff, react to plans to end the military draft in Russia, by saying “This is the great dream of all servicemen, when our army will become completely professional…?”

Instead of reinstating a military draft, Congress should make military service attractive by finally living up to its responsibility to provide good benefits and pay to members of the armed forces and our nation’s veterans. It is an outrage that American military personnel and veterans are given a lower priority in the federal budget than spending to benefit politically powerful special interests. Until this is changed, we will never have a military which reflects our nation’s highest ideals.

Mr. Speaker, the most important reason to oppose reinstatement of a military draft is that conscription violates the very principles upon which this country was founded. The basic premise underlying conscription is that the individual belongs to the state, individual rights are granted by the state, and therefore politicians can abridge individual rights at will. In contrast, the philosophy which inspired America’s founders, expressed in the Declaration of Independence, is that individuals possess natural, God-given rights which cannot be abridged by the government. Forcing people into military service against their will thus directly contradicts the philosophy of the Founding Fathers. A military draft also appears to contradict the constitutional prohibition of involuntary servitude.

During the War of 1812, Daniel Webster eloquently made the case that a military draft was unconstitutional:

“Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war, in which the folly or the wickedness of Government may engage it? Under what concealment has this power lain hidden, which now for the first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest rights of personal liberty? Sir, I almost disdain to go to quotations and references to prove that such an abominable doctrine had no foundation in the Constitution of the country. It is enough to know that the instrument was intended as the basis of a free government, and that the power contended for is incompatible with any notion of personal liberty. An attempt to maintain this doctrine upon the provisions of the Constitution is an exercise of perverse ingenuity to extract slavery from the substance of a free government. It is an attempt to show, by proof and argument, that we ourselves are subjects of despotism, and that we have a right to chains and bondage, firmly secured to us and our children, by the provisions of our government.”

Another eloquent opponent of the draft was former President Ronald Reagan who in a 1979 column on conscription said:

“…it rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the state. If we buy that assumption then it is for the state – not for parents, the community, the religious institutions or teachers – to decide who shall have what values and who shall do what work, when, where and how in our society. That assumption isn’t a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea.”

President Reagan and Daniel Webster are not the only prominent Americans to oppose conscription. In fact, throughout American history the draft has been opposed by Americans from across the political spectrum, from Henry David Thoreau to Barry Goldwater to Bill Bradley to Jesse Ventura. Organizations opposed to conscription range from the American Civil Liberties Union to the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, and from the National Taxpayers Union to the Conservative Caucus. Other major figures opposing conscription include current Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman.

In conclusion, I ask my colleagues to stand up for the long-term military interests of the United States, individual liberty, and values of the Declaration of Independence by co-sponsoring my sense of Congress resolution opposing reinstatement of the military draft.

Ron Paul, M.D., represents the 14th Congressional District of Texas in the United States House of Representatives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail