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16 August 2016


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Larry Mitchell

This is so damned good that it reminded me to make my small donation. It's hard to find anyone who wants to talk about this subject. My wife and I complained to each other all through Bush's adventures that, if all the facebook warriors had: 1) sons and/or daughters facing deployment and combat, 2) received a bill from Washington every month for their share of the monetary cost of the current elective war, the conversation would be much different.

I am a little disappointed in myself that I too am weary of the 'thank you for your service' gentleman's agreement that we seem to have been US and THEM. I don't like to feel that way because I know that many are entirely sincere and appreciative when they say that - I know I am. But, I also think people tend to think that THEY are doing a great job for US and don't really feel like we are one and the same. Everyone likes the idea that the citizen (voter) owns this country, but the citizen soldier concept is much less popular. I don't think we can go on trying to have it both ways.

Finally, I am pretty confident that, when a major dust up comes along, conscription will be required to get the required manpower anyway, so we might as well have the system already working.

Anyway, I'm really glad this subject bubbled to the surface, and I'm glad it's being discussed in a place where commenters have a lot of knowledge as to how government works.


"I am not in favor of universal military or any other kind of service. I am in favor of drafting (with no deferments) for the ground forces enough mommy's and daddy's boys and girls to create a disincentive for overseas military adventures. That is all. pl"

Totally agree, but the Borg collective always find a way. But, every disencentive helps!

"Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."


Peter Reichard

"the Army still had to lower its standards to maintain force levels" I think you owe us a citation for that and if it occurred you need to tell us for how long it occurred. pl



So, basically you have given up on American Democracy and are just in hiding on your lovely beach waiting for God. BTW you say that brigade you served in in VN had not trained as a unit. Yes. The foolishness of individual replacements on one year tours rather than unit rotations as they do now meant that in a war lasting five or six years the level of UNIT training steadily declined because the units were not withdrawn from the line regularly and sent to somewhere like Palau for re-training. I attribute this failure of planning to the fact that the men in charge were all WW2 veterans. In that war, engagement was episodic in the Pacific and in Europe for the Americans there was a finite limit in the campaign itself to how long the unit would be engaged before combat would end and training begin again. I suppose Italy would be the exception. You were lucky to survive? Glad to know you did. pl



I will try again. I am not talking about a large and largely conscripted ground force. It can be smaller if you like, but in my concept it would contain enough conscripts from among the elite classes to make the cost of combat painful to the mommies and daddies. Get it now? pl



I guess you are not a soldier. Security companies do not create combat units with actual combat power. Security companies provide guards for facilities and PSDs for civilians like USAID or State Departments. You cannot fight wars with security companies. Their employees are just that. Men do not fight well for salary plus bonus deals. Ask a soldier. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Then you would be undermining the unions.


No, haven't given up. Constantly trying to educate and evangelize the conscripts of the Borg. NASA must have quite a dossier on me.

"Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."


NASA might have a dossier on me too, but obviously meant to say NSA.



You did not answer my question.


MRW, I don't have the background to follow you (mentally) on economics.

Are you suggesting, with the gold standard gone, the US could theoretically print money to it's straight-heart's-desire?

Yes, I may have developed a slight prejudice in this context ... additionally not quite the head to wrap my head around centuries in this context much less less macro-/micro or monetary economics, with all due respect to Keynes, that is.

I understand you have objected to Babak for a different reason.


"I concede al l the arguments in its favor yet I doubt the Draft would make war less likely as it has historically been used to form large armies for aggression and can't think of a case where the existence of conscription actually stopped a war."

This is from my German POV a correct observation. Draft does not compensate for an (active) officer corps that is in bed with the wrong kind of politicians.

The underlying issue is that a society that produces these officers and politicians very likely lacks the insight and awareness to stop the misuse of draftees.



We are not Germans and IMO lack your propensity for following leaders who threaten our own destruction. VN and the present wars did not and do not constitute existential threats to the US. I am simply trying to make them more politically costly. pl



I agree. The children of those who to authorize war GO FIRST, followed by any relatives of age. No exceptions.


Unser Chef wrote:

"I will try again. I am not talking about a large and largely conscripted ground force. It can be smaller if you like, but in my concept it would contain enough conscripts from among the elite classes to make the cost of combat painful to the mommies and daddies. Get it now? "

A selective draft only works as long as the economic disadvantages for the draftee are low and/or an unfair system is accepted by the peasants. It worked in Prussia after 1815, but would not work 200 years later IMHO.

Your proposal will create more issues than it solves: A highly selctive draft will simply lead to a lot of legal actions and creative solutions by the families that can offord it and as a result the draftees will not come from the classes you want in the army.

A military draft or other public service makes IMHO only sense if it is alomost universial, i.e. affects >80% of a year group.

David Habakkuk


A cunning demagogue – such as may rise from the gutter to command events, in very troubled times – can easily disable resistance among rational people in bureaucracy, in particular the military.

Of course, there were plenty of Nazis in the officer corps, but it was not the German General Staff who were enthusiastic about taking reckless risks in the ‘Thirties.

The centres of opposition to Hitler were in the ‘Abwehr’ – the circle around Hans Oster – and the “Auswärtiges Amt.”

Commonly, a key part of political genius consists in structuring the choices facing others. When I think of the dilemmas that Franz Halder had to face, all I can say is that I am very glad not to have had to confront such unpleasant alternatives.

Sperglord of Doom

I think you'll be disappointed as I don't remember 'Quartered Safe Out Here' having much to say about the Gurkhas.

Its a great book though.

The book might be of interest to Americans with Scotch-Irish ancestry as George MacDonald Fraser served with a Cumberland Border Regiment and I think his vivid description of his fellow soldiers to a great extent are in accord with Scotch-Irish stereotypes.



Pushed by that arch conservative LBJ.

Borg Grandma needs a better grade of intern.



"You weren't in VN. You were hiding out in Germany and feeling sorry for yourself while LeaNder served you beer in her college bat employment."

You don't do it often, but I love it when you pull out the shiv and start going to work. I laughed for a while reading this.


US stationed to police Palestinians?!




"A highly selctive draft will simply lead to a lot of legal actions and creative solutions by the families that can offord it and as a result the draftees will not come from the classes you want in the army." Good! More work for lawyers. pl



The unions have already undermined themselves. The leadership is a professional managerial class as are the "organizers". Very few are or have been actual people working in the job classifications the unions are supposed to represent.

Old Microbiologist

I would even expand that to say two years of enlisted service as they need to at some time in their life know what being a working class prole is like.


They can't fight wars against capable opposition.

But even in their current state they are rather sinister, and provide a possible route for applying armed force without any democratic accountability.

And they could conceivably get a lot bigger. Mercenary armies were de rigueur in Italy at one time. I could imagine them being used in Africa, where states and armies are very weak. There's already a history of that sort of thing - Mad Mike Hoare etc



These security companies can't fight anyone, capable or not. they are not an organized military force. They are just guards. To make them a fighting organization you would have to make them into an army and you clearly have no idea what that means. pl

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