Social Question

stump's avatar

What are the pros and cons of compulsory national service?

Asked by stump (3855points) March 4th, 2010

The US military is currently a professional volunteer force, but at times there has been a draft. Many countries have cumpulsory service. Would US foreign policy be effected if military service was compulsory? Should a compulsory national service include the Peace Corp or similar service for citizens committed to non-violence?

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34 Answers

noyesa's avatar

The cons of compulsory national service are that I have to join the military. And I do not want to join the military. I don’t think it would much affect foreign policy, since if they need me they’ll start a draft anyway (moot since I can’t be drafted for medical reasons).

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Pro: Law makers will reconsider war as a primary option when they’ll be sending their own children to fight.

Judi's avatar

If even the rich and powerful (Even middle class) people’s kids had to serve, maybe this whole Iraq thing would never have had the blind support it got in the beginning.

Sarcasm's avatar

Cons: You’d have a lot of people out there doing something they’re completely uninterested in. Most careers, that’s okay. But when you’re dealing with heavy weaponry, I’m not so sure.
Even with the Peace Corps, you’d have a lot of people who don’t want to die (and thus chose Peace corps) but still don’t give a damn.

marinelife's avatar

I too think it serves as a deterrant to war when everyone’s children must go and fight. I also like the idea of peaceful service for conscientious objectors.

CMaz's avatar

There are no Cons.

We seem to forget what was and is still needed. That got us to where we are.

galileogirl's avatar

Compulsory service does not have to be military service. There are other options in our communities’

1. Young people get work experience.
2. You could fold in an education component that requires GED and job training classes.
3. By contributing to the community, people develop feelings of owbership in that community
4. The communities will benefit from the extra woek force

1–10 Americans are so hard headed and stubborn, they will refuse to do what is best for themselves and/or their communities unless it involve the threat of death.

ucme's avatar

Pros, a nice uniform to attract the ladies.Cons, getting shot to shit.

dpworkin's avatar

There are no Cons. Pros: everyone takes equal responsibility, and no rich bastards get a pass the way Bush and Cheney did.

mammal's avatar

Pros: one could get the appropriate training with which to launch a professional and sustained military campaign against one’s own government :)

galileogirl's avatar

When we did have the draft, not everyone was physically fit and even among the physically fit there wasn’t a need for everybody. That was just males. Today any compulsory service would include young women. If you are only talking about military service, you are talking about quadrupling the size and the cost of the armed forces. No Way!!!

stump's avatar

@galileogirl We aren’t just talking about military service. What do you think about including the Peace Corp or VISTA or similar institution?

dpworkin's avatar

@galileogirl Sevice need not mean exclusively military service. The roads need to be maintained as does other infrastructure, the National Parks need minding, the highways and byways are full of litter, people in Africa need assistance with mosquito netting… use your imagination. Compulsory general national service would be a boon to the nation and to every participant.

josie's avatar

The con is that it is a form of slavery. I can’t think of a pro. As disclosure to all, I volunteered.

wundayatta's avatar

The armed services would hate it. They like being a professional corps, and if you had a lot of draftees, the quality of the work would go all to hell. Insubordination would run rampant. It’s a bad model for building a good fighting force.

But it sounds like you don’t care about a fighting force. You care about the “pain” of being in those jobs being spread around. On what principle? Conscription is never a good way to get motivated “employees.” You want volunteers if you want the workforce to do a good job. I fail to see how compulsory national service does much of anything except waste a few years of everyone’s lives.

downtide's avatar

A con : National Service takes a sizeable proportion of the population who doesn’t want to be there, many of whom are delinquent, criminally-inclined, violent or just crazy. And you put a gun in their hand and teach them how to kill people. Then after their tour is over you kick them out onto the streets again, where they’re still delinquent, criminally-inclined and crazy – only now they have no job, and they’ve been trained how to use a gun.

Is anyone else but me seeing a flaw in this?

dpworkin's avatar

@downtide Is that what you think happened after WWII? The streets were flooded with psychopaths? On the contrary, we began the most prosperous few decades in our nation’s history. Where do you get these silly ideas?

Judi's avatar

@downtide ; That is not a result of compulsory service, that it the CURRENT result of having no other opportunity for the poorest of the poor from the worst neighborhoods. I don’t know where I heard this, (someone correct me if I am wrong or help me confirm it if I;m right) but there is a real gang problem in the military now. Even people in command positions are frightened and coerced.

