There has been some talk about reinstating the draft. For whatever reasons that people may want to do so, I am opposed to the idea. The draft was used to find personnel for the Viet Nam War and there is every indication that it was very biased in who got drafted. If they were to bring back the draft today, there would be as many loopholes in it as were in back in the late 1960’s.
But, if people are serious about reinstating the draft, then let’s change the parameters and the meaning. Instead of just serving in the military, let us call it national service. Make everyone from 18 to, as an upper limit, 30 required to register and serve when drafted. But (and it is a very big BUT), don’t limit the service to just the military. Put the Peace Crop on the list of organizations where a person can serve. Put “Teach for America” on the list as well. In other words, make service truly possible.
Make the pay equitable so that it is reasonable to serve and not a hardship. Make it so people will want to serve.
I am sure there are going to be some who think this is stupid or naive. We are running up the national debt in a war that doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. Eventually, we are going to have fix what we have destroyed; eventually, we are going to have to remove the causes of war or war will always be a part of our lives. That is not the legacy I wish to leave my children and grandchildren.
If my memory of times past is right, the Peace Crops was the greatest single effort that the United States put forth in the 1960’s. Governments may have bad-mouthed the United States but they welcomed the volunteers. There are so many places in the world today where we need to be working in peace, not trying to prevent a war from developing.
It’s just an idea but I think it is an idea whose time has come.
Yes, everyone serves and military service remains voluntary. That way each person leaving home and entering adulthood will start with a period of national service, say two years. In that time they will do some useful work for their community and in the process, themselves. After service they will enter college or the workforce with some experience and a better perspective on their next steps. (Higher education would be a different place if there were no 18-year-olds away from home for the first time.)
Sign the Everyone Serves petition to encourage the presidential candidates to start a program like you describe. Join us at http://everyoneserves.org/petition