Washington D.C.: Power Industry

Dr. Hurd: I appreciate your article opposing the draft. However, you wrote: “What happened was that the military became more technological and high-tech, making untrained manpower less relevant than trained forces who are comfortable with the use of our advanced weaponry.”

This is incorrect. The Department of Defense (DOD) leadership opposes military conscription. They have for decades. They are well aware that persons who consensually participate in any activity outperform persons who are coerced to participate. None of us who did and do serve in the DOD want(ed) to depend on another person who is there only because the government held a gun to their head. I certainly did not want people working on my jet fighter only because they had no choice. Despite its shortcomings, flaws, and problems

the five-side is well aware that self-motivated people outperform coerced people by substantial margins. This is not to suggest that the five-side opposes military conscription on moral grounds. Their position is merely one of practicality.

It is accurate to assert that technological advancements have displaced the human component in the military as it has in nearly all other disciplines. Technological advancements have also made the DOD a significantly more formidable concern. This serves America and its adversaries well. Its demonstrable results are reduced direct and collateral combat casualties and destruction. Technology represents a military force multiplier at a reduced fiscal burden. However, these benefits of military technological advancements are unrelated to your stated moral issue of slavery vis-a-vis conscription.

Dr. Hurd’s reply: Thank you for your note, but I think you missed my point. My point wasn’t that the DOD or the Pentagon wants a military draft. I quite expect that they don’t, and I agree that they shouldn’t. It’s even harder to justify a conscripted soldier when the duties of a soldier become more technologically complex. As you put it, you don’t want to depend on people (for your very life) who don’t want or choose to be there. The draft is slave labor, and slaves will never do the job that motivated, self-responsible people raised in a free society will do. There’s no comparison.

However, my point was about politicians and the government — not the military or the DOD. Politicians, by and large, don’t care about the people. They care first and foremost about the government. This may not be true of every single politician, but it’s true as a general trend and I cannot think of a single elected official at the moment who cares about the rights of the individual more than the well-being and power of the government. This is a bipartisan issue. Democrats grow the government, Republicans tepidly oppose this growth and eventually sign on. When the programs fail far worse than Republicans ever tepidly predicted, Republicans defend those programs with all their might and even expand them. Democrats oppose them for not expanding government power even more.

Washington D.C. is a power industry. It is no longer the handiwork of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington — other than in a superficial, largely nominal sense. We retain free elections, but there is no substantial appreciation for, or defense of, individual rights. Politicians are elected to sacrifice the rights of all individuals for the sake of those in their narrow constituency groups. They were supposed to be elected to protect — equally — the rights of all individuals. American government in 2011 is a system of coercion designed to take the efforts of productive people and transfer those efforts to those who, for whatever reasons, are not productive. Obama calls it “spreading the wealth around.” He thinks that’s a good thing. Clinton called it “investment,” George W. Bush called it “compassionate conservatism” and FDR, Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt all had their own names for it — Progressive, New Deal and the like. It’s all the same thing: Slave labor, i.e. servitude of the productive for the sake of the politically protected and non-productive class.

In such a redistributive context, a military draft is a perfectly easy thing to justify. If millions of working age people can be forced to pay for the retirement of people over 65 — then why not draft others into military service? If people who work and who pay $1000/month for health insurance are now forced to pay, in taxes as well as increased premiums, for the free health insurance granted to those who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid — then why not force young men and women to fight in a war? If billions of dollars in agricultural, research, business and broadcasting subsidies are justified — then what’s to stop the government from forcing people to subsidize the military with their lives and time? In principle, force is force and servitude is servitude. If the government has the right to force people to do some things against their will, the government has the right to force people to fight a war against their will. This has been the case throughout American history, not in its early decades but certainly since Big Government really started to take off in the early twentieth century. We haven’t had a military draft since the early 1970s, but this isn’t because of individual rights. It’s because the DOD sees it as practical, as you say, and the socialist liberals who dominate everything want to impose “national service” — not a national military draft, because they hate the military for the most part.

The DOD is, quite properly, concerned with fighting the most effective war possible, if called to do so. The politicians are the ones responsible for deciding which wars to fight, if any, and why. Moral and social questions are settled by politicians. It’s politicians who have no problem at all with the notion of slave labor of its own citizenry. Yes, this is less true in the United States when you compare the U.S. to a totalitarian regime such as Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia; or a severely authoritarian regime such as modern fascist China. But matters of degree do not alter the principle involved. The government of the United States abuses and enslaves its productive citizens — the ones willing to work and take care of themselves — just as the governments of other nations abuse their citizens.

Politicians in both parties largely agree that sacrifice of the individual is justified, and that the whole purpose of government is to ensure that individual sacrifice takes place. Military draft? ObamaCare? Redistributive income taxes? Nationalized banking and automobile industries? Take your pick; the list is endless. Neither a Democrat nor a Republican would have a problem, in principle, with the restoration of a military draft. They only disagree on what form the draft should take, or whether it’s right to support the military in that particular way. They disagree on the particulars, but not the principle. The DOD may be smart enough to know that coerced people do not serve themselves or others well; but the rest of the American government does not.

At the Pentagon, slavery may be out. But in the rest of the land, it’s growing and expanding at an unprecedented pace.