Since America's birth, men and women have taken up arms to defend the country to ultimately defend their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Although military drafts have been deemed necessary for large-scale wars, for the most part, serving the country's military has been a choice. This makes sense, considering that the purpose of the American army is to defend America's freedom; if all citizens were forced to serve, then this basic right would simply not exist, and the country would take a giant step backward in time, revisiting a practice similar to slavery.
Required military service is not only an infringement on our fundamental freedoms, but also on our ideals. The current U.S. military budget is over $660 billion. That's about six times greater than China's military spending.
If America were to enlist all its 18-year-old citizens, an already inflated military budget would have to be increased. Although this is simply not possible, considering that Congress cannot even put together a budget under the current financial circumstances of the country, allocating more funds toward the military instead of essentials like education and infrastructure would reshape our already misdirected goals.
Is improving our massive military more important than adequately educating our children? Is training troops for virtually non-existent threats a bigger priority than subsidizing research for disease? For better roads? For more jobs?
The biggest argument for required conscription may be that it would prevent future wars. By forcing all young men to fight, rather than drafting only volunteers, the U.S. population may think twice before diving into a war. However, history has demonstrated the exact opposite: conscription during the Civil War and both World Wars did not keep America from participating, or even lessen our involvement. The Vietnam War draft — and the protests which spurred from it — eventually helped the U.S. withdraw from the region, but it greatly disrupted social unity at home.
Before we can even consider requiring military service, we must define our purpose for warfare. Is it to ensure our safety at home, even though our military spending tops every country in the world? Is it to prevent future wars, even though history has indicated otherwise? Is it to maintain our fundamental right to freedom, even though conscription would take away freedoms from our own citizens?
Mandatory conscription would force our ideals a step backward in time: a step that we have no reason to take.
(Republished from the Gaucho Gazette student newspaper.)