the draft

Mark Santow says what I would say about the draft, were I ever to bother:

If it appears that the purpose of instituting a draft next year is to better enable the execution and expansion of the policy of pre-emption, and policies based on the assumption that only an American monopoly on global military force can provide security and peace, then I will oppose it with every bit of energy, passion and intellect I can muster.

In the end, however, I believe that the creation of a professional, all-volunteer military has been bad for American democracy, bad for our foreign policy, and thus bad for countless millions of people around the world who are subject to that policy. It has not made wars less likely.

What it has done instead is:

  1. Removed the decision to go to war from democratic deliberation

  2. Greatly strengthened the Imperial Presidency, rather than weakening it

  3. Provided an unaccountable army awaiting its Caesar (who has now arrived)

  4. Militarized American foreign policy, by weakening public oversight and concern

  5. Encouraged our leaders to carry out some of their overseas objectives by creating, funding and supporting non-state military actors to do our bidding (Al Qu’eda in Afghanistan being the best example), who have come back to bite us

  6. Encouraged our leaders to privatize and outsource military and even diplomatic tasks to private companies beyond the reach of Congress

  7. Created what is basically an army of economic conscripts, repeating all the errors of the Vietnam-era draft without any of the benefits of transparency and public discussion that a wartime draft tends to encourage. Do you want to see Bush/Cheney’s policy for the working poor? You’ll have to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan to see it.

We are fast reaching a point of no return in this country.

We can choose empire, or we can choose democracy. We can’t have both.

If democracies are going to fight wars, as occasionally they must, they must have a means of waging war that bears some resemblance to the fundamental values and institutions on which democracy is based. The decision to engage in it must be made democratically, not by a small group of people in Washington, with a messianic religious bent, and a fundamental lack of intellectual curiosity, moral humility, and respect for the rule of law. As imperfect as it is, a draft is the best means we’ve come up with.