Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Attendant Loss of Life

war, the draft, slavery, foreign policy, lottery

Is there an easy way to avoid the insanity of what author and decorated Marine vet Elliot Ackerman calls America’s “two-decade military quagmire”?

Yesterday, I took issue with Ackerman’s idea of a “reverse-engineered draft,” whereby each year about 65,000 young men and women — but only those with parents in the highest federal tax bracket* — would be forced into the military for two years of “service.” 

“A draft places militarism on a leash,” he argues. But in reality, select young people lose their freedom and politicians don’t relinquish any powers.

Still, Ackerman maintains that 

  1. “with a draft the barrier to entering new wars would be significantly higher” 
  2. placing these “kids” in jeopardy via military conscription would activate their wealthy and influential parents to lobby Congress and the White House 
  3. “could create greater accountability” 

ultimately resulting in a saner military posture around the globe, hopefully allowing us to “avoid . . . a major theater war, the continuance of our ‘terror wars,’ the attendant loss of life.”

Threatening to draft their kids would raise the eyebrows of parents. That’s why when Congress last voted on legislation mandating a draft, even the bill’s author voted NO.

But would having a small drafted force somehow actually save lives?

Let’s look at combat deaths when the United States used a military draft, post-World War II, and compare that to the time-period since 1973, when the draft ended and the All-Volunteer Force began. Those numbers are not close: 

  • Between 1946 and 1973, with the draft in place, nearly 100,000 American soldiers were killed overseas. 
  • Over the more than four decades since the draft ended, fatalities remain under 10,000.

That’s a heap-big correlation between the military draft and “attendant loss of life.”

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

* As I noted yesterday, targeting the draft to apply only to top income earners clearly violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

war, the draft, slavery, foreign policy, lottery

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By: Redactor


  1. Pat says:

    To link a decrease in combat deaths to the end of the draft is not valid. In 1973, we got out of VIetnam. In the four decades since then, where have we fought and in what numbers? Also, the reduction in combat deaths in places like Iraq and Afghanistan can be the result of better medical care and equipment for soldiers in the field. It may be true that we have had far fewer deaths since the draft ended but correlation is not causation.

  2. Paul Jacob says:

    There is indeed a “valid” “correlation” between the draft and higher levels of combat deaths during the last 75 years. Nearly 100k combat deaths in 30 years post-WW2 with it against not 10K deaths in the 45 years after the draft ended.

    That is not, of course, “causation” — the draft did not necessarily cause those deaths — it could be an erroneous correlation, though, I personally believe it was a major contributing factor. Still, as you point out, there could be and no doubt are other causes.

    But I think that is a very strong correlation worth knowing and that one reason there has been no repeat of Vietnam is that the AVF doesn’t lend itself to unpopular interventions with high body counts. People can vote NO by simply not walking into a recruiting office. (The opposite of what happened after 911, when more folks flocked to recruiting offices because of public sentiment.)

    In essence, the AVF introduces a marketplace check on foreign policy/military intervention. I like that.

  3. Clifford Fargason says:

    On this point you are wrong. I served in the Army 72-03 and then was recalled to active duty for service in Iraq 06-07. Perhaps you have noticed that there are an awful lot of multiple amputees in the casualties of GWOT. They would have died in Viet Nam. Many of the troops who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan that were not amputees would have died in Viet Nam. Part of it is the advancement in medical techniques. For example, during the VN era we were taught that tourniquets were an absolute last resort. In prepping for service in Iraq we were taught to go immediately to the tourniquet in a situation where it could be used. Saved a lot of people. Better equipment also saved a lot of people. Truck drivers in VN were taught to sit on flak vests for protection. During training I saw a lot of photos of trucks that hit mines. They usually blew up right under the drivers seat. In GWOT there were a lot of ways developed to alleviate those threats.

    You can’t compare the Civil War with WWII and say that the difference in casualties is due to the difference in how the services filled their personnel needs because there are too many other differences that can easily be the reason for the discrepancy. The same goes for the difference between the draftee army of VN and the volunteer army of GWOT.

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