All over the world there are countries debating whether or not they should enforce a Mandatory Military Service for citizens who are at least 18 years old. This could affect the countries in two different ways. It could strengthen the country, or it could weaken it. The question is, which of the two is a more prominent outcome?
Pro Argument 1
A mandatory military service would mean that a country is prepared for the worst. If, say, a war did break out, it would mean that they would not have to spend as much time recruiting because they would already have trained soldiers there, allowing them to have a head start in the battle side of war. It would also mean that they would never have a shortage of soldiers. There are often times in war, where voluntary sign up to the army has proven unreliable and that the patriotic surge at the beginnings often runs out within a year or so. “Conscription during peacetime would mean that the country was prepared for emergencies” (‘Dabatepedia’, dbp.idebate.org, ‘Debate: Mandatory Military Service’). Having this constant replenishment of soldiers would definitely give the country an advantage.
Con Argument 1
An advantage in war is all well and good, but having to join the army against their will, even for a small amount of time, can cause bad attitudes towards authority in young people. This can cause them to be reluctant to learn new skills and to build on character, which are two things that are supposed to seen as perks to the service. The debatepedia website says: “If young people are forced to go into the armed forces …. it will foster resentment against authority”.
Pro Argument 2
The perks of mandatory military service could definitely appeal to young people who are recent school leavers. There are many cases of people who leave school and are unsure of what to do from then on, but the military service provides a temporary place to go while still in this period of insecurity and can be seen as a sort of save haven for people in this situation. It would also lessen some of society’s problems, such as teenage pregnancy and crime rates. “Would you like to see crime, teenage pregnancy and substance abuse rates decline? … this is an argument for mandatory military service” (Armstrong Williams, “Mandatory Military Service Would Benefit the US”, News Max. June 19th 2006).
Cons Argument 2
Although the Military can prove to be a place to go for those in need, it can be argued that forcing youth into service deprives them of their ‘freedom of choice’ (debate.org, “should military service be mandatory?”). This deprivation is, of course, a deprivation of a human right, making mandatory military service immoral.
In conclusion, Mandatory Military Service can both benefit a country and hinder it. The outcome of the system, good or bad, depends on how the individual country carries it out. For example, the general conscription could mean a respectful nation with low crime rates, or a rebellious nation, with bad thoughts on authority figures. Overall, Mandatory Military Service is neither good nor bad.
Meagan Ewing, 533 words
John F. Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." Today, the responsibilities of an American citizen are to pay taxes and vote. The relatively high standard of living in America allows citizens the privilege of living day-to-day ignorant or apathetic about soldiers who are being killed and killing others overseas. There's a huge disconnect between the American civilian population and the brave women and men fighting and dying to protect it. This sense of detachment is pretty understandable; it's always easier to catch up on the latest episode of The Bachelorette than to stay updated with the Iraq war, for which there was less than one percent of media coverage in 2010.
The last institution of the draft was during the Vietnam War, and it was the most unpopular and fiercely resisted conscription in American history. However, the draft did manage at least one positive outcome: The issue of the war was brought to dinner tables all around America. Nearly everyone had a son, brother, husband or father fighting in Vietnam, and all Americans felt the repercussions of engaging in an overseas war. But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not consequences that felt as intimate and personal to all citizens, and this can be directly attributed to the all-volunteer force.
Citizenship is not a spectator sport. The rights and privileges that come with being a citizen are not gratuitous and come with certain duties. The United States has been involved in several wars and conflicts since the 1973 termination of the draft. But the majority of Americans continue to live under a shroud of comfortable ignorance, shielded from the sacrifice that should be shared by all citizens during wartime. This ignorance has led to a warped perception of American citizenship in which responsibilities that should be assumed by all are shouldered by the few and the poor. Service is an obligation to protect the country that has protected its citizens' rights, and to me, there is nothing more conceivably undemocratic than tolerating the sacrifices made by a mercenary army in order to enable the privileges enjoyed by the elite.
In a democracy, equal rights imply equal responsibilities. Although forcing every private citizen to serve may seem radical and undemocratic at first blush, something must be done to rectify the average American's misplaced patriotism. Compulsory military service, national service, or even an expansion of AmeriCorps should at least be considered as an option. I mean absolutely no offense to the all-volunteer force, but the decision to send troops overseas is one that should be made with a full understanding of the consequences. The proverbial "rich man's war, poor man's fight" must be changed into every man's fight.