volunteer armed forces

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Man Attacks Success

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

“Over the past decade, this all-volunteer force has been put to the test and has succeeded,” wrote Thomas E. Ricks, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, in Sunday’s Washington Post.

But Ricks argues that this success is “precisely the reason” that now is the “time to get rid of the all-volunteer force. It has been too successful.”

Scrap success! Instead, Ricks raves we should “[resume] conscription . . . to reconnect the people with the armed forces” even though, admittedly, a draft “would cause problems for the military.”

Though on this latter point I catch a whiff of understatement, Ricks has a legitimate concern. “Our relatively small and highly adept military” makes “it all too easy for our nation to go to war,” he wrote, “and to ignore the consequences.” America now takes to war far too easily. Only one man (the president) decides, really, where and when the U.S. goes to war, and he puts it all on the national credit card.

So the answer is giving the Commander-in-Chief more resources? What Ricks risks is giving the president and his back-room boys a blank check on the manpower of our children.

The only effective check (as in check-and-balance) would be, I guess, a vote every four years. Oh, and the presidential term limit.

You are probably thinking: What about Congress? Unfortunately, it’s congressional dereliction of duty that’s got us here in the first place.

Which brings us back to first principles. And here the case is clear: Ricks’s prescription is wrong because conscription is wrong. Dictators conscript “their” subjects; a free society finds voluntary defenders.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.