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"Can We Talk? The Obligation of Military Service" Topic

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21 Jun 2018 4:57 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2018 9:26 p.m. PST

"In 1778, Samuel Johnson said that "every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier," but should that still be the case today? John Stuart Mill claimed:

a man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for…is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

Was Mill right? Does every able-bodied citizen have an obligation to put him or herself in harm's way if needed? Should the United States compel such service by a draft? Perhaps most importantly, is a fully-informed discussion about these issues overdue in America…."
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Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2018 5:31 a.m. PST

I'd support some kind of conscription only in material defense of the homeland. Never "over there", never in peace time.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2018 6:21 a.m. PST

The military is frankly better off with an all volunteer service. People who are motivated to be there make better soldiers.

However, I am beginning to become more positive to the idea of a mandatory public service corps for a year or two after high school. In the modern age, the idea of service to anyone or anything outside of yourself seems to be becoming not only alien, but practically hostile. It seems the very notion that you'd serve your fellow citizens in any capacity whatsoever is considered by the latest generation as not only wrong, but stupid.

We are becoming a society of know nothings who are also care nothings. More and more people literally don't know and don't care, and don't care that they don't know. Apathy combined with ignorance is no way to build a positive society.

Cyrus the Great21 Jun 2018 6:57 a.m. PST

Complaints about the younger generation go all the way back to an attribution by Socrates, yet here we are. Just because it isn't done the way you did it, doesn't mean it doesn't get done.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2018 7:07 a.m. PST

Oh, I'm not a moron Cyrus. I'm well aware of this. I'm also well aware that this is the standard hand waving response to criticisms about youth since Socrates.

We'll always be here, no matter the state of the youth. That's the nature of time.

My criticism is about society as a whole- and that includes a lot of adults as well as youth, who know the age and history of their favorite pop star but not the history of what happened 10 years ago (I know many adults into their 50's who are like this).

The Fall of Rome happened after Socrates.

World War One happened after Socrates.

The Communist Revolution, Mao's various societal purges and Pol Pot all happened after Socrates.

History always moves forward, but society does not always get better from that progress. Sometimes it gets worse- much worse, before people get their heads screwed back on.

I would submit that right now we're at a cross roads where society can get better, or we can go down the road of Idiocracy.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2018 7:54 a.m. PST

TGerritsen +2

McKinstry Fezian21 Jun 2018 9:52 a.m. PST

When less than 25% of the eligible population is qualified for service due to physical, criminal and other disqualifying personal issues, any discussion of compulsory service is probably moot.

Lion in the Stars21 Jun 2018 1:53 p.m. PST

Honestly, a year or two of Civilian Conservation Corps or Public Works Administration type work would probably be a good thing for everyone. Could be as simple as cleaning up the highways, could be planting trees, could be building and repairing roads/bridges/other infrastructure.

If I was going to be a real ass about it, I'd say that you were not considered a legal adult until you had completed your PWA time (or had enlisted in the military). No voting, no buying cigarettes, no buying alcohol, no signing contracts.

Cyrus the Great21 Jun 2018 5:49 p.m. PST

If I was going to be a real ass about it, I'd say that you were not considered a legal adult until you had completed your PWA time (or had enlisted in the military). No voting, no buying cigarettes, no buying alcohol, no signing contracts.

How Heinleinean of you. Service equals citizenship!

The Archer22 Jun 2018 1:13 p.m. PST

Heinlein had it right I think.

I interact with a large number of late teen/early twenties individuals through some of my hobbies (I am a LARPer) and while many are not military material, I think some sort of public service would do a good number of them some good.

Not exactly the Peace Corps (which is a pretty awesome org) but something within the US that could help mitigate some of the infrastructure maintenance issues we have.

Damn sure needed in places, I think.

Lion in the Stars22 Jun 2018 5:42 p.m. PST

@Cyrus: You say that like it's a bad thing.

I freely admit that most people are not suited for the military, psychologically speaking.

But until you are mentally able to do something for other people with little-to-no personal reward, I don't think you are mentally mature. And until you are mentally mature, you have no business signing contracts (and all the other piecesparts of being a legal adult).

And the Public Works Administration was a very useful thing in the Great Depression. It built almost all the current infrastructure in the US. So after a hundred years, we need to rebuild all that infrastructure.

I'd count Peace Corps as equivalent to PWA service. 1-2 years of Public Service (whatever said service is, we will find something to do if you have limited physical abilities) and you are considered an adult. Do your PWA service as soon as you graduate from High School and you're an adult at 20. Go to college first and you're an adult at 24-25.

If you're in really good shape, you may get trained to fight wildlands fires. Tree planting or building roads doesn't take such extreme physical condition.

You would be paid for your time, but not much. Probably $800 USD-1000 a month, with room and board included. There'd be a work clothes allowance in there, probably using the old USN dungarees patterns. No military marching, but probably would have to include military cleanliness standards, just to prevent nasty disease outbreaks.

Oberlindes Sol LIC23 Jun 2018 7:40 p.m. PST

Just about everyone I have met from countries with mandatory military service described it as a very positive experience that helped build and maintain community and society.

By contrast, excluding minority ethnic groups from military service is a tactic of military dictatorships.

josta5924 Jun 2018 5:19 a.m. PST

I'm deeply against mandatory anything.

Lion in the Stars25 Jun 2018 2:41 p.m. PST

I guess I should point out that my version is actually a bit more extreme than Heinlein's.

Heinlein's version would let a non-server do everything but vote, under the theory that unless someone was willing to put their life on the line to protect a country, they had no business making decisions on how the country was operated. Johnny Rico's parents were non-servers but were rich enough that they could travel to foreign countries to conduct business deals.

My version makes anyone unwilling to spend a year or two helping others unable to vote or enter into any contracts, because they would not be considered a legal adult.

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