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Will conscription be used in America again?


128 replies to this topic

#1 BaseBornBastard

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 01:58 PM

Or to refine my question, will conscription be put back on the table if/when America invades Iran? I'm not that knowledgeable about the history of conscription in the US, but I understand it was abolished after the Vietnam War? I ask this question because a war with Iran would obviously be very different than Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran has a considerably higher population (75 million) than either of these counties and a much more capable and advanced military. I think a military conflict with the country would result in very high casualty rates and would require a bigger military effort from the Us to accomplish. Is it possible that if this war happens that a few years down the line young people will be drafted again?

#2 Castel

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:02 PM

Nope.

#3 The Mountain That Flies

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:04 PM

In short, no, it won't happen (unless America is itself invaded by an outside power). You're right in thinking the draft was stopped after Vietnam, though upon turning 18 Americans still have to register in the event there ever is a draft (the draft age was usually 18-36 back in the day).

As for the situation with Iran, air strikes are far more likely than any ground invasion, especially given Iran's rough terrain. America's only interests in Iran revolve around potential nuclear weaponry, so if these could be removed via airstrike, a ground invasion would be pointless.

#4 Tempra

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:06 PM

In short, no, it won't happen (unless America is itself invaded by an outside power). You're right in thinking the draft was stopped after Vietnam, though upon turning 18 Americans still have to register in the event there ever is a draft (the draft age was usually 18-36 back in the day).

As for the situation with Iran, air strikes are far more likely than any ground invasion, especially given Iran's rough terrain. America's only interests in Iran revolve around potential nuclear weaponry, so if these could be removed via airstrike, a ground invasion would be pointless.


American men have to register for the selective service. Women do not.

#5 RWHamel

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:10 PM

American men have to register for the selective service. Women do not.


Sounds sexist to me.

#6 SerMixalot

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:22 PM

The military doesnt want a draft and the American people definitely dont want one. Any conflict with Iran will not involve ground forces unless some really weird situation comes about, I dont think that regime change would be the goal, at least in the short term, but to destroy their supposed nuclear capability, the question being could/would Iran retaliate in some manner that would make regime change desirable and after the lessonsof Iraq, I doubt that a situation for ground forces would be attractive under most situations.

#7 The Mountain That Flies

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:31 PM

American men have to register for the selective service. Women do not.


Whoops, my mistake. Thanks.

#8 Angeleyes

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:34 PM

A draft is extremely uneconomic in an industrialized/highly specialized society. Economists have basically ended the possibility of a draft in the US. As much as he was made fun of it in the campaign, Mitt Romney's 'I was too important to be fighting in the war' comment holds true for almost all civilians with skills that can: fund the economy, produce tools for soldiers, etc. When each person can contribute 100 units of effort to an area of the economy, it doesn't make sense to draft them for 20 units of war productivity.

For example, I work as an engineer at a power plant. A vital job for powering the home economy (pun intended). I'm also a pretty big 'fraidy cat, and extremely out of shape. It makes no sense for the military to draft me. During a draft I might be excepted, due to my role in civilian society. Think about the inefficiency there. The military has drafted an unwilling unideal worker, then must sort through which ones they don't want to take, then must train them to a below average skill level to field. It is just a silly idea. It makes much more sense to adjust the signing bonuses/salaries of new soldiers during war time (as we saw during Iraq) to raise more troops.

You also see lower perceived values of human life during draft scenarios, leading to less investment in equipment, riskier strategy, and higher casualties. This leads to higher long term costs to the military for Veterans Affairs as well as Medical, which would be out of control in current US society. i.e. When the cost of a bullet to the leg in the Civil War was a doctor sawing off a limb in a tent, you can afford a lot of casualties. When the cost is med-evac, trauma surgery, and months of rehab, you cannot afford that many needless casualties.

