FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Draft is a Form of Slavery

I oppose HR 163 in the strongest possible terms. The draft, whether for military purposes or some form of “national service,” violates the basic moral principles of individual liberty upon which this country was founded. Furthermore, the military neither wants nor needs a draft.

The Department of Defense, in response to calls to reinstate the draft, has confirmed that conscription serves no military need. Defense officials from both parties have repudiated it. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has stated, “The disadvantages of using compulsion to bring into the armed forces the men and women needed are notable,” while President William Clinton’s Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, in a speech before the National Press Club, admitted that, “Today, with our smaller, post-Cold War armed forces, our stronger volunteer tradition and our need for longer terms of service to get a good return on the high, upfront training costs, it would be even harder to fashion a fair draft.”

However, the most important reason to oppose HR 163 is that a draft violates the very principles of individual liberty upon which our nation was founded. Former President Ronald Reagan eloquently expressed the moral case against the draft in the publication Human Events in 1979: “[Conscription] 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.”

Some say the 18-year old draftee “owes it” to his (or her, since HR 163 makes women eligible for the draft) country. Hogwash! It just as easily could be argued that a 50-year-old chickenhawk, who promotes war and places innocent young people in danger, owes more to the country than the 18-year-old being denied his (or her) liberty.

All drafts are unfair. All 18- and 19-year-olds are never drafted. By its very nature a draft must be discriminatory. All drafts hit the most vulnerable young people, as the elites learn quickly how to avoid the risks of combat.

Economic hardship is great in all wars. War is never economically beneficial except for those in position to profit from war expenditures. The great tragedy of war is that it enables the careless disregard for civil liberties of our own people. Abuses of German and Japanese Americans in World War I and World War II are well known.

But the real sacrifice comes with conscription ­ forcing a small number of young vulnerable citizens to fight the wars that older men and women, who seek glory in military victory without themselves being exposed to danger, promote. The draft encourages wars with neither purpose nor moral justification, wars that too often are not even declared by the Congress.

Without conscription, unpopular wars are difficult to fight. Once the draft was undermined in the 1960s and early 1970s, the Vietnam War came to an end. But most importantly, liberty cannot be preserved by tyranny. A free society must always resort to volunteers. Tyrants think nothing of forcing men to fight and serve in wrongheaded wars. A true fight for survival and defense of America would elicit, I am sure, the assistance of every able-bodied man and woman. This is not the case with wars of mischief far away from home, which we have experienced often in the past century.

A government that is willing to enslave some of its people can never be trusted to protect the liberties of its own citizens. I hope all my colleagues join me in standing up for individual liberty by rejecting HR 163 and all attempts to bring back the draft.

Ron Paul is a Republican congressman from Texas.

 

 

More articles by:

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail