Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Here Come the Draft-Nappers

By William Norman Grigg

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, demands the re-instatement of conscription so that next time Washington commits itself to a needless foreign war “every town, every city [will be] at risk.”

“I think we ought to have a draft. I think if a nation goes to war, it shouldn’t be solely be represented by a profession-al force, because it gets to be unrepresentative of the population,”McChrystal during a session of the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival. “I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk. You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.”

Of course, when those who presume to rule us decide to go to war, they don’t have any “skin” in the game; instead, they are gambling with the lives of other people.

“This was the first time in recent years that a high-profile officer has broken ranks to argue that the all-volunteer force is not necessarily good for the country or the military,” exulted Thomas Ricks of a neo-con think-tank called the Center for a New American Security in a New York Times op-ed column. “Unlike Europeans, Americans still seem determined to maintain a serious military force, so we need to think about how to pay for it and staff it by creating a draft that is better and more equitable than the Vietnam-era conscription system”:

“A revived draft, including both males and females, should include three options for new conscripts coming out of high school. Some could choose 18 months of military service with low pay but excellent post-service benefits, including free college tuition. These conscripts would not be deployed but could perform tasks currently outsourced a great cost to the Pentagon: paperwork, painting barracks, mowing lawns, driving generals around, and generally doing lower-skilled tasks so professional soldiers don’t have to. If they want to stay, they could move into the professional force and receive weapons training, higher pay and better benefits.

Those who don’t want to serve in the arm could perform civilian national service for a slightly longer period and equally low pay – teaching in low-income areas, cleaning parks, rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, or aiding the elderly, After two years, they would receive similar benefits like tuition aid.”

In words that suppurate scorn, Ricks addresses “libertarians who object to a draft”: “Those who declined to help Uncle Sam would in return pledge to ask nothing from him – no Medicare, no subsidized college loans and no mortgage guarantees. Those who want minimal government can have it.”

That arrangement would be perfectly satisfactory to those of us who understand the principle of self-ownership – as long as the government makes no demands of us in terms of the institutionalized theft called “taxation.” Obviously, Ricks – like other totalitarians of his ilk – doesn’t approve of the idea that we would be permitted to keep everything that we earn. Thus he assumes that those who refuse to become conscripts would still be tax slaves, and be deprived of the right to reclaim any of our stolen wealth in the form of government-provided “benefits.”

What Ricks is describing is the enactment of the eighth plank of the Communist Manifesto, which decrees the “equal liability of all to labor” in “industrial armies” controlled by the State. It is also a recapitulation of similar proposals made by numerous Establishment-connected pundits and think tank habitués in recent years.

A very similar approach is found in the plan proferred in Foreign Policy magazine by retired U.S. Army Colonel William L. Hauser, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and naval veteran Jerome Slater of the State University of New York, Buffalo.

The program envisioned by Hauser and Slater would “combine a revived military draft with a broader public-service program as already practiced in some European states – a ‘domestic Peace Corps.’” They would permit draftees “to choose between military and nonmilitary service” – that is, to select their preferred form of servitude – at least initially. Given that providing additional military manpower is the entire point of the proposal, the domestic service “option” would probably last just long enough to get the measure enacted by Congress.

Discussing what they consider the ancillary benefits of military slavery, Hauser and Slater list what they consider “a number of positive social consequences.” For instance: “Conscription will enable the forces to reflect the full spectrum of American pluralism, in terms of both socioeconomic classes and racial/ethnic groups. It is unacceptable that less than 1 percent of the country’s eligible population serves in the armed forces, with almost no war-relevant sacrifice being asked from the rest of society. It ought to be axiomatic that the hardships and dangers of military service be more widely shared.”

What’s really going on here, as the incomparable investigative reporter Anne Williamson has pointed out, is the quiet implementation of a deal that would use American youngsters as human collateral for the foreign loans that fuel Washington’s demented imperial foreign policy.

“In his misbegotten quest for empire, George W. Bush faces two potentially decisive shortages – money and soldiers,” wrote Williamson in early 2005. “The deficits in boots and dollars are becoming acute…. But it is America’s Blanche DuBois economy, whose debt levels – public and private – have gone parabolic, that threatens the entire imperial enterprise. Without the ready funds normally forthcoming from the Treasury bill market … the president would have to rely upon a highly-indebted population that simultaneously has no savings and yet retains great expectations of the public purse. Clearly such a people cannot carry the imperial standard. At least, not alone they can’t.”

With the Empire going bankrupt, the liquidation sale is already quietly underway. Seizing young people to use as human “capital” – both as imperial coffin-stuffers, and drones of the domestic redistribution machinery – is the logical next step:

“Thanks to the enterprising left, a palatable framework of “universal service” is evolving, in which all of America’s young people will be registered for national service and, drawing on personal information gleaned from the giant government data bases now being built, will be assigned to community service, combat service, or homeland defense. The kicker may be a requirement of completed service before access to higher education and government financing for it will be granted. It is not improbable to see a ‘deal’ over Social Security reform on the horizon, i.e. in exchange for reduced benefits and an increase in the retirement age Boomer seniors will be guaranteed the services of [conscripted] ‘community brigades’ for home care.”

The system outlined by both Ricks and the duo of Hauser and Slater is all but indistinguishable from the one predicted by Williamson: A dystopia in which the Regime claims unqualified ownership of everybody living under its rule, and disposes of their lives as it sees fit.

Reprinted from Republic Magazine with permission from the author.

July 12, 2012

William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.

Copyright © 2012 William Norman Grigg

1 reply »

  1. He doesn’t mention the fourth option. Anyone with decent professional qualifications is not going to spend a year or so driving generals around or cutting their grass for them. And what’s more, for peanuts. They will simply go for nice jobs abroad.

    On a realistic note I suggest the top brass be given driving lessons so they can drive themselves and lawn mowers so they can cut their own front lawns. As for painting the military’s windows the general might end up with just that – painted over windows. He says it is a simple job. I say it is a skilled trade.

    I thought slavery in America was abolished years ago. If it ever was then it looks like making a come back.

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