ETA: A quote by Meckling

Any government has essentially two ways of accomplishing an objective whether it be building an interstate highway system or raising an army. It can expropriate the required tools and compel construction men and others to work until the job is finished or it can purchase the goods and manpower necessary to complete the job. Under the first alternative, only the persons who own the property seized or who render compulsory services are required to bear the expense of building the highway or housing project. Theypay a tax to finance the project, albeit a tax-in-kind. Under the second alternative, the cost of the necessary goods and services is borne by the general public through taxes raised to finance the project.
Conscription is like the first alternative—a tax-in-kind. A mixed force of volunteers and conscripts contains first-term servicemen of three types—(1) draftees, (2) draft-induced volunteers, and (3) true volunteers. Draftees and draft-induced volunteers in such a force are coerced into serving at levels of compensation below what would be required to induce them to volunteer. They are, in short, underpaid. This underpayment is a form of taxation. Over 200 years ago, Benjamin Franklin, in commenting on a judicial opinion concerning the legality of impressments of American merchant seamen, recognized the heart of the issue, and even estimated the hidden tax. He wrote:
“But if, as I suppose is often case, the sailor who is pressed and obliged to serve for the defence of this trade at the rate of 25s. a month, could have 3.15s, in the merchant’s service, you take from him 50s. a month; and if you have 100,000 in your service, you rob that honest part of society and their poor families of 250,000. per month, or three millions a year, and at the same time oblige them to hazard their lives in fighting for the defence of your trade; to the defence of which all ought indeed to contribute, (and sailors among the rest) in proportion to their profits by it; but this three millions is more than their share, if they did not pay with their persons; and when you force that, methinks you should excuse the other.
“But it may be said, to give the king’s seamen merchant’s wages would cost the nation too much, and call for more taxes. The question then will amount to this; whether it be just in a community, that the richer part should compel the poorer to fight for them and their properties for such wages as they think fit to allow, and punish them if they refuse? Our author tells us it is legal. I have not law enough to dispute his authority, but I cannot persuade myself it is equitable.” (Report of the President’s Commission 1970, 23-24)


Edited by Angeleyes, 08 December 2012 - 02:44 PM.


#9 WrathOfTinyKittens

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:41 PM

It could definitely happen. But it won't happen because of a war with Iran.

We have a smaller active military today than we did before and during the Vietnam war, but we also have a more robust system of Reserves and National Guard units that can and will be used in a conflict (IIRC it was rare for Natl Guard units to be deployed in Vietnam). However, we also have a much more flexible military with a far superior surgical strike capability than we had in Vietnam. So, I think we would need to get into a very large war - larger even than Iran - in order to justify the draft.

I'd agree that we would probably have to have a large-scale invasion of the US for the govt to start drafting. And I don't think thatll happen.

#10 Noroldis

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:42 PM

After the Irak and Afghanistan quagmires, I can't envision any US president, even a Republican one, being stupid enough to commit your military to the long-term occupation of any country anytime soon, let alone a highly-populated one like Iran. If it's just conquering (and not occupying) Iran that's necessary, then IMO the US military is well capable of accomplishing that with its current manpower.

#11 Jon Sprunk

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:55 PM

After the Irak and Afghanistan quagmires, I can't envision any US president, even a Republican one, being stupid enough to commit your military to the long-term occupation of any country anytime soon, let alone a highly-populated one like Iran.


Have you listened to any prominent republican leaders lately? Oh, they are more than stupid enough. If we are completely out of Afghanistan by 2016, and a republican wins the presidency, I'll be counting the days until an invasion is announced. That may sound hyperbolic, but even that effete fop Romney tried to drum up talk about military options in Iran during the campaign. Imagine what a "real" conservative would do.

#12 davos

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 03:15 PM

The draft was ended in large part because it played a significant role in creating a wide-spread resistance to the Vietnam war. While there were ways to avoid it, a lot of people were at risk of being forced to go fight. And if you or someone in your family can be sent overseas to put their life at risk in a war that became increasingly didn't make any sense, then there is going to be more vocal opposition to it. Without the draft and with a all-volunteer stream-lined military that puts a great deal of focus on technology and high levels of training rather than numbers, the number of people are directly impacted by a war is greatly reduced. I'm certain that the lack of a draft played a significant role in keeping opposition to the Iraq war from becoming a mass-movement similar to what we saw during Vietnam. So, basically, unless we face a grave crisis, there will not be a draft. Having one would increase the potential for the government actually being held to account for getting involved in wars of choice.