DominicX's avatar

There are no Pros to the draft in my opinion. No one should be forced into the military; it’s that simple. I do consider it a form of slavery.

As for the other services, it couldn’t hurt, but I doubt it would ever get that much support. As some people said, you’d have many people doing something they’re completely uninterested in and that doesn’t usually mean a job well done.

galileogirl's avatar


Actually that is what I wrote on my 1st post, then it drifted into military

majorrich's avatar

I registered for the draft in December of 1978 which was the first year it was brought back. I later volunteered for 18 years. I dreamed of being drafted last night and was intrigued enough by the dream that I actually called the recruiter to see if I could come back. I had many happy times, and have a personal stake in the current conflict. I would serve again if I were young enough to do it again.

Imagine the self discipline and pride our young men could gain when they complete compulsory training. I am convinced our youth crime rate would fall like a stone.

davidbetterman's avatar

It will make no difference. Law makers and the rich and powerful will build provisions and escape clauses into the draft to exempt their children. We saw it in the Vietnam fiasco.

DominicX's avatar

Thank God I come from a wealthy family. Either that or I could just say I’m gay and get kicked out.

The system works!

majorrich's avatar

I would go myself to spare my son from going. I guarantee I can and will be more ruthless on the field of battle than any boy out there. And, because I have a son at home, and the threat of further terrorist action towards all my brother and sister Americans (no matter the race, creed, color) I take it all personal, and will fight until there is no more breath or strength in my old body. My job is done with William and the last lesson I can teach him is how a man dies. I will not disappoint. You Tube will be there! lol. Epic Old Guy vs. Skinny underfed insurgent.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t see how it would be any different than the system we have now. If you want to have money for food and rent, you must work. For the government to provide food and housing in exchange for service would amount to the same thing.

Bronny's avatar

joining the military was the best idea I ever had, and best
choice I ever made. but it comes with sacrifices.

it’s not a good fit for a lot of
people, even those who volunteer then realize later own they should have done something else.

people who do not want to be here doing both meaningful and mundane jobs to contribute to a bigger picture hinder progress and deter good workplace morale more than anything else- including a jerkoff supervisor or crappy living conditions.

I’m grateful that everyone has their own fit in life and that they are not forced to be responsible for my life and whether or not I make it home.

compulsory mil service would ultimtely compromise every mission, and opsec would be null bc 70% would just not give a damn and the leadership would be composed of the same numbers. no thank u.

majorrich's avatar

I think a system such as they have in Norway (I think) where everybody is trained and required to maintain a level of training so that the populous can be mobilized if needed would be pretty good. Except for the crazy people that would get screened out. Everybody owuld be armed and have to account for every round expended. Monthly drills to maintain skills by neighborhood militia group. True Citizen-soldier defense. I don’t know the command structure, but that’s gotta be pretty tough. Once up and running and part of the culture I think it would fly pretty good.

downtide's avatar

@dpworkin I don’t think there were so many delinquents around in the aftermath of WWII as there are now. The social climate now is entirely different.

dpworkin's avatar

The reason sociopaths are in the service is that recruitment regulations have been deliberately leveled to include them, because recruitment falls during wartime. A general draft with no exemptions would produce a far better corpus, and the sociopaths could be weeded out.

davidbetterman's avatar

Wouldn’t you rather have an army of sociopaths than an army of kowtowing fawning sycophants?

The Dirty Dozen is a case in point.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@majorrich What did the recruiter say?

galileogirl's avatar

@dpworkin and @downtide Sending 17 & 18 yos who got into a little trouble (delinquents not killers) into the military was common from the 30’s-the 70’s. With the smaller all-volunteer army the educational standards were raised and a criminal record usually prevented enlistment. As we sank into the Iraq/Afghan morass and enlistments are down so once again we are enlisting petty criminals and hs dropouts, to the detriment of the armed forces

majorrich's avatar

The recruiter says I can reduce my age by my years of service, which makes me 31. I can re-enlist, but at the loss of two paygrades (O-2) She also said I am really too old and that I probably wont get accepted despite my MOS. I am home-guard material now which is a very important role in the total force plan. I can train newbs. It made me feel useful and happy.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Cool. Have fun, @majorrich!

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