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April 1980

The Draft: Why the Army Needs It

by James Webb

The volunteer Army is an unmitigated disaster …

Because there is no draft, volunteer Army soldiers are wheedled and cajoled by recruiters. This sort of seduction, which has become necessary in the face of recruiting shortfalls that have increased every year, creates an attitude in both the enlistee and the military itself which is destructive to discipline and the traditional notions of service …

The military is not a job, any more than paying taxes is a job … We should all be willing to give a portion of our lives in order to assure that our freedoms will not disappear …

It is fundamentally wrong—and cowardly—in a democratic society to claim that those who stand between us and a potential enemy should be risking their lives merely because they are “following the marketplace,” and the military is their “best deal.” The result of such logic is today’s volunteer Army, a collection of men and women who have been economically conscripted to do society’s dirty work, as surely as if there were the most inequitable draft imaginable.

Our greatest need is … to make our military once again a fighting force rather than a social lab, and to stop being afraid to ask the men of Harvard to stand alongside the men of Harlem, same uniform, same obligations, same country.

Vol. 245, No. 4, pp. 34–44 Read the full article here.