#13 Noroldis

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 03:23 PM

Have you listened to any prominent republican leaders lately? Oh, they are more than stupid enough. If we are completely out of Afghanistan by 2016, and a republican wins the presidency, I'll be counting the days until an invasion is announced. That may sound hyperbolic, but even that effete fop Romney tried to drum up talk about military options in Iran during the campaign. Imagine what a "real" conservative would do.


True, some Republican leaders might be that stupid (or that callous; it's not like it would be their children dying during a prolonged occupation of Iran), but there's still a big difference between "considering all military options" and "full-scale invasion and occupation of Iran." And if a Republican president wanted to reinstitute the draft for a morally unjustified occupation of Iran, IMO he'd face widespread opposition from a substantial part of the American public - meaning nearly all Democrats and not a few Republicans - and doom the GOP to being a minority party for this generation.

#14 Robin Of House Hill

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 04:11 PM

The draft was ended so that the sons of the wealthy weren't diverted from sucking the blood of everyone else. After all, an economy run in such a manner as to insure that the poor have little choice to find jobs other than joining the military, will see to it that we have sufficient expendable cannon fodder. Wonderful idea. Let's have those who benefit the least, sacrifice the most.

#15 All-for-Joffrey

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 04:18 PM

The draft was ended in large part because it played a significant role in creating a wide-spread resistance to the Vietnam war. While there were ways to avoid it, a lot of people were at risk of being forced to go fight. And if you or someone in your family can be sent overseas to put their life at risk in a war that became increasingly didn't make any sense, then there is going to be more vocal opposition to it. Without the draft and with a all-volunteer stream-lined military that puts a great deal of focus on technology and high levels of training rather than numbers, the number of people are directly impacted by a war is greatly reduced. I'm certain that the lack of a draft played a significant role in keeping opposition to the Iraq war from becoming a mass-movement similar to what we saw during Vietnam. So, basically, unless we face a grave crisis, there will not be a draft. Having one would increase the potential for the government actually being held to account for getting involved in wars of choice.


This. Which is why I kind of wish we had x years of mandatory military service.

#16 El-ahrairah

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 08:15 PM

We have a smaller active military today than we did before and during the Vietnam war, but we also have a more robust system of Reserves and National Guard units that can and will be used in a conflict (IIRC it was rare for Natl Guard units to be deployed in Vietnam).


Which is a horrible thing in my opinion... the National Guard is supposed to be the state militia protecting local communities, not a substitute for the regular army. Unless there's a true crisis like WWII, it has no business fighting halfway around the globe.

#17 Daenerys is my queen

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 03:01 PM

I hope not.

#18 Carter209

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:49 PM

With the exception of a WW2-type of conflict, no, conscription will never be instituted again. There are only a handful of countries in the world who could go toe-to-toe with us in manpower right now, without a draft, not counting the vastly superior firepower we have as well. Plus, it would take an invasion of the homeland to give Congress the reason needed to implement it, again. Remember, Roosevelt passed the Selective Service Act as a National Defense mechanism, and it was put into effect after the attack on Pearl, not before.

#19 Darth Visenya

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:26 PM

I doubt it, then again who knows with Americas Foreign Policy, who knows whos resources they might want to monopolize and change to a friendly regime next.

#20 Robin Of House Hill

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:55 PM

http://en.wikipedia....itary_personnel

The military superiority of the US is its technology and armament. When it comes to the ability to put boots on the ground, there are quite a few nations with more capability.


I doubt it, then again who knows with Americas Foreign Policy, who knows whos resources they might want to monopolize and change to a friendly regime next.


I can think of only one country that is in that category, which is why I don't want to see the US involve itself in Syria.



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