Sunday, October 13, 2019

Time magazine makes a radical proposal to bring back low-level conscription, and offers curious parallels to arguments in my own DADT books and blog posts


Time Magazine has a “Special Report” Oct. 21-28, 2019, which I could cover on my legacy “book reviews” blog, but today’s issue brings up something I want to mention on this one, my main “legacy” blog on this platform.
  
The report starts on p. 40 with “Trump and the Troops”, but I wanted to call attention tonight to a special subchapter by Elliot Ackerman that starts on p. 44, photographs by Gillian Laub, “Born into War”, with the tagline “The way to end America’s forever wars is to bring back the draft.” The report is quite lengthy an runs to page 57.
  
It recommends a “reverse engineered draft” (including women) which, if I understand right, would be very small and only children of higher income parents would be “eligible.”  Draftees, “unlucky” enough to be picked, could go only into combat arms. He argues that this works now because women are eligible for combat arms. Coincidentally, Lisa Lang happens to be covering women in Marine Basic Training at Camp Pendleton, CA on Sunday night on CNN.  
  
There are other proposals for universal national service, and Pete Buttigieg has even proposed them. Some proposals would call for intermittent service even in retirement (maybe related to eligibility for Social Security benefits).
  
  
But this proposal is particularly aimed at changing the political calculus that leads to protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even the political dishonesty that seems to have been responsible for the start of the Iraq war in 2003.
  
Wealthier parents will demand a much more careful stance of getting into wars.
  
This may be harder to imagine with complicated situations like Syria. 
  
This story catches my eye right now because recently I have been in some phone conversations with my POS publisher (Oct 8 post) and one of the issues is whether an older non-fiction book (back to 1997-2000) can sell again. There is a lot of material in my first book on Vietnam era conscription and deferments (which would not exist in Ackerman’s proposal) and some unusual application to the issue of gays in the military as it was under “don’t ask don’t tell” until 2011. Ackerman is delving into the same viewpoints I examined twenty years ago, and again after 9/11 (with correspondence with the now late Charles Moskos).
  
There has been recent discussion of whether women should be required to register for Selective Service and likewise whether the Selective Service System should be abolished.  Were that to surface as a political issue in the 2020 election year, that could give me more visibility, for better or for worse.
  
I seem to recall David Hogg (from March for our Lives and the gun issue) mentioning Selective Service in a tweet last year after he had turned 18.  Ironically, the "real David Hogg", an industrious "conservative" college student in North Carolina talks about veterans issues a lot on Twitter. 

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