Soldiers line up saluting their commander.

H2H: Is the draft beneficial, or harmful?

January 20, 2020

Given the political tensions between the United States and Iran, many memes surfaced about the possibility of a WWIII. With this came the reemerging of the debate surrounding selective service.

The draft: protecting American lives

This coming July, the Korean War memorial in South Korea will celebrate 25 years since opening its doors. The United Nations established the U.N. Memorial Cemetery to commemorate soldiers from sixteen different countries and AID sent from five more. Hundreds of people each year come to visit the graves of the fallen soldiers, thanking them for their service. 

The Korea conflict, like many other U.S. foreign conflicts, required the selection of men from the population to go protect our interests abroad. This selective service, or draft, has become silent in the past couple of years following the Vietnam War but with the insurrection of possible conflict in the Middle East the reinstitution of the draft has come back into question. 

“It’s something this country needs to get used to,” sophomore Mason Mills said. “It’s about time we responded to everything Iran has done.”

To fully negate or affirm the idea of bringing back the draft as an option to fill the demand in armed forces, one needs to first understand the insistence that would require this first. 

“The United States has approximately 1.3 million active-duty troops, with another 865,000 in reserve, one of the largest fighting forces of any country,” K.K. Rebecca Lai, Troy Griggs, Max Fisher and Audrey Carlsen from the New York Times reported in March of 2017. 

Deployment of troops, however, is not going to include all 1.3 million active personnel. 

“I believe the job of the military is to uphold and protect the constitution of the United States,” senior at Western Collin Henry said. 

Most talks about the draft are occur in within younger communities of Americans. These younger generations have taken to social media platforms to display their terror of possible war in a humorous way. But we can still see many seniors planning to join the armed forces right out of high school. 

“Some were surprised and thought I was going to college,” senior Aidan Frey said. “Others knew from the moment they knew me because of the way I was raised.”

Families in America seem to be in support of the military, but this support is harder to give when it is your own child.

“Most people were happy that I wanted to join, but a concerned type of happy,” Henry said. “Some people were sad, saying ‘I don’t want you to die’.”

Some stereotypes of being in the military is that it creates better character, a sense of responsibility and bravery. Having a draft builds up veneration in the military; you become part of something much larger than just an American veteran, you are protecting the very basis of your society. 

“With the current political climate, I was reluctant to join,” said Henry. “But I believe that we are serving a much greater good, protecting Americans.”

The attitude towards veterans in the status quo could be improved on— receiving more benefits would for sure help solve for one of the largest homeless populations in the country— but they are brave so we can be free. Citizens all over the world are forever thankful for these people, and are forever in debt to them. 

“I don’t want my service to look like anything,” Frey said. “I just want to serve my country and protect the ones I love, protect my future brothers and sisters.”

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The draft is inequitable and unnecessary

In the United States, drafting has been seen as a fairly controversial issue. Especially after the American-ordered missile strikes that killed an Iranian general earlier this year and the World War III memes that surfaced as a result.

Junior, Sawyer Rhoney, expresses his distaste towards the United States drafting system by saying, “I think drafting is bad because it perpetuates an unfair system that funds unjust wars in places like the Middle-East or wars that are actually offensive in nature whenever there was no threat to the United States at all.”

The negative effects of the draft can be further exacerbated by events such as the Vietnam War. “If you look at places like Vietnam, the draft was extremely biased,” Rhoney said. “It also perpetuated a war against farmers and civilians because they made a legally binding agreement that they would have a democratic election, (but when) it looked as if they were going to elect a communist leader, the United States didn’t like that.”

Although there have been improvements made in recent years in regards to the draft, the inequality and bias is still instilled in the system.

“The draft is racist, sexist and classist,” Rhoney said. “During the Vietnam war, black individuals were unequally drafted, (and) women could not be drafted, which is inherently non-egalitarian. It’s classist because if you can pay for college, you can’t be drafted for the time you’re attending that school.”

Lastly, journalist Grace Panetta clarifies the improbability of the draft being brought back when she says “Because popular support for military conscription is so low, legislation to re-establish a draft would be very unlikely to pass either the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives or the Republican-controlled Senate.”

Although men aged 18-25 still have to register with the Social Security Administration, the likelihood of the draft being reinstated is very low due to the overall bipartisan lack of support from people around the country.

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